Mustang Survival Torrens Hooded Jacket Review
In March this year I was lucky enough to visit the eagerly anticipated Outdoor Expo at the NEC. Whilst several key brands were missing from the line-up, likely due to trepidation around live events post pandemic, the show included a few brands I had never come across before. A sizable well-dressed stand caught my eye, showcasing a large range of high-end outdoor clothing and equipment. A mannequin donning the Torrens Hooded Jacket drew me in straight away, a sleek and simple wind-proof insulated piece that hugged the model but gave ample protection in all the right areas. As if in a lesson of “How to Man an Exhibition Stand”, their Global Commercial Director approached me and introduced the company to me.
As a mountain walker you may be forgiven for never hearing of the brand Mustang Survival, if you’re more a marine dwelling enthusiast then it’s likely you will have encountered this Canadian manufacturer before. “For over 50 years Mustang Survival has been delivering confidence for those who work, play, or protect on or in the water. From their headquarters in British Columbia, they craft marine gear that pushes boundaries, of science and innovation, engineering of what’s possible for the human body”.
This is a brand with highly technical testing facilities, science labs, premium performance fabrics and high-end manufacturing capabilities, and it really shows in their garments. We at Mud & Routes were delighted to get the opportunity to Mountain test their Torrens Hooded Jacket, a garment that can cross-over to most outdoor activities as well as various other pieces in their range.
The Torrens Hooded jacket is a lightweight insulated, full zip windproof layer that hugs the body and has a lot of very clever features. I am what you would call a large medium, and this jacket fits like a glove, giving me plenty of movement and protection (I’ve a Rab winter equivalent in the same size and it fits very similar). The Torrens jacket has a lightweight windproof DWR treated outer with Boddy Mapped Polartec Alpha insulation lining most areas, apart from under arms where lightweight gridded gridded fleece is used for improved heat transfer and breathability.
I have found Polartec Alpha to be a highly effective system in the past, being someone who has a tendency to overheat whilst moving quickly in the mountains, its often a fine balance of keeping warm and not sweating profusely. Sweating in the mountains can be a quite dangerous and Wind Chill is no laughing matter. Polartec Alpha was designed for the US Special Forces, who required superior insulated products that perform well at all temperature extremes and maintain breathability at high activity levels. Going one step further and adding the gridded fleece underarm really is a stroke of genius, having different insulating properties on different panels really is a must for high end technical clothing.
What the manufacturer says;
A cinchable hood and sleeve thumbholes provide extra warmth with this highly breathable men’s mid-layer made of Polartec® Alpha® insulation. Wear it on its own or under one of our waterproof jackets. This thermoregulating jacket is body-mapped to deliver insulation where you need it most and retains heat even when wet. The functional design reduces bulk while ensuring enough roominess for comfortable mobility when layered. Hydrophobic properties combined with lofted fibres on a mesh core ensure this jacket is quick-drying. DWR finish on the stretch nylon outer keeps light rain and spray out, and increased abrasion resistance reduces pilling. The Men’s Torrens Hooded Thermal Crew Jacket makes a great outer layer for mild conditions and a vital mid-layer for rough waters.
The testing ground this time was the beautifully remote and less trodden Rhinogydd mountain range, comprising of Rhinog Fawr & Rhinog Fach among other peaks, just East of Harlech in the Snowdonia National Park, North Wales (UK). These hidden gems are quite a tough undertaking, remote rocky tops as well as boggy and less travelled valleys certainly test even the most experienced of walkers. Our crowd dodging plan this busy Easter Bank Holiday weekend was a late ascent through the range and onto the grassier top of Y Llethr where we would wild camp for the evening, returning early the following day.
The forecast over the weekend for that area was bright and sunny, temperatures of mid to late teens with a slight breeze. We arrived in the area at 5PM, an 8km approach taking in woodland, rocky outcrops, boggy patches and mountain lakes. The direct sun light and a route initially sheltered from the wind made the going quite tough, especially in full kit and equipped for a night under the stars. We set off in shorts and tee-shirts and followed our line up between Rhinog Fach & Rhinog Fawr, gradually gaining height, passing Llyn Cwmhosan & Llyn Hywel, eventually topping out on Y Llethr (756m) as the sun dipped lower over the Irish Sea to our West.
