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Shell Jackets

Mountain Equipment Squall Jacket

Updated soft-shell jacket from Mountain Equipment

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Mountain Equipment’s Squall Hooded Jacket, updated for 2018, is a lightweight, non-insulated wind-stopper soft shell. Reading the company-listed garment features you’d think the Squall Hooded Jacket is pretty darn average given the generic industry jargon used to describe it: “over-locked and topstitched construction;” “active fit with articulated and pre-shaped sleeves;” “EXOLITE 125 stretch double weave Soft Shell fabric.”

Don’t be fooled.

Based on my experience with the Squall Jacket, I can only assume that Mountain Equipment’s mundane language is offered simply because there isn’t established industry verbiage for “Tough As F&#k.”

The rough treatment my Squall Jacket endured over the last nine months would have left most soft shells in tatters. On numerous occasions, while up to my shoulder in cracks, thrutching up off-widths or pressed against coarse slabs, I was convinced a tear or a scrape would be inevitable. The Squall, however, doesn’t have so much as a scuff; it looks as good as new.

To understand this extreme durability you must return to the bit about the “EXOLITE 125 double-weave stretch fabric.” What this means is that the outside of the jacket is stretchy and smooth, and therefore highly resistant to snags.

In addition to being well-nigh indestructible, the Squall’s thought-out features suit it to climbing. Nice touches include articulated, long-length arms that don’t ride up when you reach for holds, an adjustable helmet-compatible hood that rolls away into the collar when not needed, and the omission of side pockets to keep the jacket svelte and tidy under a harness. On multipitch climbs the jacket can be packed away into the single breast pocket with two carabiner loops.

A full-length front zipper slants up and right once it reaches chest height—a feature I hear is particularly appreciated by those with beards—preventing the zip from chaffing your chin and mouth when zipped up fully. Additionally, the face panel is shaped and pleated to increase comfort and ensure that you can still shout coherently at your partner while you remain cocooned against the prevailing weather.

The Squall is soft enough to wear with just a t-shirt underneath, and doesn’t lose softness or performance after a washing. You can even throw it in the dryer with no worries.

While the Squall can’t be compared to an insulated jacket, it does provide reasonable warmth—primarily by offering excellent wind protection—considering its lightweight nature. At 11.3 ounces for a men’s medium and 9.9 ounces for a women’s, the Squall is one of the lighter jackets of its ilk. It is also a good fist full of dollars cheaper.

So far, the Squall has accompanied me from the alpine to the desert, and everywhere in between, and I am yet to find a rock type or environment where it doesn’t shine. I plan on using mine for at least a decade, and I wager that in 2028 it will still look as though I bought it yesterday.


  • Good price point
  • Super tough and stretchy
  • Light (11.3 ounces for men’s medium, 9.9 ounces for women’s) and packs into breast pocket with carry loops for multipitch climbing.


  • U.K. sizing for women’s version, so be sure to check size conversion charts.
  • Omission of side pockets limits what you can carry when not climbing.


Lightweight protection when climbing in any season.


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