Mountain Hardwear has launched one of its lightest jackets yet, the Kor AirShell Hoody. Is it still fly after heavy use? Editor Vince Hempsall reviews.
Ever since its launch in 1993, Mountain Hardwear has been upping the ante on the outdoor jacket market. The company has been responsible for big innovations in the Gore-tex realm starting with its Exposure Parka, and has also advanced designs with PolarTech and down. Although technically superior, their first offerings tended to be robust and heavy. But not anymore. With the launch of its new Kor AirShell Hoody, which only weighs 146 grams, less than a hockey puck, Mountain Hardwear has proven its a heavy-hitter in the lightweight space.
Snapshot: Mountain Hardwear Kor AirShell Hoody
- Pros: Who knew something so light could be so bomber!?
- Cons: No adjustability on the hood, cuffs, or hem.
- Price: $160 Cdn
- Who Should Buy: Casual adventurers.
- Who Shouldn’t Buy: People who love running in sleet.
- Helpful Hack: The inner pocket doubles as a stuff sack.
- Author’s overall rating: 9/10
I’ll say up front the Mountain Hardwear Kor AirShell Hoody never went on a run with me. Ever. Not because it isn’t the perfect garment for that sort of thing, I just really, really dislike running. What I did use it for was a lot of rock climbing at the local crags and in the alpine. I also wore it hiking, camping, mountain biking, walking the steep hills of Nelson, British Columbia, the mountain town where I live, and standing around sipping coffee while watching my young kids narrowly avoid carnage at the bike park.
I’m typically adverse to reviewing lightweight garments made for alpine runners. It’s not a sport I’m good at, or much interested in, and I have issues with many of the products and their lack of longevity. I made an exception for the Kor Airshell Hoody though because a friend who used to rep Mountain Hardwear said its incredibly versatile for the weight. He wasn’t wrong. The first thing I noticed about the jacket is the fabric: it’s as thin as tissue paper, or at least it feels like it when you slip it on. But having stood in the alpine wind in the Bugaboos wearing it, I can confirm its robustness. I was shivering at a belay station on a multi-pitch route and my merino long sleeve, soft shell, and light down jacket weren’t doing the trick so I threw the Kor AirShell over all of it and voila, toasty. It helped keep the wind at bay but more importantly the elasticized cuffs on the wrists, hem, and hood kept the warmth in. The slight stretchiness of the Pertex fabric allowed it to rest over the three other layers no problem and I still had mobility. So much so, I seconded a few pitches wearing it like this, as an outer shell, and saw no discernible damage despite scuffing it against the hard granite.
After that experience I took the Kor AirShell everywhere. It packs into its own inner pocket to the size of a baseball and weighs less than one so why not lob it into your mountain bike waist bag, backpack, or diaper bag? I mostly wore it as an external layer although I once got caught out in the rain and was happy to have had an outer shell to throw over it as it’s not designed to repel a lot of water.
It packs into its own inner pocket to the size of a baseball and weighs less than one so why not lob it into your mountain bike waist bag, backpack, or diaper bag?
Another thing I like about the Mountain Hardwear Kor Airshell Hoody is its simple, clean lines. I’ve seen other lightweight jackets that don’t even have pockets but this one has two zippered hand pockets that are hidden on the side seams making for a perfectly smooth silhouette. And more than once I was happy to have the zippered pockets as I stumbled and envisioned my phone dropping out and careening into an abyss. The simplicity of the jacket’s design does mean there are a few sacrifices though. For example, there aren’t any ventilation features, but I found the Pertex fabric to be so breathable I didn’t miss it. Nor are there any adjustment tabs on the cuffs, hem, or hood. Yes, they are elasticized and I personally didn’t find any issues with the openings as they comfortably sealed around my under layers, but for people with small faces, thin wrists or small waists, you’ll definitely want to try this jacket on before buying.
All told, I love the versatility of the Mountain Hardwear Kor AirShell Hoody and because it’s so light and barely takes up any room when stuffed, I’ve made it a part of my regular kit no matter what sport I’m involved in.
Mountain Hardwear Kor AirShell Hoody – The Deets
- MSRP: $160 Cdn
- Weight: 146 grams (5.1 oz)
- Sizes: S-XXL
- Colours: Desert Red, Surplus Green, Dark Caspian, Black
- Made of ripstop Pertex Quantum Air fabric
- Elastic binding on hood for secure fit
- Raglan sleeve construction and underarm gussets
- Two zippered hand pockets
- Internal drop pocket
- Elastic binding on cuffs and hem
- Reflective heat transfer MHW logo on the chest
- For more info: mountainhardwear.ca
Author’s Note: Mountain Culture Group is not paid for these reviews. They are honest expressions of our opinions. In some instances we are given the product to keep but that does not sway our assessment. If we dislike a product and feel it would score a rating of less than 5/10, we simply won’t review it.