Hands-on Gear Review

MontBell EX Light Review

MontBell EX Light
Price:  $199 List
Pros:  Extremely lightweight.
Cons:  No features at all, no hood, very short fit.
Editors' Rating:   
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Down Fill:  900
Fill Weight:  1.8oz/51g
Total Weight:  5.6oz/159g
Manufacturer:   MontBell

Our Verdict

The MontBell EX Light is a great lightweight down jacket at an affordable price, but this jacket can be hard to find. If it is unavailable at online retailers, a solid alternative in the $200 range which is the MontBell Alpine Light Down Parka. Or, for about $100 more, consider the MontBell Mirage Parka.

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 Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded 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.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Down Jackets for Men of 2018

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Chris Simrell

Last Updated:
Sunday
November 25, 2012

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If having the lightest possible jacket is your goal than this might be it, however other super-light jackets, like the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded 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 its 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.

Performance Comparison



Weight


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.

The extremely light MontBell EX Light down jacket packs down smaller than all others in our review.  Here it is shown packed into its own provided stuff sack.
The extremely light MontBell EX Light down jacket packs down smaller than all others in our review. Here it is shown packed into its own provided stuff sack.

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.

Features


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 extremely light MontBell EX Light down jacket packs down smaller than all others in our review.  Here it is shown packed into its own provided stuff sack.
The extremely light MontBell EX Light down jacket packs down smaller than all others in our review. Here it is shown packed into its own provided stuff sack.


Best Application


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 Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded jacket weighs 7.5oz, 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.

Value


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 options are the Feathered Friends Hyperion, Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody, the MontBell Mirage Parka, MontBell Frost Smoke Parka, and the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded.

Chris Simrell

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 23, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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  • 5
 (4.5)

100% of 2 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 33%  (1)
4 star: 67%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

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   Jan 23, 2013 - 05:34pm
QITNL · Climber

MontBell makes great stuff but there is one key point missing from this review - sizing. All their stuff runs a little small. If you are normally a S, go M; if you regularly wear M, you might be better suited with an L, etc.



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

Backpacker

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   Jan 23, 2013 - 03:49pm
simply_light · Backpacker · Midwest, Indiana

Excellent Down Jacket. Very warm and very light weight.

Pros:

Ultralight

Very Warm

Cons:

Pricey - But you get what you pay for
Could be a little longer in sleeves (but I also have very long arms)

Delicate - Part of why it is so light, is that very lightweight fabrics are use necessitating extra care when handling and wearing the jacket. Of course, if you are into the ultralight movement, you are probably already used to caring for gear of this nature.

Overall: If you are willing to take care of it and can afford it, an excellent jacket.



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


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