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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mountain Equipment Bastion Jacket...... think Atom LT upgraded......

Mountain Equipment Bastion Jacket


Anyone reading Cold Thistle long knows I am a big fan of the Arcteryx Atom LT.  If not this will enlighten you on my thoughts about the Atom LT.

My Partners and I have used the Atom LT from Alaska to SA, Canada to Europe and here in the Cascades.

If it is cold out and we are ice climbing the Atom LT has been our go to piece of clothing now for the last 4 winter seasons.  It has been that good.

A couple of problems with the Atom LT that I have found easy to over look.  But problems none the less that need to be fixed IMO.  Problems that have yet to be addressed.  One might think Arcteryx is sitting on its laurels with the Atom LT.  Not that they haven't tried to give us some options to the Atom LT.  The Arteyx Aphix Hoody was one.  The Atom SV another and the newest Nuclei Hoody are three that come to mind off hand.  I have not used the Nuclei but have used the others extensively.

I am still a big fan of the Atom LT and the Atom SV for that matter.  But there are a few things that would make the Atom LT better IMO as a climbing piece.   The Atom SV is not in the same category because it lacks the side stretch/vents of the other jackets mentioned and the  new Bastion.  SV is a great jacket just not intended for the same use as the Atom LT or Bastion.

Atom LT's short comings?

A locking slider on the front zipper.  Not something that has ever bothered me but was pointed out to me by friends.  Arcteryx says the zipper without the lock is more durable.

Insulation on both sides of the hard warmer pockets.  Nagging little complaint for me as I so seldom use the side pockets but when I do lack of any insulation on the inside layer is annoying to me.

A bigger, helmet sized hood with draw strings and hood adjustments.  The is one place the Atom LT could be better as a climbing piece.  It works but barely.

A combination of 40,  60 and 80g insulation?   Atom LT uses a 60g layer of insulation. Bastion is a 80g layer.   Wishful thinking on my part to mix and match insulation as required.

More wind proof fabric in the side vents. Atom LT works because the side vents breath so well. But that can be nasty in a strong wind. Be fun to have breathable and wind proof. Aphix was in part an answer for this and additional insulation I think.

Up front I don't use much under this style jacket.  Typically a base layer and a R1 or Piton Hoody.  Next layer will be the Atom LT.  Or now what I consider the improved Atom LT. 

Enter the Mountain Equipment Bastion. Think Atom LT upgraded......for the most part.


First is fit.  I want a streamlined jacket/shell to climb in or layer with.  Nothing in excess.  The cut and the pockets could have been done better on the Atom Lt.  On the Bastion they were.  I'm a big boy and the Bastion is less bulky on me.

A locking slider on the front zipper?  Bastion has a locking toothed zipper.  Pain in the ass though because it gets caught on the zipper wind flap almost every time I use it.  BIG negative there.  No surprise if  I end up breaking the zipper.  And it is reversed for us Amerikans.  Left hand zipper pull.   Annoying at best..

Insulation on both sides of the hard warmer pockets?  Yes with the Bastion  and still lower profile in the chest/abs area than the Atom Lt.  Atom LT pockets are placed on the seam line and should be lower profile.  They aren't however.  The Atom LT also offers the ability to vent through the pockets.  Although I have not used them for that.  Pockets are in similar positions and the hem is of similar length on both jackets.   Bastion side pockets are easily twice the size of the Atom LT's pockets.

A bigger, helmet sized hood with draw strings and hood adjustments?  Almost.   I wish they had gotten this right!  Atom LT hood is usable (but not great) with a helmet with out all the extra bits.  The Bastion hood is just a smidgen too small to be really useful with a helmet.  It works but just barely.  Nice bits added for adjustment if you don't use a helmet.  Including the British habit that I like of a tab to secure a rolled up hood to make a collar.   For me a climbing hood has to go over my helmet.  It is a deal breaker for any piece of climbing clothing for me.

The fastest way to vent while staying protected and warm is pulling down your hood.  If I have to pull my helmet to pull my hood it is a hood I can't use in the mtns.

A combination of 40, 60 and 80g insulation?  Not likely.  The Bastion is a 80g layer.  The Atom LT is 60g.
More wind proof fabric in the side vents?  Bastion did that. Jury is out if it is breathable enough.

Cuffs? Love the Atom Lt cuff system.   Same idea, different materials.  Bastion one upped them here I think.

Obviously the M-E Bastion a warmer version of the Atom LT.   Much warmer in my experience. 60g verses 80g insulation.   For how I want to use the jacket the additonal warmth is a welcomed improvement.  For the most part.

Hint here for anyone listening.
A slim profile full front zip jacket, climbing helmet compatible. Stretch outer shell, 60 g in the arms and hood, 80 gr in the front body and neck, 40 gram in the back. Highly breathable underarm vents, that are also very wind resistant. 1 inner and 2 out chest pockets. No side pockets. Cut long enough to tuck into a harness. Bright colors and some reflective tape.

The insulation?
Mountain Equipment's own "POLARLOFT Micro" is an advanced synthetic insulation. Made from a combination of 3D long filament fibres and micro fibres it gives excellent warmth with low weight and small pack size. Fast drying and almost unaffected by wet conditions it is ideal for a range of mountain and valley uses.

