Montane Alpine Stretch Jacket ReviewFebruary 6, 2015
- Superb hood
- Sophisticated design, thoughtful layout
- Four gigantic pockets
- Unmatched flexibility in the face of changing conditions
- Some details were over-thought and over-complicated
- Slightly heavier than needs to be due to extra features
The Montane Alpine Stretch Jacket very nearly realizes the archetype of the ideal softshell top-one that can (and will) be worn for an entire trip, regardless of weather conditions. A terrifically versatile mountain jacket, the Alpine Stretch satisfies the most demanding users.
The Montane Alpine Stretch Jacket felt like an old favorite from the first moment I zipped it up. Each pocket, adjustment, and seam lay just where I wanted it. Thus, whether layered as part of my deep-winter kit or donned for UV protection on exposed rock, this piece tended to blend into amazingly comfortable and functional symbiosis with my other gear.
The highly breathable fabric of the Montane Alpine Stretch Jacket was bolstered by strong DWR, a high collar, and excellent hood design to provide potent defense against moderate alpine weather.
Especially in very wet conditions, the Alpine StretchÕs polyester fabric delivered above-average breathability and superior dry-time compared to similar nylon-based textiles. Large zippered pockets and highly adjustable cuffs boosted my ability to vent excess heat when things got steamy.
Techy fabrics and clever adjustments are great, but smart design (patterning and seam placement) of the elbow and shoulder areas is my number-one must-have when it comes to jacket comfort. The Alpine Stretch certainly impressed me with its textile and closure-controls-this jacket served up more than enough ergonomic efficiencies and stretchy cuddles-but that patterning is where it’s at.
The little things on the Alpine Stretch were so impressively dialed that it was tough to call any of them extraneous. However, bits like a moldable wire brim and a two-way main zipper were unnecessary additions that I wouldn’t have missed. Ultimately, quite a few (admittedly very nice) little things added up to a couple of extra ounces that the Alpine Stretch Jacket could have done without.
Attention to Detail
Fair warning: I’m splitting hairs here. The things I’d change about this piece add up to about three-fifths of a point, but they still bear mentioning. First, the loop-side Velcro patch at the cuff should move about an inch further from the hook-side tab. Second, the hem adjustment, unique though it may be, adds unnecessary bulk and complication. And finally, a two-way zip has no place on a thin hip-length softshell-once again, unnecessary bulk and complication. Had even one of these minor issues been absent, the Alpine Stretch Jacket would have earned a ten here.
This piece is simply an exceptional value for any user seeking an all-around alpine jacket. Quash your anxiety over ordering a brand with which you’re unfamiliar, and try to remember to thank me later.