It seemed like I was seeing everyone in these really cool Schoeller soft shell jackets this winter. So when they started to go on sale at the end of the winter, after the really cold weather had passed, I broke down and bought an Alchemy. I wore it ice climbing on many sunny days and even one day on Mt. Washington. While I wouldn't want it to be my only jacket in a New England winter, it worked well in a wide variety of situations. As pleased as I was with the Alchemy, I was anxious to check out the Vertex, Mountain Hardware's latest entry in the soft-shell parade.
Unfortunately the Vertex arrived just after the ice season had wound down. Still I did get up on Mt. Washington the day I helped out with the Inferno race in Tuckerman Ravine. And while that day was as close to as balmy as it gets up there, the jacket was warm, comfortable, breathable, and when it clouded over and the wind picked up in the afternoon it did an excellent job of warding off the chill. Tho I haven't climbed ice in it, I've used it rock climbing many very chilly mornings this spring. The jacket is stretchy and the arms are cut such that there is absolutely no problem with long reaches in any direction. In addition it's tapered where a jacket should be so you won't have that annoying bulge that sometimes happens when you wear a jacket under your harness.
The Vertex is made of a stretchy polypro material with a Windstopper laminate, weighing in at a somewhat hefty 529g - about 100g less than the Alchemy. Like all Mountain Hardware soft shell jackets, it has the welded pocket design (2 in this case plus an interior zipper pocket) and one hand hem drawchords for easy adjustment.
I've worn the Vertex on chilly mornings, rainy afternoons, and cold evenings. I've found it to be surprisingly warm with only a single polypro shirt underneath, yet breathable as well. The fabric is durable and stain resistant. After a couple of hours chopping and carrying logs in my yard one a chilly morning I couldn't tell I'd been working in it. The 3 exterior zippers all have little perlon drawstrings and the main zipper has a cover flap at the top to keep the cold zipper off your neck. These are the kind of details that mean a lot when you wear something a lot.
Other than quibble about the price, I have absolutely nothing negative to say about Vertex. Hey, at $195 list it's a bit tough on my pocketbook, but I figure that you get what you pay for. This is a jacket that's comfortable on the crag, stylish around town and should last many seasons. Good job Mountain Hardware.
weight: 1 lb 3 oz / 529 g
face fabric: Vertex Stretch Poly
lining fabric: Polyester Tricot Knit