The Mountain Hardwear Exponent Rain Jacket is a lightweight shell that’s intended for outdoor activities, including climbing, cycling, hiking, and skiing, on rainy or snowy days. This jacket has fantastic waterproofing while remaining breathable. The jacket is also both durable and lightweight, giving you the freedom to move in it however needed but without worrying about damaging or tearing it.
In this article, we’re going to start by giving you information about choosing performance rainwear. We’ll then give you a full overview of the Exponent jacket, followed by a deeper comparison of its main pros and cons. Note that we’re mainly going to be talking about the men’s Exponent jacket in this review, but that we will briefly mention the women’s jacket in a specified section.
In order to choose the right rain jacket for you – and determine if the Exponent is a good match for your needs – it’s important to first understand rain jacket terms and technology. In this section, we’re going to go over the information we feel will be most important to assessing the Exponent for yourself. As we talk about the different features of rainwear, we’ll point out where the Exponent excels.
When a jacket is breathable, that means it can transfer sweat vapor. The moist, warm arm that’s trapped inside the jacket is attracted to the colder, drier air outside, which is when the transfer occurs. The more efficient the transfer, the less clammy and the drier you’ll feel. Outdoor brands have tried to nail down this technology for years. While there isn’t a universal type of testing, certification or standard, you’ll find that the Exponent jacket has excellent venting, mainly thanks to its vented underarms.
While materials will vary between brands or jacket models, performance rain jacket fabric has either a coating or membrane that is able to block rain while remaining breathable. Rainwear usually has a durable water repellent (DWR) finish that will cause precipitation to bead up and roll off the fabric. Being water repellent is different from being water resistant – water resistance refers to the overall ability of the rainwear to prevent water from penetrating the fabric.
In order to keep you protected, rain jackets have a coating or membrane between layers. The outer layer repels rain and withstands abrasion and the inner layer protects the inside of the jacket from wear-and-tear. There are three types of rain jacket designs: two layers, 2.5 layers and three layers.
The two-layer design is quieter than other designs, meaning the jacket won’t be noisy as you move. This is the type of rainwear that’s best for urban areas or travel. A 2.5 layer jacket is the lightest option you can find; this is the type of construction the Exponent has. A three-layer jacket is the most robust type you’ll find and it’s best for harsh environments, like hiking in the backcountry.
Every jacket offers some amount of water resistance – there’s more protection from wet conditions than if you didn’t have the jacket at all. Beyond that, though, it’s important to understand the difference between water resistant jackets and waterproof ones. Knowing this will tell you just how much water protection the jacket can offer.
Water resistant jackets are breathable and can handle light rain for a limited amount of time. However, if the rain lasts for a long time or starts coming down either heavier or sideways, a water-resistant jacket isn’t going to be much of a help.
This means that the jacket can keep out even heavy rain. While the actual testing standards will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, a jacket that’s called “waterproof” should stand up to downpours.
Not only will this type of jacket keep you protected from rain, but it will also vent your sweat so you don’t overheat. This type of jacket is good for outdoor activities that work up a sweat – so, hiking vs. running errands. These jackets offer a sort of waterproofing both inside and out, keeping precipitation off your skin and also getting rid of perspiration as best as possible. Note that this is the type of jacket the Exponent is and we talk a lot more about the Exponent’s breathability later on.
An example of a waterproof, non-breathable jacket is a poncho – the rain will stay out, but you’ll get hot if you start to exert yourself. These jackets aren’t a good choice for any type of outdoor exercise.
When it comes to how rain jackets are priced, prepare to pay a little more for better quality. While rain jackets may feel light and therefore not worthy of a steeper price tag, what you’re really paying for is the research, development, and testing of rain jacket technology, which is all directly related to how well it can perform in less-than-perfect conditions.
The Exponent jacket by Mountain Hardwear is a fantastic, breathable, waterproof jacket. It can also stand up to some windy conditions (though for heavy wind, you may want a different type of jacket).
Right now, the men’s jacket comes in four colors on the Mountain Hardwear website: Manta Grey, Black, Dark Zinc and Rustic Gold. It comes in five sizes: small, medium, large, extra large and double XL.
Most customers find that theExponent is true to fit and is comfortable, even when climbing and wearing a harness and a helmet – it’s not too bulky for advanced outdoor activities beyond casual hiking. Also, most customers find that the Exponent is roomy enough to add a base layer for warmth.
While most customers say that the fit is true to size, some find that it runs a little small, particularly in the shoulders and sleeves. For the most part, though, most customers feel the fit is perfect.
While you may find it easy to put a layer on underneath even when ordering the jacket in your regular size, if you’re going to need extra or bulkier layers (like for being outdoors in snowfall), consider getting the next size up.
Refer to the size chart here.
If you order from the Mountain Hardwear website, you can return your jacket within 60 days of the date of purchase. Note that the jacket has to be in its original condition, which means unworn and with the tags still attached. That means that you can try the jacket on for fit and comfort, but you shouldn’t test it out on a hike if you think you may return it.
In this section, we’ll talk some more about the Exponent’sfeatures that stand out and cover its (very few) drawbacks.
The women’s Exponent Jacket by Mountain Hardwear it comes in three colors: Black, Headlamp and Blue Print. It comes in five sizes: extra small, small, medium, large and extra large. You can find information about sizing and fit here.
Other than colors and sizes (both available sizes and sizing information), the women’s Exponent is the same as the men’s in terms of fabrics, technology, performance, and fit.
If you’re going to be moving around outside for something like climbing or hiking, you absolutely need a breathable jacket. If you think you could get caught in heavy rain, you can’t opt for water resistance over waterproofing. When it comes to those two needs, the Exponent totally has you covered. It’s practically impervious in anything but extra harsh conditions and it can easily pack away when you no longer need it. Unless you’re one of the few who has an issue with the fit, this jacket will be comfortable even with a warm layer underneath. With its 60-day return policy, we feel that there’s almost no reason to not give the Exponent a try.
Lindsay started her freelance career in 2009 and writes about adventure sports and outdoor gear. As a columnist in New York, she also covers restaurants, nightlife and events. She loves hiking in the Hudson Valley, horseback riding and trying everything twice.