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Does anyone have the Mountain Hardwear Kepler Jacket?
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Feb 15, 2012
The Dry Q technology seems promising, does anyone have any experience with it? Also, Supertopo's review of the softshell said it didn't allow for very good range of movement. MH seems to be stepping their game up a little bit lately, I and was curious to see how this piece measured up. It's also a bit on the pricey side, (like dead bird softshell price range). Dingus
Joined Dec 11, 2011
45 points
Feb 15, 2012
I've been using the Kepler as my go to shell jacket most of this winter. It breaths well, I don't think I can say that enough. I'm able to wear it during approaches and while touring, while my partners are overheating and striping their shells, I'm quite comfortable. With that said it gets a bit cold when I'm standing around. A puffy is a must.

It climbs well. I have to adjust the cuffs from time to time to keep them from slipping down, but not the end of the world.

The main reason that I got this shell is that I felt it nicely combines a softshell and hardshell . For the majority of my winter climbs I've been approaching and climbing in a softshell and keeping a 3-layer hardshell in my pack as an 'oh shit' jacket. With the Kepler I find no need to carry a hard shell anymore.

Basically I wear this jacket all day climbing and skiing and barley notice it, can't ask for more than that in my opinion.
From Boulder, CO
Joined Mar 29, 2010
0 points
Feb 16, 2012
Nice, sounds like it's a really solid piece. When it comes time to buy this my be the shell i decide to go for. Dingus
Joined Dec 11, 2011
45 points
Oct 9, 2012
Do you still want to buy one? I have a large that is in amazing shape that I want to get rid of.... TSpiegelberg
From Sheridan, Wyoming
Joined May 18, 2012
363 points
Oct 11, 2012
the Dry Q elite breathes really well. much colder than proshell when it's windy and you're on a ski lift though.

MHW stuff seems to be pretty hit or miss these days. Innovative ideas but they never seem to get it just right like patagonia or arcteryx. there is always something wrong - like the hood on a ski jacket is too small to fit over a helmet, or the cut is weird, or the zippers are sticky...etc.

They do make some good stuff but overall I've been disapointed more often than not. buyer beware...
From Bay Area, CA
Joined May 23, 2011
0 points
Jan 14, 2013
I own this jacket. First impressions are great but there are some things to consider.
First off, I bought this as a srping, summer, fall shell (I realize it's listed as a softshell, but it is for all intents and purposes a shell).
1) This jacket is quieter than any shell I've owned, it moves and bends well too. It is bombprood and take rubbing up against rocks, branches, or most any abbrasive surface nature can throw at you.
2) Best hood i've ever seen/worn. It's hard to put it in words, you have to wear it to believe it. I've never worn a hood where it actually turns with your head, left to right, up and down. It does this without having it to be super tight. Best perephiral vision I've expirienced with a hood on. Most hoods I've worn are limited in movement or allow your head to turn, but stay put giving a "horse blinder" effect. It is three-way adjustable, and glove friendly.
3) Breathability. Just superb, no green-house/microclimate effect.
4)Waterproofness; So far so good, no issues at all. 40,000 rating for waterproofness and breathability. Unlike gortex were a certain amount of vapour needs to build up before it starts releasing/breathing, DryQ breathes from the start.
5) Windproof; I've worn this in high winds and it protects well.
6) Lots of storage in the pockets. Because the pockets are mesh lined, you can store items up to you high chest area. From the inside the chest is all a soft mesh, if needed you can fits gloves, a scarve, neck gaiter, toque, and other gear as long as it can fit in the pocket opening.


1) Layering; I would recommend to size up if you plan on primarily using this a winter shell. It can get a little constricting when layering up with this piece. Especially if your midlayer is a heavier/warmer piece. Though, once you are layered up you do feel like you're wearing Batman's armour.

2) Low collar/small circumference; For truly windy, gusty, white-out winter conditions this shell would not be suitable in my opinion. The collar is not high enough nor big enough to allow for layering with baselayers and midlayers that have a zip up collar (turtleneck style). Even with a crew neck mid or baselayer there is not much room at all to tuck yuor chin in for protection.

