Dunham Nimble: Over the Hills, and Through the Woods
These eye catching shoes live up to their name, and then some. Read about these shoes and other trail products in our upcoming issues.

Mountain Hardware Synchro Jacket : The All-Purpose Jacket

This jacket is perfect! I put it on about three weeks ago when I arrived in New Zealand, and I haven't taken it off yet! The Synchro is the answer to all of my former jacket woes:

1) It fits like a glove. The raglan style sleeves provide a custom fit through the shoulders, the body is sleek and slim without being form fitting, and the sleeves are just the right length. The shark shin-like shell material has a lot of give to it, so it moves and stretches when I do. I wore the Synchro the day I scrambled around on volcanic rock formations at a beach in Devonport, a lovely town just a ten minute ferry ride from Auckland, and I had total freedom of movement. I wish my knees were that flexible.

2) It looks great. Most of my jackets are pretty boxy, so it's a nice change to wear a durable jacket that's also stylish. I must say that I've received many compliments on the jacket; everyone always asks me what brand it is and where they can find one.

3) It's warm, waterproof, and an excellent windbreaker. In the past, I never knew what to wear on those late fall/early spring days when it wasn't too cold but it still might rain. A fleece was warm enough, but didn't protect me from the rain. A rain shell provided rain protection, but wasn't warm enough. The Synchro is a perfect fusion of both styles. It's soft and warm on the inside, totally waterproof on the outside, with internal and external sealed seams (and sealed pockets). The outer fabric, which MH calls, "The Conduit Shell," feels like sharkskin--it's stretchy, it breathes, and it keeps the rain out. You have to touch this jacket to feel how incredible this material is--soft and smooth and strong and pliable all at the same time.To test is weatherproofness, I walked all over Auckland in the pouring rain, and the water just beaded on the surface. Since I'm never taking off this jacket, I plan to wear a thin fleece or wool shirt underneath it this winter.

4) It's durable and functional. It's been slept in, tossed into overhead bins in airplanes, stuffed into the bottom of my day pack, wadded up and used as a pillow, and yet...no wrinkles. And so far, it doesn't smell despite constant use.

5) Large, functional pockets. I love the pockets on this jacket. The openings are several inches wider than most side pockets in similar jackets, and the internal pockets on each side extend from the bottom of the jacket to the chest. I carry everything in these pockets: my mini filofax, my wallet, a digital camera, a portable music player, my outgoing mail, a small guidebook, and a map. There's also a zippered internal pocket for my passport and travelers checks, a chest pocket for sunglasses, and a sleeve pocket that holds a cell phone.

6) Tapered sleeves. I think the elegant, tapered sleeves on this jacket are another standout feature. Rather than use an elastic cuff or velcro closure, the sleeves simply taper at the end and have a soft fleece inner cuff (about an inch long) that's set back about 1" from the end of the sleeve. The effect is stylish and very comfortable. The cuff keeps the elements out without binding the wrist or bunching up the sleeve the way some elastic cuffs can.

Bottom Line: The Synchro has become like a second skin. It's the best all around jacket I've every worn. Available in men's and women's styles, and a variety of colors.-E.D. (Nov '03)

Price: $249.00 (As of April 2005, this jacket is now $220.) Updated Nov 2008: you can find this jacket from $115-190.


Manufacturer's Site: www.mountainhardwear.com

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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