Mountain Equipment Lhotse Review – A World Beating Waterproof Jacket

Mountain Equipment Lhotse review main2

Named after the World’s fourth highest mountain, the Lhotse Waterproof Jacket from Mountain Equipment looks great on paper – does it deliver….?

Why we like the Lhotse: Great fit; Superb weather proofing; Excellent Hood

What we don’t like: Not the lightest jacket for ultra weight-conscious backpackers

Lhotse is not a particularly well known mountain, but it’s one of the most challenging to climb in the world at 8516m. Located not far from Mount Everest on the border between Tibet and Nepal, only K2, Kangchenjunga and Everest itself are higher.

Naming one of their flagship waterproof jackets after this beast of a climb highlights how confident Mountain Equipment must be in the performance of their Lhotse shell, as well as how important it must be in their lineup. Mountain Equipment are one of our long-time favourite outdoor clothing manufacturers and in truth we have never been let down or disappointed with any of their products.

That being said, any review of a new piece of gear must be independent and not reliant on past moments of glory from a particular company.

I have recently been lucky enough to spend several months in the UK autumn and winter putting the Mountain Equipment Lhotse through a series of outdoor challenges. It has been my main go-to shell for all my walking, scrambling and climbing expeditions, chiefly in Snowdonia, North Wales.

In case you’re in any doubt, this is an exceptional waterproof shell and if you can tolerate the extra grams of weight in your backpack we would rate it as an essential purchase for serious outdoor enthusiasts.

A word on the Lhotse name

Before we get started, I’ve got to be honest and say that the name of the Lhotse jacket doesn’t read too easily for a native English speaker like myself – it just looks slightly wrong on the page with that ‘h’ chucked in there – I sincerely hope this doesn’t impact sales of the shell for Mountain Equipment because I can imagine some buyers getting put off when they see it. More fool them if so!

If you’re in any doubt, Lhotse is pronounced like the UK word ‘lots’, but some people like to add the ‘eh’ sound on the end like ‘lots-eh’ – probably to sound sophisticated and worldly-wise!

Materials and Layout of the Lhotse

Mountain equipment Lhotse review close up frontThe Lhotse is a full Gore-Tex Pro shell which combines excellent waterproof protection with outward-breathability under even the toughest rain, sleet or snow conditions. We are always impressed with Gore-Tex Pro as a triple-layer bonded technical fabric, and it’s implementation within the Lhotse is extremely well executed.

The jacket is constructed using a relatively thin (hence light weight) 40-denier fabric for the main body but then a heavier, more robust 80-denier version has been used to augment and strengthen the traditional weak points of shoulders, upper chest and outer sleeves. This design means that you can wear a rucksack with confidence that the jacket is not going to wear badly.

The use of the thicker material does push the weight up slightly above the levels that some of my ultra-lightweight hiking friends would likely tolerate. My XL test jacket weighed a smidgen over 500g which is probably a third heavier than the lightest jackets. However for me, the added weight gives a reassuring feeling of security – when you get it out of the backpack you feel confident that it is going to protect you in the face of a howling gale – some of the lighter alternatives sometimes don’t inspire in quite the same way.

Superb Hood Design

If we start from the top of the jacket I was immediately struck by how efficient and easy to adjust the hood is. Designed to be able to take a climbing helmet if required (a feature I personally don’t often require), any excess space is quickly and easily cinched out at the rear using a standard toggle. This makes the hood fit onto the top of your head snugly, as if you’re wearing a baseball cap.

The peak of the hood incorporates a semi-rigid wire allowing the wearer to reshape it according to taste. It provides excellent protection from driving rain. 

To further stop cold air getting inside, there is a ruched section of the hood between the peak and the top of the neck. This uses a fantastic design of inner ‘clamps’ and a toggle. The clamps are hidden inside the material of the jacket and are simply pushed together like a switch which allows a bungee cord to be pulled or release, before reclamping. You can quickly and easily then reduce the main aperture for your face and stop cold air getting down through the hood to your chest. Excellent design work.