3) Thumbloops; I have a gripe with thumbloops on most jackets or shells. For one it is a fabric around you wrists, the one area most likely to get wet first from adjusting equiptment, raising your hands over your head in the rain, adjusting snowsnow straps in powder, etc. Even if you sinch the velcro cuffs this can still happen. In urban environments I suppose they're nice though. It's nice until it gets wet. Then it's just plain uncomfortable, and potentially aweful in the winter. Gets wet with snow, melts with your bodyheat, then when you stop moving your wrists are freezing. This is not so much an issue with the MHW Kepler, but with thumbloops in general.

Pockets: Hip pockets are not suitable with packs hip-belts. They will cross over the zipper opening.

Final verdict; I am happy with this shell. It's breathability and waterproofness alone are worth the buy. It is a GREAT Spring, summer, and fall shell. It is suitable for winter but not ideal. Layered up, you are very warm and armoured. Though in my case, because I didn't size up, my neck is sometimes constricted like I mentioned. In the future I might purchase a winter shell with a high collar like the Arc'teryx Sidewinder or Alpha series. Or a MHW Dry Q with the same features. If you are a minimalist, and are ok with the cons I mentioned, this could absolutley be a 4 season shell for you. It is for me, I'd give it a 8 for year round use. A 9 for spring,summer, fall use.
Joined Jan 14, 2013
0 points
Jan 15, 2013
I own the original Drystein jacket, which uses DryQ Elite. To the best of my testing, the fabric performs as advertised: exceptionally breathable and fully waterproof, with some stretch. The fabric is not windproof, which I find to be an acceptable trade off as I always have a belay jacket.

The alpine line by MH has a very athletic fit, so while I typically can get away with Small sizes, the medium Drystein is very body hugging. Size larger yet if you want this to fit over heavier or multiple insulating pieces.

From Edmonton, AB
Joined Nov 30, 2012
0 points
Jan 20, 2013
I have a Kepler. It's pretty much everything that Babaganoush says couple posts up. Con: I'm not as enamored with the hood as he is, but my little pinhead probably doesn't fit as well to start with. It works good with a helmet, not good without. This is a common complaint for me of various jackets though.

Next, there a lot of other sweet softshells on the market, the Kepler moves a little less freely than most, including Mt Hardwares own stuff (which will not hold back rain at all). Yet this is the good part, the Kepler isn't just a nice softshell, it is perhaps the best rain jacket made. And it's a softshell! Now understand that "best" is pretty damned subjective. I'll start by saying that @ 3 years back Dane Burns subjected a bunch of rain jackets to use and abuse to see what he thought was perhaps THE best. You'd recognize the names, all the top contenders were looked at. The top one then after it all shook out was the First Ascent (Eddie Bauers mountaineering line) Frontpoint rain jacket. I ran right out and bought one to replace my aging and leaking North Face shell. Liked it, bought a backup. Last year I bought a Patagonia Torrentshell. (The Frontpoint is better.)

So, with that as a my limited experience backdrop, I accepted Danes judgement (still trust his every word btw), I didn't personally go look at all those various jackets then spend all that time in the shower or climbing on sort of frozen ice in a waterfall. Didn't need too.

Then mid last year or so I got the bro deal at Mt Hardware, wanted a softshell, saw that the Kepler was claimed to be "waterproof", so I grabbed it thinking I could take it and leave the raincoat on occasions. Meh, we all know softshells are not waterproof. Heh, learned me they did. Little did I know. Comparing the Kepler to the First Ascent Frontpoint, the Kepler kicks its ass for waterproofness and maneuverability. It's a "waterproof softshell". Which comes off sounding much like "Healthy twinkies" or "healthy cake". These aren't 2 words that ever go together. But as Dane said when I told him about the Keplers superior waterproofness, materials are changing and evolving - for the better, By the time you read this, the process to Mfg the Kepler may have bitten the dust from another Mfg's new product that kicks it's ass.

Overpriced? Yes, but not if you are getting your ass handed to you in a storm far into the backcountry.

I looked for that Burns review and didn't find it, but he's got a great one posted on Cascadeclimbers for layering synthetic belay jackets you might check out to understand his methodology. He's suggesting that you might not want to use a soft shell at all in Mountains. (I'm in the lowlands 90 percent of the time and really have to deal with the rain and high winds, whereas this was written regarding Mt Climbing in snow and cold. Danes got it clicking and is a trustworthy dude IMO.
Joined Mar 16, 2006
570 points

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