Review of the Montane Icarus Jacket - Tested in the Cairngorms

Used extensively by Cairngorm Treks throughout Autumn and Winter 2017/18 within the Cairngorm National Park and surrounding areas.

We were really excited when we received the Montane Icarus Jacket to review as we’d heard so many amazing things – team members were fighting over who would have the privilege of giving it a test drive. On first appearance the Icarus jacket has the look and feel of a regular down jacket. With long thin panels that contour around the body and hug snuggly to the wearer lined with 100% recycled PEAQ Synthetic Eco fabric, it is extremely soft and pleasing to the touch. Montane also claim that the jacket is highly wind proof and water resistant, with an outer fabric made from Pertex Quantum Eco.

All the above is fantastic but the key attraction of the Icarus is the use of the innovative PrimaLoft ThermoPlume insulation. It claims to offer the loft and warmth of traditional down with the added ability to retain heat whilst wet. An added bonus is that it ticks the right boxes in relation to animal welfare and environmental considerations, with all of the materials used made from recycled polyester. Let’s say our lead guide was pretty keen to get out and put the jacket to through its paces.

With the jacket's synthetic insulation having an equivalent fill power of 550+ down it made for a perfect layer for autumn and as part of a layering system for winter activities. With the overall bulk being low the Icarus exceled in colder, wetter conditions when worn under a waterproof outer shell. Saying that, the jacket lived up to expectations when worn alone and performed extremely well when the winds blew strongly, whilst tolerating getting wet without losing insulation or the fill clumping. Importantly, it also dried quickly. Snow, ice and the odd shower are nothing to worry about with the Icarus which oozes confidence over its down equivalent. In all situations the jacket also maintained a good level of breathability.

The fit of the Icarus jacket is tight but not restricting, long enough in the arms and body to tolerate arm movement when scrambling, working hard with trekking poles or bending over when setting up camp, and it also kept shape throughout a recent bike and hike. Pockets are smaller than we would have liked, although map and compass can be easily stored and accessed even when wearing a backpack. Not only is the Icarus stylish enough for valley wear with three colour choices, it also has a fit that is generous enough to allow a number of layering undergarments to be worn, whilst weighing in at a lightweight 581 grams. We believe this jacket will be made use of throughout most seasons of the year.

As with most Montane products we have tested, the build is excellent. After nearly half a year of use the jacket has shown practically no wear with the Pertex Quantum outer layer surviving the rub of granite and sustained wearing of a backpack. Moreover, one of the key properties of the jacket for us is that at the end of a multi-day trek it can be easily machine washed and dried, quickly ready for its next outing.

Negatives are few. It would be useful if the jacket stuffed into its own pocket but we managed to keep it stored in our packs within a small dry bag, although the jacket is so comfortable to be worn that it won’t be stored away very often. Another disadvantage is that there were no draw cords on the hood and body hem (useful in keeping out spindrift). However, these are minor niggles compared with the other benefits of the jacket.

Our Verdict

Our lucky reviewer decided to give this garment the 'full metal jacket' treatment and has been wearing it for the past 6 months on a nearly daily basis in the Cairngorms. A great value jacket which, although very so slightly not rating as well as down jackets in weight and warmth ratios, certainly delivers on the added ability to retain insulation when wet. It's also environmentally friendly and robust enough for long term wear and quick, repeated washing. An item well worth being taken on trekking trips all year round and an instant favourite with our lead guide, noting it to be one of the best insulating jackets he had ever worn.

Cairngorm Treks is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...

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