When it comes to outdoor apparel designed to keep us warm during our favorite winter activities, the down puffy is a staple found in just about every gear closet. Lightweight, warm, and packable, the puffy serves as great insulation, both on its own and as part of a layering system. If you’re like me, a good down jacket has been a part of your cold weather wardrobe for some time now, and although there have been a few nice advancements here and there, I’ve seldom felt the need to upgrade all that often.
So what exactly makes the StretchDown so enticing? For starters, it is made with fabrics that are designed to be highly flexible, stretching with the body as it moves. This makes it a good choice for use in our favorite outdoor winter pursuits, as it doesn’t tend to hinder motions nearly as much as traditional puffies. In fact, I’d say that of all the down jackets I’ve ever worn, this one provides the best range of motion I’ve ever seen. This is part of what makes this particular jacket so special.
But, that’s only the tip of the iceberg so to speak. Mountain Hardwear has also incorporated a new approach to how the StretchDown is constructed that gives is an entirely new way of keeping us warm too. You see, traditional down jackets use stitched seams to create baffles, which are then stuffed with down fill, which in turn serves as insulation. But those stitches also poke holes in the fabric that allow cold air to seep in, and warm air to escape. To avoid this, MH used welded seams on its baffles instead, which does have an impact on its performance in cold conditions.
As with most modern down jackets, the StretchDown uses 750-fill water resistant down (in the form of Mountain Hardwear’s proprietary Q Shield) to help maintain its loft and performance, even when it gets wet. This is a big step up over traditional down, which becomes practically useless when moisture creeps into the fabric. If you don’t already own a puffy jacket that uses hydrophobic down, that alone is a good reason to upgrade. It is a substantial step up in terms of what when and where you can use this type of jacket, and how well it performs.
Because the fabrics used in the StretchDown have been designed to easily move with the body, the jacket has a more athletic, form-fitting cut. This not only helps to make this puffy feel less bulky, it further traps heat inside too. Keeping that warm air close to the body provides extra warmth, even on very cold days.
Photos courtesy of Mountain Hardwear
Available in a seven colors, with or without a hood, the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown is indeed remarkably warm. But at just 1.1 pounds, it is also lightweight and easy to pack as well. The hooded version sells for $290 while the model without the hood is available for $250. Women’s models are available at the same price points too.
If you’re in need of a new down jacket for the winter ahead, or if you simply feel its finally time for an upgrade, the new StretchDown is a great choice. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more durable, warm, and comfortable jacket on the market this winter. I already have one in my closet, and I know that will get a lot of use in the days ahead.