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Christopher Gilmore
(chrisjgilmore) - F - MLife

Locale: New Almaden
Puffies on 04/28/2013 23:32:30 MDT Print View

I'm looking at purchasing a puffy and I'm looking at the Mont-bell EX Light Down jacket.

Any reason why there is a better choice for the dollar and ounces? I don't mind spending a few more $ but I want a pay off for it.

Interested in your thoughts?


Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Puffies on 04/28/2013 23:38:25 MDT Print View

It depends on what you need. If you are looking to replace a fleece jacket with something lighter and more compressible, it's a good choice. With that said, there are plenty of reasons to get something different. It just depends on your needs.

Do you need more warmth? A hood? A different fit? A water repellant shell? Those are some considerations.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Puffies on 04/29/2013 00:18:59 MDT Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 12:31:10 MDT.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Puffies on 04/29/2013 00:35:47 MDT Print View

A lot of people really like the EX light but unfortunately they don't offer a hoody version of it. Personally I went with the UL Inner Parka because I find, for the weight, nothing keeps you warmer than a full hood. In size M my UL inner is still under 9oz and much warmer than a heavy 300wt fleece.

As others posted, it depends on what your expected temps are. Like Rick I enjoy the few slight features that UL offers since I think a hem drawcord is essential for locking in warmth. I've taken my UL down to freezing and been warm enough. I've used it to hike in 20F weather in the dark at altitude (not recommended really, but sometimes a trip throws you a curve ball...). There's a lot of lab and field reports that say they're roughly the same warmth but the UL inner has more coverage hence why I can take mine to freezing and Rick can only go to 45F/5C in his EX (+/- a few degrees for individual physiology).

If you want the puffy for colder temps you'll wanting something more substantial (either an alpine light parka or the mirage...along with a host of other offerings from different companies).

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Puffies on 04/29/2013 01:09:54 MDT Print View

Do you want to wear this with or without a pack?
Never wear down jackets under apack - it mashes the down.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Puffies on 04/29/2013 04:00:19 MDT Print View

And repeated compression can ruin the loft of synthetic fill very easily.

Eli Zabielski
(ezabielski) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
DWR on 04/29/2013 10:48:49 MDT Print View

"It is a 5C or 45F minimalist down sweater. The EX Light does not have a DWR coating."

I don't have mine with me right now to test it, but I am quite sure the EX Light has a DWR coating. The Montbell website says it has "standard DWR treatment".

Also, what's the point of a temperature rating on a jacket? Is that a rating while standing still? Wearing a base layer? What humidity? From my experience, I am fine with it below 45 degrees, in a t-shirt.

In general, the EX Light is the most featureless jacket there is, but it's also within a shout of the lightest down jacket you could buy, and I am pretty happy with it. It is a bit short, though. If you're under 6' it shouldn't be too bad.

The Ghost Whisperer does have a lot more features, for $100 more and 2+ more oz.

Christopher Gilmore
(chrisjgilmore) - F - MLife

Locale: New Almaden
Puffies on 04/29/2013 12:01:12 MDT Print View

Wow lots of info. So i am in Ca for now and mainly looking at a warm layer i can put on under my quilt on a colder than expected night or just to wear around on a crisp morning. I have my froggtogz for a rain layer so I'm not too worried about that. Mainly just to keep me warm when needed. As for the hood and pockets I carry a beanie and gloves so I'm not sure they are really needed. All in all the main thing that intrigues me is the not wearing a down jacket under a pack..... This seems ridiculous to me. What good is a jacket if is cant be warn under a pack when you decide to take off early while it is still brisk outside?

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Mind your own business
Re: Puffies on 04/29/2013 12:25:49 MDT Print View

Both down and synethic is best for static use, for use on the move fleece is far better.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Puffies on 04/29/2013 12:45:21 MDT Print View

I use a heavy fleece zip-up jacket if I am cold while out on the trail (with a pack on). Then when in camp and I am cooling down, I don a Mont Bell down inner jacket. Once I am heading out on the trail again, it gets stuffed. The fleece or a simple shirt will do me while on the trail again.

If I expect the trip to be very cold, I take one more down layer. That is a thicker down vest, and it gets used along with the inner jacket. Each garment is around 7 ounces.


Christopher Gilmore
(chrisjgilmore) - F - MLife

Locale: New Almaden
Puffies on 04/29/2013 14:49:09 MDT Print View

This concept of using the fleece is interesting to me as i use a combination of a fleece and wind shirt today for my cold weather needs. It really sounds like the Down jacket is really just for down time off the trail. Then what real advantage does it offer over just layering on top of my fleece and wind shirt (assuming they aren't sweaty from my hike)?

I guess the more look into this i don't see a real advantage to the Puffy. Although all of my friends swear by them and say it is their most treasured piece of gear besides their quilt.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: puffies on 04/29/2013 15:20:44 MDT Print View

I have the MB EX Light and the MB Parka - I tend to take the hooded parka more often than the Ex Light - the hood is very nice for minimal weight gain.

Yes, for me, the puffy is primarily for camp time or chilly rest breaks. As such, it's lighter than the equivalent thickness of fleece. It can also extend the temperature of a light sleeping bag.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Puffies on 04/29/2013 15:28:00 MDT Print View

"Then what real advantage does it offer over just layering on top of my fleece"

That is exactly what I suggested.


