On 3rd October Montane held a launch for their key products for Autumn/Winter '17 - the Icarus and Phoenix - at the Wylam Brewery in Newcastle. The day also acted as a launch for Primaloft, who were celebrating one of the very first launches of a product to feature their innovative ThermoPlume technology, which achieves a level of warmth akin to 550 fill power down. Since both these products were included within our highly sought after Top 10 Products from the ISPO Trade Show, we were keen to hear a little more about them.
Whilst we ordinarily hate starting with talk of price, the £140 price tag on the Icarus and Phoenix will no doubt raise some eyebrows - it's a competitive price point for such a cutting edge product. As such, we'd expect to see this become a popular piece amongst climbers, hillwalkers, and mountaineers in the season ahead. That said, this isn't down to price alone - it's due to the functionality. Pertex and Primaloft have long been firm favourites for the British climate, as our warm and wet weather favours synthetics over down almost every day of the week. Even the advent of hydrophobic down, great though it is, hasn't yet changed this. Primaloft stays warm whilst wet, and due to the increased levels of insulation brought about by ThermoPlume, this jacket offers more warmth than ever before. Unlike other Primaloft fabrics, which come off a roll, ThermoPlume is - much like down - blown into the jackets. This gives it the same look and feel as down, and from a manufacturing point of view allows them to use the same processes, making it financially viable.
When it comes to the fit, Montane have kept their signature minimalist cut, with a well sculpted and close fitting jacket; that said, they haven't scrimped on the fill or features. The Icarus weighs in at 581g and the Phoenix at 438g, which aren't the lightest out there, but it has to be considered within the context of the jacket and the quantity of fill within it - this will pack more warmth to weight than your average Primaloft jacket!
The 'active' cut allows a good freedom of movement too, making a piece suitable for cold weather climbing, scrambling, and mountaineering. Pocket-wise it comes with two hand pockets and a chest pocket (always useful for snacks, topos, and phones). Initial feedback here is that it would have been nice for a pocket to have been reversible, so that you could stuff the jacket within it, but hey - you can't have everything… The hood is designed to fit under a helmet, which will be to some people's liking and not to others. From our perspective, its the correct choice for a jacket of this size/weight - were it to be a heavier belay style jacket we'd expect the hood to fit over.
Other than that, we'll leave you hanging until the full review is published later this year...
Other cutting edge new products from Montane (anyone else feeling the need for a Group Test??)