Everybody likes a nice, warm puffy jacket. But you’ve never seen one like this before. At least, not this stretchy. The StretchDown DS Hoodie from Mountain Hardwear is something new in the mid-layer market, a jacket that combines the warmth of a puffy jacket with some serious stretch. The body is made of knit polyester (named their Dynamic-Stretch Knit), which is just miles ahead of most mid-layer jackets in the comfy-stretch department, and means you can tackle just about any activity while scaling mountains without being hindered or restricted in your movement. The stretch-welded channel, as Mountain Hardwear calls their new, unusual knit design, traps in a lot more heat than traditional standard stitching. And it’s filled with 800-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down, which repels water as it keeps you warm.
Mountain Hardwear hasn’t missed any details on this jacket, but has decided to be a bit more minimalist than a lot of other similar pieces. There are zippered handwarmer pockets, a zippered left chest pocket, and two easy-access interior drop pockets, for storing all your gear as you climb. They’ve also included a dual-sided hem adjustment for a snug fit, but there are no pit zips or vents.
How does it stack up in the field? The DS Hoodie weighs about 19 ounces, which is on the lighter end for a jacket of this length. And it rolls right up to about the size of a football, stashing away in your pack until it’s needed.
The StretchDown DS Hoodie serves best as an all-around mid-layer for winter use. The stretch makes it excellent for rock climbing, as well as bounding up mountains, though the looser fit might sometimes get in the way, if you prefer a more slim cut. But you can count on it to keep you warm while remaining dry and comfortable, and that’s what’s important. Bonus Points: There’s no logo on the jacket, so nobody will know exactly what it is.