Ninja Star: Mountain Hardwear Hooded Transition/Effusion
The fall season always brings mid-layers to the forefront for me. The cool weather often requires an insulating layer to be worn in order to stay warm, but it rarely gets cold enough to warrant something as warm as a puffy or rainy enough to require a true hardshell. On the east coast, softshells really shine in the fall, especially lighter weight versions. The fall necessitates the use of a layer that can do a little bit of everything: warm, windproof, water-resistant are all qualities to look for in a good mid-layer; the Mountain Hardwear Transition/Effusion does all of the above.
The Mountain Hardwear Transition had long been a staple of my outdoor arsenal before changing names and technology. At one time, the Transition was made with Gore Windstopper. Thanks in part to a dispute with Gore, it is now being called the Effusion and is made with Dry Q Active. In spite of both the change in name and technology, one thing remains true: this is a workhorse piece of gear whose versatility shines in all seasons. I think so highly of this jacket that, at one time in fear of losing my job (and the pro deal that came with it), I ordered a new one despite having recently purchased one. Also, this jacket is reminiscent of the Patagonia R1 in that I have tried many times to replace it with a competitor’s offering and never has the competition matched up.
The Effusion excels when you are doing something active in the cold weather or high winds. In fact, I have found the most use for this jacket ski touring. It is the perfect piece to keep you warm on the ascent, keep you protected from the wind above tree line, waterproof enough to stay dry in spite of light snow, and vents well enough that you don’t soak from the inside out. Even better is that often the hood provides enough protection that I can avoid using a balaclava. Additionally, it is light enough that it is not a burden and packs better than many fleece options.
While I have found the most use for the Effusion ski touring and winter hiking, Mountain Hardwear lists this piece as part of their running collection. For cold morning or winter runs, the Effusion once again surpasses expectations. The same qualities that make it ideal for winter pursuits also lend themselves in a more utilitarian role. I have also found the Effusion a nice choice for cold weather cycling; the jacket’s wind stopping properties extremely beneficial on the bike. While the jacket truly excels in aerobic pursuits, I have also had success with it as a late-fall climbing piece. The jacket has an athletic fit making it easy to put a harness over, and the jacket moves easily with you. The fabric is surprisingly durable and can withstand some light abrasion with the rock, it packs well, and easily fits into a fall layering system.
If you are looking for a versatile piece that you can use for a multitude of activities, look no further than the Mountain Hardwear Effusion.