Mountain Hardwear Torch Jacket (mens) : Fits Like a Glove
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Mountain Hardwear Torch Jacket : Fits Like a Glove

Designed with ice climbers in mind, Mountain Hardwear's Torch Jacket is the perfect fit for all of my outdoor pursuits. This lightweight soft shell is made out of stretchy Gortex Windstopper material, so it moves when I move. Ok, so I may not climb ice (yet), but I do like to climb over big rocks, wear (and constantly take off) my overstuffed day pack, and be prepared for any weather. The Torch repels rain like seal skin and blocks wind with best of them. So I don't have to bulk up to stay warm.

It's done nothing but rain in Seattle this winter, and my Torch jacket has kept me dry and comfortable. On power walks, I'm often cold when I start, warm at the halfway point, and cold again as I walk back home against the wind. I appreciate the pit zips so I can regulate my temperature as my body warms up or the weather gets worse. Most often, in 40 degree F temps, all I wear underneath this jacket is a thin merino wool top.

The Torch has become one of my favorite jackets because it fits me like a glove and because it's cut to give me more coverage than my waist-lenght soft shell jackets.

Initially, I planned on testing the men's Torch because at 5'11", many women's jacketes just aren't long enough through the torso or in the sleeves. Trying on the men's and women's jackets side by side, I realized some subtle, but significant differences in the two. (Men's Torch jacket pictured above, top right.)

The women's Torch is actually cut a bit longer and straighter than the boxier men's version, a style that fits my tall frame well. I really appreciate having a soft shell that's long enough to cover a few inches past my waist band. I also like the snug hood (same on the men's version) since I never remember to bring a rain hat. This hood is much smaller than some of the hoods on my rain parkas, and I like the fit better.

The Torch is made out of lightweight material that has a silky feel to it, which is probably why the jacket drapes so well. The material is soft enough to hang off my shoulders without bunching anywhere. Lovely. (Hey, I like to look good, too, when I'm having fun.)

Ond of my favorite features: the sleeves. They're sleek and long enough to provide full coverage even when I'm reaching over my head. They also taper elegantly into narrow sleeve openings. Inside each sleeve, a stretchy half-glove that keeps my hands warm on cool days and serves as a weather cuff on colder days when I need a full pair of gloves. No weather gets in. I like that! The men's Torch has tapered sleeves, too, and velcro tab closures.

The Torch has two zippered size pockets, an internal zippered pocket with a wire hole for my iPod, and a small zippered cell phone pocket on the top of the left sleeve, making this a perfect jacket for winter sports, too. Of course, MH uses waterproof zips throughout the jacket. Toggles at the bottom of the jacket and around the hood help adjust fit. (The mens version has an additional zippered pocket on the chest.) Both men's and women's are available in several colors, including black. (Read Mountain Hardwear Synchro review.)

Bottom Line: I love this jacket because it's tough enough for the elements, it keeps me warm and dry, and it's got a nice long, lean cut. I appreciate the discreet logo placement, too, that allows me to wear this jacket around town without looking like a hiker.--E.D. (Feb 06)

Price: $240

Manufacturer's Site:

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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.

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