Mountain Hardwear nailed it with the Stretch Ozonic. If you're an outdoor adventure addict who doesn't stay in despite the ominous weather forecast but also doesn't like to look or sound like a trash bag, you need not look any further. The Ozonic is our Top Pick for Versatility. This latest iteration of the Ozonic is sure to be a go-to for your outdoor adventures, especially when there's rain in the forecast. It's lightweight, breathable, and moves in whatever direction you want to go while still keeping you dry and comfortable. Whether you are mountain biking in the rain, kayaking on a drizzly day, or scrambling up a mountain, the Stretch Ozonic is a must-have in your pack.
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic - Women's Review
Cons: Thin, hood not great coverage, not windproof
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic is practically in a category of its own. It features a 40D face made of four-way stretch 100% nylon. Newly expanded pit vents boast dual direction zippers to go with the three total pockets found on this jacket.
The Ozonic comes equipped with patented Dry.Q technology and offers durable waterproof protection without sacrificing breathability. It combines the protection of a waterproof layer with a lightweight and stretchy fabric to keep you dry and comfortable in all your active pursuits. Though this jacket has three different types of zippers on it, they all do the trick of keeping you dry. An inner storm flap on the main zipper also helps to block wind as well as rain.
This jacket is so thin and flexible that you can feel each drop of rain hitting your body, which is a bit odd, but not a dealbreaker. Our only real complaint about the water-resistance of this jacket is that the hood does leave the sides of your face exposed a bit more than we would like.
A stretchy rain jacket? For real? Yes, for real. And it's soft and breathable, too. The stretch of the Ozonic jacket vastly improves the fit of this jacket, which often translates to better coverage in driving rain or while riding a bike in the drizzle. In a category of typically crinkly, plasticky coats, the Ozonic breaks the trend impressively. This jacket is made of a stretchy fabric that moves with you rather than riding up any time you move your arms, exposing under-layers to the rain. The arms and torso both are a bit longer than most other jackets, helping to provide extra coverage. The hem drop is nothing to sniff at either, with an extra 4.5 inches of room in the back to keep you covered. And we never had any issues with the main zipper getting snagged on the storm flap beneath, which is always a concern with any coat.
The stretch of the Ozonic, however, has a downside. The flexibility and suppleness of the fabric mean that a stiff wind can easily plaster this jacket to your body. This can make you feel colder and more exposed to the elements, even though you're technically still dry. In these conditions, it's good to note that this jacket is easy to fit over other layers.
While previous versions of this jacket had small pit vents that actually created more discomfort than they helped this already breathable jacket, we want to point out that they have been redesigned with this latest version. The vents are much larger and better placed and no longer create an uncomfortable rubbing point. This was a major downside in previous versions, and we're glad to report it's not an issue anymore.
The Stretch Ozonic's fabric breathes well enough for a rigorous bike ride in the rain and can even be worn on a run. This is one of the very few rain jackets we've ever had our hands on that can truly be comfortable on a cold-weather run. If this incredible breathability isn't enough, Mountain Hardwear also updated the pit vents to be exponentially more useful. These new vents stretch an impressive 13 inches across your armpits, making this already breathable jacket a great choice for seriously high output activities.
However, all this breathability does have a downside when it comes to wind resistance. If you're heading out to scale a mountain in 60 mph gusts, this probably isn't the right jacket for you, as that wind will slice right through the breathable, flexible fabric to your skin. However, this isn't a windbreaker; it's a rain jacket. And it does one of the best jobs out there at maintaining real breathability without sacrificing waterproofness.
The Stretch Ozonic boasts one of our favorite features in a jacket: a wide-toothed zipper. This type of zipper is less amenable to a waterproof tape finish to keep your midline dry, so they include a storm flap to keep out rogue droplets; this is a zipper that will keep zipping, fast and easy, through many rainy outdoor adventures. The stretch fabric also decreases the creasing tendency of the jacket (a common sign of wear in a rain jacket), and as such, improves the durability of the inner membrane. It is worth noting, though, that the fabric isn't ripstop material, so you may consider that if you expect to squeeze past a lot of granite boulders or push your way through prickly underbrush.
Our only real concern is of the long-term effect of sweating in this jacket. The suppleness of the jacket means it often rests against your skin, where it will pick up much more body oils. Our reviewers saw no decrease in waterproof/breathability over several months of testing, but over the lifetime of the jacket, we wonder if this could detract from the performance and durability of the two most important features of a rain jacket, clogging the pores that both breathe and block water.
Weight and Packability
The Stretch Ozonic is relatively lightweight without cutting out any of the features that make it so darn useful. At 9.4 ounces, it is on the lower end of average among contenders we tested. We think this is pretty impressive considering the amount of protection it provides and highly functional and usable features it still has. Many lighter jackets have sacrificed some of this usability to shed a few ounces.
It's also a very flexible jacket, which lends itself well to being packed away. It stows into its own chest pocket, and that supple fabric makes it all the easier to crumple up when you don't need it. It is a fairly short opening to a much larger pocket, though, which can make the stuffing a little bit awkward. Mountain Hardwear also doesn't include a carabiner loop on this jacket either, which we think is an oversight. While it's not often that you'd be climbing with a rain jacket clipped to your harness, the Ozonic is a useful active jacket that outdoor junkies are sure to love, and it would be nice to be able to take it up with you when you go.
Not exactly the bargain basement deal here, the Ozonic will cost you a pretty penny. It's not the most expensive jacket we tested, but it's much farther from the bottom. If you need a jacket that can move and stretch with you and work just as well on a trail run as a grocery run, we think this coat is a superb choice. However, if you're after a less mobile jacket or something a bit more robust for an intensive adventure in Iceland or the Andes, this probably isn't worth it for you.
The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic is a jacket that has continued to evolve and improve each year. This latest iteration is pretty darn impressive and our Top Pick for Versatility. Its stretch and breathability put this jacket in a league of its own, and we love it as an active, lightweight rain jacket.
— Maggie Brandenburg & Katherine Elliott