Anyone who has brushed past me in the last few weeks has been regaled with my recent finish of the Spine Race Challenger South, 108 miles unsupported along the Pennine Way in January.

When one of our buyers asked if there was any equipment I needed (from the huge and expensive mandatory kit list) I mentioned I was concerned about staying warm through the two nights, whilst not getting too sweaty through the day. They came up with the new Switch Pro Hooded Jacket from Mountain Equipment, and after using lots of their kit through the years I jumped at the chance.


What I wanted was a warm but breathable mid-layer that managed moisture well, with a small pack size and weight; the new Switch Pro Hooded Jacket appeared to check all these boxes. My primary use was for running (or shuffling!) up the Pennine Way for 108 miles. I knew I was not going to be running a decent pace for the whole time and that I would spend some time running, some walking and near the end some crawling, so needed to stay warm through all those paces.

I wore the jacket the whole time during the event, it got me through the days on its own when I could move faster in some good weather and then through the nights as a mid-layer when wind chill was -7 and the snow began. Although other synthetic layers are warmer, I have found they get clammy when working hard. My concern was that when the temperatures began to drop, the build-up of moisture would cool me down too much.

The Octayarn fibres did a great job of not letting moisture build up next to my skin. Another consideration was weight and pack size; the mandatory kit list for this race was massive, so along with carrying sleeping, cooking, and safety kit, I did not want a garment that would take up valuable space in my pack should it need to be stashed. A down layer would be useless if the usual wet Peak District and Dales weather came in, so a fleecy mid-layer made more sense.

When training on Dartmoor over the winter I was only wearing a Rab Sonic Tee as a base layer paired with the Switch Pro Hooded Jacket. The sweat built up only around the Pontetorto cuffs but the main bulk of the jacket remained dry and comfortable with the cuffs drying very quickly.

Heading straight into the strong winds, I felt that the jacket alone was not enough and a shell jacket with a warmer base layer was much more suitable. The wind seemed to come straight through areas around the zip and it did get chilly. Saying that, once I turned a corner and the wind was on my back or side it was much better. The features that make a difference to me when moving quickly are a close, non-flappy hood and thumb loops to prevent the garment arms riding up when swinging your arms.

During wintery walks on Dartmoor this jacket worked great to prevent over heating when wearing a Gore jacket over the top. On lower-level walks where wind and rain were not an issue, this as a stand-alone jacket was warm enough, although I would not wear it on its own in more extreme conditions. However, I can see myself using this jacket on its own when walking on a windy summer day or climbing on cooler days on the sea cliffs where a standard fleece wouldn’t cut it.

Post event, it was safe to say my general odour was not pleasant and I wasn’t convinced that with all the tech in the Switch Pro Hooded Jacket it would clean up well, but it did. After a wash in Nikwax base fresh it came out of the wash good as new! After wearing it for such a long time during the event as well as when training, surprisingly there are not any signs of wear or areas that have pilled or bobbled.


Mountain Equipment have designed this piece as an athletic fit. As long as I can remember I have always been a size large in Mountain Equipment, which I chose in the Switch Pro Hooded Jacket. I am a slim 6ft 2 and found the length in the body and arms a little long and it a bit baggy around the middle.

However, after trying a medium to compare, it was snug under the arms and too short in the body. Granted I only tried in the shop but when wearing a harness, the medium pulled out of the harness when reaching up. I accepted that a large was slightly baggy in places but was going to be much more comfortable for an extended use. Despite my first misgivings about the fit and worrying about it flapping around in the wind, when training on Dartmoor during the November and December storms, it did not flap around and I was happy with the size choice.

Materials & Features

The Switch Pro Hooded jacket is made up of two fabrics/fibres that make a brilliant jacket for year-round use. The Switch Pro uses a fibre called Octayarn. This is an 8-sided fibre which has a massive surface area, this helps with moisture management through direct contact with a base layer or skin, actively drawing sweat into the fibres and spreading it across a large area to quickly evaporate.

The non Octayarn parts of the jacket are constructed with Pontetorto Tecnostretch fleece. This is used on the panels running up the inside of the arm and around the cuffs which improves the breathability and helps to give a closer fit. It is more hard wearing than Octayarn which helps to improve the durability on high wear points. The outer 20D fabric gives the jacket a robust feeling finish and bumps up the wind and weather resistance.

The Switch Pro Hooded Jacket is packed full of features to make it an extremely versatile jacket for so many uses and conditions. There are four good sized pockets; two hand pockets which are lined with Octayarn making them warm and comfortable, along with the two chest pockets lined with 20D nylon. I find these most useful when wearing a harness where the hand pockets can feel restricted. I also find them particularly good for my phone and headtorch batteries to keep them close to my body and warm to preserve battery life.

One of my favourite features is the elasticated hood and high collar, the close-fitting hood is made of Pontetorto fleece keeping it breathable, with 20D nylon around the neck helping keep the wind out. When running, I found the high collar was able to cover my mouth on cold mornings and the tighter but breathable hood was practical and comfortable. Any good, fast moving running jackets have thumb loops and the Switch Pro Hooded jacket is no different, these help to keep the heat in and provide extra warmth over the back of the hands when not wearing gloves. This jacket does pack into its own pocket, but does expose the Octayarn lining, I was worried this would catch and pull the fibres and opted for a nylon stuff sack to give some weather resistance in my pack.


The Switch Pro Hooded Jacket has become my new go to jacket. It comes with me on most outings whether it is a morning commute on the bike or a quick, chilly, easy morning run for me it does it all. Weighing between 300g and 400g depending on size there is no hesitation in going in my pack as an extra layer. It’s warm, light, packs small and it’s durable. Looking at this jacket as a hill walker and runner as opposed to a mountaineer its wind resistance let it down a little but if you are looking for a mid-layer working hard during the colder months or a stand-alone piece during warmer weather this jacket could be perfect for you.

What Mountain Equipment Say

A hybrid highly breathable mid-layer for fast moving alpinists and ski-mountaineers. Ideal for: Alpine Climbing, Ski-touring. With super-fast drying high loft Octayarn Warp-knit insulation this is the perfect mid-layer for moving fast in cold conditions. Zoned Pontetorto® Tecnostretch fleece ensures an athletic fit and even greater moisture transfer as well as adding stretch to the hood which works with or without a helmet.