The Mountain Hardwear Quasar Hybrid Pullover is a ultra lightweight waterproof shell from the Ueli Steck range. Featuring a super-breathable and waterproof Dry.Q™ Elite 15D 3L Ripstop fabric, a low profile hood and elastic gaskets (both in the hood and in the cuffs) this jacket is aimed towards active pursuits (such as ice and rock climbing) in difficult conditions.
The Quasar is a minimalist jacket, the features include rear stretch panels (which allow good freedom of movement when climbing) and excellent elasticated gaskets which seal around the face and cuffs designed to keep the weather out – a minor irritation of these cuff seals is the need to remove gloves before putting the jacket on, but we still preferred this system to the traditional velcro closures used by many manufactures.
Comfort & Fit
Weighing in at just 8.3 oz. / 235 g, the Quasar is incredibly lightweight. The jacket is a pullover design (as it does not have a full length front zipper, which may put some people off), but once on the jacket is comfortable – the hood is designed for use under a helmet (the stretch panel ensures it’s a tight fit). We found the Dry.Q Elite fabric is a little on the crunchy side when compared to other waterproof fabrics, but this is only a minor drawback, the jacket is generally comfortable to wear.
The problem with most shells is that they rise up as you climb, pulling through the harness and falling away from your arms. Mountain Hardwear have alleviated some of this by adding stretchy rear panels to allow the arms to move more freely. This is a good improvement, but some of the characteristics of shell jackets remain (slight billowing above the harness), however the jacket does climb quite well.
Having researched this garment, we found various reports online of unacceptable wear and tear including de-lamination and tearing of the shell. From our test, the Quasar stood up well to everything that was thrown at it (including climbing on sharp rock) and we did not experience any of these issues, although the other cases are difficult to ignore. The compromise of these ultra lightweight garments is usually in their durability, so depending on your activity you may want to consider a more heavyweight fabric.
Unlike many shells on the market today, the Quasar breathes exceptionally well. Mountain Hardwear claim the Dry.Q Elite fabric breathes without the requirement of high body temperature and humidity (see below) and it certainly did seem to live up to expectation. The stretch rear panels and hood drastically improve air circulation, and we found sweat was able to evaporate through the garment even during intense exercise.
Dry.Q Elite is used in our most premium waterproof-breathable products. It offers the most comfortable level of breathability by combining high moisture-vapor transfer rates and air permeability at all body temperatures. Traditional waterproof-breathable technologies require high levels of user exertion (high body heat) before the breathability kicks in. Dry.Q Elite is instant-on technology. It starts breathing the instant you put it on, regardless of temperature or level of exertion for waterproof, windproof performance like you’ve always wanted, guaranteed.
Being a shell, the Quasar is very resistant to the wind and this does help keep the cold out. The stretchy rear panels do not detract severely from this performance (they perform much like a softshell) as a complete piece the Quasar provides a very effective wind break.
The 3L fabric is totally waterproof, we have also been informed that this waterproof quality extends to the rear and hood stretch panels which is a fantastic innovation. We’re just waiting on final details for this technology and will update this review as soon as we have the information.
Although the wind resistance of the Quasar keeps the bite of the cold off, this jacket is certainly to be used in a layering system. The Dry.Q Elite fabric is very thin in comparison to other jackets. Of course most shells are not designed to be insulated, but some do provide more protection then others so it’s worth baring in mind when choosing your layers.
The Quasar Hybrid jacket is an innovative and minimalist jacket best suited to high intensity alpine activities. We particularly liked the hood and cuff seals and the way the lightweight fabric breathes (one of the best we’ve tested) although there may be compromises in durability. With a huge amount of shells on the market, potential buyers will need to weigh up these pro’s and con’s, with the correct use we think this in a excellent bit of kit and with an RRP of around £250 the Quasar sits in the middle of the price range for this style of jacket.