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Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Review

A mountaineering jacket with high quality down and lightweight, this piece stands out for its functional simplicity
mountain hardwear ghost whisperer/2 down jacket review
Credit: Mountain Hardwear
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $350 List | $243.75 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Light, great compressibility, strong warmth to weight ratio compact
Cons:  Limited features, little adjustability
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By James Lucas & Buck Yedor  ⋅  Nov 9, 2022
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody claimed the coveted Editors' Choice award for the best overall down jacket. Our testers loved the lightweight jacket's ability to pack down extremely small, hang on their harness, and then be pulled off for some simple warmth. While the features tend more towards the simple side, this jacket utilizes what it has to the best of its abilities. It became our go-to piece for long hikes and late evening strolls by combining comfort with quality.

Editor's Note: We purchased and retested this award winner, putting it through the stringent side-by-side testing process that sets us apart from others. This review was updated on August 21, 2022, to reflect our current findings.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $243.75 at Amazon
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Pros Light, great compressibility, strong warmth to weight ratio compactLightweight, stylish, high warmth to weight ratioWarm, well-fitting, excellent stylingInexpensive, lightweight,Fit allows for layering underneath, soft inner liner, inexpensive
Cons Limited features, little adjustabilityExpensive, not super durablePoor weather resistance, slightly heavySweater weight warmth, moderate adjustabilityThinner outer shell, less durable, not as warm as premium brands, not that compressible
Bottom Line A mountaineering jacket with high quality down and lightweight, this piece stands out for its functional simplicityIf you are looking for a warm, light layer for a trip where ounces count, this is a great selectionThis classic down has a comfortable fit, excellent style, and plenty of warmth making it a reliable choiceThis 800-fill jacket offers quality down at a reasonable price and little weightA down jacket alternative that uses synthetic insulation that won't break the bank
Rating Categories Mountain Hardwear G... Arc'teryx Cerium SL... Patagonia Down Swea... MontBell Superior Down Amazon Essentials L...
Warmth (30%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (20%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Water Resistance (15%)
6.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
5.0
Comfort (15%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Compressibility (10%)
9.0
10.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
Features (10%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Specs Mountain Hardwear G... Arc'teryx Cerium SL... Patagonia Down Swea... MontBell Superior Down Amazon Essentials L...
Down Fill 800-fill goose down 850-fill goose down 800-fill goose down 800-fill goose down 100% polyester
Total Weight 8.5 oz 7.6 oz 14.9 oz 8.7 oz 11 oz
Baffle Construction Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles
Main Fabric 10D ripstop nylon 100% nylon 100% ripstop polyester 10D nylon Nylon
Compression Method Zips into pocket Stuff sack Zips into pocket Stuff sack Stuff sack
Pockets 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hands, 1 internal 2 zippered hand
Hoodless Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

As one of the best lightweight down jackets on the market, the Ghost Whisperer takes a technical approach to warmth. Mountain Hardwear used high-quality 800 fill down to create a no-nonsense piece that fits well, moves even better, and provides solid warmth. While the jacket lacks much in adjustability, especially in the hood, the simplicity of its features, as well as the quality of its construction, make it a go-to jacket for backcountry adventures or multi-pitch fun.

Performance Comparison


mountain hardwear ghost whisperer/2 down jacket review - the mountain hardwear ghost whisperer is lightweight, has an...
The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is lightweight, has an athletic fit, and features some of the best compressibility of the jackets we tested.
Credit: James Lucas

Warmth


The Ghost Whisperer 2 packs significant warmth for its light weight. The jacket's strong weight-to-warmth ratio comes from its high quality down. Mountain Hardwear used 800-fill RDS certified down. The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certifies garments that fill derives from geese and ducks raised humanely. This promise makes for superior loft and a strong warmth-to-weight ratio.


