In the afternoon it may be mid-60s and sunny, but come nightfall the wind picks up and the chill sets in. You want clothing that can handle both, without making compromises in either situation.
This is where the Standard Issue Insulator from Mountain Standard shines. It’s heavier duty than a fleece, but less extreme than a down puffy coat. While I typically wear mine as an outer layer, it can also serve double duty as a mid-layer underneath a shell.
What’s Inside the Standard Issue Insulator
This jacket features 60g Prima Loft Gold insulation instead of the down that you might find in traditional outerwear. Synthetics are becoming more and more versatile and offer a few benefits over down. They’ll dry much faster when wet and, when washed, will dry easily without clumping. If you’ve ever gotten stuck in the rain or tried to wash a down jacket, you know it can be a pain to get it to puff back up again. The ‘tennis balls in the dryer’ trick works, but it’s nice to avoid that altogether.
The lightweight insulation also makes this jacket highly packable. It can be easily compressed into a backpack or duffel for carrying.
How it Compares to the Other Brands
The 60g of insulation is also an industry standard when looking at other jackets of this type. If I were shopping for something comparable to the Standard Issue Insulator, I would be faced with options like the Atom LT Hoody from Arcteryx and the Micro Puff Hoody from Patagonia. Both of these are great jackets of a similar weight (60g and 65g, respectively), but come at an additional cost. The Atom LT Hoody is $259 and the Micro Puff Hoody is $299. The Mountain Standard insulator comes in at $160, a full $100 less than the Arcteryx model.
All of these jackets are water repellant, use synthetic insulation, have nylon rip-stop outers, and feature plenty of pockets for you to store your stuff. So not only are you getting a top of the line jacket when you buy the Standard Issue Insulator, but you’re also keeping $100 in your pocket. That’s plenty of mountain drive gas money right there.
Fit and Styling
Finding clothes that fit me is usually a difficult affair and this is especially true when it comes time to find outdoor apparel. The hardest part is finding a piece with long enough sleeves to provide coverage when I’m active. Luckily for me the Standard Issue Insulator provides full length arm coverage when I’m not moving and when I am. The last thing I want is a freezing cold wrist due to exposure.
Beyond the sleeve length, the jacket has a great form-fitting cut. This prevents the Michelin man look other thicker jackets provide, but still provides ample room. I can fit at least two thinner layers under the jacket – a baselayer and fleece – without making things too tight.
Features of the Insulator
The Standard Issue Insulator has just the right amount of features to make it useful, but not so many that you look like you’re on an arctic expedition. This jacket doesn’t seek to be your deep winter companion. Rather, it’s perfect for hanging out around the campfire, bar hopping by bike, or wearing as a layer while skinning up for backcountry skiing.
Up top is a hood with a drawcord to keep it snug to your head, or helmet. When the jacket is fully zipped up the hood forms a fairly close seal around your face as the lower section comes up to your chin.
Out front are two hand pockets as well as a horizontal chest pocket on the left side. This extra pocket is great for stashing smaller items and is also the perfect size to fit a frosty beer.
At the very bottom of the jacket are more drawcords if you want to cinch it around your waist. Between the full zip, drawcord hood, and drawcords at the bottom, you can make this jacket pretty airtight.
Final Take on Mountain Standard’s Insulator
I wear this the Insulator all the time in the fall and even into winter. It doesn’t matter if I’m headed to a fancy dinner or standing under the stars at a campsite – I’ll put this thing on. It’s styling is utilitarian, but has a certain class to it. And it behaves as well as it looks. With mid-weight insulation I can use it to moderate my temperature without getting too hot or too cold. When it comes time to move, the jacket doesn’t bunch, bind, or ride up my arms. All around it’s a staple in my closet. So much so that I’m probably going to buy another. At less than $160, why not?