Puffy Top Layer (Down Jackets)
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Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Puffy Top Layer (Down Jackets) on 08/07/2009 00:45:00 MDT Print View

I'm a little confused about a good target weight for a down top. Most examples I've been able to find seem kinda heavy. For comparison, my Sierra Designs fleece that I'm looking to replace weighs 476g (16.5oz).

Here's what I've found:

1) GoLite Cayanne Jacket (430g/15oz), 600fp down
2) Patagonia Down Sweater (352g/12.4oz), 800fp down
3) Mountain Hardware Nitrous Jkt (334g, 11oz), 800fp down
4) North Face Thunder Jkt (380g, 13.4oz), 800fp down

So is 11oz about as good as it gets? Or are these jackets just overbuilt and I'm missing the lighter examples?

I could get something like Patagonia's Down Sweater Vest which is just 193g (6.8oz) but it would be nice to have sleeves....especially since most of my light synthetic hiking shirts don't.

I'm surprised I haven't been able to find anything lighter, since Helly Hansen (where I work) sells the Odin Insulator Jkt which is pretty warm and weighs 350g (12oz) and it's made of Primaloft rather than down. I'd love to find a down jacket around 250g. This seems reasonable since Patagonia's down vest is 193g.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Montbell on 08/07/2009 00:55:57 MDT Print View

Okay I found some great ones from Montbell. They sell their 'UL Down Inner Jacket' for $145 and it weighs 6.9oz (2.0oz of which is insulation). They also sell the 'Ex Light Down Jacket' which uses 900fp down instead of 800 and it costs $15 more. This jacket weighs a mere 5.7oz, of which 1.8oz is down. Since it's a higher fill power both of these coats are likely similarly warm. It seems like a choice of do you want to pay another $15 to save 1.2oz.

The other significant different is that UL jacket uses 15 denier nylon vs. 7 denier for the Ex Light jkt. I also like the more subtle location of the Montbell name on the UL jkt.

Both of these coats seem quite affordable since the jackets I've previously mentioned from Patagonia, North Face and Mountain Hardware are all in the $200-$300 range.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Hmmm on 08/07/2009 00:56:58 MDT Print View

Does anyone know why the Montbell jkt is about half the weight of the other jackets when they are all using 800fp down?

The shell material is a bit lighter (15 denier vs 22 denier for the patagonia) but still, this is a huge difference in total weight. Is the Montbell jkt warm? Maybe it's the lack of pockets and frills on the Montbell?

Edited by dandydan on 08/07/2009 00:59:22 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Answers on 08/07/2009 01:10:24 MDT Print View

I guess this thread is pointless since I'm answering all my own questions. The Montbell seems to be significantly because:
- it snaps up instead of having a zipper
- no pockets
- lighter denier fabric

I gotta get me one of these. That'll be a huge 11oz off my pack.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
MB UL Down Inner Jacket on 08/07/2009 01:42:42 MDT Print View

I've had a MB UL Down Inner Jacket for several years now and I love it. Mine weighs about 8oz I think. Can't remember if Lg or Ex Lg. It's a favorite among ultralighters and has been for quite a while. It's not super-warm, it's more like a down sweater or a light fleece in terms of insulation. But that's usually adequate for summer backpacking. You can always layer under and over it of course if it's really cold/windy. If you need something warmer check out the Western Mountaineering Flight Jacket or Flight Vest. A little heavier and more $$ but also considerably warmer than the Montbell.

G

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Answers on 08/07/2009 01:48:05 MDT Print View

I think the MB inner down is an excellent jacket and most likely the best value. Not only is lighter and more compact that a 200wt fleece, but it is roughly twice as warm. If cost is no object that you might want to also look at the WM Flash Jacket and the even pricier nunatak skaha plus. Both of these jackets have insulated hoods and are even warmer than the WM inner down jacket while weighting slightly more than the inner down

--Mark

Edited by verber on 08/07/2009 01:53:46 MDT.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Answers on 08/07/2009 01:48:58 MDT Print View

Yep, Montbell inner jackets are the "go-to" down jackets for the UL crowd. Just about everyone here has one...! The ex-light version saves a little weight but you lose some useful features.

N. F.
(NeezyDeezy) - F

Locale: ADKs
. on 08/07/2009 08:38:44 MDT Print View

.

Edited by NeezyDeezy on 04/01/2010 11:41:51 MDT.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Puffy Top Layer (Down Jackets) on 08/07/2009 08:41:37 MDT Print View

Your other options would be Western Mountaineering--their new Flash Hooded jacket weighs 9 ounces I think. Flight vest about 6 ounces and about twice as puffy as the Patagonia one mentioned. Flight jacket mega puffy, 10.5 ounces. Also cottage industry, Nunatak, making Skahas starting around 9 ounces.

Jeff K
(jeff.k) - F

Locale: New York
Re: montbell rocks on 08/07/2009 08:48:00 MDT Print View

I have heard people mention the hood is more versatile, but I was thinking that having a jacket without the hood and a separate beanie would be more versatile for about the same weight.

Can you expand on your suggestions that the parka is more versatile?

Thanks,
Jeff

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: montbell rocks on 08/07/2009 09:08:38 MDT Print View

an insulated hood will be much warmer by weight than a beanie. i think some people prefer the parka because it's warmer, and that some people find the lighter pieces limited to warmer weather. that said, some people here would take a 50*F bag to -10*F "just because."

