[GEAR REVIEW] Why I Chose Mountain Hardwear for My Jacket, Gloves, and Backpack in the Backcountry This Winter

Martin Kuprianowicz | | Gear ReviewGear Review
Rocking the Mountain Hardwear Men’s Exposure/2™ GORE-TEX Pro Jacket with the Powabunga 32 Pack in Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT, early season. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

Winter rolled in hard and fast this year. At the time of this writing on December 7, 2022, my home range of the Wasatch in Utah has already seen over 12 feet of snow with base depths in Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons at 5-6 feet. It’s been a banner early winter thus far and we sit at 154% of normal for the state.

So I’ve been busy. I started touring in mid-October and have only taken off a few days here and there. Touring every day requires me to use only the best gear I can get my hands on—something that’s dependable; something that I can rely on and that I know is going to last. That’s why I’m rocking Mountain Hardwear everything this season.

Testing the Mountain Hardwear Men’s Exposure/2™ GORE-TEX Pro Jacket. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

The stuff Mountain Hardwear produces is built to endure. Once I get any of their gear in the mail I don’t have to worry about it giving out on me for at least the next couple of seasons. I’m not made of money and I put a lot of wear on my gear, so I need stuff that will be there for me through thick and thin. That’s exactly why at the start of this season I picked up a new jacket, two sets of gloves, and a badass backcountry pack from the California-based company to help me get the job done this year.

Here’s what I got and how it’s working out for me so far. P.S., that video below is from when I skied the Hallway Couloir in the Wasatch on November 11, rocking all of the Mountain Hardwear gear listed here.

Powabunga 32 Pack

$200 MSRP

The Powabunga 32 Pack is perfect for day missions. On top of being super stylish and attractive, it works like a dream. A durable container for in or out-of-bounds skiing and riding, the Powabunga™ Pack is a versatile, purpose-driven carrying system for those who hitch it up the gondola and exit the backcountry gate. Designed to make the uphill just as effortless and enjoyable as the descent, its ergonomic suspension and unique pivoting hipbelt handles heavy loads, moving with your natural rhythm to comfortably keep weight in position for perfect balance on your skis or board. With multiple access points and a swing-around mode that allows entry without the need for full removal, this pack supports you on the long haul, wherever the slopes lead.

Features include:

  • 500D CORDURA® Nylon is lightweight and durable
  • Full back panel access allowing for easy in-out and packing functionality
  • Unique padded hipbelt system with side-to-side and up-down pivoting mobility
  • Dual large side zip pockets with expandable volume bellow for skins, extra gloves, water bottles
  • Hydration reservoir compatible
  • Dual density shoulder straps with insulated hydration tube routing
  • Removable sternum strap with whistle buckle and multiple lash points
  • Spring steel frame allows flex for mobility, while enabling efficient and stable load transfer to suspension
  • Front avalanche tool pocket with large zip access and tool sleeves
  • Top zip fleece-lined goggle pocket with optional top zip access to main compartment
  • Front helmet hammock stows in pocket and allows helmet carry on front or bottom to accommodate a-frame or diagonal ski carry
  • Stowable bottom diagonal ski loop with quick deploy tab
  • Dual side compression straps with glove friendly buckles and Hypalon reinforced wings
  • Wicking and snow shedding stretch woven back panel with an HDPE framesheet
  • Foam-reinforced front panel to protect against diagonal ski/board edges and tools
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

My personal experience with the Powabunga 32:

I love the pack’s simple design and easy access. The main zipper on the inside of the pack makes it easy to grab items quickly. It’s streamlined and effective—I never have a hard time zipping up or opening the pack, no matter how full it is. The outside pocket is extremely logical for keeping my shovel and probe, with extremely fast access in the event of a rescue. The water bottle pocket on the side is perfect for putting in a hydroflask and having easy access to it without even having to fully take off the bag. This pack was designed intuitively and maximizes comfort and speed when enjoying your time leisurely or when in the throes of a high-intensity rescue situation. On top of it all, this pack looks good. It’s sleek and elegant. It’s not too big or clunky by any means, either. It’s perfect for taking it up the resort to ride with friends or for day missions hunting powder in the backcountry. I highly recommend the Powabunga 32 for anyone who hits the resort or rides the backcountry daily.

