Sam from the Marketing team has been out testing this updated lightweight down jacket from Mountain Equipment, read his thoughts below:

After a decade of loyal service, my RAB Microlight is taking its well-deserved retirement. The search for its successor was like choosing a sidekick for my adventures and had me pulled in a lot of different directions, thankfully my answer soon came when I was asked if I would like to review the Mountain Equipment Baltoro insulated jacket. 

The Baltoro stands out as an insulated jacket with an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio, tipping the scales at 510g without compromising durability or insulation. Its 20D DRILITE outer fabric is both windproof and highly water-resistant, a valuable feature in the often-unpredictable weather of the UK. I have been unfortunate enough to be caught out by the recent inclement weather giving the Baltoro an unexpected rain test, the jacket demonstrated impressive resilience keeping me dry and warm till I could seek shelter and get my waterproofs on, a feature that is not only beneficial in the bleak landscape of Dartmoor but also around town.

Beneath its rugged exterior lies a formidable interior, boasting 162g of 700 FP Down. Couple that with the Double-layer offset baffle construction and Reflective internal scrim liner, and you’ve got a jacket engineered for an outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio. The offset construction, for those unfamiliar, provides enhanced wind resistance, increased warmth, and fewer cold spots compared to conventional stitch-through or box-wall constructions found in typical down products.

This method not only adds warmth but also contributes to the jacket’s comfort. Having experienced it firsthand, I can confidently vouch for its exceptional comfort while stationary and on the move! Moreover, this construction also minimises bulk, allowing the jacket to be conveniently packed into its own pocket and stowed in your pack or attached to your climbing harness through the integrated loops. 

Although this jacket is light Mountain Equipment hasn’t skipped on features, We are still seeing a 2-way YKK main zip allowing it to be used in conjunction with a harness, 2 hand pockets, a Napoleon pocket, an internal security pocket and an internal elasticated drop pocket making it simple to store things on your person inconvenient and easy-to-access locations. The 2 internal pockets also mean you can keep electronics such as your phone warm improving battery life as well as other items you would like to keep warm such as a hat and gloves. 

Moving up to the top of the jacket you are greeted with a Helmet Compatible Insulated Hood which is fully adjustable. I have never been a fan of hood-on insulated jackets, I found them to be uncomfortable, restrict my vision and not follow my head when I turn left to right making it frustrating to use. However, once adjusted the Baltoro hood was fantastic, it provided ample warmth making it a worthwhile addition to the jacket rather than an afterthought but also turned with my head making it far more practical and comfortable to use especially on the days I was using it on my walks to work! 

Adding to its design for enhanced comfort and fit, the jacket incorporates elasticated cuffs that provide a snug feel without the need for constant adjustment, facilitating easy wear over bulky gloves. The fully adjustable hem allows for a tailored fit, striking the right balance between comfort and security, thereby improving heat retention. When it comes to fit, the Baltoro achieves the sweet spot between a relaxed and form-fitting silhouette. It avoids feeling constrictive ensuring there are no cavernous pockets of air to warm up in areas where it doesn’t conform. I’m 5ft 8 and chose a size medium, and it’s spot-on—roomy enough for movement and additional layers without feeling oversized or cumbersome, whether worn alone or with a pack. 

Despite its impressive array of features, the Baltoro is still competitive in pack size. While it can be neatly packed into its own pocket, I must admit that the process can be a tad snug and tricky, even when attempting it out of the elements. For those planning to visit the mountain or take this jacket out on their next wild camping adventure, I’d strongly recommend opting for a dry bag or compression sack to streamline the packing. However, when successfully stowed in its pocket, the jacket achieves an awesome form factor and can be conveniently secured to a harness using the integrated fabric loops.

If you can’t tell by this point I have been amazed by the Baltoro and the more I’ve learnt about this jacket the more I’ve loved it. Transitioning from a jacket that had been a faithful companion for over a decade was a bit nerve-wracking, especially when venturing into something entirely different. However, making the switch turned out to be a decision I’m genuinely delighted with.

The Baltoro takes narrow baffle construction to the next level removing the disadvantages we have come to associate with standard narrow baffle jackets and does this without sacrificing weight, bulk or feature set. There are certainly lighter options on the market but I have found the Baltoro to offer the best weight-to-warmth ratio and this compromise on weight is more than made up for in its feature set, durability and warmth.

The Baltoro has undoubtedly earned its place in a winter arsenal and will make a great sidekick on all the winter adventures to come. If you’re a fan of micro baffle jackets but are looking for a step up in warmth and weather resistance that Baltoro may just be the jacket for you!