Mountain Equipment Eclipse Thermal Layering System Review


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 21, 2013      
Wearing the Eclipse Hoodie on the skintrack in beautiful Alaska

Wearing the Eclipse Zip Tee Hoodie on the skin track in beautiful Alaska.

It’s that time of year and most of us are starting to feel the pull of winter coming on. Personally, I’m still holding on to a warmer fall and made a migration south to continue to climb, which has been met with only tolerable temps at times. The changing weather is making me remember what it feels like to wear more clothes, and the importance of having a good layering system for the backcountry.

The base/mid-layer piece of clothing can be one of the trickiest pieces of gear to dial in. Your waterproof hard shell and pants are fairly straight forward — keep you dry when it’s wet. But the under layer needs to function throughout the day, in temps that vary during dawn to dusk adventures. A multi-use thermal layer that I have been using since last winter and into the brisk autumn high country climbing season has been the Eclipse Hooded Zip Tee by Mountain Equipment. I have found the Eclipse to be very effective, made with a stretchy lightweight fleece that is both insulating and minimal in bulk. One of my favorite features is the form fitting hood that traps in body heat when the temperature drops. The hood and high zip tee acts as a face mask to protect you from the wind while strapping in or waiting at the belay. The offset design of the zipper cleverly keeps rough material from chaffing your nose and mouth.

A prime example of the Eclipse keeping me warm on a ridge in Glacier Bay National Park. When fully zipped, it covers most of the face, with the zipper neatly positioned on the side.

Mountain Equipment has thoughtfully kept flatlocked seams away from the hip area to provide ample comfort when layering under a harness or waist belt. I have worn this layer as a stand alone on those moderate temperature days, with great breathability when the zipper is all the way down (especially attractive if you are fortunate enough to have prominent chest hair billowing out). On colder days, I’ve paired it with a light base layer for maximum insulation.

An ideal layer on this moderate temperature day in Yosemite National Park

An ideal layer on this moderate temperature day in Yosemite National Park.

My only qualm with this piece is its durability when in contact with rock. The close fitting, stretchy top is excellent for rock climbing but it has seen some significant wear and tear when brushing up against the stone. Realistically, most lightweight layers like this won’t stand up to the unforgiving grains of coarse granite after extended use. Given the most common use of the Eclipse Hooded Zip-tee is as a base or mid-layer for ski touring or alpine missions, its durability is adequate.

Additionally, Mountain Equipment has a matching lightweight fleece pant layer. The Eclipse Pant is made of the same material (for fabricionados — Pontetorto Technostretch fleece in two weights with strategically placed panels for minimal bulk, with Polygiene anti-microbial technology). These pants are quite warm on their own, and I think perform at their best as a single fleece layer for winter camping or backcountry hut trips. I ski toured in them on cold Alaskan days and they were a bit too warm for me. My legs tend to stay warm enough with a very lightweight pair of thermals as a base. The pack-ability of the Eclipse Pant as an overnight layer is stellar, instead of a much bulkier heavy weight fleece for the cold evenings.

The Eclipse Hooded Tee with the Eclipse Fleece Pant together.

The Eclipse Hooded Zip Tee with the Eclipse Pant.

The Eclipse Hooded Zip Tee (335g/11.8oz)) and Pant (235g/8.3oz) have performed up to my standard and I recommend them as an exceptional layering system for backcountry touring and overnight winter trips.

Shop for Mountain Equipment online here, (or find a local specialty retailer here.



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Comments

15 Responses to “Mountain Equipment Eclipse Thermal Layering System Review”

  1. ty October 21st, 2013 10:21 am

    will this be a cheaper option compared to patagonia’s R1? if it is i will be buying, despite the fact that the link at the bottom of the write up didnt offer the thermal hoody. cheers, ty

  2. Greg October 21st, 2013 11:19 am

    I have the First Ascent Bat Hang Hoodie, which I am a fan of. I do like the look of the face zip on the one above, though, looks like it would fit a bit better as a mask than the one on the Bat Hang. Regardless, it seems like a hooded baselayer is quickly becoming a standard piece of equipment for skiing/mountaineering/climbing/etc.

  3. Woody Dixon October 21st, 2013 11:56 am

    Woody from the US Mountain Equipment Offices here.

    On the business side: the Eclipse Hooded Zip Tee retails for $150. The Pants retail for $120. Backcountry.com will be carrying the Eclipse Hooded in the next few weeks. Also, many specialty Brick and Mortars already have these in stock, use our dealer locator to find someone in your area stocking them.

