MontBell Ex Light: UL Madness?
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Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
MontBell Ex Light: UL Madness? on 01/19/2009 15:21:50 MST Print View

I was just comparing the specs for the MB UL inner jacket with the MB Ex Light jacket, and I wonder where UL is headed!

The weight difference for a size M in 1.2oz/34g. For that you:
a)lose pockets
b)lose durability (assuming 7 denier is half as robust as 15 denier).
c) gain $15

Is it really worth it? I'm especially curious about the durability issue, both in terms of fabric wear, plus loss of down. Anyone own this jacket that can coment?

Edited by retropump on 01/19/2009 16:22:52 MST.

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
Montbell Ex Light: UL Madness on 01/19/2009 16:00:07 MST Print View

Allison,
I own the MB UL Inner Jacket & recommend it highly. Like you I would have doubts about a lighter alternative. For me the pockets are a must. Thus far my jacket has lost one down feather. I've had my jacket down to 15 degrees F with a midweight GoLite baselayer, & a GoLite Virga jacket for my shell layer & was comfortable. The jacket is well constructed but it appears to me that it must be handled gingerly. I would not wear a pack with it unless covered by a shell layer. I also use the jacket in my sleep system to augment my down quilt in really cold weather.
Jim

Sean Walashek
(caraz) - F

Locale: bay area
I have the ex-light on 01/19/2009 19:16:59 MST Print View

It is reasonably durable. I dont drag it across rocks or anything and it still looks new after 20 or so days of backpacking. As far as down loss within the first month of owning it I lost about 10 feathers. Mind you there were feathers with pointy quills and not actually the down tufts so Ill take it. For the last two months I don't think I've lost more than 1 or 2 feathers if that. I only use it for insulation and so don't particularly like pockets. It has never been cold enough for me while carrying a pack.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: I have the ex-light on 01/19/2009 19:29:33 MST Print View

d) Loss of draft stop behind zipper.

I'm actually struggling to see how using lighter fabric and less down has made a real difference. Seems to me that if you added back in the pockets and zip draft stopper, it would pretty much weigh the same as the UL down inner. Something doesn't add up!

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
MontBell Down Inner and EX Light on 01/20/2009 08:59:07 MST Print View

Allison, I have one of each. The EX Light fabric is reasonably durable, though I lose a feather or two on each trip. The weight saving comes from no zippers and 900 fill down (same amount of down provides more warmth). The EX Light really insulates well - noticably better than the Down Inner, which for me is strictly a layering piece that replaces wool or fleece, just as MB advertises. I wouldn't count on it as my only insulation, though, if temperatures dropped below freezing.

Patrick Young
(lightingboy) - F

Locale: Southwest
MB EX Light Review on 01/20/2009 08:59:48 MST Print View

Will from BPL has a review on backpackgeartest.org on this jacket with a few other folks as well. Check it out.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: MontBell Down Inner and EX Light on 01/20/2009 12:10:12 MST Print View

My question are really more of a mathematical one. The Ex Lite uses higher fill power down, sure. It's around 11% higer fp. BUT, it uses 10% less of this higher fp down (1.8oz versus 2.0oz), so 0.2oz saving, so the nett insulation gain should be zero. This leaves 1oz unaccounted for. It uses a fabric that has half the denier of the UL inner (not sure what that equates to in weight savings), loses two hand warmer pockets and a draft strip/anti-snap strip behind the zipper. Seems to me they could have just used the existing UL down inner, left off those features, and had a jacket with the same weight reduction, withought resorting to more expensive down and fragile fabric. I can't figure out what is gained. In other words, I could take an exsisting UL inner, remove the pockets and the draft flap, and end up with a jacket that weighs the same as the Ex Lite, has the same features and loft (as measured by Will), and more durable fabric. Is this just a marketing gimmack?

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Ex UL vs. Inner UL on 01/21/2009 00:15:37 MST Print View

Allison,

Your argument rests on the premise that a 10 percent increase in loft will be offset by a 10 percent decrease in volume. Somehow, I don't think this is correct, and as previous commenters have stated, the Ex-Light is supposedly warmer than the Down Inner. (Though, I'm not sure how...the mystery remains).

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Ex UL vs. Inner UL on 01/21/2009 11:08:25 MST Print View

Nate

I thought loft was, by definition, how much space X ounces of insulation occupies. By this definition, 10% less of a 10% higher lofting down should take up the same amount of space, ie loft. Also, the loft as measured in Will's review is the same as the down UL inner.

>previous commenters have stated, the Ex-Light is supposedly warmer than the Down Inner.

It's a very subjective observation, and I suspect even I (immune to placebo response) might fall for if I had just shelled out for a brand new 'state-of-the-art' garment. Of course, there could be other reasons the garment feels warmer, and one of the obvious ones to me (comparing an old UL inner (700fp?) to a new one with supposedly 800fp, is that the UL inner isn't really 800fp, but the Ex Lite really IS 900fp. If this were the case then, even at the same loft, maybe the density of down in the Ex Lite is higher?

Sharon Bingham
(cowboisgirl) - F - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: MontBell Ex Light: UL Madness? on 01/21/2009 11:44:50 MST Print View

The timing of this thread is nice. I am looking at buying a down layer piece, and I was considering the U.L. Inner Parka. One of the features that really appealed to me (aside from the incredibly low weight), was the hood!

