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  • Writer's pictureMason Gardener

Macpac Pulsar Plus - A jacket you can rely on

Updated: May 9, 2023

Back in 2018 I remember shivering away on the south face of Mt Aspiring, while my climbing partner (Liam Pyott) sat comfortably in a soft shell jacket layered with the first addition of the Macpac Pulsar plus. I could not comprehend how this seemingly thin layer of insulation was keeping him so warm. We had been climbing through the day getting soaked and at each belay he would put this thin blue jacket on and be happy as. It wasnt until I read Mark Twights 'Extreme Alpinism' that I relised why his system was working so well.

The system in its most basic sense is climbing in layers (base, mid, outer) ideally suiting the temperature to the layers you choose to minimise sweat on a hard pitch of climbing. Then on arrival at an anchor putting on a synthetic belay jacket allowing moisture within the inner layers to transport out to the belay jacket and be all but dry when ready to start the next pitch. A synthetic jacket is the cruicial component as it can still maintain most of its warm properties even when saturated. For New Zealand conditions, where more often than not its going to be wet, the Macpac Pulsar plus has been my go to even before joining the NZ alpine team.

During our recent ice climbing trip too Canada, I found the Pulsar Plus to be outstanding on the coldest days where climbing in just a mid layer (Macpac nitro) and an outer layer (Macpac Prothet) would not suffice. The cut of the jacket allowed for exteme freedom of movement, never once impacting how I climbed. It's length sits comfortably underneath a harness, minimising ride up when making stretched moves, thus preventing you to access gear on your harness loops. Your helmet sits comfortably in the large helmet box, and can be adjusted via a velcro tab to suit each climber. Each jacket comes with an interior and exterior chest pocket. I have found that these work great even when storing bulky items such as head torchs and muslie bars, often forgetting they are even in there until weeks later when I suprise myself with a nice snack. Another great additon to the jacket is two internal mesh pockets. These pockets allow you to place an item which you dont want to freeze (small water bottles or gloves). I have also found that placing a Radix dehydrated meal on the cold days keeps it extremely warm while it cooks, all while keeping your hands free as you go about setting the rest of your bivy up.

The Macpac Pulsar plus has 200g/m2 of Primaloft gold in the body and 100g/m2 in the sleeves. It weights in at 640g (Mens M) and packs away small into it's interior chest pocket with a carabiner clipping point. The exterior fabric is made from Pertex quantum 100% ripstop nylon, something that is crucial once care goes out the window and pulling a move may inevitably take some grovelling.

For all winter climbing in New Zealand I never leave without my Pulsar plus, its a bomb proof jacket which I can fully rely on.

Daniel Joel and Matthew Scholes wrote an article on the original concept for the Pulsar Plus, for this article read:

For more information on any technical details please see the Macpac website:

Mens pulsar plus:

Women's pulsar plus:

Check out Mark Twights 'Extreme Alpinism'. His book, although well dated now, still has alot of great information on this topic. I am yet to find a book which I still read cover to cover from time to time.

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