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Mattias Deny
(mattiasdeny) - F
MontBell Alpine Down Vest vs MontBell Alpine Light Down on 11/22/2010 08:50:54 MST Print View

I'm interested in hearing your opinion and/or experience with these vests (regular vs light), and what the main differences are.

Surprisingly the "regular" vest doesn't show on the USA website, but does on the Japanese website - albeit without product description. USA retailers do had it in store at some point.

Some initial research provided the following data:

Weight: 11oz (regular) vs 9.9oz (light)
Fill: 3.8oz (regular) vs 2.8oz (light)
Price: $150 (regular) vs $130 (light)

Inner and outer shell fabric appears to be the same (both are 30D ballistic nylon taffeta with 30D ballistic ripstop nylon).

Data on the construction seemed to vary from source to source with verbiage as fully boxed, quilted and sewn through thrown around. Is there a difference in baffle design and overall design?

Any particular recommendations?

Edited by mattiasdeny on 11/22/2010 11:25:33 MST.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Core on 11/22/2010 17:32:40 MST Print View

I have found, and many agree, that you need far more insulation on your core than you do on arms and legs.

I tend to have at least double the insulation on my core as my arms and legs. I don't remember all the science behind it, but the insulation is more effective there.

Something to consider, depending on your other clothing items of course.

Mattias Deny
(mattiasdeny) - F
Thank you on 11/26/2010 04:25:51 MST Print View

I'm definitely opting for a vest. Keeping the core warm without the extra bulk is what I'm after. I tend to dress at the cooler side of the comfort spectrum, and put on a quick warm layer the minute I pause. Rather cold than sweaty and wet I suppose. Hence why a vest would be my layer of choice.

Does anyone knows the main differences between these vests? Does anyone own the non-light version of the alpine vest? First hand experience?

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Alpine Light Vest on 11/26/2010 05:52:24 MST Print View

I have what I think is the Alpine light Regular. It is overkill for almost all of my backpacking needs. It is meant for really cold weather and even then you may be sweating a lot except at camp.

Also, I find down less useful for hiking because of its tendency to absorb moisture, either rain, snow or perspiration.
It is great around camp though and really extends the warmth of your sleeping system if needed.

I use a thinner synthetic Golite Cady vest for most of my cold weather hiking. That and of course a base layer and a mid layer or two.
It is not as warm but seems to work better when wet and dries fast.

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: MontBell Alpine Down Vest vs MontBell Alpine Light Down on 11/26/2010 06:56:18 MST Print View


The primary difference between these two vests is the "regular" is box baffled with 3.8 oz. fill versus the "light" which is sewn through with 2.8 oz. fill.

They are both high-value garments and the determination of which is appropriate is determined by your total insulation system requirements when not hiking. If for camp chores you wore typical UL backpacking base layers totaling 1 clo then, the "regular" vest plus an oversized wind shirt or hard shell would yield a thermo-neutral temp of approximately .56C (31F). The temperature for the "light" would be 2.2C (36F).

Of secondary consideration, for sizing your wind shirt or hard shell, the "light" has 1.5" loft and the "regular" has 2" loft.

Edited by richard295 on 11/26/2010 06:58:10 MST.

Sieto van der Heide

Locale: The Netherlands
PHD Vests on 11/26/2010 07:06:23 MST Print View


this is not exactly an answer for your question about MontBell products, but, being from europe, it might be worth checking out the vests (and other garments) made by PHD:

I think the Ultra vest may suit your needs. For more information, I think there was a review of the Ultra Pullover on BPL a while ago.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Yes PHD on 11/26/2010 07:34:27 MST Print View

PHD is nice stuff. Ultra for light and warm in drier winter conditions and/or maybe the Sigma for long stretches of freezing rain or generally sloppy weather.

Mattias Deny
(mattiasdeny) - F
Mammut Stratus Flash on 11/26/2010 08:15:43 MST Print View

Thank you all for the insight.

I use the high loft Mammut Stratus Flash parka with its Ajungilak synthetic fill as belay jacket. It's light, windproof, dries quickly, and its DWR outperforms my expectations by far. This has become my outer layer of choice for pretty much all conditions - except perhaps pouring rain... and then again I may still prefer it over your Gore-Tex hardshell. Yes it gets wet but not on the inside, I stay warm, and it dries in little time.

So since I have a full blown synthetic outer layer already, I wanted to opt for a very warm down vest to wear underneed that belay jacket when pausing. Hence a vest, cause it's less cumbersome, and hence down, cause it won't be exposed to the elements.

Thank you for confirming the baffled design of the regular vest. Although I understood down can be compressed much more than we took for granted these past decades, I'm still concerned that excessive stitching allows a lot of heat to escape. Hence feeling a little reluctant to buy a sewn through down product which primary function will be pure warmth. Unless I find more use for the Light version and leverage its lower warmth.

I appreciate the comments. Much of the joy is obviously as well the research and discussions that come with finding a good piece of gear.

I'll look into PHD as well. Thank you for that.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Yes, down for belay on 11/26/2010 08:21:57 MST Print View

Yes, I agree, thick down is the best choice for belaying. And also the best choice for any period when you are having to stay in one place for very long.

I was assuming for trail hiking when I was leaning my recommendation towards the lighter synthetic.

Mattias Deny
(mattiasdeny) - F
Re: Alpine Light Vest on 11/26/2010 08:26:15 MST Print View

"I have what I think is the Alpine light Regular."

Steven - which model do you mean with Alpine light Regular?

