Used extensively by Cairngorm Treks throughout the Cairngorms and surrounding mountainous areas, Winter 2017 – Spring 2018.
Montane have set very high standards for this jacket claiming it to be “one our most technical and innovative products yet, developed using thermal imaging data produced during activities in cold, wet conditions.” On first arrival the appearance certainly matches the description and it appears to be one of the most technical insulating jackets we have ever used.
Let's just mention a bit about the thermal imaging data. As within a lot of products, the name of a tech feature or data can be often be over dramatized compared to the actual reality of the process. This is not the case with Montane. They claim that a Hybrid body-mapped design based on thermal imaging data in laboratory conditions allowed athletes to simulate wet and cold conditions in both active and static situations to help regulate the body’s temperature. This all sounds very good and we often find ourselves ogling over such information, but rather than in a lab we want to know if it can perform on a cold damp ascent of Cairn Toul in February? We shall find out later in this review...
The Quattro Fusion is mostly divided into two distinctive thermal materials consisting of Polartec Alpha Direct 120g/m2 fleece across the back, hood, forearms and lower side panels. Being familiar with this material from a previous product review we were very excited to see this feature again as it is simply superb especially in terms of comfort and breathability. The core of the front body, upper arms and side panels is made from micro-baffled high quality Hyperdry lightweight 800+ fill power goose down. It's very interesting to see the two materials combined, and in our experience should make perfect sense. Each area of the jacket appears to have been carefully thought out, very well stitched together, with each material providing a perfect balance between warmth, breathability, functionality and comfort.
The build of the jacket is very good and is something we have come accustom to with all Montane products. The down is encased with Pertex Quantum Pro with Diamond Fuse technology. For what is regarded as a supremely lightweight and tough nylon rip-stop fabric it certainly appears to form a strong outer layer. Inside is an incredibly silky smooth PEAQ Down lining which feels fantastic to the touch. Both materials offer wind and water resistance and certainly add to a jacket in which Montane have evidently taken a lot of care and attention to produce. No stone seems to have been left unturned.
This is a mid-weight jacket at 472grams in a medium size. The fit of the jacket is what we would regard as athletic, although it is maybe a tad too short in length if you are a particularly tall person. The Quattro Fusion hugs the body comfortably but in no way appears to restrict movement. The use of Polartec Alpha, particularly on the underarms and at the waist, provides extra comfort when carrying a rucksack and is certainly an area that often becomes overheated and uncomfortable when using a regular down jacket. The hood is fully adjustable with a very tough wired peak and again a mixture of insulation to aid movement and breathability. The hood can also be rolled away when not in use, but this is a feature we only used once and found quite uncomfortable and unnecessary. Pockets are as expected from most modern jackets with two large hand pockets raised above the waist band of a rucksack or climbing harness. A medium sized chest pocket has also been added which at first you may not notice as it is concealed within the stitching of the down panels. Montane didn't have to add such detail but it does look slick and only enhances the continuing high standards throughout.
Styling could be a mixed bag for many. For us it looks as it feels, an innovative and technical jacket that's sole purpose is for fast paced activities. The hood is quite box shaped and you do feel a bit like Robocop, or should we say Roboscot (sorry!) when worn out of a mountain setting. One big redemption is the colour. The Arbor Green is possibly the best colour I've seen in this type of jacket and the colour and styling of the Quattro Fusion has generated a lot of interest when out in the hills.
So let's move on to what's important; how the jacket performs out of the lab and in the hills. First of all, we'd like to mention that the mix of Down and Polartec Alpha is something that felt strange to begin with, it certainly doesn't feel like a regular insulated jacket as each separate panel of material noticeably offers a different feel and movement. We began using the Quattro Fusion throughout what was a very cold winter with plenty of snowfall, whilst also leading onto some high temperatures at the beginning of spring. Within these varying conditions the Quattro Fusion performed well and adapted to each environment. This jacket was built to provide movement and speed, so in the winter this is not a suitable belay jacket and won't add the needed warmth when pace is slow or sat at camp on evenings. On the move though, it is excellent. Full movement throughout the body means it can lend itself to a multitude of high pace winter activities. The star element is its performance when considering overheating. The high-quality goose down, although packed quite tightly into small baffles without much space to loft, offers just the right amount of warmth to core areas when working hard. Whilst the Polartec Alpha lets the areas that need to breathe, breathe. If the cold winds increase the hood is very easy to adjust and offers near full-face protection. When paired with goggles and a balaclava the outside elements were kept at bay.
The outer fabric made of Pertex Quantum Pro kept out any snow or light showers whilst performing as a tough outer against scrapes and scuffs, with almost no signs of wear noticeable after 6 months of heavy use. Throughout the warmer Spring months, we were so impressed by its ability to repel moisture that we decided to push it beyond its normal capabilities. Heavy downpours walking through the Lairig Ghru meant the Quattro Fusion did start to get soaked, although our layers beneath were kept impressively dry. We also noticed that when soaked the down did not lose any of its thermal qualities. As with previous experience of Polartec Alpha, once the heavy downpours departed the material quickly disperses any moisture. What was equally impressive wasthat the down baffles performed in a similar manner. This is testament to the water resistant (fluorocarbon-free) HyperDRY down, which quickly and efficiently got us back to full breathability and free from the discomfort commonly associated with soaked down. An area which Montane have kept relatively simple are the cuffs. These are made of a simple elastic ring that fit tightly to the wrist. A minor issue is that they have to fit within the inner of winter gloves but will stretch over more lightweight gloves used for Autumn and Spring.
As the warmer months approach the Quattro Fusion does become a tad warm, but this certainly doesn’t mean that it takes its place with the rest of your winter kit at the back of the cupboard, ready for the next season. A great feature of the Polartec Alpha is its open knit. Without the need for an internal liner the jacket becomes light and packable. This is enhanced with the tight fill of the down, meaning it doesn't need much space to loft, so instant protection and warmth can be added straight from the pack.
In terms of overall robustness, it appears the main zipper is the only area which may cause issue. When wearing gloves, it can be a little fiddly to match up both parts but as this jacket will be worn throughout the majority of the day there is no need to keep taking it off and on again.
Thermo imaging data labs, diamond fuse materials, etc, etc, are usually just words to enhance a product by turning simple but effective materials/design and giving them almost super hero status. But that is exactly as we see the Quattro Fusion, it is almost super human in its claims, but the claims always performed true. We have found it genuinely hard to fault anything with this jacket. Yes, it's going to be a high price for many... Maybe, the styling may not suit everyone, but as a high activity jacket built for cold, damp environments, i.e. Scotland, you (like us) would be taking it out with you on most expeditions. The Quattro Fusion takes one of our favourite modern materials, Polartec Alpha, and mixes it with a more classic material in a high quality down which, when combined, offers one of the best marriages in terms of regulating body temperature that we have ever come across (and then packs in a load more features on top). This isn't the first time two distinct fabrics have been used closely together, but none have performed quite as well as this one.
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...