Honestly, I had looked at reviews and the press materials, but it didn’t dawn on me what a great jacket the Drystein is until I was at a local Backwoods and the employees continuously said, “Wow, that is a great jacket.” I had yet to get it into its element, so I just nodded and agreed.
It wasn’t until the teeth of the winter before I recognized that this red hotrod delivered some amazing performance. Highly breathable and yet arch enemies with all forms of water, the MH’s DryQ Elite seems to vacuum heat and sweaty vapor away from your body before you hardly realize it’s there.
The water resistant stretchy side panels have a lot to do with this—witness pit zips evolved. Now, personally, I like to be able to control how much I’m ventilated, but the Drystein seems to have found its own equilibrium. Whether under heavy exertion or just stagnant, I neither over-heated nor froze out.
The alpine cut and fit, pocket location, and helmet-compatible hood mean the Drystein is ready for serious mountaineering—far more rigorous testing than ski trips and cold weather hikes. It’s like it looks at you, saying, “Is that all you’ve got?” It took what I threw at it and shrugged, mocking my futile attempts to find an area where it did not excel.
So now comes the question—do you want a jacket that taunts you, that takes all you can dish out and asks for more? If you’re the type of hiker, climber, skier or athlete who pushes relentlessly, lives aggressively, and is always setting the bar higher, I think you’ve found your jacket. At $425 on Mountain Hardwear’s site, the bar placed on the price of entry is pretty steep. If you’re that hard core, I’ll let you tell me if it’s a value after you come back amazed.