Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus Jacket: Long Review

Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus Jacket: Long Review – by MG

Mountain Hardwear waist cinch cord
An elastic cinch cord at the waist makes it easy to dial in the fit and needed waterproofness. (Image: Mountain Hardwear)

For some cyclists, the threat of rain is suitable cause to postpone or cancel a ride. For the rest of us, there’s rain gear. And while for a lot of folks, cycling-specific waterproof outerwear is a good option, I often prefer the more flexible fit and increased versatility of a hiking/backpacking jacket. Particularly in a bikepacking scenario, where the jacket may need to be worn in camp, the longer cut and more generous proportions are very nice to have.

Mountain Hardwear is an iconic name in outdoor gear. Over the years, I’ve had great experiences with the brand’s sleeping bags, gloves and down jackets. So, I was stoked when the opportunity came up to test one of their latest waterproof rain shells – the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus jacket.

Here’s my long review of the jacket, reflecting nearly six months of using it in everything from hot summer rains to winter-like early fall rides.

Technical details

Mountain Hardwear Exposure/2 jacket
With ample room for a helmet under the hood, the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus jacket performs as well on the bike as it does around the campsite. The roomier cut is more versatile than many cycling-specific rain jackets.

Built to be ultra lightweight, packable and durable, our test sample of the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus jacket weighs just 251 grams – 6g lighter than the manufacturer’s claim. Impressive.

The waterproof, breathable 2.5-layer Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric is fully seam-sealed for dependable protection from the elements. The main zipper and chest pocket zipper are polyurethane coated to further increase water resistance. The articulated shoulder seams are designed to reduce abrasion under shoulder straps, a bonus when riding with a hydration pack or backpack.

The brimmed hood is large enough to fit over a cycling helmet and features an elastic cinch cord to adjust the hood size. Finally, the entire jacket packs into its own pocket, making it easy to carry along in a bag or jersey pocket.

On the road

With a longer cut and more generous fit than an equivalent sized cycling jacket, the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus jacket offers more coverage than most cycling-specific rain jackets. The jacket’s fit is comfortable over a jersey or t-shirt on warmer days, or with insulating layers underneath for colder conditions.

2.5-layer Gore-Tex Paclite Plus fabric is ultra lightweight and extremely waterproof. Water simply beads up and sheds off the fabric.

On the bike, the longer cut is a little noisier than a more cycling-specific cut due to upper leg contact while pedaling. I’m pretty sensitive to on-the-bike noises, but didn’t find the sound objectionable at all. I may choose a more cycling-specific rain cape on long rides that don’t include much time off the bike, but for most rainy rides I do, the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus jacket is just right.

On warm, wet rides, the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus jacket does breathe noticeably better than other materials I’ve used. That said, there’s a limit to any fabric’s breathability, particularly in super humid conditions. At times it’d get a little clammy inside the jacket during hard efforts. In these circumstances, armpit (ventilation) zippers would have been nice to have.

Even when it wasn’t wet out, the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus jacket was a good piece to to have along on rides. On several occasions during bikepacking trips, while in-camp, I used the jacket as an outer layer over a down puffy jacket to provide a bit of added warmth and wind protection as the temperatures dropped.

Polyurethane-coated zippers for the main zip and chest pocket provide increased water resistance.

Overall durability of the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite jacket has been solid throughout the test, as it should be. I haven’t noticed any unusual wear or performance issues, and my past experience with Mountain Hardwear products gives me confidence in the long-term durability of this piece. This confidence is backed by the company’s lifetime limited warranty. In the event a piece needs repair or warranty service, I’m a big fan of Mountain Hardwear’s commitment to repairing gear first, as opposed to simply replacing it. It’s a better, more sustainable solution for the environment and is a path I wish more companies would take when dealing with warranty and service returns.

Parting thoughts

At $300 MSRP, the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus jacket isn’t inexpensive, but its fit and performance have made it my go-to rain jacket on rides and in camp. One of the best compliments I can give it is that since its arrival, it’s basically replaced every other waterproof jacket I own (and I have quite a few). It’s more lightweight, fits better and is more versatile in a wider range of conditions than other jackets I’ve used. That’s value to me.

Note: Mountain Hardwear provided the Exposure/2 Gore-Tex Paclite Plus jacket at no charge for Riding Gravel to test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.

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Author: MG

Matt Gersib is the 2014 Gravel World Champion in the Fatbike category. He's also finished some of the most challenging gravel events in the country, including the Dirty Kanza XL, TransIowa and the Dirty Kanza 200, among others. In 2015, Gersib was an inaugural inductee into the DK200 "1,000 mile club" of five-time finishers. In addition to his gravel cycling, Gersib is an accomplished mountain bike racer, with numerous race wins and championships, including the 2012 Nebraska State Marathon MTB Championship.

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