'Mutant fill mix of PrimaLoft synthetic fibres and water-resistant down gives down-like warmth and feel, but with serious damp tolerance'
Outdoors Magic: Down-type warmth and puffiness, synthetic-type water resistance, warm, packable, medium weight and pack size. Nice dry-bag stuff-sac.
Outdoors Tragic: Lacks a hood, shortish cut.
Outdoors Grabbit? Yes if you want the holy grail mix of down-like feel and performance and synthetic water resistance. The Blue Ice does the puffy warmth thing very nicely indeed, but without you having to obsess about keeping it dry. In cold, outside condition though we missed having a hood and that, along with the shorter than average length, limits it a little for all-round bad conditions use, but if you're okay with that, it's a good choice. As a bonus the dry-bag stuff-sac doubles as a handy pillow when needed.
Blue Ice Jacket Ratings
Outright Warmth [rating score="3.5"]
Packability [rating score="3"]
Damp-proofing [rating score="4"]
Overall: [rating score="3.5"]
Synthetic-down hybrid filled jacket / 220g of PrimaLoft® SILVER Insulation Down Blend fill / PEAQ lining fabric / Barrier Lite RS nylon rip-stop fabric with a DWR / stitch-through, midi baffle construction / two hand-warmer pockets / Internal zipped security pocket / YKK reverse coil front zip / internal storm-flap / low-bulk elasticated cuffs / adjustable hem with cinch able drawcord / rear external Montane hang loop / comes with waterproof storage Montane dry bag
Full Review Below
Montane Blue Ice Jacket - The Fill
In a blind tasting you'd assume the the Blue Ice was nicely stuff with medium-grade down. And in a sense it is, 60% of the fill comprises water-resistant 650+ fill power ethically-certified goose down, while the other 40% is synthetic PrimaLoft fibres.
The idea is that you get the best of both worlds: distinctive down-like feel, warmth to weight ratio and performance, but with the sort of resilient, water-resistant qualities you'd expect from a fully synthetic jacket. It's also claimed to retain those qualities with repeated wear and washing.
It's interesting stuff, particularly for the UK outdoors which tends towards the cold and damp rather than the high, dry, chill of bigger mountains. Sounds good eh? But how does it work in the real world?
Montane Blue Ice Jacket - Performance
Like we said, if you were introduced to the Blue Ice in a darkened room, you'd assume it was a medium quality, medium weight and impressively warm down jacket. The stitch-through baffles hold a pleasantly plumped-up, reassuringly warm abundance of stuffing, the down-proof fabrics have a quality, lightweight feel and it's all thoroughly designed with adjustable hem, elasticated cuffs and twin zipped hand-warmer pockets.
Except, as you'll know by now, the filling is a hybrid 60/40 mix of down and PrimaLoft rather than pure down. What does that mean? Essentially you can stop worrying about walking back to the campsite from the pub in a sudden squall, you can throw it on for a damp lunch-stop on the hill without obsessing about keeping it dry. And if it does get wet, it dries decently fast and without losing any obvious loft.
In other words, it's pretty much a down jacket that you can treat as you would a synthetic one. All of which is good news if you're a down-obsessed Brit, who can't be bothered with avoiding the showers.
Where it does fall down a little, is in not having a hood, which limits it a little in really cold conditions and arguably means it works best indoors and under canvas. We'd be shopping for warm hats at the same time... Montane's own down-filled Plume Mountain Cap might work well.
Montane Blue Ice Jacket - Verdict
A nice hoodless, medium weight, pleasantly warm jacket with hidden qualities. You can get it seriously wet without it being an issue. It retains decent loft when damp, like a synthetic and dries fast and without side-effect, yes, like a synthetic.
In other words, if you want down warmth, weight and packability but without the need to keep it dry, here's the answer.
The one downside is the lack of a hood, which will either both you or not. We'd have preferred the option for really cold days, but it's your call. It's also worth bearing in mind that it's slightly shorter than some. That aside, it's down without the hydrophobia.