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Apparel Review

Exposure II, a bombproof multi-purpose waterproof/breathable parka, from Mountain Hardwear

Date: 1/08/03
Tackle type: Apparel
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Reviewer: Nature Boy

Total Score: 8.83


Introduction:  Mountain Hardwear. A name synonymous with extreme alpine climbs in the Himalayas, MH is a leading provider of high quality equipment for the most demanding outdoor endeavors. So how does that relate to fishing? Well, when you're out fishing in the Eastern Sierras as much as Nature Boy is, high quality technical gear can make or break your trip. The Exposure II parka is designed for just about anything you can throw at it. I have used it for fishing, hiking, snowboarding, even on a winter ascent of Mt. Whitney, and it has never failed to keep me warm and dry. Whether you're patiently trying to lure that trophy trout during a rainstorm in the Sierras, or waiting out a snowstorm on Cho Oyu, this jacket may be the last one you'll ever need.


Mountain Hardwear Exposure II Parka Specs

Material Dobby-weave nylon shell, Coolmax lining, 2-layer Conduit laminate
Weight 2lbs 2oz
Sizes Available Small, Med, Large, X-Large, XX-Large
Color Dark Salsa, Eucalyptus, Storm Blue, Titanium
Fastening (Adjustment) Zippers, Drawcord
Price as tested $250.00

Impressions: A durable outer shell jacket is your first defense against the elements while fishing or during any other outdoors pursuit.  It can mean the difference between having the time of your life, and being cold, wet, and miserable.  Waterproof/breathable jackets are steadily increasing in popularity, as they offer superior protection to rain and wind, while not sacrificing comfort by actively transporting moisture away from your body through a breathable membrane sandwiched between the fabric.  My first impression of the Exposure II parka was that it looked and felt very durable.  But at the same time, its attractive and form fitting design made it functional for both urban and wilderness expeditions.


The dobby-weave nylon and dual color scheme make this jacket both stylish and functional


The Materials/Colors:  Waterproof/breathable membrane technology has been revolutionized since the invention of Gore-Tex over 20 years ago, and since then, many manufacturers have raced to design their own proprietary membrane technologies.  Mountain Hardwear is no exception.  It has developed its own waterproof/breathable laminate technology, known as Conduit.  This unique membrane is made up of interconnected hydrophilic and hydrophobic molecules that actively work to draw moisture vapor away from the body. This process accelerates as the moisture concentration rises, so the more you sweat, the more vapor the garment transpires. Because the Conduit membrane doesn’t rely on micro pores, it presents a continuous waterproof barrier and can maintain phenomenal waterproofness under pressure.  The Exposure II parka has a shell of soft, durable, dobby-weave nylon laminated to a 2-layer Conduit membrane, and a separate, moisture-moving CoolMax mesh lining, which efficiently transports moisture away from the body while preventing external moisture from getting in.



Two long pit zips are highly effective in preventing overheating during warmer weather


The Field Test: I have tested the Exposure II in a variety conditions, ranging from mild rain around the town, to sub-freezing snowstorms in the Sierras.  My most recent test was during a weekend camping/fishing trip to the Eastern Sierras, just outside of the eastern border of Yosemite near Tioga Pass.  We were situated near 10,000 ft. in elevation, and we encountered rain, hail, and light snow, in addition to temperatures in the mid-teens at night.

While my friends had retreated to the safety of their tents because all their clothes were wet, I was landing this beautiful brown

Durability: The outer layer of the Exposure II is surprisingly durable, so much so that no additional reinforcement is needed, unlike with many other similar jackets.  Having previously owned the industry standard waterproof/breathable parka, the North Face Mountain Light Parka, I can definitely say that the Exposure II is significantly more durable.  Its dobby nylon weave gives an extra sense of protection when battling through brush or scrambling up stream to get to those secret fishing holes.  The only downside is its weight, with the jacket weighing in at just over 2 lbs.  The fabric is also stiffer than most nylon laminated jackets, but not to the point where it is restricting or uncomfortable.

A close up of the dobby-weave nylon fabric

Storage: The Exposure II offers many internal and external pockets for storage, which is a godsend when its too cold/wet outside to wear your favorite fishing vest.  It features two large external zippered pockets, as well as a internal mesh water bottle pocket, a zippered internal security pocket, and a Napoleon pocket behind the front zipper.  I found that the front two pockets were more than adequate in size, readily accessible, and easily opened and closed with just one hand (very useful when you're wearing gloves).  The internal pockets were very useful for storing valuables, and for keeping critical items dry (cameras etc.).   

The Exposure II parka features two large front pockets that can hold a surprising amount of gear

Wind Resistant:  As expected, the Conduit membrane combined with the dense nylon dobby weave fabric made the Exposure II virtually impenetrable to wind.  So much so that it was actually hard to hear when I had the form fitting hood on.

The white Conduit membrane can be seen through the Coolmax mesh lining, which offers a highly effective wind barrier

Waterproofness / Breathability:  I was first a little unsure about how MH's Conduit technology would stack up against the industry standard, Gore-Tex.  After countless jaunts in the rain and snow, I can pretty safely say that Conduit works just as well, if not better, than Gore-Tex.  So much so, that I sold my North Face Mountain Light (Gore-Tex) parka a few months after getting the Exposure II.  I have yet to encounter a situation where I've been wet and miserable.  Even in heavy rain, the Exposure II stood up nicely, and I was amazed at how well the jacket shed water.  The dobby nylon weave repelled rain more efficiently than standard nylon, and prevented "saturation" of the outer layer with water, as often occurs with similar jackets during extreme wet weather.

All that was left after a cup of water was poured on my sleeve

Warmth: Even though the Exposure II is not insulated, it is surprisingly warm even on its own.  Combined with a fleece jacket, it has kept me warm and dry even in sub-freezing conditions.  In warmer weather, the pit zips are highly effective in preventing overheating.

Still dry, warm, and happy even after a 1,000 ft. glissade down the main chute of Mt. Whitney trail


Applications: Whether you're looking for a technical mountaineering parka for an alpine climb, or just a durable jacket to keep you dry during the rainy season, this jacket will not disappoint.  Combined with a fleece jacket, such as the MH Ozone, which was recently reviewed by Zander, you'll have a bombproof system that will keep you warm and dry even in the harshest conditions.



Mountain Hardwear Exposure II Parka Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A very well constructed parka made with quality materials and a high attention to details. 9
Performance Excellent wind/water proofness and breathability.  Conduit laminate is competitive to Gore-Tex. Dobby weave nylon is tough, but a little on the heavy side. 9
Price A bit expensive for wearing around the town, but worth its weight in gold when the conditions get nasty. 7.5
Features Numerous easily accessible pockets and storage compartments come in very handy.  Everything is well laid out and functional. 9
Design (Ergonomics) Well fitting, great ergonomic hood, highly adjustable to your body form. 9
Application Great for just about anything where you're going to be outdoors and its going to be cold and wet. 9.5

Total Score (avg)


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Great Construction L A bit heavy 
J Very Durable L Not as packable as other comparable jackets
J Looks nice L A bit pricey
J Excellent wind resistance  
J Excellent waterproofness/breathability  

Conclusion: Mountain Hardwear has come out with another winning combination of form and function, by combining its dobby-weave nylon fabric with its patented Conduit laminate technology, the Exposure II.  This jacket may be overkill for the casual roadside angler, but when you're out golden trout fishing in the middle of the Ansel Adams Wilderness 30 miles from the nearest trailhead, and the sky opens up, you'll be very glad to own one...










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