Mountain Equipment Co-Op Magma Jacket REVIEW

Product performance review of the Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) Magma jacket, a lightweight synthetic insulated backpacking jacket.

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by Don Wilson | 2005-02-22 03:00:00-07

Overview

Mountain Equipment Co-op Magma Jacket Review - 1
Don in his MEC Magma jacket in the Santa Catalina Mountains of southern Arizona

The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) Magma jacket is an excellent value with a Gore Dryloft shell, well-constructed hood, and adjustability features that make it exceptionally storm resistant. It is warm, comfortable, and well constructed, but not oversized as some belay jackets in our review suite are. It has Primaloft One insulation and a removable, insulated hood. With plenty of other features such as four pockets, adjustable drawcords, zipper storm flaps and soft and warm pockets and collar, the Magma has quickly become a favorite of mine.

In Brief

  • Gore Dryloft shell is exceptionally storm resistant
  • Primaloft One insulation lofts to 1.1 inches single layer
  • Removable, insulated hood
  • Good fit, long sleeves
  • Soft, cozy handwarmer pockets
  • Plenty of storage with an external chest and internal storage pocket
  • Not cut to fit over shells as a belay jacket

Specifications

• Garment Style

Full zip, high-loft, synthetic hooded jacket with removable hood

• Fabric Description

Gore Dryloft

• Insulation Description

5.0 oz/yd2 (170 g/m2) Primaloft One throughout

• Other Features

Two zippered, insulated hand-warmer pockets. One zippered inside security pocket. One zippered chest pocket. Also features an insulated and removable hood.

• Weight

1 lb 15.0 oz (877 g) as measured, size men's L; 1 lb 9.5 oz (722 g) size men's M manufacturer specification

• Loft

1.1 in (2.8 cm) single layer loft

• Model Year

2004

• MSRP

$168.00 US ($205 Canadian) Manufacturer's suggested retail price

Warmth

The Magma is a solid four-season performer with 5 oz/yd2 Primaloft One insulation in the torso and sleeves. I measured 1.1 inches of single layer loft, comparable to all but the highest loft jackets in our review suite. I used the Magma on outings in the Catalina and Rincon Mountain ranges of southern Arizona. With temperatures in the 30s °F I was completely warm even when stationary. After hiking uphill only a few hundred yards I quickly became overheated. For downhill or flat hiking, I stayed comfortably cool as long as I kept the jacket partially unzipped. The Magma has several features for helping to control temperature including two easily operated drawcords - one on the hem, and another at the waist.

Storm resistance

The Gore Dryloft shell makes the Magma an exceptional performer in poor weather. The breathable shell is not listed as waterproof by Gore, but is nearly waterproof based on our hose tests. I performed a simple 10-minute hose test, soaking the shell with the full force of a garden hose. At completion, no discernible water had gotten into the insulation. By comparison, the insulation in other water repellent jackets was noticeably wet after this test. The removable hood on the Magma has a large, stiff brim to keep your face protected, and is easily adjustable. The hood fits over a large-volume climbing helmet (Black Diamond Half Dome), but mobility is slightly restricted. The hood cinches down easily to cover your face when weather deteriorates. The cuffs are half elastic, half Velcro, and can be closed down as tight as you like to keep out the spindrift or cold drafts. The main zipper has an internal storm flap.

Usability

I've got long arms, so good fit in the sleeves is one of the first things I look for in a cold weather jacket. The Magma does well here, with nice long sleeves that I can easily withdraw my hands into. Overall fit is good, although the cut is shorter than in some other jackets in this category; it does not cover my rear. The Magma is cut to fit over layers, but is not as roomy as some other pure belay jackets. This is beneficial in non-climbing situations, but might be a problem if you tried to slip it over a shell and other layers at a cold weather belay. Articulation is very good; the jacket does not ride up at all when arms are raised to shoulder height. All external zippers have pull strings for easy adjustment while wearing gloves. As mentioned above, the hood is easily removed with a zipper - a feature that I really like as the majority of my cold weather outings are not in full storm conditions. The hand warmer pockets are lined with a soft thin insulating layer that I found very welcome on several occasions.

Value

The MEC Magma jacket is an excellent value at $168 ($205 Canadian). With a Dryloft shell, the Primaloft top of the line insulation, high quality construction, and a removable insulated hood, it gives you a lot for your hard earned dollars.

Recommendations for Improvement

There is little to complain about with the Magma. My jacket came in a bit above the specified weight, so taking just a few ounces off this jacket to improve its performance to weight ratio would shoot it to the top of the line in high loft insulating jackets.


Citation

"Mountain Equipment Co-Op Magma Jacket REVIEW," by Don Wilson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/mountain_equipment_co_op_magma_jacket_review.html, 2005-02-22 03:00:00-07.

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