Mountain Equipment get two thumbs up for their innovative and functional Bastion Jacket this 2013/2014 skis season. It's a synthetic jacket with Zonal construction and more hi-tech fabrics and feature than you can shake a ski at. “Gear of the Year” and our congrats to Mountain Equipment from the Backcountry Skiing Canada testing team.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
The Mountain Equipment Bastion Jacket is a synthetic mid layer that is designed for active pursuits in the mountains where down just won’t do. The Bastion jacket uses the most breathable version of Gore Windstopper which is called ‘Activeshell’. This allows body moisture to leave the shell and avoids that hot and clammy feel you can get with down. Since it’s Gore Windstopper however, the wind is still kept a bay; even the under arm stretch panels are made with Gore Windstopper X-Fast material to allow the jacket to breath but keep cold winds out. Inside the shell there is Mountain Equipment’s proprietary Polarloft Duo insulation in an 80 grams weight.
A solid ski touring outer layer or mid layer for skiing the resort.
The cut on the Bastion is large and roomy with a generous dropped back to overlap ski pants and easily fit under a pack belt or climbing harness. The Bastion Jacket can be used over another insulation layer as a competent outer layer or if the weather is cold it’s still fitted enough to be worn as a mid layer.
Overall the design of the Mountain Equipment Bastion Jacket is simple but effective. Two hand warmer pockets and one mesh internal zipped pocket offer up enough storage options while the climbing helmet compatible hood offers up multiple adjustability options and a simple hood flap for storing it out of the way when you would rather have it as a high collar.
As I mentioned in the earlier Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Zip T review, Mountain Equipment is a European brand with its roots in Britain. Since Mountain Equipment products are not available at the retail level in Canada I was happy to find out that they can be easily purchased in US brick and mortar stores or online—click the links at the bottom of this review to see how easy it is.
Polarloft is Mountain Equipment's own brand of insulation and it’s made from a combination of 3D long filament fibres and micro fibres. This combination provides a good warmth to weight ratio while still being able to pack down relatively small. Polarloft is fast drying and not affected by moist environments the same way that down is.
Gore Windstopper Active Shell fabric
This is the lightest version of Windstopper that Gore makes and it’s also the most packable. They claim it is completely windproof and I would have to agree. They also claim that it provides maximum breathability and some water resistance—again, agree on all counts.
Gore Windstopper X Fast Inserts
Under each arm of the Mountain Equipment Bastion Jacket you will find Gore Windstopper X Fast panels with no additional insulation. These panels allow heat to escape more easily than through other parts of the jacket and also provide a greater range of motion for climbing and skinning.
- 2-way YKK front zipper with insulated rear baffle- 2 zipped micro fleece lined hand warmer pockets
- 80g POLARLOFT® insulation
- Active cut with pre-shaped and articulated sleeves
- Gore® Windstopper® Active Shell fabric
- Gore® Windstopper® X-Fast inserts aid fit during dynamic activity
- Adjustable Mountain Hood
- Velcro on the back of the hood allows you to adjust the size.
-Hidden internal cords to adjust overall hood size.
- The hood stows away into a collar if you prefer to get it out of the way.
- Inner zipped security pocket
- Stretch cuffs
- Dual tether hem drawcords don't hook up on harness gear or anything else and provide front and back zonal adjustability
-Zipper garages all around.
For this reviewer, down has its place firmly entrenched on days when the mercury drops below -10°C (or there abouts) and also when you require a very warm layer in a very small package. I carry an ultralight down jacket (the Mountain Hardwear ghost whisperer Hooded Down Jacket) in my ski touring pack for emergencies and when I stop to each lunch. I replaced this jacket with the Mountain Equipment Bastion Jacket in order to compare which worked better for me while backcountry skiing. Over the course of a dozen forays into the backcountry I found that the Bastion jacket was actually warmer and cut out far more of the cold winds. It also allowed me to keep it on while I exerted minor amounts of energy on the skin track and moderate amounts on really cold days. The 80 grams of PolarLoft insulation didn’t trap in moisture and the Gore Windstopper X-fast under arm panels really helped keep my furnace in check on those not so cold days. Although I will still turn to down as my emergency layer for those arctic days, for warmer days or as a midlayer on colder days the Bastion will be my new jacket of choice.
Where the Bastion jacket didn’t do as well as down was with compression; it just didn’t compress as small in my pack. However, given that the Gore windstopper Active Shell face fabric is much more durable that the average down jacket’s I felt like I didn’t have to baby the Bastion as much.
Several of the small features that made this jacket a winner in my books were the pack and harness compatible hand warmer pockets, simplified cuffs and independent hem cinches.Brilliant (as they say).
As I complete two of three Mountain Equipment reviews, I have to say that Mountain Equipment is two for two. Check out the Bastion Jacket and see how well it is suited to active mountain adventures and urban life alike.
Colours: Blue, Green, Black, Teal
Weight: 490g /17.3oz
- Incredible loft, I cannot communicate how puffy this jacket is for a synthetic jacket
- Roomy large fit
- Warm, but moisture doesn’t build up to produce that clammy warm feeling
- Simplified cuff design
- Hem adjustments that allow for individual zone tensioning and don’t get caught on anything
- Well thought out design and quality build
- Simplified design to keep weight and bulk down
- Gore Windstopper cuts the wind very well
- Absolutely massive hand warmer pockets
- A media port on the internal mesh pocket would be a nice feature without adding weight or complexities
- The material on the inside of the zipper occasionally gets caught when zipping up
- One hand warmer pocket is fleeced lined and the other is not, likely a result of this being a pre-production model
Quality / Price 2/2
This is only our opinion. Do you disagree? Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Join the discussion in the forums here, and let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.