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Field Test: The Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hoody

When you think of a down jacket, you don’t often think of a jacket that stretches and works well when you are climbing. I’ve been using the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hoody now since August, and it continues to be my go-to piece of insulation for everything except ice climbing.

Personally, I don’t like oversized insulated jackets that make me look like the Marshmallow Man. The StretchDown Hoody feels more like it would be in the slim jeans category of pants if it were a pair of jeans. The outer fabric is not your typical lightweight outdoor industry fabric, it’s more robust, less shiny and matte in colour. It fits in perfectly on a climb or around town.

I’ve worn it out multi-pitch climbing on a cold and windy day with temperatures hovering around 0°C with light rain and snow and had no problem with keeping warm.

When wearing it climbing, there are several things that I noticed about the jacket that I appreciated.

Unlike many jackets in the category, it has two stash pockets inside. I found this useful while belaying for gloves, bars and water bottles.

When it’s zipped all the way up you can still pull the hood on and off without unzipping the main zipper. I usually find that a pain with other jackets but have no issues with this even while wearing a helmet.

Mark Howell in the StretchDown Hoody on Aftenroe. Photo Tim Banfield

It sheds mixed precipitation well, but arguably I haven’t pushed this too far. It’s a down jacket, and even though it’s hydrophobic down, I still get concerned about it getting wet.

Not an advantage to everyone but I really appreciate the size of the chest pocket. It’s large and facilitates getting a point and shoot camera or phone out quickly while you are on the move or belaying.

Mark Howell in the StretchDown Hoody on Aftenroe. Photo Tim Banfield

The sleeves have an elastic cuff, they stayed up when pushed up to make more technical moves on rock.

I do wish the jacket compressed into its own pocket so that I could hang it off my harness while climbing, this is easily fixed by bringing along an extra stuff sack, but I like stuffable pockets better.

Mark Howell on heese Grater 5.8 at Guide’s Rock in Banff Photo Tim Banfield

The exterior is a stretch knit polyester outer layer. It fits in around town which I really appreciate, too often insulated jackets appear glossy and delicate to me vs a coat for everyday use.

Being a photographer, I often get to try out several jackets a season. This one was sent to me to take photos of and is still my go-to jacket for chilly days rock climbing, travelling, shooting sunrise, and everyday use. I haven’t worn it much ice climbing though as I have other warmer options that I prefer, but for anything that involves rock, I really like it.

Mark Howell in the StretchDown Hoody on Aftenroe. Photo Tim Banfield