The Mountain Hardwear Straight Chuter ($450) is a ski jacket for the true blowhards, those who eschew a resort’s black runs as too tranquil.

Avalanches be damned, they head for the backcountry via heli drop-off to smash gnarred-up fresh lines and cornies.

LOL. That’s so not me anymore. I took it to Bridger Bowl and skied the groomed runs like a sane person.

What I liked

  • Waterproof but still very breathable. The Straight Chuter uses Dry.Q, a waterproof breathable technology that allows air and moisture to move through the fabric. I was impressed with this piece the most. Every waterproof jacket on the market lays claim to “breathability”. Some nail it, others get points for trying (but not succeeding). Mountain Hardwear pulled it off successfully. At Bridger Bowl I wore an Icebreaker Zone baselayer and never experienced clamminess (but was chilled when at the top of the mountain and on the chairlift). On a winter snowshoe hike on Minnesota’s Arrowhead in considerably colder temperatures (12 degrees) I paired the Straight Chuter with a merino wool baselayer and an 800-fill down vest. Still no clamminess, even with the combo of the wool baselayer and down vest because of the…
  • Pit zips! If it wasn’t for the pit zips, I would have rotisserie’d that day on the Arrowhead.
  • Even though the cut is very slim and trim, I was still able to wear with an 800-fill down sweater without feeling constricted.
  • Integrated goggle/sunglass cloth is a nice touch. Came in handy a few times.
  • Pocket organization is spot on.
  • RECCO technology is a potential life-saving feature if you venture into avalanche country (though I didn’t test that aspect of the Straight Chuter on the dainty groomed runs).

What I didn’t like

The $450 price tag is about the only thing I could find to bitch about.

Final thoughts

I’m proof you don’t have to be a gnarly backcountry skier to be worthy of the Straight Chuter. You can ski groomed runs or be a park rat and still wear this jacket with pride and purpose. It’s a quality jacket, it does what it says it will do and it’s hardly limited to downhill skiing anyway. I also found that it’s good for winter hiking and snowshoeing or just wearing in a blinding metro snowstorm. Cross-country skiing or fatbiking? Not so much.

  • Mountain Hardwear
    Uncompromised, fully waterproof softshell pant that breathes and stays warm all day long.* Avg Weight: 1 lb 6 oz / 631g * Inseam: 32"" / 81cm * Fabric: Body: Syncro PU Laminate * Fully-taped waterproof softshell with bonded tricot fleece interior * 18"" exterior thigh vent with water resistant zipper * Tricot fleece-lined hand pockets * Adjustable elastic waistband with Velcro tabs * Thigh pocket with water resistant zipper * Dry.Q Core * RECCO * Standard Fit
    $243.95  from The House
  • Mountain Hardwear
    Uncompromised, fully waterproof softshell pant that breathes and stays warm all day long.* Avg Weight: 1 lb 6 oz / 631g * Inseam: 32"" / 81cm * Fabric: Body: Syncro PU Laminate * Fully-taped waterproof softshell with bonded tricot fleece interior * 18"" exterior thigh vent with water resistant zipper * Tricot fleece-lined hand pockets * Adjustable elastic waistband with Velcro tabs * Thigh pocket with water resistant zipper * Dry.Q Core * RECCO * Standard Fit
    $243.95  from The House
  • Mountain Hardwear
    Uncompromised, fully waterproof softshell pant that breathes and stays warm all day long.* Avg Weight: 1 lb 6 oz / 631g * Inseam: 32"" / 81cm * Fabric: Body: Syncro PU Laminate * Fully-taped waterproof softshell with bonded tricot fleece interior * 18"" exterior thigh vent with water resistant zipper * Tricot fleece-lined hand pockets * Adjustable elastic waistband with Velcro tabs * Thigh pocket with water resistant zipper * Dry.Q Core * RECCO * Standard Fit
    $243.95  from The House