Hands-on Gear Review

MontBell Alpine Light Down Parka Review

MontBell Alpine Light Down Parka
By: McKenzie Long and Ian Nicholson  ⋅  Nov 25, 2012
Price:  $239 List
Pros:  Lightweight, inexpensive, high quality down, large pockets.
Cons:  Boxy and big fit, no hang loop in collar.
Manufacturer:   Mont-Bell

Our Verdict

The MontBell Alpine Light gives you a lot of down jacket for your money. It's inexpensive but not cheap. It comes with large hand pockets with a soft fleece lining and a wind-resistant outer fabric. It is more durable than the more expensive and lighter weight MontBell Mirage. This model stuffs into a separate stuff sack, not into one of its pockets.

Our Analysis and Test Results


Performance Comparison


The MontBell Alpine Light is a relatively lightweight (14.2 oz.) jacket with high quality down (800 fill) and is on the inexpensive side for such an indispensable piece of gear. The primary fabric is 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.

It also has some interesting features like a small Velcro adjustment on the hood rather than a cinch cord, very large zippered hand pockets with a cozy fleece lining, and a separate stuff sack rather than a stuff-into-the-pocket feature.

We liked it that the Alpine Light Parka came with a stuff sack and was a nice snug fit. Despite its weight we were pleasantly surprised by the warmth this jacket provided. You can wear this under your shell if you need too.


A 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 most of the lighter jackets in this review have one. This may not even matter to most people, but it did make storing the jacket noticeably a bit more of a challenge.

Best Application

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.


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. It is much less expensive than some of its close competitors in this review, which is why it gets the Best Buy award. MontBell claims this jacket has a high warmth-to-dollar ratio, and we agree. Other good value down jackets are the MontBell Frost Smoke Parka, and the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody.

McKenzie Long and Ian Nicholson

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Most recent review: January 22, 2014
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
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   Jan 22, 2014 - 05:42pm
Mass. Wine Guy · Hiker · Ipswich, MA

First, let me say up front that I don't climb mountains or take week-long trips among glacial peaks in January. But I do live in New England and winters here can get crazy cold. Tonight's going to be 3 degrees F., for example. I needed a parka that was warm, well made and versatile. I'm still evaluating it, but so far the Alpine Light seems to be working out really well. I don't find the fit boxy at all.

It is deceptively lightweight for how warm it is, especially if you cinch the hood up tight. If it's Arctic outside I wear a basic Mont Bell Thermawrap zip-up underneath and maybe a thin sweater.

One (minor) concern I have is that if I wear this parka while driving or for some unexplained reason sit down outside in freezing weather, will the down lose its insulating qualities pretty quickly because it's getting compressed? Also, it wold be great if this were waterproof on the outside, but I'm willing to wear a shell if it's pouring.

Overall, a fine parka.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

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