Mountain Designs Peak 700 down jacket
Staying warm in cold environs is a fine art: add too many layers and you’ll overheat; too few and you’ll, literally, freeze. The activity level is always a deciding factor, as is the form that activity takes. By this I mean if you are going non-stop, then multiple light layers combined – with a windproof outer shell – work best for this reviewer. If, however, the chosen activity is a slower pace and stop-start –snow-shoeing, for example – then a base layer and a couple of mid-weight layers, covered with a warm outer layer, are a good option.
On a recent assignment to the chilly environs of winter in Jasper, Alberta, I knew I would need a mix of base- and mid-layers, but also a very effective outer layer. For me, this meant opting for a Mountain Designs Peak 700 down jacket. This ‘downie’ reflects the highly-regarded Aussie brand’s ethos of producing effective, no-nonsense gear. The Peak 700 – as the name suggests – features 700-loft, 100 per cent Goose down fill, inside a robust, lightweight (the Medium weighs in at a scant 564 grams), wind-resistant outer nylon shell, with the outer shell featuring a DWR (Durable Water Repellency) finish. It is also nice and compact to store, thanks to being highly compressible (it squashes down into a chest pocket) and also being of a slim-cut design, which means it never feels overly bulky. In other words, there is minimal excess material in the design, which both keeps the weight down and also ensures optimum body-heat retention – very welcome on an ice-hiking adventure in -5 degrees Celcius.
The design reflects the intended use of the Peak 700 – i.e., keeping you warm while minimising chances of sweat build-up – with a V-shaped baffle design and baffles that are sewn through to ensure the down fill stays in place. The hood is easily adjusted, with the elastine binding keeping it snug around your head. Welcome additional warming features include Tricot fabric both inside the pockets and the collar. A clever design implementation is the underarm gusset panel that eliminates that ‘bulky’ feel under your arms you will often find on other down jackets.
During testing I found the Peak 700 to be very comfortable; the jacket offered plenty of warmth for its light-ish weight, and never felt overly bulky when it was worn during activities that involved plenty of arm swinging, such as snow-shoeing with ski poles. On one particularly sunny day, it was nearly too warm, necessitating stripping off of one mid-layer, but still never caused too much moisture (sweat) to build up inside the arms or the torso section. The full-length zip was easily adjusted and also featured a welcome over-sized toggle with which to do so – always important when wearing thick gloves.
Overall, the Peak 700 balances effective warming qualities with plenty of versatility; layering up underneath means it is suitable for quite cold conditions, while just wearing it over, say, a short-sleeve t-shirt during cool-ish Aussie autumn and spring nights, makes it a true three-season jacket and good value.
RRP: $399 www.mountaindesigns.com