First Look Gear Review
Street Price: Varies from $202 - $320 | Compare prices at 7 resellers
Pros: Incredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, packs into its own pocket.
Cons: Colors that you either love or hate.
Best Uses: Backpacking, hiking, mountaineering, and around town.
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
This is the non-hooded version of the winner of our Editors' Choice award, the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer Check out the full Hands-on-Review there.
This one of the lightest down jackets we tested. The Medium weighs 7.5 ounces on our scale. The next lightest jacket we tested is the Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody where the Medium weighed in at 9.6 ounces. (It should be noted that the Ghost Whisperer Medium is a fair bit bigger than the Ultralight Down Hoody).
We have been wearing this with our favorite lightweight rain jacket, the Outdoor Research Helium II. Their combined weight is 13.9 ounces! We believe this combo is about as warm as you can be with the most wind and rain protection for under a pound.
This jacket is incredibly warm for its weight. It is probably one of the warmest sub-half-pound layers currently made. It feels like you are just wearing warm air. I wear this over a t-shirt on 40-degree mornings and am plenty warm as long as there is no wind. One tester slept in the jacket at fifteen degrees while wearing only a lightweight baselayer and inside the Katabatic Gear Palisade down sleeping bag (30 degree rating).
The jacket uses 850 fill down, which is about as good as it gets. To get higher quality down you generally have to seek out a small company and make a custom order like Nunatak. The down quality, along with the super light shell material, is what makes this jacket so warm despite its incredibly light weight. They have an extra big baffle on the back just below the neck in the shape of the Mountain Hardwear logo (a nut). Not really important for performance, but a cool little touch.
Even before we put it on a scale, we could tell this was one of the lightest layers out there. We have had over a dozen people wear this and they all have the same reaction when they put it on, "Wow, it doesn't weigh anything!" We thought we had tried a lot of light jackets, but this one really takes it to the next level. Many of our testers take the Ghost Whisperer as their only insulating layer for fast and light summer trips.
The jacket packs into its own pocket. Thank you! We always find it annoying when companies require you to keep track of a separate stuff sack (which invariable gets lost after a few months).
Colors and Style
So far all the colors we have seen, except for gray, are very bold: neon orange or yellow with equally bright zippers of different colors. Some people will love these bold colors. Others will want something more muted. One tester loves the super bright orange (and feels very visible and safe when crossing the street or riding a bike). But his wife won't let him wear the jacket around her in public.
There are two small handwarmer pockets just big enough to get your hands in. You can't store much. There is no chest pocket either inside or outside.
There is a DWR coating that repels water in a very light drizzle.
After four months of extensive use the jacket seems to be holding up well. The logo, which was laminated to the chest, came off in the wash. This could be a good thing if you don't like logos.
We can't really assess long-term durability yet. Check back soon for a full hands-on review. In the meantime, see the other down jackets we have fully tested in our Down Jacket Review.
Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer - Men's, or Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer - Women's, $340, with hood.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer - Women's or Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer Down Parka, $380.
— Chris McNamara
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 5, 2013
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