lumberjacket (a review of the Mountain Hardwear Dry.Q Effusion Jacket).

In the days just after the turn of the new year, a package arrived for me at work with the promise of it being my lucky day.

Apparently, the kind folks at Mountain Hardwear had either no idea of my slovenly appearance or were willing to risk folks seeing me in their wares in trade for some user feedback on the Effusion Jacket that is bound for the consumer market in Fall 2011.

To be frank, the jacket looked way too sharp for me and my modern lumberjack fashion leanings.  My love of black-and-white does the jacket a cruel injustice by failing to portray it's deep orange-on-charcoal gray coloring.  Various tonal highlights on the torso, sleeves and shoulders provide high reflectivity for night and low-light use without popping off the jacket in a bling-y way that turn me off on other running apparel.

Moving forward, Mountain Hardwear will no longer be partnering with GORE-Tex, instead employing its own proprietary waterproof/breathable fabrics, most notably Dry.Q which it is touting as being superior to other fabrics on the market in its ability to keep the user dry both inside and out by improving on air permeability.  Dry.Q will be utilized in three different offerings with slightly different characteristics based on expected conditions and demands.  The Dry.Q Active on the Effusion Jacket is lightweight, stretchy, extremely breathable and fully waterproof.

Or so the claim.

I decided to not jump immediately to conclusions and instead put the jacket through the rigors before chiming in.

But before I do that, I'll call out some of the other features.

Remaining true to a straight-aerobic focus, the Effusion Jacket isn't overstocked on pockets, offering just a single, low-profile (but sizable) Napoleon-style pocket high on the left chest.  The pocket has nicely accommodated my smallish digital camera and done so in a fashion that keeps me from even noticing that I'm carrying the camera while running.  Which, for the record, is stellar.  The mesh backing on the pocket includes a reinforced pass-through for headphone/earpiece wires that make it ideal for iPods, mp3 players or whatever else those types of things are called.  Additionally, there is a nifty little tab on the collar of the jacket (see below) that I would assume keeps headphone wires out of the way.  I don't run with listening devices any longer but thinking back to when I did, I believe this feature would prove out as a slick addition.

The jacket does not employ true waterproof zippers, but an overlay design provides a protective flap over the full-length front zipper as well as the zipper on the pocket.  I would assume that this will help keep pricing down and may also improve overall breathability.  I'm no engineer, so don't quote me on that but it seems to make sense.

Some jackets seem to me to have too many adjustment points that result only in the extra weight of buckles, closures, etc. and additional manufacturing costs (passed along to the consumer) while only being called into play infrequently.  The Effusion Jacket has a single adjustment point with a drawstring closure placed in an offset position that rests internally on the right side of the jacket.  This placement makes it easy to reach but also keeps it from being a potential annoyance.  I never noticed that it was there while wearing the jacket which is all I ask.

Some people don't like thumb loops.  I am not some people.  For Winter wear (and a good bit of Spring and Fall), I crave thumb loops.  I should clarify.  I actually couldn't care less about the loops themselves, but they are there to pull a sleeve forward and eliminate the space that tends to open up between gauntlet-less gloves and most base layers or jackets.  In some cases, this little bit of extra coverage is enough to keep gloves at home.  The Effusion Jacket has the feature but also an extended cuff that Mountain Hardwear touts as "better than a thumb loop".  This cuff can be pulled over the fingers entirely and serve as a make-shift mitten.  Personally, I didn't find that to be very comfortable but I would employ it in a pinch on colder than expected days.

 Targeted body-mapping makes the Effusion Jacket move nicely with the wearer, bolsters potential wear points and manages overall weight nicely.

Mountain Hardwear is sure to have all kinds of facts, figures, charts, graphs, etc. to back their claims of breathability, air permeability and waterproofness.  As well they should.  Overcoming GORE's looming shadow will surely be a challenge, at least in Dry.Q's first couple of seasons.

This uneducated blogger doesn't have much in the way of figures, charts and graphs so you'll have to take my word on it.  The Effusion Jacket breathes better than anything that I own or have owned.  I should add that despite my lumberjack claims and lack of fashion sense, I don't run in canvas or flannel and do have some performance pieces of which I'm quite fond but less so since my care package arrived from Mountain Hardwear.  We've certainly had more than our fair share of wind in the Mid-Atlantic this winter but none of it found its way inside the Effusion Jacket.  In the past my go-to pieces for wind protection needed to be worn in conjunction with other layers if I also needed warmth or further weather protection.  The Effusion Jacket cut the wind, shed water and held warmth pretty well considering that it is an uninsulated piece.  Yes, there were days when I generated enough heat to sweat inside the jacket but only because of the effort given and the temperature not because the jacket itself wasn't breathable...wrap a furnace in chicken wire and the furnace is still going to be hot.  Right?

Other than getting to test drive the jacket, I didn't get any kickbacks from Mountain Hardwear or promises of any further gear by agreeing to the test drive.  No one at Mountain Hardwear even knows that I bother with this humble blog (though I intend now to share the link) and I was fully prepared to share a thumbs down if I was unimpressed.  In fact, because of the bold claims being made in the presentation of the new Dry.Q technology, I was going to need the jacket to exceed by a healthy margin the performance that I've coaxed out of other pieces.

And, it just so happens, it did.

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