Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $166 - $199 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros: Extremely lightweight.
Cons: No features at all, no hood, very short fit.
Best Uses: Super-light backcountry travel is dry climates
Weighing in at an eye-popping total weight of only 5.6oz, the MontBell EX Light Down Jacket is the lightest down jacket we tested. Lighter than the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer and the Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody (both of which are super light) this jacket takes saving weight to the extreme. Taking weight savings this far means obvious sacrifices in features – thus the EX Light Down Jacket is pretty much nothing more than a super-light shell fabric and 1.8oz of very high quality 900 fill down. No hood, no pockets, no drawcords. Additional weight savings seem to come from the fact that this jacket’s cut is a bit shorter than all the others tested.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
If having the lightest possible jacket is your goal than this might be it, however other super-light jackets, like the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer for example, weigh only a couple ounces more, and provide features many people deem necessary – a hood, zippered hand pockets, and the ability to stuff the jacket into it’s own pocket.
For the ultimate in lightweight warmth and wind protection, consider combining this with the Montbell Tachyon Anorak. It is about the most warmth and wind resistance you can get for under 8 ounces.
If you’re searching the web for the lightest down layer then consider this – the MontBell EX Light Down Jacket is only 5.6oz… Built with 900 fill down and super-light 7 denier Ballistic Airlight nylon MontBell is aiming for the best warmth to weight ratio it can achieve in an extremely light piece. What you have here is simplicity.
When you design a jacket that weighs only 5.6oz overall you must do away with almost all features. Building “extremely light,” barring magic, entails sacrifice in versatility, durability, and pretty much most standard jacket features. The MontBell EX Light has zero pockets, zero adjustability, and no hood. The final weight savings made here appear to be from that the fact that this jacket has a short fit.
Beyond the provided stuff sack there are almost none - no hood, no pockets, no adjustment cords, this jacket is streamlined to the extreme. The only “feature” here is extreme lightness.
The design of the EX Light Down Jacket is geared to those looking to the extremes of weight savings. If your only concern is extreme lightness then this jacket may be for you, as it is designed to provide a touch of warmth in the lightest way. However, at only 5.6oz the EX Light Down Jacket saves weight not just by foregoing features and using a super-light shell; there is only 1.8oz of down (albeit lofty 900 fill) in this jacket meaning that at the end of the day it’s not nearly as warm as the other, higher fill-weight jackets reviewed here. For reference, the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer jacket weighs 7.5oz and has 2.78oz of 850 fill down and has a hood and pockets. If you’re a climber, consider that the EX Light comes with a stuff sack and does not stuff into a pocket and clip to a harness.
For about $200 you can get an extremely light jacket. What you are paying for is 900 fill down and the vision of simplicity. What you don’t get is features. If you are looking for a more versatile, warmer and more durable jacket, look to the MontBell Frost Smoke Parka which is priced similarly. Other more versatile option are the Feathered Friends Hyperion Down Jacket, Patagonia Ultralight Hoody, the MontBell Mirage Parka, MontBell Frost Smoke Parka and the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer.
— Chris Simrell
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 23, 2013
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