Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $199 | Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros: Lightweight, inexpensive, high quality down, large pockets
Cons: Boxy and big fit, No hang loop in collar
Best Uses: Alpine climbing, belaying, backpacking
The MontBell Alpine Light is a great deal for the price you pay. It is one of the less expensive of the light alpine down jackets and has other nice features like particularly large hand pockets with a soft fleece lining, and a wind resistant outer fabric that is a bit more durable that the fabric used in the Nitrous and Down Sweater. It stuffs into a separate stuff sack rather than a pocket on the jacket. This jacket, like the other lightweight technical jackets we reviewed has 800 fill down and is lightweight. If you like your insulating layer without a hood, we completed a review of that model of this jacket as well.
Check out our complete Women's Down Jacket Review to see how this compared to others.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
An inexpensive, lightweight down jacket, the Alpine Light will get the job done whether you are hiking, camping, or cleaning off your car on a winter morning. We love the hooded version of this jacket, which provides just a bit of extra warmth.
Comfort & Coziness
Extra comfort is added to this jacket through very large zippered hand pockets with a cozy fleece lining, and a fleece mesh chin guard.
Compactness & Weight
The MontBell Alpine Light is a lightweight (12.7 oz.) jacket with high quality down (800 fill) and is on the inexpensive side for such an indispensable piece of gear. It compresses into a separate stuff sack rather than a stuff into the pocket feature.
The Alpine Light is warm and protective for its weight. We like that it has a hood to lock-in extra heat in bad weather. If you don't want a hood on your jacket, we also did a full review of the hoodless model of this piece, the MontBell Alpine Light Jacket – Women's.
The primary fabric is a Ballistic Ripstop Nylon which is fairly wind-resistant and durable. This fabric is slightly heavier than the materials used on the Mountain HardWear Nitrous Jacket and the Patagonia Down Sweater, but is more durable.
Style & Construction
This jacket is made with sen-through construction and includes some interesting features like a small velcro adjustment on the hood rather than a cinch cord. The Alpine Light jacket has many plusses to it, but fit is not one of them. Compared with all the other size small jackets, this one fits quite big. This not a huge problem, especially since you will usually be wearing other layers under a lightweight down jacket, but it does let a little more air in with the baggier fit. It is probably the least form fitting of all the jackets, and would be the jacket least likely to be worn around town for everyday use. Another very minor complaint is that there is no loop in the inside collar to hang this jacket on a peg. It was most likely left off to save some weight, but even the extremely light Nitrous jacket has this feature. This may not even matter to most people, but it did make storing the jacket noticeably a bit more of a challenge.
The nylon fabric that makes up this jacket is low-absorbency, but it does not have significant water repellant features.
This jacket is great to jam into a climbing pack, carry with you on approaches of any length, and pull out when you find yourself belaying in cold and windy conditions. It would also make a decent puffy to bring along on a backpacking trip because it stuffs down but is very warm for its size.
For $199, this jacket is a great deal. For that price you get a warm and very functional 800 fill down jacket that stuffs easily into a stuff sack for less than the price of some popular synthetic insulated jackets. MontBell claims this jacket has a high warmth to dollar ratio, and we agree. If you want the same quality for less money, the jacket version without a hood is an excellent option.
MontBell Alpine Light Down Parka - Men's, $200.
MontBell Alpine Light Jacket, $175.
MontBell Alpine Light Down Jacket - Women's, $175.
— McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: November 24, 2012
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