By now the temperature had dropped and the wind had picked up considerably, therefore I added a long sleeve base layer and the Torrens Jacket whilst I set about making camp and some well deserved hot food. The Torrens has a supremely effective hood, instead of adjustable toggles it has an elasticated gaiter or baffle that keeps the hood fitted around the head, giving you added protection from the elements.
Unlike most hood systems the lower part tucks below the chin, whilst this gives you less coverage on the face it amounts to much better head movement, a worthwhile trade off in this instance. Another great feature of the Torrens jacket is the sleeves and cuffs comprising of a hydrophobic under cuff with thumb holes, meaning the sleeve does not move around, again improving movement. The jacket has the unique ability at offering weather protection whilst remaining very sleek and simplistic in design and shape.
As the temperatures dropped, we opted for warmer down layers and soon called it a night. We managed a few hours in our cocoon whilst being battered by strong gusts and intermittent showers, and arose to another sunny day, with a brisk breeze and low temperature at first. After packing up camp and scoffing some high energy oats, we set off on our decent. It was now that the Torrens really came into its own, a lightweight system like this is for use on the move and under strenuous activity.
Although designed for marine activities the Torrens cut is ideal for mountaineering, with a long tail and high hand pockets large enough for an OS Explorer Map. The way the garment is stitched is almost ergonomic, giving you maximum movement across the shoulder’s, arms and back, it really does suit backpacking and walking. Although descending at this stage, the mountain terrain here demands concentration and agility. As we lost height and the sun came out the temperature soon increased and venting through the main zip allowed heat to escape. The Torrens manages heat extremely well and as hot as it got and with a large pack on, I never felt too hot or sweaty. We opted for poles on the decent to help spread the load of our packs, the thumb loops and under cuffs keeping my sleeves in place and the arms taught.
We descended further past the mountain lakes along the valley floor and through the forest, whilst the temperature rose further still, there was no need to take off layers, my body maintaining an optimum level of warmth and breathability. I’ve always said this is the sign of a good outer layer, if you can start and finish the day in the same layers, experiencing fluctuating temperatures and whether systems, then this is a garment that will look after you and treat you well.
Mustang Survival Torrens Hooded Jacket Verdict
I have a lot of love for the Torrens Hooded Jacket, I think it’s particularly good looking in black and when worn in conjunction with black walking tights, it’s difficult for one not to feel like a mountaineering ninja, the ideal combo for fast and light backpacking in demanding environments. The jacket also comes in a bright Mahi Yellow, ideal for the runners amongst us and also comes in a variation without a hood (women’s equivalent also available).
The Torrens Hooded Jacket is priced at £230 which puts it as a contender to similar insulated jackets from brands such as Rab, Jottnar, Arc’teryx etc, and whilst you might have some scepticism from not seeing the brand on display in your local mountaineering store, believe me when I say this is a truly awesome piece of kit. If anything, the level of scrutiny that Mustang Survival puts on its marine going clothing and equipment, way exceeds that needed for manufacturing walking garments. They have the knowledge, the heritage and the know how to craft highly durable and effective outwear, a brand whose sister company is the leading inflatable rib manufacturer serving rescue professionals and military elites … say no more!
Mustang Survival’s range includes Waterproof Jackets, Trousers, Insulated Layers, Bibs, Dry Suits / Suspenders, Deck Bags, Dry Bags, Hats & Gloves (I’m betting their gloves are top notch).
Mustang Survival Torrens Hooded Jacket features and specifications:
- Body-mapped Polartec® Alpha® is quick-drying and insulating even when wet
- Underarm lightweight checkered fleece increases breathability
- DWR outer finish repels water
- Cinchable insulated hood and elasticized hem reduce wind penetration
- Hydrophobic under cuffs keep water out
- Two exterior hand pockets and an interior chest pocket store essential gear
- Marine Loop attaches to engine cut-off switch
- Regular fit
- Centre back length size large: 29.75in / 75.5cm
*Available from YouBoat Marine in the UK – Mustang Survival | Boat Chandlers & Sailing Equipment (youboatmarine.com)