Officially, this is the “Trekkin Insulated Shacket.”
Unofficially, that’s a stupid name, but it does tell you something about where Mountain Hardwear is going in its product design.
Lately, Mountain Hardwear has hitched its wagon to the likes of speed alpinist Ueli Steck, whose hunger for lightweight performance products has lit a fire under Mountain Hardwear’s design team to push the boundaries of what’s possible. But Mountain Hardwear is also looking at companies like Nau and Aether, niche brands making cool but pricy products, and has decided that it can be a design leader, too.
This piece, despite the mouthful of a name, straddles the line between outdoor and street. It’s thinly insulated but warmer than a shirt and cut long to wear like a jacket. I wore it hiking as well as around town and it’s plenty useful: warmer and lighter than a similar wool shirt I have as well as more compressible. But it’s not windproof, despite a DWR finish, and the cut’s fairly loose, making it a little too roomy for fast movements like a winter trail run or nordic ski.
But that’s not really the intent. It’s to be something you can use in the outdoors that’s sporty enough looking for everyday use. It works great that way, better than forcing your Levi’s denim jacket into trail duty.
The question is how far a bread-and-butter brand like Mountain Hardwear can push the fashion angle. Then again, who are we kidding? Have you seen the number of Patagonia and North Face puffy down vests over suits in fashion magazines this fall?