Why I Love It: Andy makes frequent jokes that eventually all of my outdoor gear will be hot pink... my excuse: "At least you'll always be able to find me!" Aside from simply being pink, however, the Mountain Hardwear Women's Alchemy Jacket is just rad. From white out conditions heading up the Palmer on Mount Hood to winds so fierce I was crouching down on the snow on the descent from Lassen Peak, this jacket has not only helped me stay seen but, it has also kept me warm, dry, and protected from the elements.
The Hard Review: As I mentioned above, this jacket is burly and has served me well from belaying Andy on the summit pinnacle of Mount Jefferson to keeping me dry ski touring around Mount Hood. The belay zipper is easy to work and doesn't catch- big bonus. The front pockets are up high enough that they're harness compatible but not so high that I have trouble getting things in and out of them- they also make nice vents when the precip dies down. I continually forget that the hood cinches down nicely since the cords are relatively well hidden... which is my only complaint, really. The MHW logo has worn off the front chest since it sits right underneath my back but that's merely an aesthetic issue. Honestly, aside from all of these other winning elements, this jacket truly makes me feel like I can move naturally- I never feel constricted or claustrophobic like I have in some heavy duty shells.
A Tip or Two: Our favorite way of storing jackets in packs is to roll the entire jacket up into the hood. If you have a bungee to cinch your hood down with, you can make your entire jacket into a protective little football by wrapping the cord around the whole package and voila- tidy, compact storage!