MontBell Superior Down Review
Cons: Moderate warmth, noisy material, no internal zip pockets
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MontBell Superior Down
|Price||$209 List||$209.54 at Amazon|
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$99.95 at REI
|Pros||Inexpensive, fully featured adjustability||Water resistant hydrophobic down, great DWR coating, well thought-out features||Stylish, comfortable, long torso provides good coverage||Weather and tear resistant shoulders and hood, warm, easy to layer under, fleece lined hand pockets||Inexpensive, lightweight|
|Cons||Moderate warmth, noisy material, no internal zip pockets||700 fill power down is good but not as light or lofty as others||Heavy, minimal pockets, down is not hydrophobic||Heavy, bulkier fit||Minimal features, boxy fit|
|Bottom Line||This down offers the warmth and quality of more premium choices at an approachable price point||Excellent for wet weather because it has all the features to ensure the down stays dry||A classic model that does just about everything - and does it all well||This weather and tear resistant down makes a great winter belay coat for inclement conditions and rough terrain||This is an inexpensive jacket that is ideal for casual hiking and wearing around town|
|Rating Categories||MontBell Superior Down||Rab Microlight Alpine||Patagonia Down Swea...||Outdoor Research He...||REI Co-op 650 Down...|
|Water Resistance (15%)|
|Specs||MontBell Superior Down||Rab Microlight Alpine||Patagonia Down Swea...||Outdoor Research He...||REI Co-op 650 Down...|
|Down Fill||800 fill goose down||700 fill power||800 fill advanced global traceable down||800+ fill goose down||650 fill power down|
|Total Weight||8.7 oz||15.4 oz||14.9 oz||15.5 oz||10.44 oz|
|Baffle Construction||Sewn-through baffles||Sewn-through baffles||Sewn-through baffles||Sewn-through baffles||Sewn-through baffles|
|Main Fabric||10 denier ballistic airlight nylon||Pertex Quantum Fabric||Recycled polyester ripstop, DWR finish||Pertex Quantum||Recycled nylon taffeta|
|Compression Method||Stuff sack||Stuff sack||Zips into internal chest pocket with clip-in loop||Stuffs into pocket||Stuffs into pocket|
|Pockets||2 zippered hand||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest||2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest||2 hand, 2 internal, 1 chest||2 hand|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The MontBell Superior Down is an excellent model that also boasts a reasonable price tag. While there are cheaper options on the market, none offer the same level of quality and warmth. It's not the warmest coat, but it is incredibly lightweight and has no trouble standing up to more expensive jackets in a similar weight class. This down is the perfect companion for multi-pitch climbing, ski touring, and backpacking in all but the coldest weather.
This down jacket falls into the category of lightweight insulation, making it an ideal layer for high output pursuits in cold weather or as an easily packable extra layer for spring climbing or backpacking. If you're looking for a heavy-duty belay parka or a layer to keep you warm when the temps really start dropping, this likely isn't going to be warm enough.
An important element of insulating layers is their ability to trap warm air. A key component of this is to have minimal opportunities for warm air to escape and for cold air to come in. The most common culprits for this air exchange are the openings at the waist, collar, and wrists. You'll find a cinchable hood and waist, as well as elastic around the cuffs. While this is standard in heavier jackets, it's nice to see these features offered in such a lightweight design.
The primary reason this jacket has such a good weight to warmth ratio is that it is stuffed with 800-fill down. This is more or less the industry standard with high-end jackets but is much less common in jackets at this price point.
We tested a size medium, which weighed 8.71 ounces; it is one of the lightest models in the fleet. This low weight was achieved by utilizing high-quality down and simple sewn-through construction. Sewn-through construction means that the stitching used to create the pockets of down goes through the outer shell, directly through to the inner lining. This reduces weight and cost but does come with the loss of some warmth.
The fill-power of a down garment refers to how many ounces of down will be required to fill a specific volume of space or how fluffy the down is for its weight. The higher (800) fill-power found in this jacket means less down is required to fill the same amount of volume than if they were to have used 600 fill, for instance.
The 10 denier ballistic nylon ripstop used on the shell has an effective DWR (durable-water-resistance) treatment that repels a light precip, but the vulnerable sewn-thru baffles and standard, non-hydrophobic down keeps us keenly aware that we should always have a rain shell on hand if wet weather may be in the cards.
While it's true, this jacket is left somewhat vulnerable to moisture penetrating its seams; it's also important to note that a light precip won't hurt, and even standard down is naturally hydrophobic to a degree.
This coat has a classic, if not a little boxy fit. The shoulders are slightly narrow, and the torso tapers ever so slightly through the waist. We found the torso was on the shorter side and would ride up and expose our midriff when performing an overhead movement. The arms, however, are an ideal length, offering enough room to move, but are not obnoxiously long. The boxy torso makes it easy to layer underneath but is still tailored enough to wear under a shell without feeling fully restrained.
The fit wasn't our favorite for climbing on account of the short torso and narrow shoulders but was plenty comfortable for most other activities.
With its thin 10 denier nylon ripstop, basic sewn-through baffle construction, and 800 fill-power down, the Superior compresses quite small and does so easily.
It packs down and stashes out of the way until the sun sets and the wind picks up. While many options in our fleet stuff into one of their zippered pockets, the Superior, unfortunately, does not; it does, however, come with an included stuff sack.
This jacket has one of the best feature sets in our entire review, which is especially commendable considering its price tag.
One of our favorite features is the dual adjustments on the hood, which allow you to custom-tailor the fit, depending on your head size and choice of headwear. The Velcro tabs on the back of the head are intended to pull volume out of the hood, so the built-in visor doesn't cover your eyes. While we didn't love the use of Velcro for this application, it does perform its job effectively. The elastic pulls for the perimeter cinch are found on the inside near the chin and stay inside the jacket tucked away.
Inside the jacket, there are two substantial drop-in stash pockets, which are great for holding your fleece gloves when not in use, or warming up your climbing shoes while your friend takes a burn on her project. While it might add a little extra weight, we would have liked to see the inclusion of an internal zippered chest pocket.
The Superior boasts an incredibly high value and an excellent price tag. It has features galore, a super low weight, and excellent compressibility. When compared to other higher-end jackets, we were left wondering, why spend the extra money when we can have similar performance and features for such a great price. If you need something that has an excellent weight to warmth ratio, a slew of features, and excellent compressibility, look no further.
The Montbell Superior has shown itself to be a serious contender in the down jacket market. Our testers had a hard time seeing the justification for the price gap between this jacket and some of the other higher-end options. It has great features and is seemingly not missing a thing. If you want a fully-featured jacket but don't want to spend an arm and a leg, the Superior is a no-brainer.
— Buck Yedor
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