The Mountain HardWear Quasar Lite Jacket is the lightest alpine climbing shell created by this brand and is made with their own waterproof and breathable fabric Dry.Q™ Elite.
The aim of the jacket is to be used for fast-moving activities in the mountains. So the jacket is fairly pared down, lightweight and functional with high ratings for waterproofing and breathability.
This is the type of jacket I would wear in the summer in Scotland’s mountains. It is not a winter-style jacket unless you really are moving super fast and know you will not be facing harsh conditions.
Features of the Mountain HardWear Quasar Lite:
- 2.5-layer that combines an air-permeable membrane with Dry.Q™ Elite technology
- Dry.Q™ Elite technology expels excess heat and moisture, to keep you dry and comfortable even on the most rapid and difficult ascents
- 40D face fabric
- 3-way adjustable helmet compatible hood features a wire brim to hold its shape
- Great mobility: The bottom hem will not move even when arms are fully stretched
- Two PU-zippered chest pockets that are harness and rucksack-compatible, and also double as vents
- Centre-front PU zipper keeps moisture out and adjusts easily from top-down or bottom-up
- Packable and lightweight
- There is a version for men and women.
On test: Mountain HardWear Women’s Quasar Lite
Having tested waterproof jackets for years there are few features that I now feel are must-have. It doesn’t matter whether the jacket is for summer or winter or super lightweight or durable.
Please design better hoods
I want a hood that fits and doesn’t blow up like a balloon in the wind. It needs to stay put when it’s up and not annoy and rustle too much in the wind. Believe me this is hard to find these days as so many brands make jackets with huge hoods.
This is a complaint of the G-Force, too, so it’s not only women’s jackets that suffer with way-to-big hoods.
I can see that a larger hood is important to fit over a helmet but how many people actually pull a hood over a helmet, unless it is in severer weather? Also, many jackets with helmet-sized hoods will never be used for climbing.
I think it’s important that brands think about what the jacket will be used for an adjust the volume of the hood to suit. Also, women’s heads are usually smaller than men’s so that needs to be considered in the design.
After all this ranting, I am pleased to report the hood of the Quasar Lite is perfect. It fits neatly to start with and also has side adjustors and a back-of-head adjustor. Just because this is a lightweight jacket, Mountain HardWear has remember to include good features.
The wire peak is a minimal style but that is what I prefer. The jacket was tested in tough winter conditions (this wasn’t planned but that is what Scotland’s weather can throw at you) and the hood did a great job.
I also prefer a two-way zip. Lots of pared down jackets have a one-way zip but the Quasar Light has a two-way, which is good. Getting the zip to fit together and zip up is a little tricky at first but I think the zip will relax a bit with wear and use.
The pockets of the Quasar Lite jacket are well designed. They have long waterproof zips and a fair volume of pocket. I do not often put much in my pockets but I could easily fit in an iPhone 6 in a waterproof case.
I like that the pockets can be opened for extra venting in warm conditions and the pockets are positioned so that the waist belt of a rucksack does not interfere with the zipping up or down.
A climbing harness would sit below the zips so, again, the designers have thought things through properly.
There is a small inside pocket with a zip for stowing items such as car keys.
Added extra features
I like the soft inside fabric at the top if the zip and inside the collar. This is great for times when you need the jacket fully zipped up. Having basic waterproof fabric against your face is not nice so a softer fabric adds to comfort.
The elasticated hem is easy to adjust with one hand because it is one-sided. It also adjusts only the back of the jacket, which was, surprisingly, all I needed.
And the sleeves and torso length of the jacket are generous. I am a tall UK10 and the women’s size Small is perfect for me. I wore a couple of base layers underneath and still felt like the jacket was the right size.
The look and style of the jacket is lovely.
All weather thrown at the jacket
I wore then jacket on a Munro bagging day in April that was more like winter. We mountain biked to the base of the Munro and then climbed it’s steep sides. The weather was on-off hail, snow, rain, wind and a few bits of sunshine.
The jacket did really well. Because the temperature was very low I felt the jacket was not quite right for the wintry conditions and I did feel a little chilly at times but it did a good job of keeping out the rain, snow and hail.
The hood was a perfect fit and while the G-Force struggled with his “big hood” problems I smugly enjoyed one of the best jacket hoods I’ve come across.
We did work hard and I was wearing a few too many layers during the mountain bike return journey so I was sweating quite hard. I think this did create condensation inside the jacket and because it was so wet outside I ended up a bit damp.
I think the conditions thrown at the jacket during testing were a bit OTT and in more summery weather I would be very happy to wear/carry this jacket with me.
See my review of the Mountain HardWear Scrambler 30 Outdry rucksack.