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Mountain Hardwear MIstral Jacket : Fancy Fleece

Fleece has come a long way since my first fleece more than 20 years ago. My Mountain Hardwear Mistral Jacket feels like the softest, plushest cotton inside and out.

On the outside of the jacket, the fleece is dense and smooth; inside more furry. I love it because I can wear just a t-shirt underneath and feel perfectly warm in temps down to the mid-40s.

Like many Mountain Hardwear fleece jackets, the Mistral has built-in wind protection, which is essential for breezy and blustery fall and winter days. I like that I don't have to wear a shell to get the wind protection I want. One jacket does the job.

The jacket has the requisite front zippered pockets, inner sleeve cuffs with thumb loops (to keep out the weather), and toggles at each side hem to adjust the fit when I want the jacket to hug my hips. I normally don't wear hoods, but the Mistral's hood fits so well that I often use it instead of a hat.

I have to admit when it first arrived -- in glorious Winter White, I thought, "this jacket is just too precious for me." I'm just not a white fleece type of gal. Then I wore it around a bit, and then wore it out a few more places, then realized that it was my go-to coat. Plus, I loved the compliments. So, it's exactly as precious as it needs to be!

Available in women's sizes XS-XL. Colors: Black, Winter White, Polar Blue, Cinnaberry, Espresso.

Bottom Line : An all-purpose fleece that's fancier that the rest.--E.D. (Dec 08)

Price : $140 purchase now at

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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.