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MontBell Down Inner Jacket REVIEW

The MontBell Down Inner Jacket is only $139, but lacks the loft of the leading jackets.

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by Don Wilson | 2005-12-13 03:00:00-07

MontBell Down Inner Jacket REVIEW

Introduction

The MontBell Down Inner Jacket is designed as a middle layer, offering more warmth than the MontBell U.L. series jackets, but still weighing just over 12 ounces.

What's Good

  • Light, but still has some comfortable features
  • Shell fabric has minimal down leakage and is water resistant
  • Fit leaves plenty of room for layering
  • Attractive diagonal quilting
  • Good quality construction
  • At $139, a very good value for a lightweight down jacket

What's Not So Good

  • Less loft and warmth than some other jackets of similar weight

Specifications

Model Year

2005

Style

Full zip jacket

Weight

Size men's L tested. 12.3 oz (349 g) measured weight, stuff sack 0.5 oz (14 g), manufacturer's specification 11.4 oz (323 g), size M

Shell Fabric

30d Ballistic ripstop nylon shell

Fill

725 fill power hypoallergenic goose down

Loft*

2.6 in (6.6 cm) double layer, measured

Features

Single-quilt (sewn-through) construction, full front zipper, elastic cuffs, Chameece micro-fleece lined handwarmer pockets, Chameece lined collar, two interior drop pockets, stuff sack

MSRP

$139

* Loft is a weighted average of the maximum double layer loft in the torso and sleeves. Torso loft is double weighted.

Performance

I've had the MontBell Down Inner Jacket in a variety of conditions this year; Arizona desert mornings, Utah slickrock canyons, and high altitude trekking in the Peruvian Andes. Although MontBell states that the Down Inner jacket is intended as a middle layer, I mainly used the jacket as an outer layer in good to moderate weather. When the weather got wet one afternoon in Peru, I put a shell on after a few minutes when the jacket began to soak through at the shoulders.

When testing several jackets this summer, the first thing I noted about the Down Inner jacket was its loft. With 2.6 inches of loft, it fits neatly in the mid-range of jackets with similar weights, with about an inch less loft than the leading jackets. The warmth performance was borne out in cool temperatures where this jacket was not as warm as the Western Mountaineering Flight, GoLite Cumulus, or Nunatak Skaha Plus. As you would expect, its performance in a bivy is similarly impacted - warmer than the MontBell U.L. series jackets, but not as warm as the higher loft jackets. I found the diagonal quilting of the jacket to be attractive, as did others who saw the jacket and commented on it. But the volume in each down chamber is reduced by the large number of seams inherent in this construction technique.

One real plus of the Down Inner Jacket is the price tag; with an MSRP of $139 this jacket will set you back considerably less than most other jackets in this category. In combination with the low price, the feature set on this jacket is more complete than most other competitive jackets, making it a very good value. It has a full zipper in front, which is backed with a down-filled storm flap and grosgrain stiffener. The hem and cuffs are terminated with light and comfortable elastic closures. Two roomy hand warmer pockets are lined with Chameece micro-fleece on the outer side of the pocket. MontBell has also added two large, unzipped storage pockets to the interior. These are suitable for carrying water bottles or other large items, but with an unzipped top opening you have to be careful not to lose items. The collar is 2 inches high, lightly insulated and lined with comfortable Chameece.

The shell fabric is 30-denier ballistic ripstop nylon. After several months of use, the jacket is holding up well and shows no signs of wear on the fabric. The fabric is quite windproof, which was noted in comparative testing of jackets on windy passes during my trip to Peru. In these tests the Down Inner Jacket performed similarly to the Western Mountaineering Flight Jacket in keeping out the wind, and did a little better than the Nunatak Skaha Plus. I have not noted any down leakage, even with repeated trips in and out of the stuff sack. The overall construction finish is good, with even stitching and finished seams throughout the jacket. The fit leaves plenty of room for layering, but is almost too roomy for me. The torso and sleeve lengths are good, but the jacket would be more efficient with less bulk in the torso. This jacket is roomier than any other size large jacket in its category - something to keep in mind depending on your frame size and intended use of the jacket.

MontBell Down Inner Jacket REVIEW
Left Image: The MontBell Down Inner Jacket stuffs nicely into the included stuff sack - which makes a great pillow. Right Image: The cut and fit of the jacket are comfortable and leave plenty of room for layering.

What's Unique

The MontBell Down Inner Jacket has a great price ($139) and feature set for a 12 ounce down jacket.

Recommendations for Improvement

Increasing the loft of this jacket while maintaining its features would be the most beneficial improvement. A less roomy cut could allow for more down (and loft) while maintaining the overall jacket weight.


Citation

"MontBell Down Inner Jacket REVIEW," by Don Wilson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/montbell_down_inner_jacket_review.html, 2005-12-13 03:00:00-07.

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