A few months ago, at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, Mountain Hardwear provided me a sample of their new StretchDown Jacket (available Fall 2016) to test out. By seam welding the baffles (keeping the down in place) and using a stretchy material, they have negated a common complaint about down jackets, their lack of mobility. The welded seams expand, unlike stitched baffles, which provides stretch and movement, in a more durable, form-fitting, comfortable jacket. The StretchDown Jacket is filled with 750-fill Q.Shield Down insulation, treated to be water-repellent, which solves another problem with down jackets, an inability to hold their loft when wet.
I wore it first in Utah (great outside, WAY too warm inside), and have continued to check it out on a regular basis here in the Midwest. It really is unlike any other down jacket I’ve tried – while the fit is athletic and close to the body, the stretch makes it feel non-confining. It’s strange to be able to reach around during activity and feel the jacket work with me, rather than against me. Excepting extremely high-effort outings like trail running, I can’t imagine a cold weather activity that would be incompatible with the use of this jacket.
The jacket has three zippered exterior pockets and two interior tunnel pockets, allowing plenty of storage. Narrow but stretchy cuffs and an adjustable waist hem keep air and snow out.
Pros: Sleek design, stretchy comfort, incredible warmth
Opinion: This jacket ticks all the boxes and more: comfortable, warm, water-repellent, and, in my opinion, looks good while in action or as casual everyday wear. If I were to buy one, I’d probably opt for one with a hoodie or maybe get the RS (MSRP $280), with its greater weather resistance. It will be interesting to see how this jacket holds up over a few seasons and whether the seam sealed baffles are effective in keeping the down from migrating from its intended place.
Weight: Just under 1 pound, 1 ounce
Price (MSRP): $250