The Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket is a multi-function insulated jacket and layering piece designed for active mountain use. The jacket features a stretch construction and Q.Shield® DOWN 750 weight filling (not to mention a really nice colour range). From climbing to skiing, we have been putting the StretchDown through it’s paces in and around Chamonix Mont-Blanc for the past 2 months to see how it performed.
Comfort & Fit
Straight away the jacket has an excellent feel to it. The outer shell has a satin-like touch to it whilst feeling reassuringly durable whilst the inner is a more glossy/slippery material which slides easily over laying. The actual fit of the jacket is fantastic, I’m 186cm/71kgs and the Men’s Medium is just about perfect. The upper shoulder and mid section of the waist do have some slack to them (not half as bad as other jackets we have tested), which is great for movement but does take some of the close up warmth away when just in a t-shirt or base-layer (which probably means I just need to go to the gym more).
The real USP of this model is the “stretch-welded” channel construction, the long and short of it is that this jacket moves so much more freely then any others we have tested, there is very little rise in the waist while moving your arms and the whole jacket feels unrestricted when (for example) skiing across a wide range of movements.
Lastly, in a trio of good qualities, the overall weight, fit and thickness of the jacket is a great balance between being able to take layers underneath, and being just slim enough to have a shell on-top. For instance, during particularly cold weather, north face skiing; a tight base-layer underneath the StretchDown and a shell on top provided an absolutely rock solid environment, this jacket is truly versatile in so many conditions because of this.
The StretchDown is a brilliantly simple jacket, along with the features mentioned above it has 2 large inner glove pockets, 2 outwear hand warmer pockets (that sandwich your hands between your body warmth with the down on the outside, the way it should be!) and a generous breast zipped pocket gives you all the storage you need. Elastic cuffs and hem (around the hood and bottom of the jacket) keep the warmth sealed in, whilst the Q.Shield® DOWN filling keeps you warm and dry (more on that later). The only thing that we would have loved to see on this jacket is a zipper that can be undone from the top AND bottom (therefore releasing some space for a belay loop), currently it’s a minor faff to roll or flap up the front of the jacket when wearing a harness underneath – but certainly not a deal breaker.
Build Quality & Durability
As with other Mountain Hardwear products we have tested, the overall build quality is excellent throughout. The outer fabric has proved very durable during mountain sports (from hiking and skiing to climbing), and resistant to our dog (and head of our durability research facility) Lita Jess. We’ve been using the StretchDown almost daily for around 2 months now and there are no signs of premature wear at any point on the jacket.
Water & Wind Resistance
The Q.Shield® DOWN (750 weight) filling is infused with water repellency which helps keep the achilles heel of down jackets (…water) from getting into to the filling, thus keeping you dry and warm. So far this has been the case during our testing, however I should note we have had very little rain here in December/January so it’s been tricky to test (we might have to perform this part of the test back in the UK), we will update this post when we have more information. In terms of Wind Resistance, the 750 down and baffled construction keeps the very worst weather out – you’ll never feel a breeze fighting through this jacket, however we found the ultimate combo for wind resistance (in terms of overall warmth) is when we couple the jacket with a shell, then absolutely nothing gets through it!
Mountain Hardwear never fail to surprise us with their innovation, style and performance. The StretchDown is a fantastic example of keeping things simple and doing them very well. We loved the all-round capability of this jacket, it performs well and looks good. If you’re looking for one down jacket to do it all, the StretchDown is seriously worth a look. In the words of Dieter Rams, “weniger, aber besser” less, but better.