Weight: 16.8 ounces (275 grams)
When Andy Kirkpatrick got tired of trashing down jackets in chimneys, he came up with something better: the Hi Q Luxe Pro Pull On. How do you know it’s durable? Kirkpatrick was involved in the production every step of the way.
“We did two days of testing, both static and walking, wet and dry. In these tests we wore multiple heat sensors to see how our body temperature was affected (including an anal probe!!!!),” Kirkpatrick wrote in an email.
His commitment to the science paid off, leaving Montane with a jacket that, by surviving Andy Kirkpatrick, proved it could survive just about anything. Long days on ice, alpine ridges, and winter rock climbs testified to nothing less.
The Pull On has insulation where you need it and Montane’s own brand of stretchy, polyester-spandex blend microfleece where you don’t, leaving low-bulk areas under the arms and harness to boost mobility and cut weight. There’s no full zipper, so once it goes on, it stays on, but that’s not a problem; the jacket may be warm enough to belay in, but it’s also breathable enough for the approach.
The three-quarter-length zipper opens from the top and the bottom, letting you dump heat–and stash your gloves in the internal mesh pocket–even when you’ve got slings and a pack strapped over your chest.
The heat dumping capabilities came in handy during a post-holing bushwhack to the base of All Mixed Up (III WI4, M4, 550′) in Rocky Mountain National Park. While my partner was sweating through his midlayer, I stayed cool and comfortable. After a recent warm spell, much of the ice had melted out, forcing us to crawl like beached-whales over rock on more than one occasion. The burly Pertex CS-10 fabric withstood the abrasion without any signs of wear. It remained equally unfazed when I hung ice tools over my shoulders, a move that often leaves a scar of picked threads across the fabric of other down jackets.
The Pertex CS-10’s diamond-shaped filaments make it tougher than standard filament yarns, and a durable water-repellant (DWR) coating makes it water resistant, if not waterproof. Even so, both the Pertex and microfleece dried quickly, and the synthetic insulation retained warmth when wet. (Kirkpatrick claims to simply wring water out of the jacket before putting it back on and continuing on his merry way.) The microfleece was slightly less water resistant, and the stretch allowed moisture to catch between the outer threads, occasionally leaving bits of ice stuck to the sleeves. It did hold up spectacularly on rock, though–I could jam a fist in a crack without ever having to worry about pulling it out in a cloud of feathers.
Another bonus: the DWR-coated Pertex CS-10 successfully repelled an altitude-sick partner’s vomit on the first pitch of the Casual Route (IV 5.10) on the Diamond of Long’s Peak (14,255′). Spend enough time thrashing around in an off-hands crack, and you’ll find the dark blue color also hides blood well.
The Hi Q Luxe Pro Pull On was sufficiently warm while glissading and picking our way down a boulder field during a descent through Glacier Gorge in whiteout conditions. It was also warm enough for long stints on Eldorado Canyon belay ledges in January. On days with Chinook winds, however, I typically added a shell; while the microfleece is super tough, its wind-resistance leaves something to be desired.
You’ll find panels of that same microfleece on the hood, on either side of a mohawk of insulation designed to trap heat at the crown of the head. No insulation over the ears means it’s easy to hear your partner, even from the ends of a 100-foot pitch. However, I could have used that extra insulation while climbing The Yellow Spur (III 5.9+) in 50 mph gales in January. While the Pull On’s hood has the visibility and range of motion to go under-helmet, it’s too small to fit over anything more voluminous than a baseball cap, a disappointment for those of us who prefer using hoods to regulate body temperature.
The jacket fits true to size and the European-style cut means it’s long enough in both the arms and torso for a lankier build. It’s versatile whenever cold conditions apply. It performed equally well as an outer layer for ice cragging in Ouray and as a midlayer for bivying in Glacier Gorge in February.
The Hi Q Luxe Pro Pull On is a purpose-built piece, and as such, it doesn’t do everything. While its compressibility is top-notch, at 475 grams in weight, I wouldn’t bring this in my pack as a just-in-case emergency jacket, and without reliable wind proofing or full zipper, it doesn’t check enough boxes to prove itself as a standalone belay jacket. For its intended use, though–pushing hard in an alpine environment–it’s better designed, more durable, and less expensive than similar products (think Arc’teryx’s Proton AR Hoody, MSRP: $349.)
Hang this one in your gear closet, not your clothes closet; it won’t take long for it to become as essential for alpine missions as any piece of gear on your rack.
The jacket is warm, breathable, water resistant, quick drying, and durable. Stretch panels on the hood make it easy to hear your partner, and a double zipper makes heat dumping easy.
The hood’s wind proofing is sub-par, and it only fits under the helmet.