The Ex Light weighs 4.7 oz (women's M, compared to 7 oz for the Inner Parka), but loses the hood (and apparently, pockets and zipper draft protection, according to the posts above)...

Seem to me that the hood is a nice addition for the extra oz., but "warmer" is nice too. Makes it a hard choice...

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: MontBell Ex Light: UL Madness? on 01/21/2009 11:56:03 MST Print View

I would hazard a guess that, IF the Ex Lite really is warmer, it would be by a very small margin, and would not make up for the extra warmth gained from having a hood, pockets and draft stop. The hood alone adds a LOT of warmth to any jacket...

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Ex UL vs. Inner UL on 01/21/2009 11:57:45 MST Print View

If anyone in the San Francisco Bay area has either an Montbell EX UL or a Inner UL, I will measure the insulation value(s) and post the results to this forum. The testing will require that you transport it to and from the mid-peninsula area. Testing will require about 1/2 day per garment.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Ex UL vs. Inner UL on 01/21/2009 12:17:31 MST Print View

Thanks Richard. That would be excellent info for potential MB buyers to have.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Yes on 01/21/2009 15:25:49 MST Print View

I'd like to know as well. I am going to buy one of the two....Allison, I think you may be equating 10 percent more weight of down filling with 10 percent more down (and therefore, 10 percent more loft). Since down is comes in clusters, the loft to weight ratio is probably not a clear 1:1. Anyway, it seems like the difference would be negligible, and may even tip to the UL for its draft stopper and pockets.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Yes on 01/21/2009 15:33:43 MST Print View

>Allison, I think you may be equating 10 percent more weight of down filling with 10 percent more down (and therefore, 10 percent more loft)

Not at all. The definition of 'fill power' is a ratio of weight to loft. By this definition, 10% more of the same fill power down would have 10% more loft, and 10% less down that has 10% more fill power would also have the same loft.

In any event, would be good if Richard could give us some hard figures.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Yes on 01/21/2009 15:36:45 MST Print View

I'd have to agree with Allison on this one.

If you're a Montbell designer and you're told to design the lightest possible down jacket, you're going to cut as much weight as you can. That means making it as warm as the existing UL jacket, but noticably lighter. They wouldn't be putting any more down in there than necessary to meet the warmth target.

I don't think in their advertising they claim it is any warmer than the existing jacket, and you can be sure that if they had designed it to be both lighter *and* warmer then they would be telling everyone about it.

Any actual difference in warmth is going to be very small and difficult to judge by the wearer. You'd need to get Richard to test it rigorously.

(BTW, do the jackets have the same cut? Is the new one slightly trimmer? That might affect how warm it feels.)

Dana S
(Naman919) - F

Locale: Richmond, Virginia
bump on 01/26/2009 08:33:00 MST Print View

I'm really interested in getting one of these two jackets, but i'm also leaning toward the Inner w/ the hood (Parka).

Does anyone else have the Parka and how does it fare compared to just adding a beanie. I think i might get the regular Inner and just bring my smartwool hat for extra warmth when necessary.

Ideas?

PS - Did anyone offer up their jacket(s) for a test Richard?

Edited by Naman919 on 01/26/2009 10:52:52 MST.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Go with a parka on 01/26/2009 09:58:50 MST Print View

I am a big fan of hoods, especially on softshell jackets and insulated jackets. Going with a hood allows you to seal out drafts on your neck and cover your head. If the hood is close-fitting, it will be more effecient. It is a similar reason the R1 Hoody and the BPL hoody have close hoods.

I have the Thermawrap parka - this past season I used it with a beanie. Now I have an R1 hoody and will be leaving the beanie at home.

Dana S
(Naman919) - F

Locale: Richmond, Virginia
ok on 01/26/2009 10:51:47 MST Print View

A side question. Did you go for the Thermawrap just as your 4 season layer or do you use it for 3 season as well. Seems a bit overkill (to me at least) for three season.

The only reason i ask is b/c i'm new to the UL clothing systems and i'm trying to design an efficient setup. I've got it pinned down to what types of clothes i need, just trying to tweak my final decisions of what to buy/try.

The Inner Parka seems like it could be the perfect insulation layer. I've been leaning toward the hood, and i do remember the hood/not thread a while back and the majority favored hoods.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
3 season on 01/26/2009 11:42:01 MST Print View

I use it in 3+ season in Minnesota. Although I haven't pushed the bottom temps really hard, I expect to put it away when the nighttime low hits about 15 or 20 when I am more active. In other words, once snow is consistently on the ground here, I leave expect to leave it home - this is my first winter having the Thermawrap. I experienced low temps in the high 20s to low 30s this past May.

In 4-season, I use baselayer, softshell and down jacket (20-25 ounces) as my primary torso layering system.

One caveat on hoods. I like hoods on clothes that are meant to be or may be in the conditions an external layer (hooded baselayer, hooded windshirt, hooded windshirt, hooded puffy). If I was using the Down Inner (parka/jacket) as a true inner (mid) layer, I would skip the hood to decrease bulk. I could see it be used under a storm shell and/or 4 season parka. I still have about 5 weekends outside this winter, and if the temps really drop, then I will try the parka underneath a winter parka. If it gets to that, I'll report back.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 01/26/2009 11:54:29 MST.