Mizuno's Lightweight Hoody Wind Jacket (Kato 2.0)
As always, we're looking at the Mizuno Hoody Wind Jacket from the point of view of long distance trekking over tough terrain.
Test subject: Chest 42", Waist 33", Height: 5ft 8"
Test item: Size = Large
Kit Tests: Winter, Summer
Disclaimer: None required (item not provided by manufacturer)
|Materials: Polyamide (Nylon)||100%|
|Weight (Size Large, measured)||96g|
|Product Sizing Reference: 42" Chest =||Large|
|Scramble's Price on SYSTEM||£35.00|
Introduction: Windproof Sandwich Filler
A couple of generalisations that are practically truisms: 1) breathability and wind resistance sit at opposite ends of the same scale; 2) the thinner (lighter weight) the material, the less durable it will be. There are materials like Cuben Fiber / Dyneema that have incredible strength to weight ratios, but when it comes to ultralight wind jackets that are exploring the limits of viability, it's unfair to expect such items to take the kind of abuse that should be reserved for softshell jackets.
The two softshells we recommend (a jacket and a pull-on) are light-weight, non-membrane, non-insulated and non-windproof (but offer a good degree of wind and weather resistance); their main role is as protective layers designed to take a beating during strenuous activity and so they must be somewhat breathable. Thus, on occasion, and not just in cold weather, they can be overpowered by the kind of gale force winds that thrash across exposed ridges and peaks. For this reason we recommend carrying a backup wind top all year round, just in case.
Mizuno's Wind Jacket in its default role beneath a tough softshell (Mountain Hardwear's Super Chockstone)
Since this kind of item will spend much of its time tucked into a belt bag, thigh or jacket pocket, we want it to be as light as possible, yet not so light it cannot perform its sole function: to block the wind. When we get down to what we call ultralight (around 100g or less - which is very light for a hooded jacket), the majority of offerings are aimed at trail and ultra marathon runners.
Though these people might experience some accidental rough and tumble, they are generally on their feet and are generally on a trail, path or dirt track. They aren't scrambling over granite, sliding down scree, hacking through undergrowth or clambering out of boggy marsh. The point being, that the kind of wear such a wind-top will get from a trail runner is not the same as from a mountain trekker carrying a week or more's supplies. For this reason, we strongly advise using such items, not as outer layers, but as mid-layers, sandwiched between a breathable softshell and a baselayer. Let the softshell take the hammering, while the windtop blocks the remnants of the wind.
The Mizuno Hoody has a non-adjustable but well-sized hood with elasticated edging which works very well over both beanies and baseball style caps like the Ronhill Split or Montane's Pace Cap. With or without additional headwear, the hood, which covers the top of the head but doesn't droop down near the eyes, doesn't block peripheral vision as you turn your head - which is impressive for a hood with no adjustments, yet at the same time, expected for a running jacket.
The Hoody zips up into its own back pocket which contains an elasticated strap, allowing runners to carry it attached to their upper arm or clipped to a belt. The hem is elasticated and at the wrist there's a 10cm stretch panel which covers half the circumference of the wrist, enabling the wearer (depending on the size of their forearms) to roll up the sleeves to the elbow. Further venting is provided by four simple vents across the upper back and of course the full length zip. So, although it's not really breathable, being wind proof, Mizuno have made sure their runners (and us trekkers alike) don't boil in the bag.
I've found this a very comfortable wind-top and haven't noticed any discomfort or overheating that cannot easily be remedied via the sleeves or the front zip. The zips are YKK and feature a nice sturdy zip pull for use with gloves.
The Mizuno Wind Top may not be the ultimate wind-top, but it's certainly up there with the best and it's one of the lightest in its class. Two of the best known hooded wind jackets are Patagonia's Houdini (made more for the outdoor market) and Salomon's Fast Wing (more aimed at the trail runner). Both of these are a fraction heavier than the Mizuno's 96g. In addition, these are rarely significantly discounted and although we're aware that pushing the ultralight envelope requires high-end fabrics and treatments, it's hard to countenance shelling out close to £100 for some stitched, featherweight nylon no matter what fancy tech name they've given it (in Mizuno's case it's "ImpermaLite" ... whatever). So although the RRP of the Mizuno is a little cheaper, it's often available at the kind of price you don't mind paying for a wind top.
Bonus Round: Good Morning Hypothermia
One of the major benefits of this kind of wind jacket in very cold and sustained wet conditions, is that it can be used as a barrier between one's baselayer and soaking wet softshells / outer layers. Getting changed into wet clothing when the temperature is below freezing is not pleasant. Getting everything packed up takes time and is not a sufficiently intense activity to generate much heat. Layering the Mizuno wind-top (that is almost too thin to hold moisture) over a merino baselayer does a number of things: 1) it allows your body to warm the damp baselayer without that warmth escaping, creating a kind of warm, moist micro-climate; 2) it shields the baselayer from getting saturated from wet outer layers; and 3) it helps block heat loss from convection. This has made a big difference in terms of comfort and reduced shivering on those all too typical UK winter mornings where yesterday's persistent deluge is followed by a deep freeze.
I keep the Mizuno on until I get moving and moisture begins steaming off my softshell jacket. When I feel warm, I'll stop, zip it off, and let my body heat get rid of as much residual moisture from my clothing as possible. We've run Winter Kit Tests when it seemed to never stop raining. The wind-top is a valuable item when you have to slip into something less comfortable.
As with any ultralight garment, this is not a tough outer layer. As we've said, you need to look after it, so it can look after you. So if you're scraping against rocks or getting snagged on thistles and thorns, wear it under a softshell. Aside from that, we've no complaints or improvements to suggest. It's practically featureless, and that's why it weighs under 100g.
Conclusion & Rating
The Mizuno Hoody Wind Jacket is designed for runners but if looked after will serve long distance mountain trekkers well. It's a stripped-down, hooded wind jacket with a minimal pack size, that weighs almost nothing, will resist a light shower, but most importantly, blocks the wind. The adjustment-free hood is perhaps the highlight; compatible with beanies and caps, it moves with the head with no noticeable hindrance to one's field of view (vertical or horizontal). With decent venting options and a nice silky feel, the Mizuno is a very comfortable, featherlight option, and for those who like lightweight softshells (especially hoodless ones) is an excellent, year-round supplement. Mizuno's Hoody Wind Jacket is Scramble's top pick in the Ultralight Wind-Top category.
Rating (out of 10)
Note: The durability score assumes the wearer uses it as outlined in the review.
* The value score is derived from two factors:
1) Competitive Market Price (CMP). This represents our judgement of a competitive online price point if we were to stock the item. e.g. if we feel we would need to sell an item at 40% off (i.e. 60% of its full RRP) to be competitive, then our CMP score will be 6/10.
2) Customer Value Price (CVP). We then make an honest appraisal of the maximum price we would be willing to pay for the item (and we're mean). So if we'd pay 80% of its RRP our CVP score would be 8/10.
We then average the two scores to get our final value score, which in our example would be 7/10.
Last Updated: 14/03/18