Not as good as Primaloft One is the bet.  Nothing has been verified as better to date.  How it stacks up against Arcteryx's insulation or any one's proprietary insulation is going to be a guess.  But I would say they are in the ball park.  No surprises or secrets here.

weight and sizing?
I wear a Large Atom LT
I wear a XL Bastion (same sizing as RAB IMO)
Fit is similar on both

Atom LT Hoodie Large is 14.5 oz, 411g
Bastion Hoodie XL is 17.5 oz,  496g

This is what Mountian Equipment sez:

A cutting edge synthetic jacket combining insulation, protection and mobility in one streamlined package; perfect for fast moving ski tours, cascade ice and alpine assaults.

 WEIGHT: 490g/ 17.3oz


RRP: $250.  


  • GORE® WINDSTOPPER® Active Shell fabric
  • GORE® WINDSTOPPER® X-Fast inserts aid fit during dynamic activity
  • 80g POLARLOFT® insulation
  • Active cut with pre-shaped and articulated sleeves
  • Adjustable Mountain Hood
  • 2-way moulded YKK® centre front zipper with insulated rear baffle
  • 2 zipped micro fleece lined hand warmer pockets
  • Inner zipped security pocket
  • Stretch cuffs and dual tether hem drawcords
Another hint here for anyone listening.  I really like this jacket.  I like the added 80g insulation up from 60g on the Atom LT.  3 oz. more for a significant amount of added warmth and wind resistance.  The Bastion  is what I had hoped the Aphix would have been.    I like the Bastion's smooth, trim profile and great fit.  I dislike the nagging zipper snags and the small hood.  I do like the ability to roll up and then lock the hood down with a velcro tab and make it a fair size collar.  I like the tiny bit of stretch the Gore Windstropper Active shell has.  This is a jacket that will see double duty as a climbing jacket outer layer and as lift served alpine ski jacket.  For skiing it will be both a outer layer in more mild weather and a insulation layer under a shell on the really cold days. 
Want to judge just how successful this style of a jacket has become?  Look at how many different companies are now making it.  4 by Arcteryx alone .  Then look at the colors offered by Arcteryx in just the Atom LT.  Great design idea that can always be done better.


Anonymous said...

Just a question-what do you think about the outdoor research halogen. The bastion is cool but heavier. But not a huge deal. Thanks

Kevin from ak.

Unknown said...

Huge win for the Halogen for me is the price point!!

175 dollars!!

(Hope you don't mind me posting that link, trust me I am not affiliated with them)

Did you try the Lemongrass colour, I was wondering just how bright it was in person?

-Kev from BC

Dane said...

Lemongrass is almost neon. I like it.

Anonymous said...

Lol. Yeah. Costco has the arcteryx atom for $130 here. Is arcteryx that mainstream?
How do I post a pic on this blog from my phone?


Anonymous said...

Have you looked at the new BD Access Hybrid Hoody? 60g PL One, Pertex shell, stretch side panels, and helmet hood.

Dane said...

Only looked at the online video and specs. Looks good. The past Arcteryx designers now working at BD certainly show their last place of employment on this one.

Dane said...

Played with the Halogen the other day amof. Good hood...for a helmet. Sorta funky other wise and a little funky with a helmet to be honest but works well. Also most sold me just on the hood till I played with it some and realised how they made the hood fit a helmet. Better hood for a helmet than the other two here for sure. Just not as nicely done. 60g Primaloft One..score there. But I didn't bite because the vents were even more breathable than the Atom LT. Not the direction I wanted to go. Might well be perfect for someone else. Just didn't seem to match either the Mtn Equip or the Arcteryx for quality. But the listed weight of 13.3 oz for a large is likely spot on. It felt like less in the hand. A large fit me.

Joseph said...

ME also do a jacket called the Compressor, 60g in the body and 40g in the arms. May be worth a look too Dane.

Kristoffer said...

What kind of pants would you recommend for alpine climbing, mostly to be used in a cold and dry environment? Do you ever find the need for a jacket like the venta mx? Ive tried the r1 hoody, but cant get the sizing right there. For a substitute ive looked(but not tried) at the arcteryx konseal, any experiences with this piece of garment?

Dane said...

check this out.

add the knifeblade pant to that mix. More like a Gamma LT than anything. SO a good weight for my winter use.

and the venta?

Unknown said...

Have you seen or used either the nuclei ar or new atom ar jackets? I am looking for something a good bit warmer than my atom lt and more weather resistant than my Cerium lt. The Nuclei Ar appears to be better cut for belay use which fits my use perfectly. The new Atom AR looks like it could be a nice option without the added expense of the windstopper barrier in the fabric.

Dane said...

Hi Nathan,

I've used both the Arcteryx products and like them both a lot. Pick what you think is needed for shell and insulation levels..mate that to a price you can work with and I suspect you'll be happy. Big fan of the Nuclei AR but it is expensive by comparison and as you saw...a better fit I think for an outer layer.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info. The Nuclei AR is currently at the top of my list. I'm not in an immediate need, so with a bit of luck I'll be able to pick up one at less than full retail cost. Seam sealed windstopper is probably about as "waterproof" as you'd ever need for anything short of full on rain. I suspect that windstopper would hold a pretty decent hydrostatic head measurement even if it isn't up to Gore's "Guaranteed to keep you dry" levels.

I'd also love to hear your thoughts on the changes from the Atom SV to the new Atom AR. It seems like a bit more insulation in the body would be welcome and the less bulk in the arms wouldn't hurt you.

thanks again, love the blog