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Mountain Hardwear Brono Jacket

I need three things in a jacket: fit, performance, and versatility. I get all of those features and more in Mountain Hardwear's Brono Jacket.

This sweet soft shell jacket, designed with climbers in mind, utilizes Mountain Hardwear's MicroClimate Zoning(TM)system, which is a fancy way of saying that it's constructed with my comfort and activities in mind. The areas where I need movement and breathability, namely, the sides and armpits, are made out of stretchy panels. The areas where I need protection from wind and precipitation, back and front, are made out of Windstopper® fabric.

The Brono Jacket is highly water resistant. I've worn this jacket on many power walks and hikes in the rain and the water just beads and rolls off the surface. It also does a good job of regulating my temperature. On 40 degree days, I wear a lightweight long-sleeve merino tee under my jacket, and by the time I've been out for 20 minutes or so I start to warm up. This is when the jacket really performs well. The side panels are highly breathable so I don't overheat.

In cold, gusty weather, I'm grateful for the wind protection. I like being able to wear a relatively thin jacket and still feel warm when temps hover around freezing. I have enough room to wear a wind vest and/or a mid layer underneath this jacket on really frigid days. (Although, when I've worn a wind vest under this jacket, I always ended up feeling too hot because I didn't need the extra wind layer.) The Brono is also ideal under a rain shell for really wet, cold days.

I like that the collar zips up tall and gives me some neck protection. The soft inner cuffs on the sleeves do a great job of keeping out the chill. I especially appreciate the Brono's longer cut--it's about 28" from collar to hem--because it covers the waistband of my pants better than some shorter soft shells I have. I can easily cinch the bottom of the jacket closer to my body with the handy draw cord toggles on the inside of the jacket.

The Brono Jacket has two generously sized zippered front pockets and a chest pocket. There are also deep storage sleeves on each side of the inside of the jacket for maps and other flat items. It's also soft and fleecy on the inside and around the inside of the collar.

Available in men's sizes S-XXL in black, red, or green. I tested a size M, my usual size, and found the fit to be just right and still have plenty of room for wearing two thin layers underneath.

Bottom Line: An all-around great outdoor jacket for cold, wet, and windy weather.--E.D. (Nov '10)

BUY ONLINE: $225, free shipping at Altrec. Free shipping at REI.

Manufacturer's Site: www.mountainhardwear.com

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.