Kit Review: Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Stretchdown Hooded Down Jacket

The Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Stretchdown Hooded Down Jacket might be a mouthful, but Carlton Boyce finds that it’s packed with versatility as well as vowels.

While technical garments have their place, the Ranulph Fiennes look can be overkill if you’re just ambling down to the pub. And yet, if you’re anything like me, there’s a little voice niggling inside that says you don’t want to sell-out completely by buying something from a high street fashion retailer; a lighter touch is all very well, but function remains a priority.

Which is where the Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Stretchdown Hooded Down Jacket comes in; while the name might be a bit of a mouthful, its technical specification is beyond reproach and it’s all neatly packaged inside a great looking jacket that looks just as good apres-ski as it does on the slopes themselves.

Mountain Hardwear claims the Super/DS is the first down jacket to weave its face, back, and baffles from a single piece of cloth. This is, it explains, a great way to cut down on the number of stitches and glued seams needed, an innovation that makes for a stronger, lighter and more flexible jacket.

It also looks great; the woven-stretch construction creates an interesting texture and pattern to the cloth, which is soft-feel and much less harsh to the touch than most jackets of its type.

It fits true to size and fits beautifully. The cut makes it appear less bulky than a lot of its competitors, a feature those of us battling middle-age spread might appreciate more than we’d like to admit.

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But don’t think it’s slimming because it isn’t packing the same heavyweight down punch as its contemporaries because nothing could be further from the truth. The Super/DS Down Jacket is as light and warm as the birds that provided its insulation thanks to an RDS-certified filling of 90% goose down and 10% goose feather, all at 700-fill.

Mountain Hardwear also speaks of a ‘continuous channel design that traps more heat than standard construction’, a claim I’m not in a position to verify but one that sounds plausible; wearing it in recent zero-degree temperatures with just a t-shirt underneath left me feeling warm and cosy, despite a stiff breeze that dropped the wind chill factor well below freezing.

It even shrugged off a heavy shower and while no-one claims that it is completely waterproof, it dried quickly and evenly at room temperature, so it’s nice to know that the odd wetting won’t ruin it…

As for the company itself, you’re in good hands. Ironically, given my introductory paragraph, it was formed in 1993 by a bunch of outdoor enthusiasts who were worried that the industry was changing, “compromising quality and dumbing down products to serve less technical users.“ Now based in Richmond, California, Mountain Hardwear resisted the trend to dumb-down its products, and the result is that its expedition tents have summited more of the world’s highest peaks than those from any other manufacturer.

So, if you’re after a good-looking down jacket that is packed full of technical features but disguises them sufficiently well that you won’t look out of place in among civilians, then the Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Stretchdown Hooded Down Jacket is worth a look.

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Available in a wide range of colours and priced from around £170 it isn’t cheap, but it is bloomin’ versatile.

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Happiest in the snow, Carlton is an ex-police officer and prison governor who has migrated to the world of adventure travel via motoring journalism. Carlton drives boats and pickups with more enthusiasm than skill, and is currently working on his first novel in addition to his prison memoirs.