One of the best parts of fall is pulling out all those cozy hoodies and jackets when the air temperature drops and the trees are shedding their leaves.
A light yet warm jacket is particularly important in the transitional period for high altitude hikes and camping trips. The Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light Pullover is an ideal puffy sweater for this season.
That Lightweight stretch down sweater comes from Mountain Hardwear’s wider StretchDown line of jackets and trousers. And as the name suggests, this line is all about high-tech warm down materials that are also elastic. Anyone who spends an active time in nature will immediately recognize the benefits of such a material.
In summary: This StretchDown sweater ($250) is lightweight, compact, warm, and moves with you as you hike or climb. Mountain Hardwear accomplishes this feat by weaving down-insulated pockets from a single stretch fabric that allows for full range of motion.
Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light sweater on test
The first thing I noticed when trying on the StretchDown Light sweater was that it is not a jacket or a “hoodie”. It falls somewhere in between and fits like a glove. And that’s not your dad’s down by any means—Mountain Hardwear’s StretchDown fabric is high-tech stuff.
The pullover is made from a hard-wearing mix of materials combined with high-quality down insulation. The Allied Feather + Down has a fill power of 700, which means it’s warm to around 20 degrees.
Each jacket contains a QR code that allows you to track where the down in your sweater comes from. I scanned my jacket and was told that the down in my StretchDown Light sweater is from China and is gray duck.
It also showed that while my sweater has a fill power of 700, it actually has a fill power of 785, meaning it’s even warmer than advertised. The down is RSD-certified (Responsible Down Standard).
The StretchDown’s technical construction combines warmth and movement in ways you don’t typically see down jackets.
StretchDown Light sweater specifications
- Weight: 14.8 oz. (Size M)
- Material: Durable 20 denier stretch double weave (86% nylon, 14% elastane)
- Style: Half zip sweater construction
- Contains: Elasticated hood and cuffs to seal in warmth, two zippered hand pockets
- Can be stowed in the right storage pocket
From the city to the hinterland
Enough with the science behind it Lightweight stretch down sweater. The real question is how does it work in the field?
The short answer is – great. Perhaps one of this sweater’s greatest assets is how versatile it is. You can use it to keep warm, from backpacking and rock climbing to hiking or walking around town.
I can pull the StretchDown on for a quick trip to the store just as easily as I do for a backcountry camping trip in the mountains. The sweater is suitable for a whole range of activities from autumn to winter.
It adjusts to size and moves seamlessly with my body. The design is durable and unlike many down coats I have that are covered with tape to keep the down from escaping the fabric, the StretchDown material is solid.
The hood is also helpful when it’s windy or snowing. The elastic in the hood also keeps the hood snug around your face. And the design of the jacket looks unique and different from a traditional down jacket, which is a welcome change.
One of the only downsides is the lack of storage space. It would be nice to have a few other pocket options, especially for a phone.
From the starting point to the summit, the StretchDown keeps you warm on the go. It can be worn as an outer layer over base layers or under a waterproof shell when it’s snowing or raining. It’s a versatile layer that works almost anywhere.
StretchDown Sweater vs. Nano Puff Sweater by Patagonia
If you put the StretchDown Light sweater against another classic down jacket, such as Patagonia’s Nano Puff sweaterit’s surprisingly easy to see where the StretchDown stands out.
Both sweaters have the same basic concept and keep you warm. The Patagonia sweater is made from 20 denier recycled polyester ripstop with a 22 denier lining. This is similar to StretchDown, but the Patagonia sweater has 60g of PrimaLoft synthetic insulation, so it should work up to about 30 degrees.
The Nano Puff is slightly lighter at 10.1 ounces; However, it does not include a hood that the StretchDown offers. The Patagonia sweater also has a chest pocket for cell phone or map. The Mountain Hardwear Pullover does not have a chest pocket option, just the two zipped hand pockets.
Both sweaters pack into a stowed pocket, which is great if you want to toss them in a backpack. The Nano Puff is a bit shinier and looks more like what you would imagine a ‘puffy’ jacket to look like.
The key differentiator is the stretchy fabric in the Mountain Hardwear, making it more flexible—and after testing, we found it to be more durable—than the Patagonia option.
Then there’s the price – the Patagonia is cheaper at $169. That Lightweight stretch down sweater is $250, maybe the only downside.
From high alpine campgrounds to city sidewalks and everywhere in between, the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Light Pullover is a great option for staying warm this fall and winter. The 700 fill down sweater is compact, lightweight and warm. And it’s flexible enough to go with you through life.
Check men’s price at evoCheck women’s price at REI