The Trango is a very warm down jacket at a reasonable price, which manages to pack in as much insulation as possible without being too bulky or heavy. I can tell you now that it's really, really good and you probably don't need to read the rest of the review.
Before we get into the review I want to give a quick disclaimer and apology: I have been putting off writing this review until we had some snow as these extremely technical Mountain Equipment jackets are built for winter conditions. However, we have had no snow here in the Peak District and so I haven't used this jacket in proper winter conditions.
As it's coming to the end of winter I've decided that it's best to write the review now. I've used the jacket for an entire winter season of walking and standing around in the cold. I think I wouldn't be far off the mark in saying that this is what a lot of people do in their down jackets, rather than going on mountaineering expeditions. It's certainly what I do, as I never really go mountaineering, and I always want a down jacket every winter. So here we go...
What's it like?
Before we get into the technical details here's a quick overview of what the Trango is actually like to wear. It's very, very warm. It's also well fitting in that it's not as huge or boxy as you'd expect for such a warm jacket. It looks really good and the 'medieval blue' colour I have it in is very smart. It's also surprisingly water resistant and I've never had that 'oh no my down jacket's about to melt' feeling that comes when you're caught in the rain. Warm, well-fitting, and weather-resistant: they're all the things I look for in a down jacket and so it gets top marks from me. What's more, because it's relatively slim and has good freedom of movement, you can wear the Trango in lots of different situations, not just half way up a mountain!
This jacket is available in both men's and women's fit, though the women's sizing does stop at 16 whereas men get up to XXL (some brands are beginning to offer technical clothing in women's larger sizes, and it'd be good to see more do so).
The Trango sits nicely below your hips giving it that 'regular jacket' rather than 'extremely long specialist jacket' kind of feel. It's close on the body so you don't feel like the Michelin Man and the arms are thick. It feels like you're wearing something very substantial, but which has been cut to be as slim as possible. I find the hem lifts when I raise my arms, but not above the hips.
Moving any part of your body in the Trango feels natural - whilst there's plenty of down you don't feel restricted. Whilst the arms and shoulders are well padded they don't feel tight. The hem has a drawstring to tighten it up and keep out the wind and the velcro-secured cuffs are wide enough to fit gloves in but can be tightened right up.
It's a really comfortable jacket to wear and it feels sleek to walk and move around in.
The Trango is filled with 269g (size large) of pure duck down with a minimum content of 90/10 700 fill power. This may not be a particularly high fill power for a premium jacket, but there's a lot of down in there and thus it's really pretty warm. By comparison the ME Kryos, which we reviewed earlier this winter, has less down in it, but it's goose down of a higher quality - 234g of 800fp down in size L. We think the Kryos definitely has the edge in warmth and weather resistance, as well as being lighter, but the biggest difference is arguably the price. At £400 the Kryos is very much a considered purchase for the more committed mountain-focused user, while the Trango offers a lot for its more modest £250 price tag, and thus represents great value. For a lot of people, the Trango will be easily sufficient, while something specialised like the Kryos would simply be overkill.
As the outer fabric is highly water resistant I've had no issue with the down becoming wet and clumpy. It seems to loft nicely and the jacket has maintained its shape, without becoming compressed, throughout the time I've used it.
At 723g in size medium (my measurement) it really doesn't weigh much for such a large and well-filled jacket! In terms of down jackets we'd say the weight is somewhere between midweight and heavyweight, but whilst it's not a huge duvet fit only for very high altitude or polar latitudes, its clever construction and use of interesting fabrics gives it plenty of oomph for winter.
I really like the Drilite Loft fabric on the Trango because it does the two things that I want: its PFC-free DWR keeps moisture and wind out; and at 40D it doesn't easily tear. Whilst you can't expect shell-like levels of waterproofness, the fabric on the Trango does a great job at keeping light rain out, and it'd work for snowfall and spindrift too. The same goes for the wind - with the drawcord on the hem done up your upper body is well insulated. I've also been really impressed with how durable the fabric is. There's nothing worse than ripping a hole in your favourite down jacket and seeing the feathers bleed out. This hasn't happened with the Trango, despite my using it every time I go out and hanging around some pointy and rough rocks. There's only been the occasional feather coming out of the seams.
