The Ghost Whisperer 2 Down Hoody is a great jacket that compares well to the other ultralight style options in our test. It's worth a look, even if it doesn't take home an award in this year's review.
The Ghost Whisperer was a perfect jacket for fall thru-hike of the Long Trail in Vermont. Great for keeping warm in the evenings and even more helpful for when we needed to crawl out of our sleeping bags in the morning.
Though the Ghost Whisperer 2 will never replace your heavy belay jacket, it is the perfect mid-altitude / shoulder season / fall climbing jacket. Our testers found this to be a favorite, and consequently, it got a lot of use on some cold days, especially as a lightweight belay jacket on days when a simple R1 was not enough. In the past, we have tested it very high up in the mountains of New Zealand, where it easily held up to the blustery damp of the Southern Alps. It also performed well in Antarctica, where it was a perfect layering piece for the dry, cold, and windy terrain.
It performs equally well as part of a layering system or as a super-light single insulation piece. How warm it keeps you is relative; you're not going to climb Denali with this as your only insulating layer, but it will do for more than a few pitches in the shade when Rocktober comes along. In terms of its warmth-to-weight ratio, this jacket earns high remarks.
The 800-fill down keeps things light and warm.
This jacket uses 800 fill-power down, and the ripstop nylon does a great job of resisting the wind, a crucial element in keeping out the cold with such a thin jacket. We missed having a cinchable drawcord on the hood. The outer edge has an elastic band, but it doesn't quite seal off the elements well enough for our taste if it's cold or windy out.
The Ghost Whisperer 2 weighs 9.2 ounces for a size men's large, and last year's version was 8.6 ounces on our scale, showing the increased weight with the new version. With no drawcord in the hood, no Velcro on the wrists, two handwarmer pockets, ultralight zippers, and no reinforced areas, the minimalist design of the Ghost Whisperer 2 couldn't get much more pared down. Consequently, Mountain Hardwear had to rely on some extremely light materials to further reduce the weight of the Ghost Whisperer. The buttery soft 7D X 10D ripstop fabric is so specialized that only one mill in the world makes it.
The Ghost Whisperer isn't as warm as the Feathered Friends but weighs about 4 ounces less and is plenty warm for many cool-weather activities.
The Whisperer 7D X 10D is incredibly strong for an ultralight fabric but is more susceptible to tearing than more robust materials. Down is the most efficient insulator per gram available, so naturally, it is the material of choice when attempting to make the lightest jacket possible. However, the combination of an ultralight exterior and down insulation can result in some hasty and necessary field repairs if you get bad enough tears. While we have not dealt with any tears in the past couple of years of testing, stories abound on the internet. Be careful and realize that you are buying lightweight, not super durable.
Previously, the Ghost Whisperer incorporated hydrophobic down, but with the updated version, they switched and use a regular, albeit ethically sourced 800-fill down. Maybe this is part of why they reduced the price.
The Ghost Whisperer had one of the best DWR coatings that we tested, shown here working to cause water to bead up without absorbing into the nylon face fabric. Underneath, the 800-fill power down is also hydrophobically treated to resist water absorption.
In our testing, we found that the Whisperer nylon outer fabric combined with a DWR coating does a pretty decent job of beading up and shedding water, better than most of the other jackets we tested. Although we aren't sure whether the chemical composition of the DWR coating has changed in recent years, it seemed to perform better in our testing than it had in the past.
When it comes to fit, the Ghost Whisperer 2 fit much more snuggly and close to the body than most, but in an excellent way. Although there was still enough room beneath it for a light layer, this jacket was clearly designed with movement in mind, and there was less extra space.
The Ghost Whisperer has a sleek and athletic fit. We found it to be a great option for throwing on as an emergency warmth layer over the top of underlayers or a wind breaker, and also felt that it was the best option in this review as a mid-weight warmth layer to wear under heavier jackets.
We found that this jacket allowed excellent mobility in the shoulders, upper back, and chest. It has sleeves that are plenty long enough, no matter what the arm position. If you intend to wear this jacket while moving, as we did, it presents an ideal fit.
The sleeves were more than long enough for our long-armed testers.
This jacket belongs on your ultralight climbing gear wish list. The Ghost Whisperer virtually disappears into its own pocket, forming a package about twice the size of a 7 mm, 15 ft. cordelette (meaning super small), and clips handily onto a harness.
This jacket could pack down smaller, but as is, it packs fairly small and can be stashed (or clipped) away for when you need it.
The down regains its loft quickly after being compressed and is immensely durable. Throw it in your pack and forget about it until the cold reminds you it's there. It takes up less space than any insulated full-featured jacket we've tested, which is a huge advantage.
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 your down!
The Ghost Whisperer is defined more by what it doesn't have than what it has. The elastic hood rim and cuffs lack adjustability. This provides adequate protection and performance and keeps the grams down, although by no means will you get the tight, adjustable seal that is to be found on a cinchable hood.
The non-adjustable hood didn't move well with our testers' turning heads. When worn with a hat (with a brim), it helped to keep us from looking at the inside of the hood.
The two handwarmer pockets are placed high enough on the body of the jacket not to get buried under a pack hip belt. The hem sits low enough to stay under your harness when you're moving, and the sleeves accommodate a positive ape index when reaching. We wish this jacket had some internal stash pockets, like many of the other warmth layers we tested, and certainly, we lament the fact that the hem drawcord leaves a loop of bungee cord hanging down below the waist for gear or brush to get caught on.
The little drawcord was bothersome and got in the way of our gear and was vulnerable to catching on the brush when hiking.
If we had one over-riding complaint, it's that we know the light zipper lacks durability, as we have had issues with this jackets zipper in the past. This jacket has fair features but thought that every other jacket outperformed it in this metric.
Baby zippers can wear out before the rest of the jacket. They are great for saving weight and increasing compressibility can fail over time.
This jacket has a steep price tag. However, it's a one-jacket wonder that will keep you warm on tiny belay stances in the shade and isn't overkill for a train trip across Europe. It can also function as part of a layering system with other jackets. Highly durable and ultralight, it could be a go-to jacket for fast and light backpacking trips.
The Ghost Whisperer is best used in moderately cold environments when you need to go light.
The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded is very light, super packable, and shows surprising warmth for such a thin garment. While we hold a special place in our heart for this jacket, we warn that it would not be our first choice as a cold-weather belay jacket where there will be lots of standing around, or for such crazy cold as that found in Alaska or the high Himalaya. It also is one of the least durable in our test. It is best used for active pursuits in moderate cold and has the versatility to serve as an outer layer or as a warm mid-layer. This jacket truly embodies the ethos of innovation in a lightweight package.