The weather is finally starting to turn and we are now getting some frosty mornings! I thought now would be a good time to review my beloved Phoenix Jacket. I’ve actually owned this jacket for about 4 months already and I was originally going to put out a review for you at the beginning of December – however, I wanted to give it a good roughhousing and deliver a thorough review. Let me just start by saying that I LOVE synthetic insulation. I have a couple of down jackets and I think they have their place but with the unpredictable UK conditions, plus the fact that synthetic insulation requires less care when washing than down, means that I actually end up wearing synthetic insulation much more (unless it’s snowing and sub-zero temperatures). It can, however, be hard to pinpoint an insulation that works best for you. Trekitt and I actually did a Synthetic vs Down insulation video a couple of months ago that is worth checking out if you have any questions! Now, as usual, let’s start by breaking down the jacket.
What is it actually made from?
Taking care of the insulation inside the Phoenix is 115g of Primaloft Thermoplume. Don’t be ashamed if you haven’t heard of it before, I hadn’t either! This brand-new form of blown insulation from Primaloft is a jump forward in terms of synthetic insulation; it essentially copies the shape and fluidity of down but using synthetic fabrics, meaning it retains the same compressibility, feel and loft as down but with the added benefit of still performing well in damp conditions.
Surrounding this is a Pertex Quantum Eco outer fabric – this offers a high level of water and wind resistancy when the weather turns against you. If you do happen to get a little toasty, the combination of the synthetic insulation and lightweight outer fabric means the jacket packs down to a fraction of its original size so you can stash it in your pack.
What are the features of the jacket?
The insulated under-helmet hood fits close to your head to seal in warmth. In practical use the hood will just go over a helmet – so if you’re at a belay point and the weather rolls in, you can chuck it on without needing to take your helmet off. Storage wise, the jacket has two zipped handwarmer pockets (which sit a bit higher so bits don’t dig into your hips when you have a harness or backpack on) and an internal zipped security pocket. The heat is all contained in the jacket with elasticated cuffs, a YKK moulded centre front zip (which features a storm flap behind it to prevent weather entry) and a pre-elasticated hem to prevent heat loss.
Great, but how does the jacket actually fit?
I’m 5’1”, weigh around 50kg and I’m wearing a size 8. The Phoenix falls under Montane’s ‘Athletic Mountain’ fit block which means that it’s designed to fit pretty snug but has enough wiggle room under it for an extra jumper on the really chilly days. The arms are articulated giving the jacket a great range of movement (important on scrambles and when using walking poles). On me, I found that the jacket has a bit of a squarer cut than some other brands – but that means that it fits true to the size. Sometimes I find that a size 8 will be fit nicely on the hips, chest, back and arms, but will compress the baffles around the waist a bit too much – especially when I’ve got an extra layer on underneath. However, I don’t have that issue in the Phoenix jacket at all! I did find that, if anything, the Pheonix was a bit generous in it’s fit – so if you are usually between sizes then you may be better off in the smaller size.
So what were my favourite bits of the Phoenix?
Well, firstly, I love the versatility of the Phoenix – I keep it in the car when I’m out running so I have something warm to throw on when I get back. I wear it almost every day to work. I always have it rolled up in my backpack on hill days for my lunch stops and I’ll be taking it to Bulgaria at the end of this month to wear under my shell when I’m skiing. Secondly, I love the overall fit and shape of the jacket. I think the 4-panel system works really well in delivering an all-round great fit for most body types. I am also a big fan of the matte finish – I think it’s very flattering and suits the jacket very well. I also love the pockets – they are very generous and will easily take all of my every day ‘essentials’ (phone, wallets, keys, poop bags) as well as having room for my compass when I’m out walking. The pockets actually sit higher than a lot of my other jackets meaning that the Phoenix is also a joy to climb in!
Is there anything I would have changed?
Now strangely, I’m going to put the fit in here too. I do love the shape, but I think that the jacket does size a bit big. I have tried other pieces from Montane and an 8 is usually a great fit on me, so maybe I just don’t get on with the size block very well. The jacket doesn’t go down to a 6 so I’ve had to make do with an 8 – which at the moment is okay because it’s about -2 in the mornings and I have a whole plethora of layers on underneath it! The other thing I would consider is putting a couple of draw cords into the hood – possibly just a crown synch that you can adjust from the back. The hood tends to catch the wind on a blustery day.
And that’s a wrap! The brilliant all-rounder from Montane – The Phoenix! If you would like to watch the Inside Look video I did with Trekitt at the beginning of the season then head over to this link. As usual, if you have any comments or questions then give me a shout in the comments section below!
Have a great weekend, Ferals!
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