Mountain Designs Stratus Hooded Rain Jacket: Tested
A waterproof outer shell is a key part of any adventurer’s gear shed. This outer layer has to be more than just able to keep water off you, though. An outer shell has to pull triple duty, offering not only protection from rain, but it also needs to be a windbreaker, and a warming layer. Oh, and yeah, it needs to do all this, in trying conditions, and keep you dry underneath, so that means it needs to be breathable as well. So, does the Mountain Designs Stratus Hooded Rain Jacket accomplish that balancing act? We begin looking for the answer in this initial review, after the Stratus’s first month in the field.
The Mountain Designs Stratus boasts a comprehensive design. It uses the popular Pertex Shield waterproof/breathable fabric, in a 2.5-layer format (a combo of a 100 per cent recycled polyester outer shell and 75 per cent recycled polyester layer) that is designed for extreme conditions (it has a 20,000mm Hydrostatic Head waterproof rating, which is very high, as well as a PFC-free coating). Noting that the wearer not only needs to stay dry from rain, but also from perspiration, the Stratus has a number of ventilation points, including pit-zips, a two-way front zip and wrist cuffs that can be tightened/loosened as well, when ‘more air’ is needed. The usual inclusions of an adjustable hood (and a nifty stiffener in the hood to adjust for a helmet or different head/face shape) and adjustable hem ensure a proper fit.
Design inclusions that highlight Mountain Designs’ decades of experience in the adventure apparel market include drainage holes in the two (concealed) zipped hand pockets, that aforementioned two-way zip, a waterproof chest pocket (zipped) and articulated elbows, which ensure the jacket doesn’t ride up when you are lifting your arm up to grab something above you, etc. In short, it is a fully-featured outer shell designed for testing conditions.
In the field
The Mountain Designs Stratus has been on test for a couple of months at this point, but during that time it has – already – been subject to a wide range of conditions. Fast arriving summer storms have tested its waterproofness (and breathability, owing to how humid conditions were), while windy days have also seen it put to use over the top of a lightweight base-layer. A few things have already stuck out in this early stage of testing, such as its excellent fit. Even though Mountain Designs describes it as ‘regular’, the fit is still nice and snug to the wearer’s body, which has meant minimal ‘spare air’ so to speak, between the wearer and the garment itself. Impressively, the jacket has still provided plenty of ventilation when needed (thanks to the pit-zips and two-way main zip), keeping sweat and condensation to a minimum for the tester.
The light weight is a boon, as is the compact size of the jacket when it’s rolled up and stowed inside a backpack. So far (and it’s still early days) all the zips have run smoothly, and there have been no breakages. Even a small fall from a mountain bike on to dirt tracks hasn’t seen any tears or permanent marks.
Not quite the final word on the Mountain Designs Stratus
As above, it is early days as yet, and we plan on some longer adventures (a three-day canoe trip, and a two-day trek) over the next few months, so the Stratus’s durability will be tested more at those times. There will be longer adventures through winter, too, before we write a final review.
Still, so far, it has been an incident-free start to the Stratus’s tenure in our gear shed; when it is the first choice for testers (who are fortunate to have a number of outer shells to choose from at the moment) the Mountain Designs Stratus Hooded Rain Jacket must be doing something right. Look for our final review at www.ausgeoadventure.com and in Issue 10, in September.
RRP: $380 (Alliance Club price: $280) See Mountain Designs for more info on this and other outdoor gear.