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Best choice among the UL down jackets?
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Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Best choice among the UL hooded down jackets? on 12/12/2013 02:50:16 MST Print View

I'm considering purchasing an ultralight hooded down jacket (the hood is a must) to use as my primary insulating layer (in camp) on an upcoming PCT thru hike, and I'm trying to get a full grasp of my options. The following list comprises the main contenders that are on my radar so far:

Montbell UL Down Parka: 9.0oz (2.5oz of 800fp down fill) - $175 Hadron Down Anorak: 7.4oz (not sure how many ounces of fill) - $135

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer: 7.5oz total weight (not sure how many ounces of fill) - $320

Patagonia UL Down Hoody: 9.3oz (not sure how many ounces of fill) - $349

Of these, I've tried on the Patagonia UL Down Hoody and the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. The Patagonia UL Down Hoody is nice but the fit is a little snugger than I would like (I am 5'10" 165lbs and I generally take a men's medium jacket size). This jacket is also totally out of my price range, so I would only consider it if I could find a good deal on a used one.

I loved the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer in a men's size medium. Perfect fit, very warm and light. Unfortunately, this jacket, like the Patagonia one, is out of my price range unless I could get a good deal on a used one.

The Hadron Down Anorak seems great, except for the fact that it doesn't have a full front zipper, which I think is a deal breaker for me since it severely limits the versatility of the jacket IMO.

The Montbell UL Down Parka seems like it might just be the ticket for me, being warm, light, and relatively inexpensive, but I have yet to try one on so I don't know how this jacket would fit me.

Am I missing anything comparable here? Is there any compelling reason to not just save money and go with the Montbell (assuming it fits me)?

Are all these jackets comparably warm? I hate it how most of the manufacturers will not tell you how much fill is in the jacket. So frustrating...

My other option is to save my money and just use the Patagonia R2 jacket fleece that I already own, but I'm afraid that even with all my layers on (Cap 2 baselayer + polyester t-shirt + R2 fleece jacket + windshell) I won't be warm enough while sitting in camp on cold nights and mornings.

I'm not really interested in being cold, even if it would save me a few ounces (which it wouldn't in this case, since the R2 fleece jacket weighs 12.5oz).

Anyway, thanks for your input!

Edited by dmusashe on 12/12/2013 02:55:07 MST.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Best choice among the UL hooded down jackets? on 12/12/2013 03:22:32 MST Print View

" I'm afraid that even with all my layers on ... I won't be warm enough while sitting in camp on cold nights and mornings."

1) Why will you be "sitting in camp on cold nights and mornings"?

2) To the extent you are, could you adopt the GVP method and drape your sleeping bag around yourself underneath your outer shell garment?

Edited by blean on 12/12/2013 03:24:36 MST.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 12/12/2013 04:29:46 MST Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 01/16/2014 21:29:44 MST.

Kevin Schneringer
(Slammer) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma Flat Lands
"Best choice among the UL down jackets?" on 12/12/2013 05:27:12 MST Print View

You might add the Marmot Quasar in the mix. Might be a bit heavier by and oz or two.
I have the jacket and love it.

Jeff Hollis
(hyperslug) - MLife
Best choice among the UL down jackets?" on 12/12/2013 07:45:53 MST Print View

Take a look at the GoLite Bitteroot. It is heavier than the others but also much warmer and a bargain price at $200. I'm hoping for it to go on sale during the holidays but seems doubtful.

This my opinion only, but when you have really narrow chambers for the down, I feel like you are getting a really bad value in a down jacket. You are paying for all the extra stitching instead of for less stitching and more down.

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
hadron on 12/12/2013 08:01:09 MST Print View

The Hadron should have 2.3oz of 850FP down. The old stoic versions had that much.
The button snaps is nice as there's much less cold spots since there's no zipper.

I don't find the pullover design to be much if a problem since I only wear down puffies when at rest/around camp.

My body runs warmer than most, so I found it to be comfortable to freezing with just a midweight wool layer on (icebreaker bodyfit 200), and even warmer with a windshirt thrown over. I'll probably be happy down to the 20's with my new MEC Vega (grid fleece) hoodie underneath and windshirt over.

Check out, backcountry posts some good deals on used down stuff there frequently. That's where I got my Hadron Anorak for $80, practically new. Also got my Rab Xenon there for 75, again practically unworn.

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 12/12/2013 10:00:23 MST.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
montbell on 12/12/2013 08:15:32 MST Print View

the montbell piece is very nice. BUT i did not find if warm enough for winters in PA. it was perfect for spring and fall, but it is not that thick. not warm enough for lows in the teens hanging around the campfire. 20s would be pushing it. just my 2

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: montbell on 12/12/2013 08:55:45 MST Print View

Basically any jacket of this weight will only be warm to around the freezing point depending on layering (my UL parka was good to about 40 usually).