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Puffies on 04/29/2013 16:01:28 MDT Print View

Puffies are best used around camp while not wearing a pack.
Why? Puffies have some issues. Sweat is a huge issue with down, synthetic puffies can have their loft permanently damaged from repeated compression, they aren't that breathable in the first place, your pack is going to compress the loft on the back and shoulders of the puffy making it less warm, and your pack prevents airflow and makes your back sweaty - and moisture just kills lofted insulation. They also take forever to dry.

You can wear your puffy while hiking if you want, but if it's something that you are going to use all day long (or most of the day) you should choose something that is much more capable and effective instead of something that's lighter. Wearing a puffy during cold mornings is very common.

If you rarely use your fleece during the day, it could be replaced by a puffy that is lighter and warmer.

Do you need something around camp? Or are you just going to get into your sleeping bag when it gets dark?

Christopher Gilmore
(chrisjgilmore) - F - MLife

Locale: New Almaden
Puffies on 04/30/2013 11:00:24 MDT Print View

Yes having something around camp is critical as well. I like to sit up and play cards at night either by myself or with others if the opportunity presents itself. So it sounds like i need to plan to pack a few extra ounces and keep my fleece for the trail and potentially a puffy for in camp.....

Barry P
(BarryP) - F

Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
Re: Puffies on 04/30/2013 15:30:01 MDT Print View

“…Then what real advantage does it offer over just layering on top of my fleece and wind shirt (assuming they aren't sweaty from my hike)?... I guess the more look into this i don't see a real advantage to the Puffy. Although all of my friends swear by them and say it is their most treasured piece of gear besides their quilt. ”

As I have found out, there are some puffies (Montbell synthetics with breathable panels for example) that breathe almost as good as a fleece; definitively lighter than a fleece; definitively warmer than a fleece; doesn’t hold water like a fleece; packs smaller than a fleece. So my fleece is relegated to household use.

And in winter time, oddly enough, I swear my WM Flash jacket breathes like a fleece, as it is still puffy and dry after a strenuous day. My backpack towel is soaked though.

Good luck on coat choice
-The mountains were made for Tevas

Tom D.
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
UL Down jacket on 04/30/2013 16:59:33 MDT Print View

I was looking for one last year and ended up with the Montbell UL down jacket, mainly because Mammoth Mountaineering happened to have killer deals on them at the time and I was in the store browsing. I probably would have bought the EX, but they where sold out. After a year, and one thru-hike of the JMT, I'm glad I bought the one that I did. Its a little more durable, has DWR, and pockets. Mine weighs 8.1 oz in the large size which is half the weight of my Columbia fleece jacket and packs to the size of a grapefruit without over packing it. Its warm, I've had it on under my quilt on some of the colder nights, and I keep the stuff sack in the pocket when I use it. I still go back and forth as to whether or not I should have gotten the parka for the hood, but in reality I would be carrying a fleece lined beanie anyway for when I want my head covered but don't need the jacket (such as when hiking), so I decided against it at the time.

I've used it under my pack quite a few times, including on the JMT, and will continue in the future. In reality though, that's not a whole lot of total time as I rarely end up needing a jacket while actually hiking. Its usually just putting it on when starting out in the morning till I warm up, then it goes in the pack. But its comfortable and fairly breathable when I do. It's kept me warm into the mid 30's in camp, I'm guessing well down into the 20's while actually hiking although I haven't had it out in weather that cold. I'm really not worried about it breaking down the fill under the jacket just by wearing it under a pack. It may eventually do so, but I've used other down jackets under packs a lot more than this one with no noticeable loss in loft or comfort. But overall, I consider this to be one of the best backpacking investments I've made.

Edited by DaFireMedic on 04/30/2013 17:08:23 MDT.

Mike R
(redpoint) - F

Locale: British Columbia
I've been using a Patagonia Ultralight on 04/30/2013 21:52:39 MDT Print View

I bought a Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket in January and I've been very happy with it. Not sure how it compares with the Montbell. I've been using it all winter as a mid layer while at rest when backcountry skiing. It allows me to carry a much lighter sleeping bag if I wear the ultralight to bed. It's cut like a mid layer and therefore doesn't feel bulky under shells etc. It's very light, has decent water repellence and a good fit [generally]. Traditionally, I always carried a bulkier mid-layer, this is lighter and packs-up into an extremely small package. If it gets really cold, I just toss on a much heavier/bulkier belay parka [essential gear in the mountains summer/winter].

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"Down Sweater" on 04/30/2013 23:21:13 MDT Print View

In my avatar I'm wearing my Eddie Bauer Down Sweater. I take it even in summer if I plan to be above 6,000 ft.

> Alone it's nice on cool evenings.
> Under my eVent parka it's quite warm for cold mornings/days (below 20 F.)
> In my WM Megalite bag it can take me to 15 F. if I wear long johns and a balaclava as well.

That sucker packs down very small in a little, lightweight dry sack.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
fleece vs. puffy on 05/01/2013 00:24:10 MDT Print View

For three season hiking, its fairly rare that I need more than a windshirt or event shell to stay warm enough while hiking. In the rare situation where thats not enough, wearing a puffy has worked fine for me. Puffy's don't handle sweat too well, but if you're thermoregulating, then you can just take it off before you start sweating. Wearing a windshirt for on the move warmth and weather protection and then throwing a puffy over top when stopped is lighter and I think more effective than wearing a fleece. Really wet climates might be the exception to that, but even then, I'd rather have a light micro grid fleece as a mid and then a light synthetic puffy as well.

If you're willing to drop some $, I'd also add a vote for the mountain hardwear ghost whisperer. To get the equivalent warmth in a fleece, it would probably be more than double the weight. If you wear a size L, they can be had for a good price here: