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Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008)

Ex means Extra Light baby! 7-denier shell, 900-fill down, 5.4 ounces - this jacket is a highlight of the show.

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by Will Rietveld | 2008-01-23 22:05:00-07


Among the many new and revised insulated garments from Montbell for Fall 2008 is their Ex Light Down Jacket. This one is a standout folks - the shell is 7 denier Ballistic Airlight nylon, the fill is 900-fill power down, and the total weight is (are you ready for this) 5.4 ounces in size men’s medium. We weighed a size men’s large at 5.7 ounces. The jacket has single quilt construction and a full front zip, but no pockets and no hood.

Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008) - 1
BPL outdoor icon Mike Martin models the new Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket. Montbell’s new 7-denier Ballistic Airlight nylon shell is the lightest to be found anywhere, and the insulation is 900-fill power down. The women’s model is on the left. Bring it on Montbell; we want more!

We don’t have a full description for Montbell’s new 7 denier shell fabric, but when we get it, we can add it in the attached forum. In comparison to other cutting edge shell fabrics, silnylon is 30 denier, Pertex Quantum is 20 denier, and Montbell's lightest current fabric is 15 denier Ballistic Airlight. So, the new 7-denier shell fabric is half the fiber diameter of the previous standard. I also want to mention that their Ballistic Airlight is usually calendared on one side to give it extra strength, has a very soft hand, and has an excellent DWR finish.

For me, it’s truly a pleasure to see and write up a break through product like this. Its exactly what we want to see more of, and Montbell has emerged as a distinct trend setter in lightweight insulated clothing. Now we would like to see their 7 denier shell fabric and 900 fill down migrate into some of their sleeping bags!

Features and Specifications

  • Model: Ex Light Down Jacket (both men’s and women’s models)
  • Fill: 900 fill power down
  • Fill Weight: 1.8 ounces (size men’s M)
  • Weight: 5.4 oz (men’s M), measured weight men’s L is 5.7 ounces
  • Sizes: S,M,L,XL
  • Colors: navy, green, red
  • MSRP: $160


"Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008)," by Will Rietveld. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2008-01-23 22:05:00-07.


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Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008)
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Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008) on 01/23/2008 22:31:00 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008)

Linsey Budden

Locale: pugetropolis
7 Denier Ballistic Nylon--Unbelievable! on 01/23/2008 23:00:59 MST Print View

Is there anyway to source this fabric? It will make all MYOGers drool.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
re so-called 900 fill down on 01/24/2008 02:39:38 MST Print View

Can I offer a word of caution here.

The world of down measurements has split, with American down fill ratings way above the European ones. Typically it seems the USA ratings are at least 100 units above the European ones. I just don't believe the American figures.

Why don't I believe them? Because the geese have not suddenly got vastly better.


Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
re so-called 900 fill down on 01/24/2008 03:31:51 MST Print View

I absolutely agree with you Roger.
I see that a manufacturer like Marmot, the first one crediting a 900 FP, as backed of a bit and now quotes a FP of 850 cuin (and perhaps even that is too high).
My guess is that once over 750 cuin, it probably has more to do with the way the down has been conditioned before measurement than with the exact quality of the down concerned. Perhaps 5 years ago, 750 cuin was the top fill and was stated as being rare. Currently, the fill numbers have gone up but at the same time the number of sleeping bags with that fill have probably gone up also.

Even more interesting, I read a review a few years ago in which the loft of a number of sleeping bags was compared with the threoretical figure as stated by the manufacturers. I believe the measured loft was on average 10-14% lower than the claimed loft.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: so-called 900 fill down on 01/24/2008 04:10:37 MST Print View

What you say about down measurements may be very true, but Mont Bell is not an American company. It is Japanese and their ratings are usually their own. Most Japanese down is sourced either from Hungary or, the cheaper versions, from China. So I don't know where they get their 900 rating, but I think first you have to find their own information about their materials. Mont Bell, as almost all Japanese companies, tends to be very accurate about their claims. It is rare for them to fabricate numbers, mainly because Japanese customers are extremely demanding about quality and accuracy, much more so than Americans or even Europeans.

As to sourcing the materials that Mont Bell makes, good luck. Almost everything Mont Bell makes is proprietary and it is next to impossible to get their materials. Even here in Japan I have never been able to find the MontBell sources or talk to someone who would help me find it.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: re so-called 900 fill down on 01/24/2008 06:11:13 MST Print View

Why don't I believe them? Because the geese have not suddenly got vastly better.

to add to Roger's skepticism, when 900 FP down first started showing up I recall Ayce at thru-hiker opining that this was the result of an altered 'standard' for preparing the down before testing rather than a inherent difference in the down itself ... something about fluffing the down with a blast of steam. But then maybe Bill F could conjure up an SUL esbit fired steam generator using nido cans? he-he

regarding the garment itself, while a small square or diamond quilting pattern looks really nice, I can't get excited about an insulated garment with so many sewn thru quilt lines ... the object of insulation is to reduce heat loss, right?

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Montbell on 01/24/2008 08:51:11 MST Print View

Is the minimal drop in weight preferable to the drop in fabric durability?

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Montbell on 01/24/2008 08:58:12 MST Print View

Is the minimal drop in weight preferable to the drop in fabric durability?

That is always a consideration. Another consideration is that fabric weight dominates insulation weight in lightly insulated garments so savings in fabric weight yield a good percentage weight savings in the finished garment ... but much less so in a heavily insulated garment.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: Re: Montbell on 01/24/2008 10:54:52 MST Print View

>>Is the minimal drop in weight preferable to the drop in fabric durability?

And wind-proofness, potentially.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
size and cut on 01/24/2008 10:56:11 MST Print View

It appears to me that another way they've shave the weight on this garment is by making the cut shorter and more athletic. To begin with it's missing the drop tail that mine has, which was a real selling point. I also don't see any mention of pockets :( Not good. I'd rather carry the extra few ounces then lose the length and pockets, but for the hard-core, why not.

Even with all the sewn through stitching, I find this line of jackets incredibly warm for the weight, and the 15 denier version has been tougher than I expected. As for quibbling over fill-weight, well I suspect the Japanese, being very practical folks in general, don't actually measure the down in cubic inches per ounce. I'll bet they measure cubic centimetres per gram and then convert it.

If it really is a higher fil power down, thenI expect the price of this jacket will also be much higher.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Montbell on 01/24/2008 11:03:49 MST Print View

Ayce at Thru-hiker will tell you exactly what down fill he has on hand.
He says that for a few months is higher so he'll buy more during that time so he has about 6 months on hand with the higher rating.

I have some of the higher loft from him that he states is about 860 loft and there are still several feathers in it.
I imagine that if you had a way of removing the feathers with just the clusters left, you would have at least 900 fill???
I have seen where one of the companies that uses 900 fill does something to use only the clusters, but I can't imagine the justification or what it would take to do it.
Maybe it's the steam thing, but that is just a prep and not a solution to the feather problem.

Does any one else know about what the fill would be for pure clusters?

Of course none of this changes the fact that this is a SWEET Jacket.

Edited by awsorensen on 01/24/2008 11:05:50 MST.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Montbell on 01/24/2008 13:41:05 MST Print View

I seem to remember that a tiny amount of feathers is recommendedto give structure to the down.
Also, isn't there an inverse relationship between (very)high fill powers and durability?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: re so-called 900 fill down on 01/24/2008 13:49:17 MST Print View

> this was the result of an altered 'standard' for preparing the down before testing rather than a inherent difference in the down itself ... something about fluffing the down with a blast of steam.

This is correct. The USA down test lab (IDFL) has developed a way of fluffing up the down to get a higher rating. Their excuse is that their customers wanted higher numbers. They have had their technique accepted as yet another 'standard'. But of course whatever they have done to get these higher numbers does not last in the field.

So I suspect that Montbell are using the IDFL numbers. Sure, they are 'measured results', but ....

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Montbell on 01/24/2008 15:40:48 MST Print View

Hey Tom,
Structure, that's one I didn't think about.

You may be right, but I wish you weren't.
The feathers are the only thing that have ever leaked out of any of my bags.

Maybe after several years your bag will actually have a higher loft rating than when new due to feather leakage.
Next time I get a feather, I'm pulling it out instead of grabbing it from the inside and putting it back in.

Edited by awsorensen on 01/24/2008 15:41:47 MST.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Re: Montbell on 01/24/2008 16:09:35 MST Print View

The new 900 down is the old 800 down.

Not only is fluffing permitted, but the old procedure was to compress the down and measure how far it recovered with a one ounce weight on top. Now the weight is lowered gently on top of the fluffed down.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Bigger Issues Regarding Standards on 01/24/2008 17:04:55 MST Print View

I may be generalizing but my impression is that the EU is generally more serious about establishing standards and holding manufacturers to them -- whereas the US seems to favor a more laissez-faire / bottom up approach -- or simply no approach at all -- but just let the market do what it will.

Knowing what we know about the trustworthiness of many major gear makers (e.g. Slumberjack sleeping bag ratings or Osprey pack weights) as well as the overal "grade inflation" prevalent almost everywhere -- my faith is pretty weak. If companies can play fast and loose with something as easily verifiable as gear weights -- just because they know most customers won't bother to verify -- imagine what they will do with other specs? As an example, do we really know that the vitamins we take every day really have the ingredients that the labels say they do??? Is anybody checking? Sadly, no.

Edited by ben2world on 01/24/2008 17:06:54 MST.

Chad Lorenz
(ChadL) - MLife

Locale: Teton Valley, Wydaho
podcast on 01/24/2008 17:21:15 MST Print View

There is a discussion here w/ Gary from WM that I believe speaks to the new standards for down testing:


Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Montbell Jacket on 01/24/2008 18:55:56 MST Print View

Saaweeet. Nicely done Montbell!!! Now I have to buy a new jacket again.......

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Down on 01/25/2008 09:12:09 MST Print View

It seems like I remember the guys at WM saying that their new 850 fill power down, is exactly the same as the old 750 fill power down, only it is now measured differently. Once one manufacturer (was Marmot the first to offer 900 fill?) started using new measuring techniques, the others all had to follow suit. I have one bag WM bag with 750 and one with 850 and I can’t tell a difference.

I don't know that I care what method they use, but it should be a world standard, so you can compare apples to apples. I also think we need a more standardized bag rating system. I know some people sleep colder than others, but a 30* bag ought to be the same warmth level as any other 30* bag (Some people might sleep cold so it is only good to 35* for them, other warm blooded sleepers might be able to take it to 25*, etc). The way it is now, one sleeper might be able to take bag A and sleep comfortable at 30*, while he takes another bag with the same temperature rating and it only be good to 40* in identical conditions.

We also need to do something to force companies to list more realistic weights for their products. When it comes to backpacking gear, weight is very important, and it is false advertising to list a product at one weight when very very few (if any) of your production models meet that weight.

Kathy Bartosh
(sumo) - F

Locale: Southern Quebec
Down insulation standards. on 01/26/2008 11:46:03 MST Print View

It is HIGH time we started to push for a standard rating system.

Until there are we rely on user feedback, so here is my question. Your bag is WM (Western Mountaineering right?).

What temperature is it rated to? Have you used it at that temperature and do you agree with the rating?