    Personal note:
    I love my Eclipse hooded zip tee. I use mine as a next-to-skin baselayer all winter long. Big thing that I like about it over other mid-weight layers is the long hem length and long sleeves. I tuck em’ into my softshell pants and never worry about snow/or wind freezing my backside.

  4. Lisa October 21st, 2013 1:29 pm

    Ty, sorry it wasn’t clear that the Eclipse is not yet available online. I edited the post. Thanks for your comment and happy turns to you this winter!

  5. Beth October 21st, 2013 2:19 pm

    Women’s version available?

  6. Woody Dixon October 21st, 2013 3:24 pm

    @Beth- After much begging and pleading, we’ll have Woman’s Hooded Eclipse available next fall… Unfortunately not this year. We do make the Eclipse in a zip tee (no hood), jacket, and pants for woman.

  7. Beth October 21st, 2013 4:05 pm

    @Woody, happy to hear it…been wanting one for a while!

  8. @brodyleven October 21st, 2013 4:18 pm

    Great review, Coop! Mountain Equipment gear is super appealing. It looks really well-designed.

  9. Combiner October 21st, 2013 5:11 pm

    Does it have Hardface finish and second zip slider?

    After [older, 2 seasons ago] MH Desna fleece jacket I’ll never buy a fleece which doesn’t have at least SOME protection from wind. BTDT; never again. It’s not fun when ALL your warmth is blown away in a fraction of a second. Hardface finish is TREMENDOUS addition to versatility (in my eyes) – can be DWR’ed, too, and seems to not hamper breathability at all. And I really do need second slider when wearing harness and it’s not winter. Please, oh please MH, bring it back… Sigh.

  10. Bob October 21st, 2013 5:48 pm

    Wow, I thought you were wearing a neck gaiter. Impressive that the collar is practically a balaclava, looks like the piece I need, AND a ticket to Alaska. 🙂 Thanks for the review.

  11. Woody Dixon October 21st, 2013 8:11 pm

    @Combiner- It’s only a half zip. The jacket version (without a hood) has a two way zip. currently we don’t make hooded eclipse jacket.

    On the whole hardface thing… The face fabric is densely woven and has grid pattern fleece on the backside of the fabric. While we are not calling it “hardface” and I’d make no claims of it being wind or weather proof, I’ve found my eclipse to be sufficiently warm and wind/snow resistant to wear on its own in high output scenarios such as skinning. Used in the field in temps from 40°F to 0°F, ski touring in the Cascades and Interior BC. Will it replace a softshell? Nope. Does the wind cut straight through it? nope. Draw you conclusions accordingly. 🙂

  12. David Cobb October 30th, 2013 10:27 am

    A question for Lou. I read your review of the K2 Wayback – that you’ve tried 167 and 174. I am relatively new to back country – randonee skiing. However, I am an expert skier – past examiner, professional racer and freestyle (back in the 70’s). My height is 5’6″ and I weigh 165. I currently ski in bounds on a 174 K2 which is perfect for me – my style is quite aggressive and strong.

    I intend to purchase a pair of skis for back country. My big trip is the Haute Route in April 2014 with a friend and guide. I am torn between a 167 and a 174. My concern is that a 167 will be too short coming down, but a 174 may be tiring going up – 100s of kick turns, etc.

    Can you shed some insight for me.

    Thank you.

    Regards,

    David Cobb

  13. Lou Dawson October 30th, 2013 11:11 am

    David, if you get a ski that feels short, you will experience feelings of regret and uncertainty until you have ski toured for a few seasons and learn how to adjust your technique and expectations. Thus, I’d recommend getting a length you’d feel comfortable with on the resort. So get the 174 Wayback and don’t look back. Frankly, with the rocker that ski has, I think a 167 Wayback is too short for a good downhill feel no matter what your height and weight as the average male build (within reason). I used the shorter length so they’d be much lighter and easier to carry, but I also skied the 174 and did like it better on the down. Lou

  14. David Cobb October 30th, 2013 12:03 pm

    Thank you so much. That is extremely helpful. My gut was saying 174 – I had a feeling 167 would not be enough ski for me. Regards,

    David

  15. Louie Dawson November 8th, 2013 12:32 pm

    The Eclipse hoodie is now available at Backcountry.com here’s the link:

    http://www.backcountry.com/mountain-equipment-eclipse-half-zip-hoodie-mens

    We’ll ad it into the review as well.

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