Gear Review: Montane Atomic Stretch Jacket

So I was minding my own business, when the marketing bods at JD Sports (shiny new owners of Blacks) came up to me desperate to give me some gear and asking me to tell them what I needed. Not wanting to cause offence, a short while later I took delivery of two items – a new sleep mat (more about that in a subsequent post) and the Montane Atomic Stretch Jacket.

Not really actually needing a new outer shell as my collection of soft shells and several seasons old Berghaus products usually does the job, I’d made it clear that I only wanted to take a look at something really light as all of my existing garments were probably a bit on the bulky and heavy side. That was the only thing they could really give me that I didn’t already have.

I unwrapped the parcel to be faced with a bright blue and orange jacket which some would find a tad garish, but as the regular wearer of a bright orange soft shell, this didn’t faze me at all. What I could sense straightaway though was the quality – it just oozed it in comparison to my usual jackets.

Atomic stretch jacket

Montane clothing is generally considered to be less generously cut than most, and so having ordered my usual size (XL) I then spent the waiting time before it arrived worried that I wouldn’t be able to get it on. I needn’t have worried. I got it on ok over a reasonably thick baselayer. I didn’t have acres of spare room though, and the cut could probably be best described as “athletic”, but it wasn’t overly restrictive to move in – more a case of not having all the excess airspace that I’m used to. Given what Montane describe as “Active Mountain Fit”, I was also pleased to find that the “stretch” part also seemed to be accurate, and found I was able to move comfortably all the time whilst wearing it.

I’ve now worn the jacket a few times out on walks in the full force of autumn, making it cope with wind and head-on rain, and I’m pleased to say it’s performed well.  Most of these outings have been “fast and light” type walks and it feels ideal for this sort of thing. Despite an initially snugger fit than I generally like, I’ve got used to it and even started to appreciate the cut. Like many jackets, the hood is designed to work with a helmet and I usually find this results in a hood that’s way bigger than my head, getting blown back no matter what I do to tighten. Not so with the Atomic – I found it easy to adjust and the shape seemed to fit my head better than usual.

Best of all, the jacket packs down well and doesn’t weigh that much (325g quoted for the medium size), thereby meeting my primary requirement.

The official specs:

Fabric: PERTEX® Shield Stretch (85g/m² 2.5 layer 40 denier 100% nylon Stretch with microporous coating. Waterproof to a minimum of 10,000 hydrostatic head and with a minimum MVTR of 8,000g/m²/25hrs (JIS L 1099 A-1))

Fabric denier: 40D + 40D Rip
Zips: YKK Aqua Guard®
Colours: Black / Kiwi zips or Moroccan blue / Tangerine zips (<< this is what I got)
Weight: 325g / 11.5oz (SIZE M)
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Fit: Active Mountain
Activities: Fast Alpine / Mountain Walking / High Trekking / Travel

Highly waterproof tear resistant nylon PERTEX® Shield Stretch fabric with four way stretch and a superb water repellent finish
Pattern matched micro-taped seams throughout to increase breathable surface area
Articulated arms for reach high movement and tailored specifically to reduce hem lift
Fully adjustable helmet compatible mountain hood with three point adjustment and wired peak
Internal tab to lock down and roll away the hood in windy conditions
Soft fleece beardguard around face and mouth for extra comfort
Two venting A-line hand pockets positioned well clear of backpack or climbing harness belt
Pockets feature YKK Aqua Guard zips with internal storm flap and rain drain
Easy grab glove and mitt friendly zip pulls throughout
Full length YKK Aqua Guard front zip with internal storm flap and rain drain
Velcro adjustable cuffs with grab tabs for ease of use with gloves or mitts
Adjustable hem to prevent weather entry and heat loss

Atomic Stretch features
Montane Atomic Stretch Features (click to view on Montane website)

Overall Verdict

I like this jacket a lot as it does exactly what I wanted from it – keeps me as dry and wind-free as any waterproof jacket is ever likely to and also packs down small. I can see me taking this as my standard lowland day walk jacket all year round and certainly as my “just in case” jacket in summer, when I begrudge the space and weight of something I hope I won’t have to wear too often.

Usually I walk in just a base layer and softshell, even in winter, increasing the thickness of both garments in colder weather, but I can see myself ditching the softshell and wearing this in warmer times in preference. So it’s good, it’s a jacket I will certainly continue to use and if I were needing to buy a jacket I’d like to think I’d have chosen this – at RRP of £150, it’s just about within the range I’d consider for a really good waterproof jacket.

**This jacket was given to me free of charge by Blacks for this review**

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