To learn more about purchasing Mountain Hardwear’s Powabunga 32 Pack, visit its website at MountainHardwear.com

The water bottle pocket on the Powabunga 32 Pack is a major key. | Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

Men’s Exposure/2 GORE-TEX Pro Jacket

$650 MSRP (Currently on sale for $487.50)

The Men’s Exposure/2™ Gore-Tex Pro Jacket has style, comfort, versatility, and ease. This jacket is light, durable, and warm but also breathable. I take it out on cold, minus-zero days (with a puffy underneath) but also on warm, 30ºF+ days in the sunshine. It’s perfect for any occasion. Mountain Hardwear designed the Exposure/2™ GORE-TEX Pro Jacket to shield climbers and skiers from unrelenting rain, snow, and whatever other gnarly conditions the mountains throw your way. Built with industry-leading, bluesign®-approved GORE-TEX Pro shell fabric, the Exposure/2™ withstands Mother Nature’s worst while remaining incredibly breathable. It’s a capable choice for technical alpine routes, stormy ski tours, and other foul-weather pursuits.

Features include:

  • Center Back Length: 30 in/ 76 cm
  • Imported
  • 3-layer GORE-TEX® PRO utilizes their most breathable waterproof PRO membrane
  • Adjustable helmet-compatible hood
  • Underarm zip vents
  • Two oversized zippered chest pockets
  • Two harness-compatible zippered hand pockets
  • Internal zippered pocket
  • Internal drop pocket
  • Hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs
  • Dual drawcord hem adjustment
  • 1 lb 1 oz / 469.5 g
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

My personal experience with the Men’s Exposure/2™ GORE-TEX Pro Jacket:

I take this jacket anywhere and everywhere. From the resort to the backcountry to the supermarket, it’s my daily driver. It’s light and comfortable, packing down very well in my backpack when I’m touring up. The GORE-TEX technology is quality and is really nice at protecting from strong winds on the top of a ridgeline when transitioning to drop into a line. My favorite thing about it other than how light and comfortable it is to wear (not to mention stylish) are the pockets. The big pockets on the front were designed for easy, speedy access. It makes taking off my skins and throwing them into my front pockets ridiculously simple. The jacket is breathable in warmer, forgiving weather, and protective in cold and brutal conditions. You really can’t go wrong here.

To learn more about purchasing Mountain Hardwear’s Exposure/2 GORE-TEX Pro Jacket, visit its website at MountainHardwear.com

Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

Women’s Boundary Ridge GORE-TEX Jacket 

Women’s Boundary Ridge: $475 MSRP

The women’s Boundary Ridge™ GORE-TEX Jacket is Mountain Hardwear’s toughest, fully featured ski jacket inspired by cat trips, heli drops, and sidecountry storm laps. With 3-layer GORE-TEX® shell fabric, reinforced in key areas for added durability and wet-weather protection, each detail is as intentional as your turns. Minimal layering is necessary with easy adjustments to tailor to any user or occasion and enough storage to keep you well-prepared in the bowls beyond the boundary line, it’s all you need to head out the backcountry gate with total confidence.

Features include: 

  • Center Back Length: 29.5 in / 75 cm
  • Waterproof, breathable 3-layer GORE-TEX® offers reliable protection and comfort
  • Helmet-compatible hood with three-way drawcord adjustment
  • Underarm zip vents
  • Two large zippered chest pockets with gear organization
  • Two lower hand pockets with a hook and loop flap closure and zipper
  • Pass pocket on the sleeve
  • Two way center front zipper
  • Two oversized internal drop pockets for gloves, skins, or goggles
  • Internal powder skirt with jacket to pant integration
  • Dual drawcord hem adjustment
  • Integrated RECCO® avalanche rescue reflector
  • 1 lb 7.7 oz / 673.5 g
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

