The Masao Light HS Hooded Jacket is a lightweight hardshell form Mammut aimed at climbers but suited to a wide variety of active mountain pursuits. I’ve been reviewing it since the summer both here in the UK and in the French and Swiss Alps and to be perfectly honest have been very impressed.
Protection comes in the form of Mammut’s DRYtechnology which is rated at a 20,000 mm hydrostatic head and a Vapor permeability of 24,300 g/m²/24h. Combined with a PFC-free DWR treatment and a waterproof Aquaguard front zipper the Masao Light keeps you dry in even torrential alpine downpours and is breathable enough not to overheat you. There are underarm ‘pitzips’ for additional venting too but I must confess I never use them and to be frank I think they are out of place on such a lightweight jacket which in a way makes its light weight and compactness all the more impressive. Pocket wise there are two high A line pockets which sit clear of a climbing harness and provide ample storage space. The Masao Light is an athletic cut which makes it a brilliant hardshell to actually climb in. On a number of occasions I used it as windproof just to take the chill off high up after a stint belaying and it didn’t impede movement in the slightest – but I’m on the skinny side of things (63kg and 36″ chest to mix up the metric/Imperial malarky) The fabric has a slight stretch in one direction and this helps with mobility together with the clever cut and pre shaped arms so it is definitely a jacket that has been designed with the active climber/alpinist in mind. Additional feature on the jacket include one of the best helmet compatible hoods I have used in a while. There is only a single rear adjuster, which eliminates flappy drawcords that can whip in your face, but it works perfectly with a helmet. Without a helmet the ‘seal’ is not quite so good but still effective enough. Finally on the features front there is a small stuffsac to transport the jacket or clip to your harness – a useful accessory. It makes for a great ‘just in case’ jacket to bring along on a multi-pitch climb when the forecast is a bit iffy or for when your quick early morning hit to beat the afternoon storms is delayed by the previous evenings indulgences…
The Masao Light proved to be a versatile, comfortable and stylish jacket. I used it hill walking, alpine and multi-pitch rock climbing as well as around town and for a couple of fell runs. The high quality and well thought out cut together with the slight stretch in the fabric meant that it wasn’t flappy in the wind and moved well with you when climbing so you didn’t feel encumbered or unable to see your feet etc. The comfort factor and its small packed size meant that it came along on several climbs when a bulkier jacket might have been left out which gives you a little bit more comfort or security on a long route even if it only meant keeping you dry on the descent. Early summer season hikes and a bit of hill running in the Lakes confirmed first impressions of an athletic fitting, comfortable jacket. On multi-pitch rock routes when being worn to ward off a chill wind it was unobtrusive and didn’t hinder movement, in fact it makes a viable alternative to the more standard windshell whilst offering a significant extra degree of protection especially if caught in an afternoon thunderstorm. Durability wise there are no holes or obvious signs of damage and I think that the stretch in the fabric helps a little here as I’ve had equally light non stretch shells which have snagged or worn through in a short time. I wouldn’t want to take it mixed climbing in Scotland too much but it did the job on a miserable wet/freeze/wet/wind day in the Cairngorms however it is too light to expect it to survive prolonged abuse in that environment. A long alpine descent through a thunderstorm in the the Swiss Alps gave the waterproof credentials of the Masao Light a thorough checking which it again passed with flying colours.
One annoyance with the Masao Light were the pocket zip pullers. They are tiny and not easy to add cord to. It seems a bizarre choice as they are not far off being impossible to use with a winter glove on and yet the pit zips (which you use less often) have cord pullers! On a typical winter Cairngorm day I gave up using them as they were too fiddley to operate.
In some ways the Masao Light is a bit of a missed opportunity – it is already impressively light but if Mammut ditched the pitzips and went for a single chest pocket then they would have a minimalist alpinist’s dream IMHO. As it stands this is a good jacket which could be even better.
- Great climbing cut
- Compact and convenient to stow
- Pocket zipper pulls
- Unneccessary pit zips
Disclaimer – CGR reviewers are never paid to provide a review and the website does not take advertising. We are a bunch of keen climbers and travellers that accept sample products and offer an honest and independent review of the item. The reviewer will often keep the sample after reviewing it for both hygiene reasons and more often they’re in no fit state to return!