This jacket tends to work best while moving. One of our testers wore this while climbing hard routes on Rocky Mountain National Park's Ship Prow. Despite the cold early morning tempts at 13,000 feet, the jacket performed well. The jacket only has a single zipper. It does fit well under a backpack waist belt and the drawcord at the bottom will help trap heat inside of it. If you're standing in sub-freezing temps, then make sure to layer with another piece.

mountain hardwear ghost whisperer/2 down jacket review - the ghost whisperer, being light and moveable, was a perfect layer...
The Ghost Whisperer, being light and moveable, was a perfect layer for throwing on while cooking dinner at the crag.
Credit: James Lucas

The Whisperer 10-denier x 10-denier ripstop recycled nylon helps cut out wind and as previously mentioned, the 90% goose down/10% goose feather 800-fill down does an excellent job of keeping this jacket warm. For such a lightweight piece, this jacket offers plenty of warmth.

Weight


On our scale, the Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody weighs a mere 8.5 ounces for a size men's medium; a close competitor, the Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody, weighs in at 7.6 ounces. Mountain Hardwear achieved this low weight by forgoing some features. They skipped on the drawcord in the hood, kept the two zippered pockets streamlined with light pull cords, used a thin Whisperer 10-denier x 10-denier ripstop recycled nylon as an outer, and utilized high-quality 800-fill down. These features all helped keep the jacket streamlined.


The recycled nylon outer that Mountain Hardwear uses works well as a lightweight protective shell for the down filling. While our testers didn't have any mishaps while running through brush and talus in Rocky Mountain National Park, it seemed like the thin material would be susceptible to ripping and our testers kept tape in the field just in case. One tester did experience a baffle thread coming undone but it created a temporary tightness in the forearm of the jacket.

Don't need a hood? Check out the jacket version!
The Ghost Whisperer Jacket is similar to this model but without the hood. The main difference is that jacket is a little lighter than the hoody and saves you some money. We prefer a hood in most applications because it adds a lot of warmth and not much extra weight. But the hoodless version is easier to layer under other jackets. We highly recommend both models.

mountain hardwear ghost whisperer/2 down jacket review - the drawcord on the bottom of the jacket helped it from riding up...
The drawcord on the bottom of the jacket helped it from riding up and kept wind out but our testers didn't like the dangling cord when cinched. Despite a small feature like this, the high quality down, and the thin baffles kept the weight low.
Credit: James Lucas

Water Resistance


Our tester got drenched when rain turned to hail during an afternoon thunderstorm in Rocky Mountain National Park. The DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment put on the ultralight ripstop shell fabric outer helped keep the jacket dry in the torrential downpour for a few minutes before eventually, the water soaked through.


Most DWR coatings help with keeping a jacket dry in light precipitation and Mountain Hardwear's treatment did well to make the initial sprinkles of the summer alpine thunderstorms just bead on the coat. However, a deluge of any kind will soak through most down jackets and the Ghost Whisperer was no exception. If there's serious precipitation in the forecast, bring a shell, which the Ghost Whisperer will fit right under.

mountain hardwear ghost whisperer/2 down jacket review - the hood fits well around our tester's head and kept most weather...
The hood fits well around our tester's head and kept most weather out but when precipitation came in heavier, a heavier shell jacket was needed to stay dry.
Credit: James Lucas

Comfort


Having a comfortable fit in a technical jacket is crucial as it allows for mobility in the mountains and the Ghost Whisperer performed well here. The jacket fits close to the body without any extra space or excess material. A very thin fleece, a long sleeve, or a t-shirt were found best to fit under the jacket.


