In this review we look at two different Mountain Hardwear hooded jackets: the StretchDown and 32 Degree Insulated.
StretchDown Hooded Jacket
StretchDown. It sounds like a yoga position, and that’s kind of the point — you can actually move in this innovative insulated offering. A dominating force in expedition gear for years now, Mountain Hardwear bent their tech-savvy heads this season to solve the age-old problem of fragility in down layers.
The StretchDown hooded jacket is far less bulky than most “puffies,” and is made of a nice tactile non-slippery (read: doesn’t sound like foil paper when you move) knit fabric. It employs a bonded construction instead of being stitched in the baffles, to accommodate the flexibility of the material, which shares the properties of an accordion.
The only drawback is you won’t get the classic ski-town cred that comes with sporting a puffy profusely patched with Tuck Tape — that crimson red house-building material ski bums long ago figured out is the cheapest and most effective outerwear repair. Nope, this material won’t tear easily: not when brushing against rocks or branches, or even brick walls on a wobbly walk home. You won’t find the feathers floating out of it, either. If you insist, you could still get all kinds of little burn holes in it by attending an early season bonfire, but it’s awfully nice-looking, so I actually kind of endorse keeping this one in good shape.
It’s perhaps a little less warm and a touch heavier than what you’d ideally choose for a multi-day piece (there is a heavier one), but, even though it doesn’t come with a stuff sack, it does compress surprisingly well. So, this can still serve two purposes—ski-town/ski-hill chic and backcountry function. The 750-fill down inside is treated, in case you get wet on your walk home, but if you’re wearing a puffy, it’s probably cold enough out that’s not an issue.
MSRP: $320 CAD
- Groundbreaking stretch-bonded channel construction
- Water resistant Q Shield® DOWN 750-fill power
- Unique bonded construction traps more warmth than standard stitched construction
- Warm, light stretch-knit fabric is vastly more comfortable than conventional ripstops
- Fabric Body: Dynamic-Stretch Knit
- Insulation: Q.Shield® DOWN 750-Fill
- Center Back Length: 28 in / 71 cm
- Apparel Fit: Standard
- Weight: 1 lb 2 oz / 519 g
32 Degree Hooded Jacket
Mountain Hardwear’s 32 Degree insulation hooded jacket follows the company’s flexy theme this season, using Stretch Fleece. It’s a durable, breathable and light layer that works well to keep you vented on the way up and holds in all the heat you need (on most days) if you toss a shell over it on the way down. It’s not super wind resistant, but I found that nice on uptracks as it helps suck away moisture while keeping you warm. It’s also not amazingly water repellent, but that comes part and parcel with breathability, and that’s why you carry a shell, anyway.
It is cleverly lined with nylon fabric on the shoulders, where snow tends to melt when it lands, and backpack shoulder straps tend to wear through over time. The only thing this technical hoody lacks is thumbholes in the cuffs. Sometimes it’s a nice way to keep your sleeve sucked up inside your glove, or to keep your hand warm while you need the dexterity of your fingers to fish around for your sandwich. Luckily its pockets double as hand warmers.
Altogether, it’s an awesome, light and tough mid-layer.
MSRP: $130 CAD
- Body-mapping insulation
- Zip handwarmer pockets
- Reflective cuffs
- Internal hem adjustment
- Fabric Body: Stretch Fleece
- Insulation: Thermal.Q® 40 g/m²
- Center Back Length: 28 in / 71 cm
- Apparel Fit: Active
- Weight: 9 oz / 255 g