Bright, burly and built for big mountain adventures, the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Pro is US brand Mountain Hardwear’s latest top-of-the-range shell. It ticks all our boxes for a winter jacket: ultra-rugged face fabric, class-leading waterproofing, full coverage at wrists and hem, roomy pockets, pit zips and a large, protective hood. It’s also impressively lightweight for the protection on offer.
Rugged and robust
No PFC-free DWR
Stiff and crinkly
No women’s version
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Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2: first impressions
The Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 is a jacket built for demanding mountain adventures, ideal for technical climbing or backcountry skiing.
The jacket’s three-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric is seriously protective, ensuring the kind of complete windproof and waterproof protection you’d expect from the best waterproof jackets. The membrane is laminated to a very high-denier (80D) face made from bluesign-approved 100% recycled nylon, so it should be as tough as pretty much as any other mountaineering jacket out there, while also scoring well on the sustainability front.
The jacket’s vibrant colorways are also dyed using an eco-conscious solution to reduce energy consumption and water waste, further enhancing this jacket’s green credentials. The only negative is that the durable water-repellent (DWR) treatment of the face fabric is not PFC-free.
As you’d expect – certainly if you looked at the hefty price tag – it’s well equipped when it comes to features too. There’s a voluminous hood, which has plenty of room to accommodate even the largest ski helmet or climbing lid. Single-pull Cohaesive cord-lock technology cinches it in tight. A laminated brim adds a little stiffness to deflect wind and rain away from the face.
The bottom of the jacket has a pronounced drop tail and adjustable hem drawcords – again fitted with Cohaesive cord locks. Wide cuffs with chunky Velcro tabs fit over bulky winter gloves but provide a good weatherproof seal from the elements.
You also get underarm vents, fitted with water-resistant laminated two-way zips to help dump heat fast. There are two zippered hand pockets, again with water-resistant zips and chunky pull tabs, plus two oversized Napoleon-style zippered chest pockets. Inside the jacket, a stretch mesh dump pocket is a good place to temporarily stash gloves, and a small zipped security pocket provides safe storage for keys or electronic devices.
Despite its array of features and robust fabric, this jacket tips the scales at 1 lb 1oz, or 470g (in a men’s medium). That’s impressively light for a winter-grade waterproof shell. Indeed, it’s nearly half the weight of other jackets we’ve tested that are designed for similar conditions.
• RRP: $650 (US) / £555 (UK)
• Gender specification: Men’s version only
• Size: S / M / L / XL / XXL
• Weight (men's medium): 470g / 16.5oz
• Colors: Gold Hour / Cosmos Purple / Fiery Red
Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2: on the trails
In our experience, Mountain Hardwear’s sizing is fairly generous, but this shell fits true to size whilst still allowing room for layering – ideal for a technical waterproof jacket designed for use in demanding conditions (see also: Hiking layers: everything you need to know to keep yourself warm in all conditions). It offers plenty of length in the arms and torso, and that scooped rear hem provides good coverage even when bending over. There’s a little hem lift when raising the arms, but not enough to cause any issues.
We really liked the pocket configuration – for us, having two Napoleon-style chest pockets comes in really handy when wearing a harness or climbing pack, since they remain accessible and unobstructed by straps. Having said that, the two hand pockets are also placed high enough to stay out of the way. All are fitted with zip pulls that are easy to grab hold of even with a gloved hand – though it is slightly unusual that the main zip is not fitted with a two-way zipper. The pit zips are, though, which gives ample ventilation when working hard.
As you’d expect from a Gore-Tex Pro jacket, waterproof performance is first class. The trade-off is that the fabric is a little noisy – though in the sort of weather for which the Exposure/2 is designed, you wouldn’t notice this over the howling wind…
Despite the stiffness of the fabric, the backer is a soft microgrid tricot that feels soft and comfortable, while improving durability and wicking performance. The three-layer fabric has no mechanical stretch, but the overall cut and patterning of the jacket allows for decent mobility. The face fabric is also extremely robust, putting this up there with the toughest jackets we’ve tested.
We also liked the hood design. It’s roomy enough to comfortably accommodate a climbing helmet but works just as well over a bare head or a beanie, offering good protection thanks to the fact that the zip comes right up to the nose. The stiffened brim also deflects a fair amount of rain or spindrift, as well as blocking wind. It’s much easier to adjust than most hoods, with a single rear drawcord that simultaneously reduces overall hood volume while bringing it in around the face too. When everything is cinched in tight, it feels remarkably solid and secure.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.