The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown DS Hoody Review

Though unique in its stretchiness, this jacket doesn't fare well in our weight and compressibility metrics.
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Price:  $340 List | $136.83 at REI
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Stretchy, comfortable
Cons:  Expensive, heavy, not very compressible
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 4, 2019
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51
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 13
  • Warmth - 30% 6
  • Weight - 20% 3
  • Water Resistance - 15% 5
  • Fit - 15% 7
  • Compressibility - 10% 3
  • Features - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The StretchDown DS Hoody is Mountain Hardwear's latest iteration of their popular StretchDown series. Like previous versions, this jacket gets annihilated by the competition. Our metrics favor lightweight and compressibility; two key reasons we've determined for purchasing a down jacket over a synthetic alternative. The DS underwhelms and is the heaviest, least compressible jacket in our review. On top of that, it's expensive, taking a bigger bite out of your bank account than some of the top performers. On the bright side, we love the stretchy shell fabric, which proves to be some of the toughest fabrics we've seen on a down jacket.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

We think this burly coat's closest competitor is the Black Diamond Forge Hoody, which has a similar fit and warmth as the StretchDown but lacks the stretch factor. The Forge Hoody is less expensive, stuffs away into its pocket and is three ounces lighter. The StretchDown is decent around town and close to the car, but it's too heavy for human-powered excursions into the backcountry.

Performance Comparison


We received lots of positive comments about the look of this jacket. However  because of weight and lack of compressibility  it wasn't a favorite amongst our testers.
We received lots of positive comments about the look of this jacket. However, because of weight and lack of compressibility, it wasn't a favorite amongst our testers.

Warmth


This jacket employs 800-fill down, just like our Editors' Choice award winner, The North Face Summit L3 Down Hoody. However, the Summit L3 is loftier and warmer, suggesting that there is more down stuffed in the baffles. The Stretch DS uses a unique stretch wielded channel construction instead of traditional baffles to hold the down in place. Mountain Hardwear claims this design is warmer than sewn through baffles; our experience suggests otherwise since great designs like the Feathered Friends Eos and the Rab Microlight Alpine both use sewn through construction and are much warmer and lighter. The wielded baffles do give this jacket a unique look, allowing it to be even stretchier than previous versions.

No other jacket in our reviews looks quite like this one with its square-shaped  wielded baffles.
No other jacket in our reviews looks quite like this one with its square-shaped, wielded baffles.

Weight


According to our scales, a men's size small ways 18.4 ounces. This is quite heavy for a down jacket, especially considering that is stuffed with 800 fill down, which generally offers a great warmth to weight ratio. We choose down jackets when we want the most warmth for the least weight possible. The Feathered Friends Eos is much warmer and almost half the weight. As far as we can surmise, the excess ounces are attributed to the shell fabric, a stretchy polyester that's much tougher, but much heavier than the Pertex fabrics commonly used in high performance down jackets. At 18 ounces, why not just go ahead and use a less expensive synthetic insulation? This would add a few ounces to this model that we feel is already too heavy alpine missions and backcountry travel, but significantly reduce the price.

This was one of the heaviest down jackets we've tested.
This was one of the heaviest down jackets we've tested.

Water Resistance


Mountain Hardwear includes a hydrophobically treated down that claims to stop water absorption. We didn't rip open our jacket to get eyes on the down, but the shell fabric doesn't resist water like a Pertex fabric with a DWR treatment. Water beads off jackets like the North Face Summit L3 Down Hoody, but the stretchy mat finish on the StretchDown absorbs water quickly.

Fit


The StretchDown DS has an athletic fit that fits nicely under a hardshell, and we enjoyed several storm days riding at the resort with this jacket as our midlayer. The shell fabric stretches more than some of our favorite climbing pants, providing comfort and mobility we're not used to from a down puffy. Our testers found previous versions of the StretchDown to be little short in the sleeves, but this jacket has an excellent fit in the sleeves; broader folks may find it a little tight in the shoulders. The hem doesn't extend as low as the Rab Microlight Alpine or the TNF Summit L3 but still sits lower than the Arc'teryx Cerium LT.

The stretch provides great mobility for climbing and skiing  or in this case  paying respects to deceased pets.
The stretch provides great mobility for climbing and skiing, or in this case, paying respects to deceased pets.

Compressibility


The thick and burly shell fabric prevents this jacket from utilizing the compressibility of the 800 fill down, and it doesn't stuff into a pocket or includes a stuff sack. This jacket does not compress nearly as small as the lightweight Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer, though its unlikely to be full of holes after chasing the dog through the sagebrush. Durability is often the trade-off for lightweight compressibility, and if anything, the Stretchdown DS is one of the more resilient jackets we've worn.

Unlike most of the down jackets in our review  the StretchDown isn't very compressible.
Unlike most of the down jackets in our review, the StretchDown isn't very compressible.

Features


The StretchDown comes with a nice complement of features. It has two cinch cords with low-profile internal cord locks at the hem keep out the drafts. Two zippered handwarmer pockets are generously sized and can accommodate ski goggles or even a small water bottle, and an external zippered chest pocket secures any important small items you may need to access quickly. Finally, two more drop-in pockets reside inside for keeping your gloves, water, or climbing shoes nice and toasty. The hood lacks a drawstring and is an awkward size, being a little loose, but too small to comfortably wear over a helmet.

This jacket kept our tester warm while biking around from crag to crag in the Owens River Gorge on a particularly cold winter day.
This jacket kept our tester warm while biking around from crag to crag in the Owens River Gorge on a particularly cold winter day.

Best Aplications


For those who like the unique look of the wielded baffles, this is a nice jacket for the around the city, short hikes, resort skiing, and climbing, as long it's not too far from the car. We prefer the Ghost Whisperer or the Feathered Friends Eos for ski touring, alpine climbing, and backpacking since they are light and compressible.

Value


If this jacket were less expensive, we'd be calling a great puffy for scrambling, camping, and working outside because it's so durable. As it stands, we don't think it's a very good value. It costs $340, making it one of the most expensive, yet one of the lowest scoring products in our review.

If you really like the look of this jacket  maybe the high price won't seem so bad  but our testers expected higher performance for the money.
If you really like the look of this jacket, maybe the high price won't seem so bad, but our testers expected higher performance for the money.

Conclusions


We've value down jackets for their warmth-to-weight ratio and their compressibility; the StretchDown DS just isn't up to snuff with the competition. We really like the improved fit, stretch, and durability of the DS, but feel that it's expensive, while the efficient 800 fill down insulation is underutilized due to its heavy shell materials.


Matt Bento