Originally Posted by pibrahim
Are "technical jackets" just Backcountry's description for hardshells?
No... "Technical" refers to an overall level of refinement to any outerwear garment that means it will fit a little closer (not bulky), have good range of movement (gusseted crotch, etc), and be pared down to the essentials (no goofy add-ons like stowable hoods, 3-in-1 liner zippers, retro buttons, etc... If you have a beer gut, technical fits won't work so well for you... you should check out Columbia instead :lol:
In other words it is tuned for lightweight performance, not heavy style.
I've gone mountaineering in the PacNW (Rainier, etc) in both winter conditions and summer conditions and an lightweight hardshell is all you need. GoreTex Pro-Shell is kind of the gold standard here and the Mentor jacket from OR that I mentioned earlier is just that, while also managing to be priced about the same as the Arcteryx Alpha SL (which is a less durable, less waterproof Goretex Paclite membrain). A GREAT alternative to the Mentor if that's still too rich is the OR Furio, which uses ProShell only on the shoulders and arms (high wear areas) and Paclite for the rest and it's $100 cheaper and also on sale in many places for way less.
Hardshells are not meant to be warm. They are meant to keep the rain/snow/wind out. That said, this is why you want it to be very light and very packable - because most of the time on the mountain, you don't need the full rain gear and you'll be wearing a softshell instead. Not all softshells are created equal, of course. The $100 North Face Apex Bionic is not even close to good enough for these conditions. It's not waterproof (fabric is just water-repellant and there is no seam-taping), doesn't have a collar-cinch, and has poor venting. The $200 Torch from MH however is seam-taped, waterproof, hooded, pitzips and vent-pockets, etc... World of difference.
If you're only going to get one jacket (which is absurd, because no one jacket can literally do EVERYTHING), then you want a hooded waterproof softshell like the MH Torch, OR Mithril, or certainly Arcteryx, TNF, or Cloudveil have something to offer as well.
I kind of lean towards OR because they are almost always less expensive and their quality is absolutely top of the line. I can get any jacket I want from Arcteryx, MH, TNF for less than half price and I choose OR because I prefer their product.
oops... after looking at MH's site, I see they have replaced the Torch jacket with the Synchro Ski Jacket and Kramer Jacket... You can still find the Torch on many retailer websites.