Our first impression of this jacket: Amazed at the warmth it gives for its weight. We also think it is one of the better looking down jackets and love the blue color. Below are our first impressions after using the jacket for a month.
WeightMountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer (7.5 ounces in size Medium). It is not a perfect comparison because the Ghost Whisperer doesn't have a cinch on the hood or a chest pocket. The Medium in the Ghost Whisperer is warmer and a little bigger than the Medium in the Ultralight Down Hoody. There are lighter jackets, but most of them don't have zippered pockets and are geared mainly for the ultralight backpacking crowd.
Because of this low profile baffles, it does not feel like you're wearing a down jacket. It's hard to compare it to anything else because it is about the lightest way to stay warm. We put it side-by-side with one of our favorite new insulated jackets, the Rab Xenon and indeed the Unltralight Down Patagonia does keep you warmer.
Style and Colors
The jacket comes with a stuff sack. It will likely takes us only two months to lose it. It's better when jackets pack into their own pockets as does the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket. You can pack this into a hand pocket, but it is not very compact. It would be ideal if the chest pocket were a little bigger and you could compress the jacket into that.
Wind and Water Resistance
When you cinch down the hood it doesn't cover your chin. So when the wind really kicks up it's hard to keep the lower part of your face warm. For a $300 jacket, it would be nice if they put a little micro fleece in the chin area. We have come to expect this from most high end jackets and now miss it. That said, at least the hood does cinch so you can keep the hood from filling with an icy wind blast.The DWR coating does a nice job of keeping the down dry in a light drizzle. It won't keep you dry in a steady rain. We don't know how durable the DWR coating is. But it's a good bet it will fade and need to be maintained over time
The fit of this jacket is off by one size: a medium is the same size as a small Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody. Our main tester wears a Small in just about everything Patagonia. But the Small version of this jacket was too small. We exchanged for the Medium, which fits well almost everywhere. The exception is the stomach, where there is too much room. The hang tag from the jacket said "alpine fit" but this jacket seems catered to a slightly girthier body type than other Patagonia jackets.
The hood cinches down to block out the wind. However, when you cinch it down, it does not cover your chin. It also does not fit over a helmet.
Down Sweater Hoody Vs. Ultralight Down Hoody
Which should you get? The Down Sweater is the better value as it is $50 less expensive and warmer. You get more down for your buck. The down sweater also fits over a bike, skiing or climbing helmet. The Ultralight packs down to about half the size of the Down Sweater but does not pack into its own pocket like the down sweater. The Ultralight has a chest pock and the Down Sweater has a pocket inside the jacket. We feel the Ultralight is better looking but the Down Sweater comes in more good colors (we only really like the blue in the Ultralight). So it all comes down to looks, weight and warmth. The Ultralight feels like you are wearing light shell where the Down Sweater feels more like you are wearing a down jacket. We never thought we would say the Down Sweater feels heavy, but it is much bulkier and heavier than the Ultralight (but still much lighter than the typical down jacket).