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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: fleece vs. puffy on 05/01/2013 08:51:30 MDT Print View

IMHO, much of the warmth gained from thin puffies like the Mont Bell down and synthetic jackets comes from the two layers of nylon. Those two layers make them more restrictive and less breathable too.

The only use for puffies is when you are standing still, so for cold rest stops and camp.

An alternative to the thinner puffies is a windshirt with a light fleece like R1 or Power Stretch. That gives several breathable combinations that can be worn on the trail and for sleep and they work better in wet conditions. The light fleece is great under a rain shell, where the down puffy is terrible.

Even a 200w fleece is still within reason for warmth/weight when combined with a shell. They are bulky, but less expensive and easy to launder. If you tear a hole in it, nothing leaks out :)

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Re: fleece vs. puffy on 05/01/2013 09:00:21 MDT Print View

agree that a gridded fleece and windshirt is a great combo. but it also probably weights twice as much as a light down puffie (e.g., montbell ex light). so there are tradeoffs to consider.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Fleece v puffy on 05/01/2013 12:52:09 MDT Print View

My UL parka is noticeably warmer than any fleece windshirt combo I've ever had. Even a heavy 300wt fleece with windstopper membrane couldn't come close to my thin puffy. I don't know many that say fleece is equivalently as warm. It is however a fair bit more versatile due to it's resistance to moisture. But I know when I stop moving that throwing on a fleece and rain shell is not nearly as warm as just a thin down puffy (synthetics are somewhere in between down and fleece for warmth).

Empirically, Richard N. has shown that a MB UL parka (and the EX jacket) is about twice as insulating as a 300wt fleece for a given unit of area in still air conditions.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Puffies on 05/01/2013 16:22:22 MDT Print View

I pack an Ex Light VEST for summer conditions and a Montbell Alpine Light Parka for shoulder season unless it's really sloppy and then fleece comes along. Neither down garment gets worn while hiking, aside from the 15 minutes or so in the morning.

If you're looking for summer insulation, the Black Rock Down Vest looks like a great alternative to Ex Light Vest (warmer for same weight). IMO, when the conditions are mellow enough to be fine with an Ex Light garment, then you really don't need the sleeves and a vest is better (I wear my wind shirt overtop). For colder conditions, you need something warmer than the Ex Light.

With a thin puffy like the Ex Light, we're only talking about about 1-2oz of insulation, so you don't save a lot of weight for the money. Going with a $30 100wt fleece is maybe 9oz vs 6oz. Conversely, for colder garments you save a lot more weight with down, so increasingly weight efficient.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
MB UL inner on 05/02/2013 12:27:30 MDT Print View

I have a Mont Bell UL inner jacket (no hood) and I'm pretty happy with it. I have occasion to wear virtually every month of the year here in CO.
My sz L weighs 8.5oz and is still appropriate for me insulation-wise down into the 20's with a rainshell over the top. But still comfortable while drinking a beer on the porch in the 50's. I fully recognize that this is a function of the low humidity found in CO and would likley feel differently if I lived in the PNW.
The tag says that the Pertex outer is water repellent with a DWR finish, but I personally wouldn't wear it in precipitation more than a misting or light drizzle. I throw on Frogg Toggs or a Columbia rainshell over it if I need.
I've never found myself wishing the jacket had a hood, but I prefer beanies anyway, so that's personal preference. I do wish it had better wrist cuffs and a waist cinch though.

I'm really satisfied with mine, but if it got destroyed or lost tomorrow, After playing around with a firend's Eddie Bauer DownLight Parka, I'd honestly probably replace it with either that, or the DownLight jacket, solely for the elastic cuffs at the sleeves being superior to the odd triangle wedge of elastic on the MB. Only the hood would be in question.

Edit- to contribute to the OP's question: The EX and the UL are quite similar, the main differences being that the EX has higher Fill-Power down, and better wrist closures, but no hand pockets. The outer shells are a little different material, but still quite similar. I can speak to the quality of the UL, I'm sure the EX is much the same. Both lack a hood.
The EB FA would combine the wrist closures and hand pockets, but uses a heavier 15D outer, with an unknown fill weight and would weigh a touch more. Does have the option for a hood if you want.

I don't think you can go wrong with any of the three, or choices offered in other posts.

Edited by COHiker on 05/02/2013 12:36:40 MDT.

Babak Sakaki
(persianpunisher) - F
Hi loft on 05/02/2013 22:41:04 MDT Print View

I've been using w Patagonia hi loft down hoody as my main puffy- super versatile and I find it warmer than the Montbell Alpine Light jacket.