Back in October I flew out to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro. Whilst packing my kit, I realised that my trusty old North Face Redpoint Optimus jacket was at the end of its useable life. With numerous patches, repaired tears and ‘thin’ areas it was time to replace this well used and abused jacket. Assessing the market, I could see that there were numerous good quality, lightweight down jackets available but I wanted the versatility of a synthetically insulated jacket that I could rely on whilst out and about in wet conditions. So after a quick bit of research I settled for the new Montane Icarus jacket, a decision which I have not regretted.
The Montane Icarus comes in three colours, Shadow, Antarctic Blue and Firefly Orange, I chose the firefly orange in a large. Weighing in at a mere 581g this is a light jacket that is very packable and remarkably warm for its weight. The outer shell is constructed from the windproof and water resistant PERTEX® QUANTUM ECO fabric which makes the Montane Icarus jacket a perfect companion on wet and windy days. Filled with synthetic premium PrimaLoft® ThermoPlume, which has been designed to emulate the properties of down, this jacket feels warm almost immediately. It has a full length zip, a well-proportioned hood, two zipped hand pockets and a hidden chest pocket with a neat zip.
The fit is really good, the jacket hugs the body but does not restrict movement. Wearing it whilst climbing, there is plenty of arm movement and it doesn’t tighten across the shoulders or lift unduly at the waist. The hood is a good size, designed to fit under a climbing helmet. If, like me you prefer to keep your hood out of your helmet, it will fit over the top although it’s fairly snug. Lycra cuffs are comfortable around the wrist and snug, preventing cold air from working up the sleeve. The main zip has a baffle on the inside which helps to keep the weather out and heat in and there is a comfortable microfleece lined section at the top to protect the chin.
I trialed this jacket on Kilimanjaro in October. It wasn’t cold enough to justify wearing the jacket during the day but as the sun went down and night time temperatures dropped to just under zero the Icarus came into its own keeping me comfortably warm. On summit day, starting out at midnight with temperatures down to about minus 10 I used the Icarus as part of my layering system. Initially I was too warm but as we ascended and the wind picked up the Icarus jacket provided a perfect balance of warmth and windproofness without being too heavy and bulky. To summarise, the Icarus jacket was ideal for my Kilimanjaro trip.
Now, you might be thinking, “that’s great, but how does it perform in October in the Lake District”, well, to add some balance to this review, I have just spent the last few days putting the Icarus jacket through its paces whilst wild camping and scrambling in the Langdales. The weather has been a typical October mix of wind, rain showers and the occasional sunny spells. As you might expect from a Montane product, the Icarus jacket performed flawlessly. The windproof outer is great and the fact that it is water resistant gives time for you to get out a waterproof layer when the rain starts without worrying about your warm jacket getting wet. Even when I elected not to put on my waterproof, the Icarus performed well and although it did eventually get wet, it kept me warm and dried out surprisingly quickly.
All in all the Icarus jacket is a great all round performer. Its light, warm, keeps the wind off, is water resistant and works when it’s wet. The only minor fault I would highlight is that the hand pockets are a bit tight but maybe I’ve just got big hands! Overall score 4.5/5.