User Review: Mountain Hardwear Men's Hunker Down Jacket
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: About $150
Trying for so many years, I finally found an all-around down jacket that has everything I need.
- More than plenty warm (maybe too warm?)
- Lined hand warmer pockets, microfleece collar
- Velcro wrist closures
- Two Napolean pockets, internal and external
- Internal water bottle pocket
- Cargo pockets low rather than chest high
I was looking for a down-filled jacket that would work both as an outside layer over other insulation layers in very cold conditions, yet still be usable by itself or as the internal insulation layer with an overall parka. Most jackets either were far too heavy (I already have those), or they are too light (I have down "sweaters" to fill that position). After looking at models from all the major players, I found the Mountain Hardwear Hunker Down jacket.
While the fill is 650-fill down rather than a more attractive 800+, this jacket is more than warm enough for what I need. I got an XXL rather than an XL as I wanted to make sure it would fit over other insulation. Most other manufacturers' XXL jackets are still too snug when worn over other insulation, but the Hunker Down has enough room to not compress its own down or the down in the layers beneath. However, even with this space, the jacket does not feel like a tent when worn alone or as an internal layer with a wind/rain/snow parka over it.
Once I got the jacket, I found it has most of the "little" things that make this jacket ideal for me.
I wanted an internal Napolean pocket — this one has both an internal AND external zip Napolean pockets. Now I can carry small small items outside for very easy access, or inside to keep warm.
Both cargo pockets have microfleece for comfortable warmth. The collar is also microfleece-lined to prevent the sudden cringe when the cold collar touches your neck.
The outer material of the jacket is heavier than normally found in today's products. However, when this jacket is worn as the outside layer, this extra-strength material is nice to have in the event of brush-whacking, or even in the event of a fall on glacial snow (I already had one jacket tear in such a fall). This extra insurance is worth the slight increase in weight.
Of very great importance to me, the cuffs are closed with velcro rather than elastic as most all the others I tried. When the cuffs are closed with elastic, venting the sleeves is impossible. With the velcro, the sleeves can be left open during activity, then closed when needed for extra warmth.
There is no attached hood. While I like an attached hood for the outside parka, if a hood is attached to something used as an internal layer, the hood gets in the way of anything. I find a separate hat provides more flexibility.
I received a very pleasant surprise when I looked inside the jacket. On the inside right there is a mesh pocket that can easily take a 1 liter water bag (i.e., a Platypus bag). This keeps the water from freezing, yet it is still readily available.
The only drawback I can see with this jacket is outside pockets are low rather than higher on the chest to avoid interference with the pack waist belt. Fortunately, while the jacket hangs low enough to keep the wind out, it is short enough to lift above the waist belt if the pockets are actually used (when actually wearing the pack, I usually do not have anything in the pockets). The water bag I place in the inside pocket has enough room to miss the belt.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this jacket to anyone who needs it just as a jacket, or, like me, needs something more versatile in more extreme conditions.