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Which one. on 11/26/2010 08:35:47 MST Print View

"Steven - which model do you mean with Alpine light Regular?"

I'm sorry, regular I believe. It seems to have more loft than the light and has the box stitching.

Mine is a few years old so they may have changed some since then.

Mattias Deny
(mattiasdeny) - F
Re: Yes, down for belay on 11/26/2010 09:17:19 MST Print View

Thanks. I would be using the vest for many outdoor activities, including mountaineering and backpacking.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
regular on 11/26/2010 12:04:11 MST Print View

minimal weight gain, minimal rice difference, more fill, youll be using it on stops anyways so warmer is better ...

as long as it fits under yr belay parka ... yr laughing

Edited by bearbreeder on 11/26/2010 12:05:08 MST.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Down on 11/26/2010 15:29:44 MST Print View

Re: puffy material as a mid-layer, as opposed to one's outer puffay, don't forget this post from a climber: “My MicroPuff Hoody weighs the same as my R1 Hoody, offers much more warmth, and blocks wind and some rain. If you can take it on and off, it's great. But, if I were to put it under my shell like my R1 Hoody - I'd overheat while moving hard, as it doesn't vent or breathe very well. I went to fleece exclusively after topping out on Shoestring in -10º (before wind-chill) temps, with 30-40 mph gusts. We were working hard and sweating heavily while moving, and my Capilene 3 and R2 fleece let it out. My partner was wearing a MicroPuff inside his shell, and it was a frozen mess, stuck to his shell and not warm at all any more. It breathes, but not nearly as well as the fleece.”

Mattias Deny
(mattiasdeny) - F
Re: puffy material as a mid-layer on 11/27/2010 01:34:19 MST Print View

Very true. My setup is a Woolpower baselayer (god that stuff is good although it looks like my grandfather designed it, and wore it all that time as well...) with the Mammut Stratus belay jacket. I move around in the Woolpower only with dry temperatures of 32F. The minute I halt, the belay jacket goes on. 2 layers only and they can cope with pretty much everything. Oh and a Woolpower hat... which almost acts as my middle layer... kinda starting to get real chilly with the baselayer only? Put on a hat. After a while you start sweating again, hat goes away.

Back on topic. The down vest is to be used primarily when pausing / camping. After long inactivity the above may not be enough.

Secondary function may be as a outer layer ontop of the baselayer, mostly while hiking I would presume (again 2 layers only). It will require some experimenting to see what works well here.

So from a warmth perspective the regular vest is clearly the winner. From an all round perspective, and potentially being worn as the outer layer of a simple 2 layer setup, the Light vest may have more use.

Good discussion.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
down on 11/27/2010 03:34:24 MST Print View

mattias ...

assuming you are bringing yr base, down, belay jacket ...

id use the belay jacket for hiking if really cold or till you warm up ... last thing you want to do is to soak yr down with sweat

i use a similar system with base, wind, down, belay in that order .... down is only for very cold belays or camp

this also maximizes your moisture management ... as yr belay gets damp with sweat or precipitation, but since its synth itll dry faster ... putting yr down under it will keep it drier

Richard Nisley
(richard295) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: down on 11/27/2010 09:09:44 MST Print View


I think that your advice is sound; I would recommend the same layering sequence because of its superior moisture management. It is interesting to note the NOLS
Denali List

They describe insulation layer 4 as, "A down or synthetic-filled parka with a hood. It should fit comfortably over all upper body layers. We rent the Sub Zero Parka by Mountain Hardwear."

I assume that they rent the Sub Zero Parka rather than a synthetic like the Patagonia DAS, for layer 4, is because of potential -25F temps plus high winds. This down parka has a -10F thermo-neutral camp-chores temp versus the Patagonia DAS at 17F.

My GUESS is that once the anticipated minimum temperature plus high winds crosses the minimum practical temperature threshold for synthetics, down becomes progressively more desirable for the outer layer in spite of its moisture liability.

I looked at this problem only from the theory stand point and made a GUESS as to the NOLS reasoning. As a mountain climber your relevant practical experience trumps theory; why do you think they rent only a down garment for layer 4?

Edited by richard295 on 11/27/2010 09:11:37 MST.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Down is more durable on 11/27/2010 11:42:03 MST Print View

One factor for rental gear is also durability.

Synthetics wear out much faster than down. Especially
if they need to be laundered frequently.

If you start with a synthetic parka that is less warm for
the weight, then have it lived in for a few seasons,
it will need to be replaced much more frequently to provide
enough warmth.

Mattias Deny
(mattiasdeny) - F
Re: Re: down on 11/27/2010 13:33:38 MST Print View

Because down is still the de facto standard? Because synthetics is relatively new? Most likely they made their investment into down a while ago and are simply sticking to it. And yes down is more warmth for its weight. I doubt we need to look for any further reason.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
richard on 11/27/2010 14:02:16 MST Print View

honestly i have no idea ... denali is still on my to do list

note that RMI recommends the same, a big down parka for denali

my guess would be that

1. denali is just so fricking cold that big down jackets are what makes sense from a weight perspective

2. as david stated it makes more financial sense to rent down

3. you probably arent dealing with wet conditions if you need to wear yr parka ... thus you only need to deal with sweat ... which honestly at that point has to go through 3 other layers

note that many lesser climbs, many alpinist will use the good old DAS , especially in conditions where moisture is an issue

Edited by bearbreeder on 11/27/2010 14:13:43 MST.