The Trango uses a 'double layer offset baffle construction' which is a baffling string of words which refers to the way the jacket is sewn together. By offsetting the baffles in two layers, the idea is to give the jacket more wind resistance, fewer cold spots, and make it softer and more comfortable than traditional box-wall constructed down jackets. As the Trango ticks all these boxes I can only presume that it works.
On the inside the Trango uses 'heat reflective internal fabric'. It's certainly much smoother and lighter than the outer fabric, and my body feels warm, so perhaps it's working? Using technological tricks like this also means that Mountain Equipment can cut some weight from the jacket whilst maintaining the same warmth, resulting in the relatively light jacket that is the Trango.
The hood and collar are really snug when they're zipped all the way up. The collar and hood have a thinner layer of down than the rest of the jacket but once they're zipped up your head soon starts heating up! The collar comes all the way up to the base of your nose when the hood is up and comes midway up your chin when it's down, so draughts are kept well away from your neck. The hood itself has a velcro strap to tighten it. A drawcord would be more effective but to be honest the hood is so snug that I haven't missed having one.
While the hood is said to be helmet compatible, as you'd expect from such a technical jacket, I've not found this hugely successful. When wearing a helmet with the zip done up fully, head movement is slightly restricted, especially looking upwards - which is let's face it something you'll likely be wanting to do when wearing the Trango on a belay. Drop the zip a few centimetres and it's a bit freer, if not entirely resistance-free - but of course if the weather's cold or there's enough spindrift in the air that you want the hood up, then having the collar partially undone isn't going to be ideal. Really for helmet use, especially on wintry mountains, the hood could do with being slightly more roomy.
The Trango has a few features which are the icing on the cake. Two interior glove pockets (which I put my hat in) are very handy for internal, warm storage. The two external chest zip pockets are great for easily accessible storage on the move and it's got one internal chest zip pocket for valuables. It comes with a stuff sack to make it easily packable and it packs down surprisingly small. Personally I prefer jackets which stuff in to their own pocket but you can't have it all! The YKK zips are all chunky, and should offer years of reliable use.
The environmental, human and animal welfare costs of outdoor gear should be among our primary concerns as consumers. Many brands are taking steps to reduce their impact. Mountain Equipment subscribe to the Down Codex scheme, which provides an auditing trail to ensure that the down they use has been produced to meet certain standards of animal welfare. They are also members of the Fair Wear Foundation, which works with brands to achieve fair(er) working conditions worldwide.
Overall the Trango is an excellent down jacket because it's so warm for its modest size, whilst keeping moisture and wind out. It might sound like a fairly simple set of criteria but the Trango ticks all the boxes and so I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for a down jacket which will keep them warm, look smart, and last a long time. You don't need to be winter or alpine climbing to get a lot from it!
Mountain Equipment say:
Unique baffle construction gives expedition warmth with the low weight and packsize required for weight critical objectives.
Our dual layer offset baffle construction is combined with a heat reflective internal fabric to make the Trango a light, mobile and highly packable duvet. With levels of insulation that would only normally be possible with heavier and bulkier box wall jacket this is the perfect choice for remote trips.
- Sizes: S-XXL (men) 8-16 (women)
- Weight: 730g
- DRILITE® LOFT 40D outer fabric with PFC free DWR; totally windproof and highly water resistant
- 269g (Size L) of Pure Down with a minimum content of 90/10 700 fill power
- Double layer offset baffle construction throughout
- Reflective internal scrim for additional warmth
- Mountain HC Insulated Hood is fully adjustable
- 2-way YKK® moulded centre front zip
- 2 zipped hand warmer pockets and 2 Napoleon chest pockets
- Inner zipped security pocket and two large internal mesh pockets
- Adjustable cuffs and dual tether hem drawcords
- Supplied with stuff sack