The first of the First Look features to emerge from the recent Webtogs buying road-trip, features the Mountain Equipment Mazeno, a down/Primaloft jacket which illustrates two of the hot trends in insulated outdoor clothing for the Winter 2014/15 season. These are namely; the mass adoption of water repellent treated down by the outdoor brands, and hybrid-construction using multiple insulation types.
The first reason I selected the Mazeno as a First Look feature, is that it contains Mountain Equipment’s all-new Water Resistant Down in the body. This represents a change of direction for Mountain Equipment, who initially resisted the temptation to jump on the hydrophobic down bandwagon last year, believing it to be somewhat of a niche technology: a solution to a problem that didn’t exist on any meaningful scale (i.e. people getting their down soaked). This year however, as Rab’s sales of Hydrophobic Down clothing have soared, Mountain Equipment have decided to introduce their own version for next winter… coincidence? Having succumbed to the temptation of treated down, Mountain Equipment have at least put a lot of effort into getting it right. As the winter 2014/15 Mountain Equipment product workbook explains, their Water resistant Down uses a Teflon based repellency, “to significantly extend the range of conditions… down jackets can cope with, reducing the ability of down clusters… to absorb water whilst remaining extremely durable and able to withstand repeated laundering.” To back up the brand jargon, we were shown the test results for Mountain Equipment Water Resistant Down, which showed that in a water submersion test it was able to withstand 330 minutes beneath the water line without suffering any noticeable decrease in performance. Impressive!
The Mountain Equipment Mazeno Jacket – Front
The Mazeno Jacket gets 80g of Water Repellent 675 Fill Power Down in the body, to maintain a toasty core temperature for the wearer. The down is held in place by similar stitch-through ‘micro-baffles’ to those seen in the Mountain Equipment Arete and Arete Hooded Jackets, and of course the ever-popular Rab Microlight series. The hybrid aspect of this jacket (very much one of the key stories of the winter 14 season) comes from the use of 80g Primaloft Gold (highest warmth rated Primaloft variant) in place of down in the hood, shoulders and arms: the areas most susceptible to exposure to water, and to compression from rucksack straps. Primaloft continues to insulate even when wet, so for such usage it is ideal. It also resists compression more effectively than down, so will stand up better to the knocks, bumps and scrapes that inevitably occur while climbing or scrambling on mountain ascents, as well as pressure from a pack.
The Mountain Equipment Mazeno Jacket – Rear (note hood adjustment tab)
Moving onto the finer details of the Mazeno jacket, the main zip is a 2-way YKK moulded one, ideal for easy access to lower clothing layers. The M.E. designers have also endowed the Mazeno with two YKK-zipped handwarmer pockets and a ‘Napoleon’ chest pocket for those easy-access items. The Primaloft Gold insulated hood is Mountain Equipment’s ‘Mountain HC’ style, which is fully adjustable to fit a range of head sizes, and when necessary, a climbing helmet. The hem is also adjustable via Mountain Equipment’s dual tether drawcords, which prevent snagging on obstacles and kit whilst on the move, whilst the cuffs are elasticated, as you’d expect of a lightweight insulated jacket. Also as you’d expect of a lightweight insulating piece, the Mazeno is highly compressible, and packs down into a hand pocket, complete with carabiner carry loop for handy packing and storage.
A small touch that exemplifies Mountain Equipment’s excellent attention to detail
The face fabric used on the Mazeno is M.E’s own Helium shell fabric, similar in appearance and weight to Pertex Quantum, and downproof to hold the 80g of down in place. It will be available in four colours for the winter season of 2014/15 – Lava (red), Nautilus/Lime zips (green), Cobalt/Russet zips (blue/orange) and Shadow Grey.
The epitome of style in striking ‘Cobalt with Russet’
Mountain Equipment Mazeno Jacket: THE STATS
Available Sizes: S-XXL
Weight (Men’s Medium): 430g
Fabric: 20 denier / 20 denier Polyamide – 34g
Fill: Body – 675 Fill Power Water resistant Duck Down. Arms/Shoulders/Hood – 80g Primaloft Gold (Polyester).
To round up, I think the Mazeno is an interesting prospect, offering the best of both worlds in terms of down and synthetic insulation. It will also be interesting to see how Mountain Equipment Water Resistant Down performs, both in terms of technical performance, and in terms of sales when it goes up against similar down offerings from Rab, Marmot and The North Face next winter!