Designed for comfort in changeable conditions, Montane's new Krypton (which comes with or without a hood) is a zip top that works as an outer in so-so weather, or a midlayer when things get wetter and wilder. There's nothing fancy or cutting edge here, but what you want from this sort of top is simply reliable performance - and that's just what you get, with a functional design and an excellent active cut. The softshell fabric is tough and weather-shedding, warm and comfortably breathable, making this a versatile layer suited to all-weather use.
This sort of thick softshell generally seems quite heavy, and the Krypton Hoodie is no exception. My size Large weighs 573g (Montane's quoted 535g weight presumably refers to a Medium), which is a lot considering you can get synthetic insulated jackets significantly lighter than this that'll be at least as warm. The advantage of the Krypton is that it's built tough (whereas light synthetic insulated jackets often aren't), so it'll take plenty of abuse.
The Krypton is available in both male and female versions. Montane describe the cut as 'active mountain - close fitting for fast paced acrtivities' but I'd call it medium-to-roomy, and in my customary size Large there's space to wear it over a couple of thinner layers. If you want a closer fit then consider experimenting with going down a size, though bear in mind this will affect the length. In my review jacket the hem length is comfortably below the waist, which helps to keep out the draughts, while the articulated cut of the sleeves is so effective that I have negligible hem lift when raising my arms. This cut is particularly helpful for climbing or scrambling, and I've found the Krypton won't ride up out of a harness.
It's trim in the lower arms, which is good in terms of reducing unwanted bagginess - and there's no cuff adjustment to get in the way either. But since the fabric doesn't stretch much, if you have a climber's forearms then you won't be able to roll the sleeves up - something I do like to do when needing to cool down without wanting to stop and adjust layers.
You won't fit this hood over a helmet, and neither is it very satisfactory worn under one. This is a shame since the cut of the Krypton otherwise makes it well suited to climbing. In stormy conditions the fit can be closed right down using two toggles, and there's a little stiffened brim to help the hood hold its shape in the wind. However these external toggles are fiddly to use with gloves or cold hands, while the brim unfortunately rides quite high, to leave a strip of forehead exposed. Overall I think the hood could have been better.
If, like me, you're not a huge fan of having a hood on every layer of clothing, then you might be interested to know that there's a hood-less version, the Krypton Jacket. The Hoodie's high collar is nice and snug though, covering the neck if not the chin.
This sort of 'traditional' softshell is by no means a lightweight option, but it still has advantages, being more weather resistant than a simple fleece, yet more durable and potentially more breathable than many synthetic insulated jackets. Being effectively one piece, the fabric also feels more solid and less baggy than the style of softshell that pairs a separate outer and drop lining.
Everything these days seems to be marketed for fast-paced activity, and the blurb for the Krypton is no exception. But of course most of us operate in a range of different gears, depending on activity and inclination, while there must be loads of users who never get above walking pace but who would equally appreciate a softshell like this. The fabric suits more or less any user and any activity, being warm and weather-resistant, while also breathable enough not to boil you in the bag when you're working hard.
On the outside, the Granite fabric has a DWR treatment for a measure of shower resistance. This works well in light drizzle or 'dry' snowfall, when the Krypton is fine as an outer layer, but as you'd typically expect from a softshell of this sort, it soon wets out in heavier rain. However I've found it takes a lot for the wet feeling to really penetrate through to the wearer, which is either thanks to the depth of the brushed inner or the efficiency of moisture movement within the fabric (or perhaps a bit of both). Once wet, though, it's not very quick drying.
The dense outer face proves quite an effective barrier to wind. In cold, windy conditions close to zero degrees I've worn it over a baselayer, and felt comfortably warm and well-protected when on the go. To aid freedom of movement there's a little bit of stretch in the fabric, but not nearly as much as you'll get with something like a Powerstretch fleece. The face does feel very tough though, and while this has only been a short term test so far I'd be confident of its durability for rigorous uses such as scrambling.
Inside, the furry brushed inner feels luxuriously soft, with a high loft that traps a lot of air and thus keeps the wearer very warm. You get this pile stuff in most of the body, while in the sweaty under-arm zone it's a thinner and stretchier fabric which allows that bit more air flow. It's good, say Montane, for managing moisture, and my use so far bears this out. If it's cold enough that I want to wear this sort of weight of softshell, then I've found I stay comfortably dry in the Krypton even when steaming uphill.
Two good-sized zipped hand pockets and one pretty roomy chest pocket give you plenty of storage. It's a shame the hand pockets aren't positioned a bit higher, since they are covered if a harness is worn. Because this is a top you'll often wear as an outer layer minus shell, it might also have been nice if the main pockets were larger still, to hold an OS-sized map. On the plus side, the pockets' mesh backing allows them to function as vents. Hem drawcords complete the run-though of features; in windy weather these do help keep the breeze out.
The Krypton Hoodie is constructed using unique GRANITE High-Loft in the core body, a breathable, stretchy softshell fabric with a high loft brushed interior which traps heat and effectively manages moisture, keeping you comfortable during faster paced activity in cool, changeable conditions. A DWR helps shed light rain. With an adjustable hood and 3 pockets, this jacket is well equipped for mountain walking and scrambling.
- Sizes: S-XXL (men) 8-16 (women)
- Weight: 573g size L (our weight)
- GRANITE High-Loft in the core body and over the arms
- GRANITE Loft under the arms
- Adjustable hood with wired peak
- Full-length YKK VISLON® front zip with internal storm flap
- Two mesh-lined hand pockets with YKK zips
- Concealed zipped chest pocket
- Low profile cuffs
- Adjustable hem with cinchable drawcord