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Apparel Review

A flexible fleece for backcountry fishing, the Ozone, from Mountain Hardwear

Date: 5/30/02
Tackle type: Apparel
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 9.08

Introduction: When most of us think tackle the first thought that usually comes to mind are rods and reels, but one of the most important pieces of gear is the right clothing. This clothing offers protection from the elements, enabling us to fish longer and harder. Mountain Hardwear produces a flexible new fleece that is ideal for backcountry fishing that is able to exceed angler demands through the use of exciting new Polartec

Mountain Hardwear Ozone Jacket Specs

Material Polartec Wind Pro/Power Stretch
Weight 1lb 3oz
Sizes Available Small, Med, Large, X-Large
Color Black, Midnight, Moss, Salsa, Slate
Fastening (Adjustment) Zippers, Drawcord
Price as tested $125.00

Impressions: Anglers stalking trout in the backcountry have to rely on their apparel to provide protection from all the elements. Fleece apparel is popular among anglers because for the most part it is comfortable and has excellent thermal capabilities. However, some anglers shy away from fleeces because they are bulky and are not rugged enough. From the first moment I set eyes on the Ozone jacket from Mountain Hardwear I knew this was a different type of fleece. The Ozone is very streamline, form fitting, and featured what appeared to be a very tight knit durable exterior. When we first asked Mountain Hardware about a good garment for backcountry anglers they immediately recommended the Ozone based on its light weight   and yet surprisingly formidable characteristics.


The Ozone is one fleece that is designed to be sleek and form fitting


The Materials/Colors: Before embarking on our field test we did some research on the new Polartec materials that the Ozone was crafted from. It turns out that Polartec materials are among the most flexible materials in terms of thermal and moisture handling. The outer skin of the Ozone is made of Polartec WindPro, which offers four times the wind protection of traditional fleece without compromising breathability. Highly compressible and lightweight, the dense WindPro fleece is able to trap body heat efficiently, while its water-repellent exterior sheds light rain and snow.


If you have ever fished for backcountry Browns you know that these fish spook easily.....I mean REAL easy! Mountain Hardwear has a couple color options for the Ozone. The Salsa and Midnight colors will make you stand out in the environment, good for climbing and hiking, but for anglers the moss and slate colors are excellent for blending into the surroundings. During our test we surveyed how close we could get to the fish with different colors, and sure enough with the moss Ozone we were able to get right up to the edge of the river without spooking the Browns, something we were not able to do with a ordinary white t-shirt on.


Close up you can see the actual texture of Ozone fleece


The Field Test: We tested the Ozone by hiking into the backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park. Home to some of the largest Sequoias in the world, as well as a the natural home to Golden and Brown trout. During the field test the Ozone encountered heavy spray from waterfalls, blazing sun, submersion in rivers, and even an unexpected thunderstorm.

The Ozone jacket features two large pockets that can hold some small gear, but is best suited as a warm sanctuary for freezing hands

Durability: The outer layer of the Ozone jacket is much more durable then it looks. One key thing we noted as a major improvement over traditional bulkier fleece materials was the low profile of the Polartec material. When off trail and navigating bushes and sharp rocks the fleece never snagged up, and when it encountered a sharp obstacle it resisted damage very well. To reduce wear and tear on high stress areas like the cuffs and arms the Ozone is buffered with Polartec Power Stretch. Polartec Power Stretch has four way stretch capabilities and also effectively draws moisture away from the skin while remaining durable on the outside.

The Ozone's inner lining is an effective wind shield

Storage: The Ozone doesn't offer a whole lot of storage as the whole fleece is designed to be form fitting. The Ozone is designed to be used as a mid layer garment beneath an outer shell so this makes sense. The two pockets on the Ozone are mid body and are best suited for warming hands rather then large tools which you will feel pressed up against you. To carry all your backcountry gear you will still want to wear a pack of some sort.

The Ozone collar is adjusted quickly with a draw cord...which can double as a convenient place to hang a trout net

Wind Resistant: Here is where the Ozone really shines. With its advanced materials and form fitting design it is a fantastic resistant of medium to high winds. The collar can be zipped all the way up to protect your neck and even drawn tight to lock in heat via a quick draw cord. Even in high winds the Ozone allowed us to comfortably continue fishing.

The high stress areas utilize Polartec Power Stretch material

Water Resistant: The Ozone is enhanced to protect anglers from light to medium wet conditions. It isn't waterproof, and for heavy conditions you will still want to wear a shell, but for light to medium situations it is fantastic. When we were fishing near a waterfall we were constantly facing mist which simply beaded off the Ozone's outer surface. During day two of our test we found ourselves 5 miles away from the campsite when an unexpected thunderstorm hit. After 5 miles of hiking the outer layer of the Ozone was soaked, but I still remained warm inside, and was amazed to discover my t-shirt still dry after removing the jacket back at camp. The Ozone dries quickly after getting wet as well, and in light conditions most of the water can simply be brushed or shaken off the surface.

Water beads off the enhanced water resistant surface

Warmth: The use of Polartec Wind Pro basically equates to warmth without weight. The Ozone offers a high warmth to weight ratio and is able to trap body heat in while blocking wind and water out. Simply put, the system works.

Finding suitable fishing holes while hiking alongside raging rivers and negotiating heavy water spray was a lot easier with the Ozone


Applications: I found the Ozone jacket to be near perfect for backcountry applications. In extreme conditions you will want the added protection and storage of a shell, and the Ozone works well in this system. One of the best things about the Ozone is that it is very lightweight and folds down to a very small size, making it a great choice for backcountry fishing where space and weight a major factors.


The excellent wind and water repelling capabilities of the Ozone also make the jacket a good choice for bass boat owners like myself that want something light and easy to move in, but still warm enough and able shield out the wind and spray.



Mountain Hardwear Ozone Jacket Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A fantastic fleece jacket that can stand alone or as a mid-layer garment for extreme conditions 10
Performance Excellent wind resistant characteristics and good water repellent surface help you fish longer and harder. Good color choices help backcountry anglers camouflage 9.5
Price Actually a very reasonable price for a high quality fleece garment with use of authentic Polartec materials 9
Features Use of advanced materials, a quick draw cord are the key features of this jacket. We wish it had just a little more storage. 8
Design (Ergonomics) A fantastic design that is light, not bulky, and very form fitting. It is ideal for hiking to those out of reach fishing destinations 9
Application  Great for backcountry anglers, and good for bass fisherman who need wind protection too. Coupled with a shell the Ozone can even serve saltwater anglers too. Very flexible! 9

Total Score (avg)


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Great Construction L Limited storage
J Great Comfort L Need a shell for extreme conditions
J Polartec materials  
J Excellent wind resistance  
J Good moisture resistance  
J Great price  

Conclusion: Mountain Hardwear has designed a jacket that is extremely flexible due to its compact and lightweight design. Use of advanced Polartec
materials give the Ozone jacket a perfect balance of weight to performance ratio. I highly recommend the Ozone for light to medium backcountry fishing applications, and heavy to extreme applications if coupled with a good shell. You will find yourself not only fishing longer with comfort, but more empowered to navigate hairy conditions off trail as well as stalk native brooks and browns without spooking them. If you are in the market for a flexible fleece jacket, then you should definitely check out the very comfortable and capable Mountain Hardwear Ozone.


Until next time....Tight Lines









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