The MB UL in medium should fit you well and be exactly what you're looking forward. I used mine nonstop before it was stolen during the cooler months. The biggest drawback is the fabric they use is not the most downproof, so you get little feathers floating every time you wear it (makes me wish they had an EXLite version with a hood!). Even with the leaking feathers I still loved and found much use for the UL parka. The others are basically the same jacket with changes in fit and fabric. Variations on a theme if you will, and much more expensive, stoic/ pullover aside. For the weight penalty of going up to ~12oz the suggestion of a bitterroot is a good one. It will be much warmer and still cheaper than the Pata/MHW versions. Those two are nice, but ridiculously over priced for being made outside the US. Also if you are willing to spend $300, get a MB mirage which is a premium version of the Bitterroot and never be cold again outside of deep winter (box wall, 5.3oz of 900fp down, less than 13oz).

McDowell Crook
(mcdcrook) - M

Locale: Southeast
try this on 12/12/2013 10:15:20 MST Print View

Here is a great gear search site:

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
Montbell UL Down Parka on 12/12/2013 11:21:43 MST Print View

I've used a Montbell UL Down Parka (hooded)for the past two years from early spring to late fall in the Sierra (as low as 20F). While it's nice and gets the job marginally done, I wish I would have bought something with just a tad more down (4 oz. range) for when temps get below freezing.

Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
Re: Montbell UL Down Parka on 12/12/2013 12:23:51 MST Print View

I'm about the same size and shape as you and Montbell medium fits me perfect. I don't have the UL down parka but I do have the Alpine light, which i love. Its perfect for shoulder seasons with just a light baselayer, and good for winter with some heavier layers underneath. I don't find myself using it all in the summer in the Sierras though.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Best choice among the UL down jackets? on 12/12/2013 13:00:05 MST Print View

Here is the BPL State of the Market report for ultralight down jackets that talks about many of the jackets mentioned in this thread:

For what it's worth, I have a MB UL Down Parka and love it. It's a great value. Below 25F I start bringing my MB Mirage instead. My wife has the Stoic Hadron and likes it a lot too.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
more fill on 12/12/2013 13:22:19 MST Print View

as others have said if you want to be "warm" below freezing something with 4 oz or so of down is probably best

EB downlights are always on sale, and MB makes their alpine lights ..

theres plenty of others as well ...

the SOTM report posted gives a good overview of what to look for even if the specific jackets have changed


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
jacket for PCT on 12/12/2013 13:36:03 MST Print View

I'm not a fan of the sub 12oz class of down jackets. Too much moisture sensitivity, too much cost for the function, and not much warm beyond synthetic puffys.

Get a down vest to augment your R2. Keep the vest with you the whole time. Mail yourself the R2 for the Sierras and Washington (or north Oregan depending on your pace).

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: Best choice among the UL hooded down jackets? on 12/12/2013 13:50:19 MST Print View

Read this comparison of 15 of the best

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Re: Best choice among the UL hooded down jackets? on 12/12/2013 14:27:04 MST Print View

Totally tooting my own horn, but I just did some surveying / decision making of my own on this same topic:

For the weight class you're considering, I ended up with the Uniqlo down hoody, as it is a price point that trumps all the competition. But, I suppose most of my consideration was in a higher weight class than what you've listed here.

But, if you liked the size medium Montbell, you may want to check out a size small Uniqlo.

John McAlpine
(HairlessApe) - M

Locale: PNW
Montbell UL Down Parka on 12/12/2013 16:29:47 MST Print View

If you live in Seattle you can try on my medium Montbell UL down hooded parka. Oh I also have the EB jacket Eric mentioned.

Edited by HairlessApe on 12/12/2013 16:33:30 MST.

Derrick White
(miku) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
+1 Western Mountaineering Flash Jacket on 12/12/2013 16:58:05 MST Print View

I have owned a few others and have trekked with friends using others. I have see them all in action. Based on my experience, nothing gives as much warmth per oz as the WM Flash.


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
DWR down on 12/12/2013 20:03:47 MST Print View

While I love my Eddie Bauer down sweater (in my avatar) these days I would get ONLY a DWR treated down garment or bag.

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Best choice among the UL hooded down jackets? on 12/12/2013 20:48:50 MST Print View

Most hikers won't be sitting in camp in the mornings or evenings. I only wore my Montbell UL Down a few times while setting up and taking down camp. No hood was necessary.