Mammut Masao Light Jacket
Will this thing keep me dry? That’s the real question. I will get to that but first the preamble.
It can leave us miserable and cold and yet it shapes the landscapes and colors we love most. It provides life and vibrancy yet can suck the marrow out of us. I know rain. I was born in Wales.
I started testing gear after returning from instructing a Scottish winter season. My shell clothing was worn beyond useless and everyday I came home saturated by spring snow and ice melt. It was time for new clothes. Since then I am always on the search for the ultimate shell jacket. More than any other garment they make or break an experience. What am I looking for? A jacket that expels the moisture we create, and protects us from the vagaries of the environment. One that is light and packs down small yet is hardwearing. One that fits regardless of the activity and volume of clothing underneath. One that has enough pockets but is not too bulky. One that can take a helmet and be worn with a harness, yet does not look out of place commuting to the office.
The Masao is a good match for my criteria. I took it with me to the UK for three weeks of “smart dirt-bagging”. We did not have much space; our carry-on luggage included a rope, rack, sleeping bags and camping mats. We were there to climb and yet there was also to be a lot of family time and looking around universities with the boy. We slept in a van and a sodden field in Yorkshire while at a soggy music festival. How did the Masao perform?
This one is a keeper.
I am blown away how far three layer materials have come in the last 20 years. Not only does it pack down to the size of my fists it is also a durable material. (OK so I caught it in a zipper. It came out unscathed.) The small pack weight leaves it light. What I was not expecting was that it hangs well. It looks good and does not imitate a piece of wrinkly sil-nylon. The cut is good. It is not an uber-athletic fit, and will accommodate a fleece and down underneath it, yet I never felt like the Michelin Man. There are two pockets. They are high enough to work with a harness and big enough to secrete a six pack of beer. The hood fits and moves with your head while wearing a helmet. It is also well designed with the bill maintaining its shape and sheltering eyes from the rain. Throw in that my head can swivel after cinching at the rear and the cinch at the bottom of the jacket stops it from inflating with gusts of wind. The piece de resistance though is having pit zips on a jacket of this pack size and weight. Amazing.
So what about the first question?
I was apprehensive taking an unknown item on a trip. The Masao did not let me down. Rain; we experienced significant amounts, beaded off. I was able to manage sweat and overheating with the pit zips. The only vague issue I have is that the wrists are elasticated. I have big hands and squeezing them through is an inconvenience at times.
Now that I live in Colorado I hardly ever set off wearing a rain jacket but I like to carry one. It needs to be light and pack as small as possible. When I do pull it out, I don’t want it to rip climbing or skiing through trees. I also want it to keep me dry, regardless of how much it is raining or how profusely I am sweating. The Masao hits the sweet spot. I will keep this one in the pack for years to come.
I just cycled home in what is the worst storm I have experienced in Denver in a long time. Thankfully, I had packed the Masao. The commute is 30 minutes and my lower body was soaked in less than one. I was curious how my t shirt was going to be after riding hard in flood conditions. Dry. My hair? Dry. I must have rung a cup of water out of my socks but my upper body was toasty and comfortable. I will be honest, I was not expecting this out of something so small and light. I stand behind my earlier comments, this is a great jacket.