First Look: Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket review

At Outdoor Retailer 2016 Winter Market, we got a first look at Mountain Hardwear’s new StretchDown Jacket. It’s a first of its kind puffy that uses a stretchy material plus welded seams that expand when you move for a combination that makes the jacket more form-fitting, durable and comfortable. Plus, Mountain Hardwear claims it will keep you warmer as stitched seams literally poke holes into the jacket’s fabric, which lets cold air seep in, whereas welded seams do not. Although the StretchDown jacket isn’t available to the public until Fall of 2016, I’ve been lucky enough to test the StretchDown Jacket for over a month. So will it revolutionize down jackets as we know them, and turn stitches into dinosaurs? First the details.

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown jacket

The Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket debuts at Outdoor Retailer 2016 Winter Market. (Photo: Jared Hargrave – UtahOutside.com)

The Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket features:

  • Stretch-welded channel construction
  • Dynamic Stretch Knit (100% polyester)
  • Q.Shield Down (750-fill)
  • Weight: 1lb, 1oz

Wearing the StretchDown for the first time, it’s obvious that it really does stretch. You can hold both ends of an arm, pull, and literally see how much stretch the material has, which is an impressive amount. It’s not only because of the Dynamic Stretch Knit, however, but also the welded seams. Those seams also stretch, unlike actual stitches found in all other puffy jackets. Stitches don’t stretch, and if you tried, they may break. But the welded seams go with the flow.

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket features welded baffles and dynamic stretch face material. (Photo: Jared Hargrave - UtahOutside.com)

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket features welded baffles and dynamic stretch face material. (Photo: Jared Hargrave – UtahOutside.com)

You can see how far the material and welded seams stretch when I pull the arm. (Photo: Jared Hargrave - UtahOutside.com)

You can see how far the material and welded seams stretch when I pull the arm. (Photo: Jared Hargrave – UtahOutside.com)

Recreating outside is where this jacket really shines. While I find down to be too warm for backcountry skiing, I did take the StretchDown with me to Alta on cold days. The flexible material literally moves with the body. Reaching out for pole plants, bending down to buckle ski boots, or hiking up to the top of Eddie’s High Nowhere – I found the jacket to never be constrictive.

Warmth is also top notch. Stuffed with 750-fill Q.Shield Down that is hydrophobic, I never wanted for more heat. I even took the StretchDown ice fishing one morning in -9 degree-temperatures, and was perfectly comfortable all day long.

Keeping warm while applying skins at the trail head in the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket. (Photo: Adam Symonds)

Keeping warm while applying skins at the trail head in the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket. (Photo: Adam Symonds)

As a result, this coat has been my go-to puffy ever since I got it. From walking the dogs, to staying warm while sticking skins to skis before a backcountry tour, and drinking beer on the truck tailgate post-tour, the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket is comfortable, warm, and of course, stretchy.

The one thing that boggles me, though, is that the color of the jacket changes in certain light. Sometimes it’s a light green, other times it’s grey. It’s an odd effect evidenced by how the color changes in the photos.

Note how the color of the jacket changes in certain light. Here, it appears to be a light grey. (Photo: jared Hargrave - UtahOutside.com)

Note how the color of the jacket changes in certain light. Here, it appears to be a light grey. (Photo: Jared Hargrave – UtahOutside.com)

The StretchDown Jacket is available Fall of 2016 and will come in two versions: the StretchDown Jacket and the StretchDown RS Jacket, The former uses a dynamic stretch knit both inside and outside. The latter will be more weather resistant with a 15D Ghost Ripstop nylon outer fabric. You’ll lose a bit of stretch for water resistance, but the inner liner will still have the dynamic stretch. The StretchDown Jacket will retail for $250, and the StretchDown RS Jacket will retail for $280. Both will come in men’s and women’s styles and will have hooded and non-hooded versions.

The Good: Ample stretch, killer warmth, probably the most overall comfortable down jacket I’ve experienced.

The Bad: Color is inconsistent depending on light and maybe angle.

Final Word: The Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket is truly innovative. The welded baffles, coupled with stretchy materials, creates a coat unlike anything else on the market today.