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MontBell Superior Down Review

This 800-fill jacket offers quality down at a reasonable price and little weight
montbell superior down down jacket review
Credit: Montbell
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $209 List
Pros:  Inexpensive, lightweight,
Cons:  Sweater weight warmth, moderate adjustability
Manufacturer:   MontBell
By James Lucas & Buck Yedor  ⋅  Nov 9, 2022
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 13
  • Warmth - 30% 6.0
  • Weight - 20% 8.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 4.0
  • Comfort - 15% 7.0
  • Compressibility - 10% 8.0
  • Features - 10% 9.0

Our Verdict

The MontBell Superior Down has premium features, especially the quality of its fill, but comes at a lower price than brand-name jackets. The 800 fill down makes it lightweight though the mere 2.5 oz of fill means it's more sweater warmth. Two zippered hand warmer pockets, internal drop pockets, an adjustable hemline, and a cinchable hood make it functional and adjustable. A separate stuff sack makes compressing the jacket easy and it takes little pack space, squeezing down into little more than a burrito. As a lightweight, affordable jacket, the Montbell is the Superior Down.

Editor's Note: We re-tested this product and updated the review on August 21, 2022.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award   Best Buy Award  
Price $209 List$280 List
$209.99 at REI
$195.26 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$46 List
$21.90 at Amazon
$119 List
$119.00 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Inexpensive, lightweight,Recycled outer and liner, DWR treated outer, zoned lightweight micro and nano baffle for better movementTechnical, warm, abrasion resistantFit allows for layering underneath, soft inner liner, inexpensiveInexpensive, lightweight,
Cons Sweater weight warmth, moderate adjustabilityHeavy for the warmth, fair compressibility, could use higher fill downHeavy, bulky,Thinner outer shell, less durable, not as warm as premium brands, not that compressibleLess than ideal fill quality, poor performance, basic features
Bottom Line This 800-fill jacket offers quality down at a reasonable price and little weightIn a battle against the weather, this jacket can withstand the elements more so than other downsBuilt to last, this down works best in outdoor adventures where weather and brush can tear away at a jacketA down jacket alternative that uses synthetic insulation that won't break the bankAn incredible deal with basic features, this lightweight jacket acts as a great option for anyone looking for a bit more warmth on a budget
Rating Categories MontBell Superior Down Rab Microlight Alpine Outdoor Research He... Amazon Essentials L... REI Co-op 650 Down...
Warmth (30%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
8.0
5.0
5.0
7.0
7.0
Water Resistance (15%)
4.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
3.0
Comfort (15%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Compressibility (10%)
8.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Features (10%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Specs MontBell Superior Down Rab Microlight Alpine Outdoor Research He... Amazon Essentials L... REI Co-op 650 Down...
Down Fill 800-fill goose down 700-fill goose down 800+ fill goose down 100% polyester 650-fill goose down
Total Weight 8.7 oz 15.4 oz 15.5 oz 11 oz 10.4 oz
Baffle Construction Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles
Main Fabric 10D nylon 30D ripstop nylon 15D & 30D ripstop nylon Nylon 100% nylon
Compression Method Stuff sack Stuff sack Zips into pocket Stuff sack Zips into pocket
Pockets 2 zippered hands, 1 internal 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hands, 1 internal
Hoodless Option? Yes No Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The MontBell Superior Down offers high-quality production at a reasonable price. Using 2.5 oz of 800 fill down, this jacket provides excellent warmth for its weight. That being said, it is lightweight and best suited for high-activity outings where there's a greater emphasis on the weight than on the warmth.

Performance Comparison


montbell superior down down jacket review - the fit for the montbell superior down runs a little boxy but the...
The fit for the Montbell Superior Down runs a little boxy but the jacket is easy to layer underneath and ultimately the Superior Down gives you a ton of premium features at a very reasonable price.
Credit: James Lucas

Warmth


This Superior should be considered a lighter piece of insulation. The 2.5 oz of 800 fill down makes it warm for the weight but it's fairly thin. This makes it great for evening strolls or as a sweater-style layer but if the weather really drops then it's best to have additional layers.

The elastic cuffs, the cinchable hood, and the pocket hem adjusters helped batten down the jacket while doing early morning hikes in the Flatirons. These features trapped warm air into the jacket and kept our testers cozy while moving. However, they're not enough if facing extreme cold.

montbell superior down down jacket review - the superior down comes with a cinchable hood and drawstring at the...
The Superior Down comes with a cinchable hood and drawstring at the waist helping it to fight against wind in inclement weather.
Credit: James Lucas

Many of the jackets in this review have a 650 to 800 fill-down. Having 800 fill and above means that the jacket has some very high-quality down. This makes the jacket lighter and warmer for the weight. The Superior Down's high-quality down adds to the warmth.

montbell superior down down jacket review - the 800 fill down keeps the jacket warm and lightweight as its one...
The 800 fill down keeps the jacket warm and lightweight as its one of the highest lofts available.
Credit: James Lucas

Weight


The size medium, which we weighed at 8.6 ounces, is one of the lightest jackets we tested. The jacket doesn't have much fill in it, which keeps it light as well.

