Compare and contrast two down pieces
Display Avatars Sort By:
Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Compare and contrast two down pieces on 11/19/2013 07:20:54 MST Print View

On my continuing fall 2013 quest to find a great 1 or 2 insulating pieces that I can keep for years ... for this particular thread I'm looking at a "mid"-weight insulating piece, with a hood, and relatively full-featured, that I can use to hang out in-camp on cold dry winter trips, such as the occasional frigid Texas state park, or a jaunt out to the high desert of Big Bend.

These two pieces are not the sum total of my search, but they both look enticing and interesting, and I'm curious if anyone has any experience with either. They are:

  • Montane Featherlite
  • Rab Microlight Alpine


The specs are nearly identical:
- ~5oz of euro 750fp down
- 16oz on the money (some sites have 12oz but that appears to be wrong / impossible)
- 2 hand pockets, 1 chest pocket (I believe these are the same)
- skinny sewn-through baffles

... and so on.

Now my question is, does anyone have any experience or impressions with either? I know Montane and Rab are both seriously legit British brands, and I've been happy with windshirts that I've purchased from both. I know the original hoodless Rab Microlight has been around for a while and people probably have some impressions of that one, and the Montane Nitro (hoodless predecessor to Featherlite) has been around for at least a season or two as well.

Finally, another reason I'm considering these two pieces is because they are both on Campsaver in my size right now, and they have a coupon running :-)
... but if somebody thinks there's another similarly- or better-priced piece in the same class as these that might be just as warm, durable, and usable, that I should consider ... let me know :-)

Edited by freeradical on 11/19/2013 07:21:34 MST.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Links! on 11/19/2013 07:22:07 MST Print View

For comparing apples to detailed apples:

Rab:
http://www.campsaver.com/microlight-alpine-jacket-men-s

Montane:
http://www.campsaver.com/featherlite-down-jacket-men-s

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Compare and contrast two down pieces on 11/19/2013 07:39:15 MST Print View

The Montane is baffled so may be warmer. It is pertex quantum so more breathable but not as strong as microlight fabric. My 2 cents.

Edited by jshann on 11/19/2013 07:42:53 MST.

Josiah Vandervelde
(eternalnoob) - F - M

Locale: Florida
Re: Compare and contrast two down pieces on 11/19/2013 07:45:50 MST Print View

I got a Montane Featherlite hooded jacket from another member on here and I am very happy with it. I'm 5'10" 160 (typically an U.S. medium) and the large fits me very well with room to layer a light jacket (an MEC Uplink hoodie for me)underneath. The construction seems to be very solid. I really like the hood - fits comfortably and securely on noggin even in strong winds. I've only used it on one trip, but I thought it was definitely warmer than my Marmot Zeus (though the Zeus didn't have a hood to be fair). I used it in camp in very windy conditions around freezing and stayed pretty warm with the MEC underneath (I am pretty cold natured). My large weighs 15.7 oz.

Overall I think I've found the jacket for me. There may be a better one out there and my only experience is the Zeus, but I am very happy with the Featherlite.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: Compare and contrast two down pieces on 11/19/2013 07:46:21 MST Print View

Ha, excellent use of the compare function! I neglected that.

I believe the "Box Baffled" on the Featherlite is probably incorrect. First, I think this piece would be priced unusually low, and the weight would be unusually low, to have all the rest of the specs here that it has and be box-wall constructed. Second, Montane seems to always note explicitly when their pieces are box-constructed:
http://www.montane.co.uk/range/men/insulation/featherlite-down-jacket

(no mention of it there, so I assume it's a sewn-through getup)
(anybody else who might be more knowledgeable than me, feel free to chime in)

But, thanks for noting the shell fabric difference, John. I remember having a Microlight windshirt from Montane a few years back and was pretty impressed with the material. But in any case I don't see wearing out either of these pieces with my intended usage, so probably durability is of little concern.

Edited by freeradical on 11/19/2013 07:47:57 MST.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: Compare and contrast two down pieces on 11/19/2013 07:47:22 MST Print View

Thanks for the feedback Josiah! I'm curious, did you find the hood was suitable and non-ridiculous for using without a climbing helmet on? I would probably just be using the hood over a fleece cap or that kind of thing.

Josiah Vandervelde
(eternalnoob) - F - M

Locale: Florida
Re: Re: Re: Compare and contrast two down pieces on 11/19/2013 09:29:02 MST Print View

I did find it very suitable unlike some helmet hoods. I don't know about non-ridiculous, but I can send you a pic when I get off work if you'd like.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Re: Compare and contrast two down pieces on 11/19/2013 09:38:03 MST Print View

Ian, when you say "euro 750 fp down", do you mean the down is sourced in Europe, or that the fp is measured by the European system? AFAIK, both Rab and Montane quote fp according to the U.S. system.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Compare and contrast two down pieces on 11/19/2013 10:05:57 MST Print View

Enhance your search for gear with the many great compare and contrast reviews here

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: Compare and contrast two down pieces on 11/19/2013 10:06:30 MST Print View

William,
My assumption was that since all their specs are in grams, that the fill power might be quoted by the European model as well. Maybe not a fair assumption? You might have better intel than me. In any case, 750fp(USA) ain't nothing to scoff at.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Fill power on 11/19/2013 10:18:16 MST Print View

Ian,Rab switched to the US system some time back, presumably to compete in the US. I'm speculating, but possibly Montane switched to have an even playing field with their main UK rivals?
Info on RAB fp here: http://rab.uk.com/reference/technology/sleeping-bags/down.html
and Montane here: www.montane.co.uk/range/men/insulation/featherlite-down-jacket
As you say, 750 fp (US) isn't bad. Some argue that it is more suitable in jackets than higher fp.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Fill power on 11/19/2013 10:21:41 MST Print View

Gotcha, good catch on that William!

