Thursday, February 2, 2012

Friday the 13th Hike Along the River and a New Jacket from Mountain Hardwear

Given Buffalo's general lack of snow this year, I was elated to wake up and see those outstanding white out conditions. Yes, today would be a great opportunity to test out my new Mountain Hardwear Victorio jacket. I never had a really high-end mountaineering shell before, so I am anxious to see how it performs. Though this isn't a formal gear review, more of a rambling actually, I'll be posting a in-depth review later for this jacket.

I barely bundled up, but the high winds were perfect for frost bite on any exposed skin. Even just walking through my neighborhood and down to the river, I knew I'd have to "facemask up," grab my glasses, and don my gore-tex mitts.

I ended up walking down my street, cutting across the tracks, and out to the walk way on the Niagara River. The untrodden walkway was thick with snow and ice, I was glad I brought my kahtoola microspikes with me for much needed traction.

This is the closest place, along the river, near my house for a "nature" walk - I am thankful it is only a half-mile from my door. The mighty Niagara River is a place of magnetic attraction: I find myself hiking and lounging by it's shores, I kayak in warmer water months, and visit the Niagara Gorge as often as I can. Sure I love the wilderness of the Adirondacks, but it's great having a resource like the River nearby.

The wind swept viciously across the open water of the river, driving ice-encrusted snow pellets into me.  For a while, I thought I was on a winter Adirondack summit.  Of course, as this jacket is for those Adirondack summits, it is appropriate.

I reached the area where the Sea Bee and Marine monuments are and decided to test the flexibility of the jacket with that crisp newness still in it.  I bent my legs and traversed the monkey bars.  I was amused what any passerbys, if there were any, would think if they saw a grown man swinging on the monkey bars in the middle of a Buffalo snow storm.  After the monkey bars, I tested my mettle on the pull-up and dip bars.

Though I am use to the extreme flexibility of soft shell jackets, this hardshell had a good fit and good flexibility.  Part of my wonders if I should have went up to the extra-large to give myself a little extra layering room.  Then again, I wanted a lightweight, slim jacket, and I can still fit my poly-fill jacket underneath.  If anything, it encourages me to maintain or lose weight.  It always sucks being between sizes...

So, I pushed myself pretty hard walking with a quick pace and exercising out in the snow.  I was amazed that the inside of my jacket wasn't sweaty, Mountain Hardwear may be onto something with this new DryQ Elite waterproof / breathable fabric.  I wonder when I'll have to use the pit zips.  Who am I kidding, I sweat like a politician in an ethics seminar - I'll use them someday. 

Despite being dry from not sweating, I am also pleased how windproof and weather proof this jacket is.  The gusty winds didn't penetrate the material and the snow and sleet, just bounced off the jacket like bullets on Superman's chest.  

The hood was really cool too, in the many adjustments that made it conform to my head and the way it zipped up to protect a good portion of my face.  I was thinking, it would be a good jacket for casual winter use, when the weather outside is nasty, but you don't want to look like you are on an Antarctic expedition. 

So: dry, warm, and comfortable - so far MHW's Victorio  jacket is doing well.  Let's see how it does up in the High Peaks in a couple weeks. 

UPDATE: Check out my full review at:

Gear Review of the Mountain Hardwear Dry.Q Elite Victorio Jacket

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