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Mountain Hardwear Phantom Hooded Down Jacket

Now I must say as much I as like down for most of my uses its just not robust enough. I constantly worry about keeping it clean and not getting it wet. It came to a time where I thought, sod it! What's the point? Synthetic insulation Jackets were the way forward. Now with MHW Q-Shield Down (hydrophobic down) I thought I should give the down jacket another chance. So....


First impressions


Oooow its sooo soft and poofy! Seriously though, just picking it up you feel that wonderfully light light squish that is unmistakeably quality down. On first pulling it on and letting it loft around me I remembered the love for down. As I am now coming to expect with the MHW kit the construction looks classy with very tight seams and neat stitching, no feathers poking out anywhere which you sometimes see even on other high quality brands. Neat and subtle branding to contrast with the far from subtle colour! Nice internal mesh pocket for warming gloves or keeping Nalgenes full of warm water. Neat hidden hood and hem synch toggles. The main thin that struck me though was how light it was for something that had such a large volume, this thing must be trapping a lot of air!




In Use


So to be honest I haven’t got to use the jacket in a great deal of anger as yet, its just so warm. I have used it a few days out bouldering and cragging in the Peak when temperatures have been low and the grit nice and sticky. I have taken it to Snowdonia as an extra layer and light weight sleeping bag booster and in both situations I have made visits to the local pub. In these applications it has been admirable, yet I feel to do the jacket justice I need to be shivering on some high alpine peak or in the depths of a fjord that hasn't seen sun light for a month! A little later in the winter I'll update this review after the proper amount of suffering has been attempted. For now what have I learnt form what, for most of us, will be the normal use of a down jacket?


Well its definitely warm. The 850 fill down does its job, in Wales I was verging on too warm using this as a topper to my minimalist sleeping bag. Interestingly I have never felt too hot or sweaty in it, no matter what the temperature has been when wearing it normally. Whether that was over just a t-shirt and jumper while spotting or more technical layering sitting in camp on Snowdon. I think this must be due to the breathability of the shell material along with dropping the zip to dump a bit of heat quickly. In the wind there seems to be no loss of warmth either, the baffled construction working well to stop any breezes nipping through the seams and the soft “butter jersey” cuffs sealing the arms nicely. The hood works with or without a helmet but when you have it over a helmet it is massive! I do like the wired brim too, when you synch down the hood it allows a better field of vision.

So It keeps you warm when its cold. Good. But does it still work when it gets a bit more British? Well I have to admit I am still at the stage of conversion where I have been treating it with kid gloves a little. I have however stayed out in a few showers with it and I'm starting to become a believer. For a start the DWR works. Most of the rain has beaded off. Carrying a bouldering mat has pressured some water into the seams and, low and behold, it didn't end up looking like a bedraggled rat. Those areas over the shoulders and round the waste seemed to keep their loft. I'm not going to go out and throw it on over a soaked waterproof, to belay in a choking stream of spindrift, like I might the B'layman synthetic jacket. Nevertheless I am starting to think that with Q-Shield down they are onto something. The test for me will be whether I can use this for damp bivis and then pack it in its pocket for a day and still have it loft beautifully two nights later? Time will tell. Still for now it cuts the right form walking to the bar!

Best Bits


That cosseting down hug you get from nothing but high quality down.
Butter Jersey cuffs sealing out draughts around your wrists without the need of velcro.
Fully baffled construction and lots of down at only 490g


Not so good


Pockets. Another example of handwarmer pockets that are obstructed by rucksacks or harness waist belts. There always has to be something!


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