Your last line is interesting -- some argue that lower fill power is better in jackets? Is that because the higher average density (higher weight per same volume) means the down is more likely to stay lofted when you're bending, moving, putting on backpacks, etc.?

I could see that. That 850 / 900+ fp stuff is crazy whispy. Seems like a light gust of wind could completely collapse half of the baffles in a jacket, with insulation that light. No?

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
real baffles on 11/19/2013 10:29:25 MST Print View

If that one really has boxed baffle construction then that is pretty awesome. If it has 5 oz of down to then it should be nice and warm considering some 30 degree quilts have about 9oz of down.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: real baffles on 11/19/2013 10:36:17 MST Print View

Michael,
It sure would be awesome, but it seems impossible.

First, there's no way all the specs could be the same as the Rab jacket (weight, features, fill power, and almost price) but be box wall construction instead of sewn-through.

Second, as far as I understand, it would be ludicrous to create so many tiny / narrow baffles in a jacket with box wall construction. The sewing job would be insane. If you look at box-constructed jackets that are clearly labeled, such as on Montbell or Montane's sites, you can see that all of them have rather large baffles and the seams aren't so tightly beveled. In other words, just visually, the Featherlite doesn't appear to possibly be a box-wall jacket.

But yeah, if it was, that would be awesome. If that was correct, I feel like we would have heard about this by now, though. I believe the mistake is just on Campsaver's own site.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: real baffles on 11/19/2013 10:48:55 MST Print View

From Ian's link, the image describes as below...micro baffle

FEATHERLITEā„¢ DOWN JACKET
ULTRA LIGHT HIGHLY COMPRESSIBLE MICRO BAFFLE MOUNTAIN JACKET

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: Re: real baffles on 11/19/2013 10:50:13 MST Print View

Anyone know what "micro baffle" means? I assumed it just referred to the rather narrow sewn-through baffles that are clearly visible there in the jacket, actually rather in both of them.

Am I wrong?

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: real baffles on 11/19/2013 11:21:07 MST Print View

Since other brands mention that also, I think you are correct.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: Tokyo, Japan
Re: Re: real baffles on 11/19/2013 15:05:17 MST Print View

I don't think either of these jackets are very good values. Lot's of alternatives in this category. Off the top of my head, the Golite Bitteroot is lighter and cheaper with more features. The Montbell Mirage is a little more expensive, but lighter with more features and much much warmer. The Brooks-Range BR Hoody is about the same weight with 1oz less fill, but very cheap now. I bought one for only $64 on The Clymb plus get $20 credit for December. And of course, there is that seemingly perpetual REI steal on the BR Alpini.

Edited by rmjapan on 11/19/2013 15:09:42 MST.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: Re: real baffles on 11/19/2013 15:37:02 MST Print View

Thanks Rick,
Actually you're writing just in time to coincide with what I'm also realizing.

I'm doing a quick write-up / round-up of the five puffy jackets that I have (temporarily) accumulated for selection purposes (which will be posted on this forum in a new thread shortly). In doing so, I weighed my used GoLite Roan Plateau (hoodless) that I've had for 6 months or a year. For some reason I always thought the scale said 1LB,6OZ, but today I realized that the scale was always saying 1LB,0.6OZ. Wait holy crap that's a big difference! That Roan Plateau is a really warm jacket, like a big happy half-sleeping-bag, and it only weighs a pound? I didn't realize that. This is an older model so I figured it was just a heavier edition. I had also figured, consequently, that a 22oz down piece was a little heavy to bring on a cold 3-season trip in Texas, so I should just upgrade to one of these that I mentioned above. But no, it's just a pound. Same weight as these two British puffies mentioned above, better fill power, and probably better features, at least for my usage.

In other words, I don't have any need to upgrade anymore. My own weight / scale correction today shows me that I already have a piece to fit this niche, and clearly there's no need to hunt higher up on the budget (like over $150) to put something in its place.

Good call. Thx. This is one of those moments where the hunter-gatherer gear shopping instinct (as described by Dale Wambaugh) had run a little too far. Thanks for reigning me in :-)

Edited by freeradical on 11/19/2013 15:38:45 MST.

zorobabel frankenstein
(zorobabel) - F

Locale: SoCal
Roan Plateau on 11/19/2013 18:01:52 MST Print View

Ian, could you please measure the center-back length of the Roan Plateau? Please mention the size if you do.
Thanks.