Monday, 7 August 2017

First Look: Montane Quattro Fusion Jacket

'Fusion' and 'Hybrid' are becoming the current buzzwords of the outdoors industry, but what does it actually mean? The definition, according to the All the Gear dictionary, is "something having two kinds of components that produce the same or similar results". So how does this work with outdoor gear? Montane has decided to deliver a lesson.

New into All the Gear HQ is Montane's winter 2017 flagship jacket, the Quattro Fusion, a perfect example of hybrid construction powered by scientific thinking.
The Montane Quattro Fusion Jacket in Arbor

The jacket will set you back £225 when it hits the shops in the autumn, a high price to pay considering it is 'just' a jacket. But with the price comes an innovative insulation piece designed to deliver warmth and breathability exactly where it is needed.

The 'hybrid' aspect of the jacket are Montane's use of insulation materials; down and Polartec Alpha Direct, cleverly distributed around the jacket to maximise the benefits of both materials. The jacket has been developed using thermal imaging data stemming from research undertaken at Northumbria University. Body temperatures were tested in a range of simulated cold and wet conditions with the results being used to create the jacket’s hybrid fabric construction and body-mapped design. That places down against parts which need to be kept warm (the front, kidneys, upper arms and top of head) and the more breathable Polartec Alpha Direct on places where heat can be allowed to dissipate (shoulders, lower arms, underarms and back).


The result is a rather unique, futuristic looking beast, so let's take a closer look.

Features:
  • Water resistant Pertex Quantum and Pertex Quantum Pro outer 
  • 800+ fill HyperDRY Down 
  • Polartec Alpha Direct fleece lining 
  • Helmet compatible, adjustable hood 
  • High storm collar 
  • Profiled sleeves 
  • 3 pockets 
  • Adjustable hem
As you can see from the photo above, the fit is nice and neat (I'm wearing a medium over just a t-shirt). This is to minimise the circulation of air around the jacket as you move around, preventing cold drafts from blowing in and out. It's also designed as a mid-layer, rather than a traditional down belay jacket. The Pertex fabric is lovely and smooth, and layers beneath a shell easily.
The Quattro Fusion layered beneath my ME Lhotse waterproof
Hybrid Construction
As I mentioned before, two types of insulation are present in this jacket; hydrophobic down where warmth is needed and Polartec Alpha Direct where breathability is needed. The down used in the jacket is responsible sourced (certified by the Responsible Down Standard) and is made water resistant thanks to a flurocarbon-free treatment. This means that the down shouldn't turn into a wet mess as soon as it's exposed to moisture.
The down is housed in narrow baffles, preventing it from migrating around the jacket
The more-breathable areas are insulated using Polartec Alpha Direct, a variant of the excellent Polartec Alpha. Think of it as a modern take on pile-lining, though not as warm as it's old-school inspiration. It's designed to keep you warm while on the move while also retaining heat when you stop.
The furry Polartec Alpha Direct across the back of the jacket
Designing the location of the two insulation layers has been done in collaboration with Northumbria University and Montane's in-house extreme climber Andy Kirkpatrick. Using a climate chamber and thermal imaging, Montane have mapped which parts of the body are warmer and which are cooler. The only image I can find to express this is from UK based brand Berghaus who utilise the same technology on the Ulvetanna Hybrid Down jacket.


Location of the down and Polartec Alpha Direct
The Hood
The hood is designed to fit over a climbing helmet though, thanks to the three adjusters, it fits rather well over a bare head as well. It features down across the top of the head to minimise heat loss and a modest visor to keep wind and snow (probably) out of your eyes.

Details
The cuffs are elasticated and are neat and tidy - they should layer beneath winter gloves well. They could prove troublesome if you like your jacket to fit over your gloves rather than underneath.
Elasticated cuff
Hem drawcords sit inside the hem on either side to help seal out any drafts. Again, these are nothing special but are neat and functional.
One of the hem adjustors
The jacket is finished off with two hand pockets, located to be compatible with a climbing harness, and a concealed chest pocket.

Verdict
Given that it's the summer, it's not been cold enough to put this jacket through its paces yet but I'm looking forward to giving it a go. Montane are well known for producing high-quality gear and this seems no exception, even if it is a sample. The fit is very nice - not too loose or tight and about the right length for me and, as demonstrated, it layers well beneath a shell. It's not bulky or restrictive in any way and, once it's on, you'll probably forget you're wearing it, which is usually the sign of an excellent jacket. Roll on winter.