Photos: Eilir Davies-Hughes
The Icarus Insulated Jacket has been redeveloped for improved performance this season and provides versatile warmth in unpredictable cold and wet mountain conditions. Who better to test this technical jacket out than mountain adventurer and Welsh-based athlete Jack Thompsett?
Jack is a very keen climber and skier, specifically enjoying adventurous routes in the mountains. He also works full-time as a Mountaineering and climbing instructor, guiding clients on some of the toughest mountaineering objectives in Britain. This past summer Jack spent time at home in the beautiful, but testing, mountains of Eryri (Snowdonia). Unseasonably stormy weather has provided the perfect testing ground for the Icarus Jacket!
Did I order a down jacket by mistake? Nope! Montane has managed to make a synthetic insulated jacket that feels and looks just like a down jacket. I find this pretty impressive! It doesn’t matter whether you walk, climb or simply want a jacket to wear to the pub, if you live in the United Kingdom a synthetic jacket is essential for staying warm in cold & wet weather. The Icarus is, in my humble opinion, the leader of this game.
Putting the Icarus jacket through its paces
I’ve used the Icarus for three months of full-time use, working and climbing in North Wales. The Icarus provided a reliable companion for long, wet and windy days at work, where a down jacket wouldn’t have been up to the job due to the wet factor. I would pop the Icarus into my bag in the morning with the confidence that this insulated jacket was not going to let me down, even when I was wet to my skin. It got tested in a full range of weather and situations: dry tooling in the slate quarries, rock climbing on the sea cliffs of Gogarth, as well as taking the full brunt of the British weather on top of some of Wales’s highest summits.
I’ve particularly enjoyed using this jacket while dry tooling. Dry tooling is a climbing technique that involves using ice climbing tools (typically ice axes and crampons) on rock surfaces without any ice or snow present. Traditionally, ice climbing tools are designed for use on frozen waterfalls and ice-covered rock. However, dry tooling allows climbers to practice and climb on rock surfaces that are not covered in ice. Dry tooling is often used for training purposes, allowing climbers to improve their technique and strength in a controlled environment. It requires a different skill set than traditional rock climbing, as climbers need to adapt their movements to the tools.
Dry tooling usually takes place on bits of rock which are not suitable for rock climbing, the cliffs tend to be damp and often have a fair share of loose rock! I personally start heading out dry tooling in the autumn which is great preparation for winter climbing season, this often means the weather is typically wet. Sounds appealing right? The kit I use needs to be robust and have the ability to keep me warm in wet and cold conditions. The Icarus performed very well in this arena.
The jacket was not only used as a belay jacket at the bottom of the routes, it was also used while climbing and provided a great amount of mobility, which didn’t hinder my climbing on the big reaches that are often made in this particular climbing style. With how the jacket has performed in this environment, I am very excited to use it while Scottish winter climbing this upcoming season. Montane have delivered an insulated jacket which excels in the wet and cold British weather!
I’m 5”11” tall, with wider than normal shoulders and a slim waist (30inch), I’m usually a medium in Montane clothing. I ordered the Icarus in a medium and it fits well. I have used the jacket while climbing, which can be problematic in some jackets, however the Icarus performed well even while reaching well above my head (staying comfortably tucked into my harness where others would have pulled out). I can happily chuck this over my other essential layers and use it as a belay jacket without any issues.
My favourite feature has to be the Icarus having the appearance of a down jacket. So many synthetic jackets look flat and boring, but the Icarus certainly doesn’t! The baffled feature does not stop at looking good, it also maximises the performance and longevity of the insulation. Double win! Hold on, it keeps getting better… the primaloft insulation is 100% recycled as well.
I have also been impressed with the durability. After three months of use, and many big days on the cliff and in the mountains, the Icarus is coping very well. This is due to the fabric which has been constructed using highly abrasion-resistant polyester ripstop.
I am really excited to use this jacket over the coming winter, particularly as a mid/outer layer for Scottish winter climbing, where the Primaloft insulation will come into its own on wet and cold winter days.
Get your Icarus Jacket
Jack reviewed the Montane Men’s Icarus Insulated Jacket, which is also available for women. For more insulated jacket options see our full insulated and down jacket range for more inspiration.