Anyone who has gone anywhere with me in the past year knows how obsessed I am with my MHW Stimulus Jacket. I wear it everywhere, on hike trips, bike trips, ski trips, you name it. I have serious Stimulus love. I even bought a second one just in case something tragic happens to the first one. So naturally I was stoked to try the Quark, which is the hooded version of the Stimulus, kinda. It’s much the same; with the same ultrathin, ultralight material, same basic styling, and same ability-to-be-stuffed-into-its-own-pocket, but there are a few differences. First, the fit is much more relaxed. I really think this is meant to accommodate the pit zips, which the Stimulus doesn’t have. If you like pit zips, you will like this modification. Personally, I despise pit zips. If you need that much ventilation, take your jacket off! Put on a different layer. Just leave the jacket in one piece. That way, all jackets can be more streamlined and pretty. As it is, I feel like this jacket has a bit too much extra fabric everywhere. Too baggy, even though it’s the same size as my venerated Stimulus.
It also seems a bit longer than the Stimulus, just a tad. It could be just an illusion because of the bagginess, but it does seem as if there’s a little extra length, but no extra width to go along with it. Since it hits a little lower than hip bones, being slightly too snug in that area creates still more bagginess, since the hem of the jacket is bound to ride up a little. Sigh. Perhaps this is one for the taller ladies. One more design difference – the Quark has rip-and-stick (otherwise known as Velcro) cuffs. My instant dislike of most things Velcro makes me think this is a major step down from the Stimulus’s elastic cuffs. Again, just a preference thing – but I don’t really get the appeal of Velcro cuffs on a lightweight jacket. You’re not likely to be wearing gloves or mittens so you don’t need a cuff that can snug down over the cuffs of your gloves, do you? Who knows, maybe you do, but I don’t.
The hood is OK, if you like hoods. I suppose that’s the whole point of the Quark, having a hood, so there you have it. I got to use the hood as a mosquito shield yesterday, and I was darn glad to have it, so I can tell you that it works well for that, anyway. I know I sound as if I’m being really negative about this piece, so don’t get me wrong, it’s a great jacket and will keep you warm and dry in all kinds of conditions, and is superlight and super compressible to boot. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this jacket, other than that it has pit zips and I don’t particularly like pit zips. It has Velcro cuffs and I don’t like Velcro. Therefore, I am biased – but let me fall back on that little caveat of opinion. With the pit zips, it’s just not as good as the Stimulus, or so I think now, while it’s not raining out. I guarantee you that the first time I’m out in pouring rain in the hoodless Stimulus, I will be thinking, “hmm, wish I’d brought the Quark instead.”