This jacket's low weight was achieved by utilizing high-quality down and simple sewn-through construction, the stitching of the down does through the outer shell and directly to the inner lining, reducing weight and cost but at the cost of warmth. The jacket also uses a 10-denier ballistic nylon ripstop outer which is also very lightweight. The thinness of the outer shell keeps the jacket sleek. The overall feel of the jacket runs more along the lines of a fleece jacket than a down jacket.

Water Resistance


Montbell helped battle the elements of this jacket by using 10-denier ballistic nylon ripstop outer as well as a DWR (durable water repellant) treatment. Denier relates to the thickness of the fibers in the fabric. A single silk strand equates to one denier. The Superior Down has a relatively low denier, making it lighter but also more prone to soaking through. That's why Montbell added the DWR treatment, this helps prevent water from saturating the jacket's exterior and making it soggy and heavy. The treatment isn't the same as having a full rain jacket though. It helped repel early morning rains in Rifle, Colorado but when the afternoon thunderstorms rolled in, the jacket started to take on water.

Down features some natural hydrophobic properties and the DWR treatment helps keeps this jacket a bit dryer but ultimately if there's heavy precip in the forecast, it's best to bring a heavier rain jacket.

montbell superior down down jacket review - our testers primarily used this in dry areas where the jacket...
Our testers primarily used this in dry areas where the jacket wouldn't get wet. While it does have some defense against rain, it's best to bring a shell if the weather gets bad.
Credit: James Lucas

Comfort


The Superior Down fits well with a classic, slightly boxy cut. The shoulders felt a bit narrow and the tapering torso, which comes in a bit short, made overhead movement in the jacket slightly difficult. The arms fell at a decent length and the fit of the jacket as well as its thinness made it easy to wear under a heavier shell.

Our testers really enjoyed wearing this piece around town as a lightweight hiking, or backcountry jacket. It has a sweater-like weight and warmth level. The high-quality down felt good and they liked the way the piece fit. They did find that the jacket rose a bit when making overhead movement though.

montbell superior down down jacket review - our testers found the jacket to ride up a bit during overhead...
Our testers found the jacket to ride up a bit during overhead movement. While it wasn't a significant hindrance during colder belays, it could prove more of an issue skiing.
Credit: James Lucas

Compressibility


A big part of a jacket's ability to compress comes from the quality of its down. The Superior Down with its thin 10-denier nylon ripstop outer, scrunches down to near burrito size, making it one of the smaller jackets that we reviewed.

The jacket comes with a separate stuff sack which some of our testers liked. It can be easier than trying to cram a jacket inside of itself. However, it means having to remember where the stuff sack is and keeping it handy. The jacket had strong compressibility, especially for a piece that comes with a separate stuff sack. Most of the jackets that don't compress into their own pockets tend to be bulky so our testers liked that aspect.

montbell superior down down jacket review - having a stuff sack separate from the jacket allows for an easy...
Having a stuff sack separate from the jacket allows for an easy place to pack the garment and the Montbell stuffed down into a reasonable size.
Credit: James Lucas

Features


This jacket has some solid features considering the price tag. The two zippered hand warmer pockets feature ample space for storage. Inside of them are the draw cords for the hem which help prevent cold air from wafting into the garment and from letting warmth escape. Inside the jacket are two sizeable drop-in stash pockets. The interior pockets are perfect for a pair of thin gloves.

The hood comes with a few bits of adjustability which help battle cold air from coming in. Elastic pulls, which sit on the inside of the jacket near the chin, cinch the hood close. A Velcro tab on the back of the hood helps pull the volume of the jacket and keep the hoods out of the eyes. Our testers found this feature a bit frivolous and the Velcro didn't feel secure. A different closure for this, maybe another cinch cord or even just leaving the hood scuba style could have cut weight and made it simpler.

montbell superior down down jacket review - the jacket comes with drawcords that help secure the hood and keep...
The jacket comes with drawcords that help secure the hood and keep the wind out. The velcro tab on the back of the hood were notable because of its uniqueness but our testers didn't like it as much.
Credit: James Lucas

Should You Buy the MontBell Superior Down?


The Superior boasts great value with its low price. The high weight-to-warmth ratio and the jacket's compressibility make it an excellent choice if you want a comfortable, sweater-warmth jacket with good features, at a reasonable price.

montbell superior down down jacket review - with a great fill and high quality manufacturing, this jacket was a...
With a great fill and high quality manufacturing, this jacket was a solid choice for our testers.
Credit: James Lucas

What Other Down Jackets Should You Consider?


The Montbell Superior Down is a strong contender in the down jacket market. Our testers like the high quality down and the low price. Paying more didn't get our testers a significantly better jacket so we considered this to be one of the better options on the market. However, if you have more money to spend, the classic Patagonia Down Sweater offers higher performance and the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 offers a bit of a lighter jacket in a similar vein.

James Lucas & Buck Yedor
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