The Ghost Lite Jacket by Mountain Hardwear is a super thin, super light, minimalist wind jacket similar in character to the Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie or the Patagonia Houdini. While it certainly does a good job of protecting from the wind without adding weight or bulk to the pack, its many design flaws mean it is not as nearly high performing as those two jackets. Our biggest complaint was that the fit was bulky and baggy, not hugging the form at all and constantly riding up above our waist, and the elastic cuffs around the wrists and the hood did little to keep weather out. The crinkly and loud nylon material allows water to penetrate straight through, ensuring that in all but the lightest of drizzles you will be getting wet. We love the idea of a ridiculously lightweight wind breaker, and indeed find ourselves using one seemingly all the time, but just not this one.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Very lightweight, compact pack size, affordable.
Cons: Poor fit, material is annoying and not waterproof, poor functioning features.
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ghost Lite Jacket ranked near the bottom of the pile once our testing results were finally tabulated. It ended up with the same amount of points as the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite Pro, although due to the design and fit we enjoyed wearing that jacket more. We took this thing on many adventures, as it is so light and packs so small that it is hard not to simply throw it in the pack, but we always ended up slightly annoyed. The biggest issue for us was the fit around the waist, which would ride up above our waist absolutely constantly, over and over again, even if the draw cord was pulled tight. We also found it to be very baggy around the torso, which is nice if you want to layer underneath it, but for us just seemed to flap around a lot in the wind. Other positives and negatives are described below, but our consensus on this jacket is it just isn't nearly as fine tuned or high performing as its competition.
Wind resistance is a selling point for this jacket, which is good, because that's what it's designed to do. The material has a very slick and slippery feel, prompting us to wonder if perhaps the extremely low friction forces wind to just slip right off of it. While it didn't score as high as the two jackets that included a sewn-in liner, like the Marmot Ether DriClime, we did feel that it was equal if not slightly better than its most similar competition, the Patagonia Houdini. Seven out of 10 points.
Breathability and Venting
The 15D nylon ripstop that this jacket is made of is very thin and somewhat air permeable. Given how permeable we found it to be, we were surprised that it was so wind resistant. The ability for air to move through the jacket is certainly a bonus when it comes to breathability. There is really no accommodation for venting though, and our black-colored test model was rather warm as it easily absorbed heat from the sun. We thought the overall effect was about the same as the Ghost Lite Pro, or the Houdini, and rated it seven out of 10 points.
Fit and Functionality
The fit of this wind breaker was one of our biggest complaints and reason that we didn't like it as much as others. It is spacious enough to layer underneath, but for a lightweight running or aerobic wind breaker, we really wish that it wasn't so baggy. The bagginess is what led it to bunch up on our back and ride up over the waist, time and again. The trim and athletic cuts of many of the wind breakers we tested fit so perfectly and were obviously highly tuned for that purpose that in comparison this jacket felt a bit like we were wearing a garbage bag (the look, sound, and feel of the material certainly enhanced this effect!).
In terms of functionality of the features, we again had complaints. The cuffs around the wrists and lining the hood are made of elastic that simply wasn't nearly tight enough, especially around the hood, which had no ability to fine tune the fit with a draw cord. The hood was very wide open and would even blow off in the wind. We liked that it included a hood keeper that consisted of a hidden Velcro strap, but noted that this feature was impossible to deploy with the jacket on. It has one chest pocket that it stuffs into, and no hand pockets. We loved the hem draw cord, and think that Mountain Hardwear really has this cinch buckle figured out. Complaints abound online about issues with the zippers jamming or sticking, but we never experienced this problem. Compared to the features and design of the technically impressive Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie, this jacket leaves a whole world to be desired. Five out of 10.
Upon first inspection, it looks from the outside like the material used in this jacket does a great job of forcing water droplets to bead up and fall off. There is no doubt that this happens. But somehow water also manages to permeate straight through the material as well, because after one very quick pass in the shower, we had water running down the inside of the jacket on the shoulders, arms, hood, back, everywhere. We are confident that you will not stay dry for more than a few minutes at most in a rain storm, and although we didn't encounter these conditions in our field testing, online reviewers have backed up this assertion. This was easily one of the lowest performers in this department, so four out of 10.
Weight and Packability
Our scale showed this jacket weighing 3.3 ounces, ever so slightly more than advertised on Mountain Hardwear's website, and slightly more than the Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie. This was good enough for nine out of 10 points for weight. When it comes to packability, this jacket easily stuffs into its chest pocket and includes a clip-in loop. However, we didn't award it any bonus points because the stuffed package was unnecessarily large and bulky; it could have packed down much smaller.
This jacket is designed as a take-it-anywhere, lightweight wind and emergency layer. We used it primarily for long hikes and peak bagging missions. In theory, it should be good for biking and running as well, but due to the fit we didn't enjoy using it for that purpose. We wouldn't recommend it for backpacking due to its lack of water resistance. If you find that it fits your body well, then the range of use could expand, but for us it was quite limited.
This wind breaker retails for $100. In the context of this review, that ties with the Patagonia Houdini as the most affordable option. However, we don't think this is a very well designed product, and there is no doubt that the Houdini performs much better in almost every circumstance. For this reason it is not really a very good value.
Designed as a lightweight emergency wind shell for aerobic activities such as running and outside training, the Ghost Lite Jacket by Mountain Hardwear has a lot of promise. Unfortunately, it doesn't deliver on this promise as it fits poorly and lacks the well thought out design features that make a high quality wind breaker. It is also a disappointment in the rain, limiting the situations where it can be used. As one of the lower scorers in our review, we would recommend purchasing other Top Picks or award winners over this jacket.
— Andy Wellman