Our testers, most of whom had wide backs and shoulders, found decent mobility in this jacket. The sleeves didn't ride up too much when the arms went overhead and the jacket didn't expose too much of the torso then either. This makes it a great jacket for ski-touring, hiking, or climbing when movement in the garment is essential.

mountain hardwear ghost whisperer/2 down jacket review - the fit of the ghost whisperer is very sleek, which makes it ideal...
The fit of the Ghost Whisperer is very sleek, which makes it ideal for layering over the top of, or wearing while being active. As you can see the hem and sleeves are plenty long, and we found there to be no restricting parts anywhere. This was easily one of the best fits of any down jacket.
Credit: James Lucas

Compressibility


As one of the most compressible jackets we reviewed, the Ghost Whisperer excels in this metric. The jacket fits inside one of its zippered hand pockets and then can easily stuff inside of a backpack, or easily stored while traveling. It is the smallest compressed jacket we reviewed, better than both the Arc'teryx Cerium LT, which came with its own stuff sack, and the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody, that similarly stuffed into its own pocket.


The high quality of the down, as well as the lightweight features of the jacket, makes it easily compressible, meaning it's a great piece to toss in a jacket and forget about until it gets cold.

mountain hardwear ghost whisperer/2 down jacket review - the ghost whisperer packs down into its own pocket fairly easily.
The Ghost Whisperer packs down into its own pocket fairly easily.
Credit: James Lucas

Pro tip: Store this jacket in the closet and not in the bottom of your pack if you want to extend its lifespan, and don't be afraid to wash it!

mountain hardwear ghost whisperer/2 down jacket review - the size of the jacket made it easy to put onto a harness and climb...
The size of the jacket made it easy to put onto a harness and climb with. It's easily one of the smallest jackets in the review.
Credit: James Lucas

Features


The Ghost Whisperer 2 excels in its simplicity. The jacket comes with a scuba-style hood with an elastic rim that fits well around our tester's heads. The sleeves also have elastic cuffs. While some users may not like the lack of adjustability, our testers found that the piece still kept out drafts and kept body heat in. It also cut down on weight. Additionally, synthetic down fills the first baffle of the cuffs to prevent them from wetting out.


The jacket comes with many standard features including two hand warmer pockets with thin zippers, which some of our testers disliked because they were hard to grab and unzip with gloves on. The jacket fits well under a harness. It tucks under the harness top and the hem is long enough for it to stay there even with significant overhead movement, which is helpful since it doesn't have a second zipper.

The jacket lacks internal stash pockets like some of the other models we tested. Also, some of our testers disliked the hem drawcord and how large the loop became when it got cinched down.

Intended for skiing or heavy hiking, in moderately cold temps, the Ghost Whisperer provides a great layer when the temps fluctuate between night and day, when you need an athletic outer piece, or when you just want some lightweight warmth.

mountain hardwear ghost whisperer/2 down jacket review - the simple design of the ghost whisperer keeps it light but also...
The simple design of the Ghost Whisperer keeps it light but also limits the features.
Credit: James Lucas

Should You Buy the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody?


The Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody takes the cake in terms of being a light, compressible, warm jacket with decent water resistance. These attributes make it one of the best overall down jackets on the market. While it's a bit thin for extreme cold weather, think sub-zero climates or standing around for long periods,

the jacket excels for cold weather activities like winter hiking, backcountry skiing, or needing a slightly heavier layer. If you're looking for a technical piece for mountain adventures, the Ghost Whisperer delivers.

mountain hardwear ghost whisperer/2 down jacket review - lightweight and warm, the ghost whisperer works well in active...
Lightweight and warm, the Ghost Whisperer works well in active backcountry endeavors, hanging around town when you need a light piece, and while climbing. It's not the warmest down on the market so consider something different if you want strict warmth.
Credit: James Lucas

What Other Down Jackets Should You Consider?


When you compare price points, you'll notice that the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer outperforms many that follow it — and at a lower price. While this is our first pick in our lineup, other jackets are also worth your consideration. If you're shopping on a budget, the Patagonia Down Sweater and Rab Microlight Alpine are top performers that will save you a little. If you want to save even more, consider our value picks, the Montbell Superior Down or REI Co-op 650 2.0.

James Lucas & Buck Yedor
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