Experience with the Women’s Boundary Ridge™ GORE-TEX Jacket:

From one of our female reviewers:

One of the first things that stood out to me about this jacket was its streamlined design. I took quick notice of the easily accessible and usefully placed pockets. Finding two near the chest, two hand pocket stuffers, and even a small pocket on the left arm for my ski pass, I fell in love with this jacket. On the slopes, the jacket is extremely comfortable and breathable. It fits well and is true to size, not to mention the deep purple color looks great in contrast to the snow. I’ve worn it with a simple fleece on cold days and have stayed nice and toasty. On warmer days, I’ve worn it with just a base layer and have found it to be just as cozy.

To learn more about purchasing Mountain Hardwear’s Women’s Boundary Ridge GORE-TEX Jacket, visit its website at MountainHardwear.com

Unisex OP Glove

$140 MSRP

The Unisex OP Glove is a short-cuff, top-of-the-line option for all sorts of winter pursuits. It’s the most capable choice for big, technical alpine routes, deep, stormy ski tours, and other foul-weather mountain pursuits. Primaloft Gold™ insulation is fused with a NASA-developed aerogel technology for the highest-performing synthetic insulation that’s warmer than ever before – without adding extra weight. Paired with a low-profile liner glove, it’s an unstoppable backcountry barrier.

Features include: 

  • Durable Pittards™ goat leather with leather overlays in high-wear areas for maximum durability and abrasion resistance
  • Primaloft Gold™ insulation with Cross Core is fused with aerogel technology for the highest level of warmth in any conditions
  • Advanced Pre-curve design enhances comfort by allowing hands to easily maintain natural position
  • External seaming for maximum grip and dexterity
  • Neoprene under-cuff with secure hook and loop closure
  • Reflective carabiner loop
  • 280g fleece combined with tricot palm for ideal warmth and dexterity
  • Reflective carabiner loop
  • Touchscreen-compatible Stimulus™ technology on thumb and index finger
  • Padded foam knuckles
  • 8.3 oz / 235 g
  • Prop 65 Warning For CA Consumers
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

My personal experience with the Unisex OP Glove:

The Unisex OP Gloves are light, durable, warm, and sleek-looking. The leather is extremely reliable and gives great dexterity for messing around with my pack in the backcountry when it’s too cold to take my hands out of my gloves. They’re easy to slip on and off and the touchscreen-compatible Stimulus technology on the thumb and index finger makes creating content in the mountains such a breeze. They’re warm but not too warm for touring up on colder days. I use them every day I’m in the mountains, snow or shine, because they’re solid for any conditions.

To learn more about purchasing Mountain Hardwear’s Unisex OP Glove, visit its website at MountainHardwear.com

Unisex WindLab GORE-TEX Infinium Stretch Glove 

$50 MSRP

The Unisex WindLab Gore-Tex Infinium Stretch Gloves are lightweight, stretch-liner gloves for high-intensity activities or folks who run hot on the skin track. They’re made for high-exertion adventures requiring dexterity, wind protection, and excellent breathability.

Features include:

  • Imported
  • Gore-Tex Infinium™ 3-layer fabric is windproof and breathable
  • Touchscreen-compatible Stimulus™ technology on thumb and index finger
  • Palm overlay for added grip
  • Minimal single-seam design increases dexterity and comfort
  • 2.25 oz/ 64 g
Photo courtesy of SnowBrains

My personal experience with the Unisex WindLab GORE-TEX Infinium Stretch Glove:

These are perfect for the skin track or warm, sunny days. They’re light, stretchy, and breathable—my hands never get too hot in these things, and rarely do they get too cold. They fit in my pocket, taking up virtually zero space because they’re so light and compact. I can use my phone with complete dexterity while I have these on, which is so nice when I’m looking at a map, snagging content, or communicating with others in the mountains. I actually never knew that you could use a phone or camera so well with gloves on before I got my hands on (in) these.

To learn more about purchasing Mountain Hardwear’s Unisex WindLab GORE-TEX Infinium Stretch Glove, visit its website at MountainHardwear.com

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