Montbell, Japan's answer to Patagonia, has been gaining an international following, thanks to the clean lines of it high-quality jackets, which look good under blizzard conditions or over a shirt and tie. Founder Isamu Tatsuno, a renowned climber with ascents in Switzerland of the Eiger's north face and the Matterhorn under his belt, launched the brand in 1975 with an abbreviated mission statement: "light and fast." His clothes are engineered to be reliable and functional on expeditions and responsive to the rapid changes in temperature common on mountains and in cities. Specifically, Montbell is known for using featherweight materials with an ethereal quality, a combination that made the company popular in the Mountain States. Fittingly, the brand's American offices sit beneath the Rocky Mountains in urbane Boulder, Colorado.
With the "light and fast" spec in mind, we picked out two especially stylish jackets from the current Montbell lineup. The Highland Jacket, a simple and streamlined goose-down layer, packs insulating power into a compact, 12.2-ounce weight. The Chameece Inner Jacket is a trim, low-profile thermal layer with the all-important stretch and breathability we look for in our activewear. Both will earn their keep under a peacoat or blazer when the weather takes a turn, and both look great with a trim pair of pants and a tie. 'Tis the season to mix and match mountain wear with weekday staples, and Montbell makes the process as easy as can be.[Highland, $109, and Chameece, $49; montbell.us]