We took the Mountain Hardwear BoundarySeeker jacket and pants into the backcountry and to the resort. They’re definitely better for one over the other. Here’s why. By David Wolinetz. (Pants review by Vince Hempsall.)
The Mountain Hardwear BoundarySeeker pant and jacket are unique. They use Polartech’s NeoShell which is a relatively new material that is gaining ground in the outdoor industry. NeoShell is a fully air permeable material that sacrifices some top end waterproofness relative to Goretex in exchange for greater breathability. In theory this might seem to be a worthwhile trade off but to check it out, we headed into the backcountry terrain in the mountains near our homes in Nelson, British Columbia, as well as Whitewater Ski Resort to find out for ourselves.
Snapshot: Mountain Hardwear BoundarySeeker Jacket
- Pros: A durable and highly breathable jacket with a distinct style.
- Cons: A fussy main zipper and limited hood adjustability limit its utility for touring.
- Price: $700 Cdn
- Who Should Buy: People who struggle to get enough breathability from Goretex and want a stylish jacket that moves well.
- Who Shouldn’t Buy: Dedicated tourers.
- Helpful Hack: There is a hidden goggle wipe tucked away in a small pocket on the left forearm.
- Author’s overall rating: 7.5/10
Snapshot: Mountain Hardwear BoundarySeeker Pants
- Pros: Super comfortable.
- Cons: Not as breathable as I was expecting.
- Price: $500 Cdn
- Who Should Buy: People who ski resorts that boast big powder days.
- Who Shouldn’t Buy: Dedicated tourers.
- Helpful Hack: The pants can be integrated to the jacket. Simply remove the suspenders and snow skirt and then zip into the jacket with the same zipper.
- Author’s overall rating: 7/10
The Verdict of the Boundaryseeker Jacket
Although I did find that the jacket was somewhat more prone to wetting out in very damp conditions, its breathability was notably better than Goretex shells I have used in the past. I tend to run hot when I am active, and I almost always have to take my jacket off when I am on an up-track, even in relatively stormy conditions. With the BoundarySeeker the combination of the pit zips and the NeoShell material allowed me to leave the jacket on while I was skinning in inclement weather. Mountain Hardwear have gone one step further adding additional zippered vents on the chest of the jacket close to the main zipper. I am not sure how much additional ventilation this really adds to the jacket, but it does give the user more options and allows for access to the internal pockets.
In general Mountain Hardwear have made a number of interesting design choices with the BoundarySeeker, that give it a somewhat distinct and stylish appearance. The colour is listed as “crevasse” on their webpage, but I would describe it as a highly saturated teal with a lot of pop. During the review period I received multiple compliments and comments on the jacket while I was wearing it around town. The jacket also has two waist level hand pockets which are great for cold days around town and easy access on the ski hill.
Unfortunately, those same hand pockets land under the waist strap of my backpack when I am ski touring. Overall, the jacket is better suited to use on the ski hill than in the backcountry. I found the hood to be somewhat lacking in adjustability and this made it difficult to achieve a fit that allowed for good uphill visibility while I was touring. Mountain Hardwear have also chosen to use a fairly heavy face material. While this gives the jacket great durability and a good hang, it also adds some extra weight and makes it somewhat bulky to stow in a backpack. As a final note the double zipper can be somewhat fussy. This isn’t such a big deal when you are taking the jacket off once or twice a day on the ski hill, but it can be a bit of nuisance when you are taking it on and off multiple times a day while ski touring.
The BoundarySeeker is well built, breathable, and stylish jacket that comes along with a couple quirks. Overall, it’s better suited for someone who spends most of their days on the ski hill and wants a jacket with some stylistic flair, rather than a dedicated ski tourer.
The Verdict of the Boundaryseeker Pants
I’m a big bibs fan when it comes to backcountry skiing. Especially around my home in the Kootenays where the snow is light and deep and can easily work its way into your gitch if you’re not careful. The fact the Boundaryseeker pants can be worn as a bib or zipped into the jacket for extra epic snow days is a plus. I took these pants on a week-long trip at the the Lequreux Outpost in the Valhallas and the snow was indeed deep — 40cm fell in just one night. The pants performed excellently in terms of keeping the snow on the outside.
They’re also super comfortable. The Polartech NeoShell has a lot of give meaning you can lunge into turns on the slope or stretch in them afterwards without any restrictions. That said, I was a bit disappointed by the material’s breathability. For a textile that boasts its super breathable, I found myself sweating in them on the walk ups. They do have side zippers but because the snow was so deep, I didn’t want to open them for fear the snow would fall in and soak my socks.
Finally, I’m not a huge fan of the two large pockets on the Boundaryseeker pants. I’d prefer standard sizes and maybe a back pocket or a cargo one. But that’s a small point. Since that first backcountry trip with the pants, I’ve been using them exclusively at the resort where their comfort is very welcome and where I don’t have to worry about breaking into a sweat on the up.
- MSRP jacket: $700 Cdn
- MSRP pants: $500 Cdn
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Weight jacket: 792g / 1Ib 12oz
- Weight pants: 744g / 1Ib 10oz
- Colours jacket: shark, altitude, blue, crevasse
- Colours pants: black, zinc