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Re: montbell rocks on 08/07/2009 09:11:24 MDT Print View

Unlike the thermawrap parka, the inner parka isn't any warmer than the inner jacket... discounting the effect of the hood of course. The body of the jacket is the same.

I'm one of those rare people who doesn't like having things like hoods or beanies on their head unless it is *really* cold, so I'm happy with just the jacket.

Frank Perkins
(fperkins)

Locale: North East
Re: Re: montbell rocks on 08/07/2009 09:14:56 MDT Print View

I just ordered the MB Inner Down Parka. This is to augment my sleep system which includes a Nunatak quilt.

You could go with the jacket and the BPL Balacava. For me, I wanted it all one piece for simplicity: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/cocoon_ul_60_balaclava.html

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Puffy Top Layer on 08/07/2009 09:21:13 MDT Print View

I am with Brad - especially if you sleep in it and use it with a quilt. The hood is nice because it limits heat loss through the jackets collar. For an extra ounce, it is the best part about my Cocoon Hoody.

Sanad Toukhly
(Red_Fox) - MLife

Locale: South Florida
Re: Puffy Top Layer (Down Jackets) on 08/07/2009 09:26:09 MDT Print View

I have the Ex Light Down Jacket and I love it. It has a very aggressive weight to warmth ratio. It doesn't have any extra features so if you need those, go for the UL Down Inner Jacket instead.

I disagree that a parka is more versatile than a jacket and beanie. A jacket and beanie is better for temperature regulation, in case you want to wear only the beanie without the jacket, which you cannot do with a parka.

Another good reason I prefer a jacket and beanie:
When it gets cold enough where you need to wear your down clothing to bed at night, it is better to lay them on top of you rather than wear them. This is the same concept as a quilt, so that you are not crushing any down underneath you and rendering it useless for insulation purposes. If you use this method with a parka, you no longer have anything to cover you head, whereas if you were using a jacket and beanie, you still have the beanie to keep your head warm. In this way, you are able to take full advantage of every single ounce of down you have in your pack.

-Sid

te - wa
(mikeinfhaz) - F

Locale: Phoenix
inner parka on 08/07/2009 09:42:26 MDT Print View

keep in mind that the fit of the Montbell parka is odd.. i have a 38" chest and a 30" waist and the parka is just plain box-shaped. no taper, and no drawstring or elastic at the waist. the hood is also not fitted so a drawstring would have been a bonus there as well. im going to try my hand at adding elastic to the hood opening to have the ability to cinch it down (sleeping mode)

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Puffy Top Layer on 08/07/2009 09:44:36 MDT Print View

@Sid

"I disagree that a parka is more versatile than a jacket and beanie. A jacket and beanie is better for temperature regulation, in case you want to wear only the beanie without the jacket, which you cannot do with a parka."

Why would you wear a beanie without the jacket? If you need a beanie it is likely chilly - no?

I disagree on temp regulation. A beanie and jacket will allow more heat loss through the collar.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Puffy Top Layer (Down Jackets) on 08/07/2009 09:58:35 MDT Print View

It doesn't make much sense to wrap your body in a few inches of down and a quarter-inch of wool on your head--especially given the proportionately higher loss of heat from your head.

Don't get me wrong, I bring a stocking cap of some kind, because sometimes I don't want the warmth of a full-on hood. I would argue that it is not "better" to drape your down clothes over you than to wear them. You're not going to get any extra warmth, since the covered areas would not have compressed down over them, anyway. Wearing your down jacket to bed works quite well, and when you roll over it goes with you... and as David has said, the hood and tall collar keep the drafts off and heat loss minimized.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Re: Puffy Top Layer (Down Jackets) on 08/07/2009 12:12:38 MDT Print View

"When it gets cold enough where you need to wear your down clothing to bed at night, it is better to lay them on top of you rather than wear them."

I don't buy that. It doesn't jive with my experience nor with the practice of high altitude mountaineers. It'd be funny if high altitude climbers took off their down suits, slept naked and layered everything on top of themselves.


As far as the montbell jackets. I find the normal UL jacket to be the minimum that I'd want to carry on lower 48, summer time mountain trips. When fall starts I have to augment it with more insulation. I like having the UL piece, because I can be a weight weenie. But I feel that the Alpine Light jacket (one step up in warmth) is a better all around warmth piece.

I go hoodless on these pieces so that I don't have to deal with a hood getting wet when I wear the jacket underneath my shell in the rain. My ultralight rain jackets don't have well designed hoods that would protect the down.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Re: Re: Puffy Top Layer (Down Jackets) on 08/07/2009 12:20:12 MDT Print View

"Why would you wear a beanie without the jacket? If you need a beanie it is likely chilly - no?"

I wear my beanie without my jacket often. It happens virtually every time that it's cold and I'm hiking. Generally I'll overheat if I put the jacket on. But I need the beenie to keep me warm and to protect my ears from cold injury. Skiers would be a user group that wear beenies without down jackets on a regular basis.


"It doesn't make much sense to wrap your body in a few inches of down and a quarter-inch of wool on your head"

The Montbell UL jacket is more like 1 inch thick. Not such an extreme difference. My wool hat is about equally as warm as my jacket. I agree with this principal for my thicker jackets though. When I've actually got a few inches of down jacket on, I want that jacket to have a hood, and I also boost up to a solid inch thick warm hat. Different scenario.