Zips and Pockets

The Lhotse comes with a plethora of pockets, which again accounts for some of that slightly raised weight specification. However, I found them well-placed and useful to have available. There are two large side pockets for hands and also a ‘Napoleon’style’ pocket in the mid chest/stomach area – very useful for a map or similar-sized items. On top of these there is also a smaller zipped internal pocket which is laminated and laser cut.

All the pockets and the main jacket front zip use gold-standard YKK zips – these offer excellent reliability and ruggedness. I found that the two sides of the main zip were easy to join and pulled up and down smoothly under even harsh mountain conditions.

Mountain equipment Lhotse review close up togglesWaist and sleeve adjustments

The sleeves ends are a fairly standard design – they use velcro strips to allow easy  cinching of the sleeves for either a loose or tight grip against your wrists. The waist adjustment on the Lhotse uses those clever clamps again with bungee cords. Simple and effective – we like!

Ventilation

Although the Mountain Equipment Lhotse is extremely breathable, it is always recommended to allow moist air from your body out from areas which cannot let water in – for example the arm pit area. There’s no chance of any rain getting in there and so the Lhotse has large YKK-zipped ventilation hatches under each armpit with bungee cords attached. These zippers close and open from each end of the vent meaning you can adjust the gap to anywhere you wish within the length of the zip.

Mountain Equipment Lhotse GORE-TEX Pro Men's Jacket wet

Sizing and Fit

I’m 6ft3 tall (about 192cm) and found that the XL size was perfect for me. The Lhotse offers quite a slimline cut from the chest down to the waist, and does not extend too far below the waistline at the front. At the rear, there is more of a ‘tail’  – the jacket extends slightly further down and covers the ‘posterior area’ well. 

In Use and Overall Impressions

Mountain Equipment Lhotse GORE-TEX Pro Men's Jacket wet family

I have been wearing the Lhotse almost every day since receiving it, sometimes in drizzle and sometimes in driving rain. I’ve also worn it as my only layer on milder days when I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve taken it to Snowdonia and experienced the full gamut of conditions which proper mountains can throw at you. I can honestly say that this jacket is up there with the best we have tested at Camping Secrets.

I’ve suffered no water ingress at the hood level, or at the shoulders where my rucksack is in contact with the jacket. The sleeve ends are a notoriously weak point on most waterproof jackets, but again there have been no nasty surprises here.

I’ve found the breathability to be excellent in general, and the long underarm pit ventilation zips really help let excess moist air out. When coupled with a down jacket like the Rab Prosar, you are getting almost the perfect combination of warmth and dryness. I am seriously impressed with the Lhotse.

Downsides

I’m struggling to think of any downsides of the jacket. I would say it is towards the upper end of the price range that anyone might want to spend on a waterproof shell. This might put people off, and it’s certainly true that you can get decent performance from cheaper waterproof alternatives. However, none of the cheaper shells offer the combination of dryness, design, materials and Gore-Tex Pro in a single product.

The weight at 500g is not a deal-breaker for me. If I’m honest I cannot tell the difference between a 350g jacket and a 500g jacket in terms of carried weight. I can definitely tell the difference in material quality and durability, and the Lhotse delivers on this in spades.

I should mention the noise of the jacket. One possible downside of Gore-Tex material in general is the semi-inflexibility of it – this means that when you move your arms there is a bit of noise like you’re rustling a carrier bag. To my ears it’s not a problem, but it’s worth mentioning. If you really cannot stand that sound then it may be worth looking at waterproof jackets by Paramo who use a different, sleeker technology which is not noisy in this way at all.

Conclusions and Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Lhotse is a fantastic piece of outdoor clothing. If you have the budget to spend around £350-400 on an essential part of your kit then I really think you should consider it. It has won numerous awards for Mountain Equipmpent and I can sincerely see why.

If it means anything to you, I will be purchasing the review jacket with my own money and continuing to use it for the future. It has the perfect fir and function for me and I love it.

10Expert Score

It always feels strange awarding something a '10', because nothing in this world is 100% perfect. However, we sometimes dish it out if a product has really impressed. The Lhotse jacket is one such product. It will keep you dry in all conditions the UK may throw at you and looks good while doing it. Highly recommended and buy with confidence.

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