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Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hoody 2 - Women's Review

It's as light as a ghost, or so we assume, and boasts incredible warmth for the weight
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $325 List | $227.46 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Incredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, packs into its own pocket, recycled
Cons:  No way to cinch the hood, lighter materials are more fragile
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 22, 2020
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 13
  • Warmth - 30% 6
  • Weight - 20% 9
  • Compressibility - 20% 9
  • Features - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 6
  • Water Resistance - 5% 6

Our Verdict

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer always lands somewhere at the top of this review, and with the reimagined second version, it raises the bar even more — with sustainability in mind. It's still the phenomenally lightweight and warm-for-the-weight jacket we expect. It's still soft to the touch, ultra-comfortable, and allows freedom of movement, whether you layer it under a hardshell, as an insulating midlayer, or as a stand-alone insulating layer. Despite its high-quality materials, the Ghost is not the warmest jacket in our fleet; it's just too thin to provide an exceptional amount of warmth. But if you're looking for an excellent lightweight down jacket, this is the one. The 2 is a bit more durable and slightly heavier than its predecessor, but we dig the recycled fabrics and responsibly sourced down.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is a longtime favorite at GearLab. It is extraordinarily light and compressible, making it one of the top choices in our quiver of down jackets. And now it features recycled fabrics and responsibly sourced down.

Performance Comparison


Field testing an old favorite  the Ghost Whisperer 2 from Mountain Hardwear.
Field testing an old favorite, the Ghost Whisperer 2 from Mountain Hardwear.

Warmth


The Ghost Whisperer is not the warmest jacket in this review, which can be a confusing detail. It has some of the highest quality down in the fleet, but because it's a thinner jacket, it isn't as warm as some, and thus receives a lower score. For its weight, which is 8 ounces for a size small, it provides exceptional warmth.

Ir provides excellent loft for the amount of down used, but this can't compensate for the fact that there just isn't a whole lot of insulation. That said, it feels much warmer than you probably assumed, which is due to the very high-quality materials, and high quality down.


When compared with several other jackets in this review, some of which look almost like expedition parkas, the Ghost looks like a wispy dress shirt. If it were white and loose-fitting, you might be mistaken for a ghost on Halloween, but this jacket packs some serious heat.

At once cozy and svelte  the Ghost can be worn alone as a light insulating layer  or layered underneath a shell or parka for extra warmth.
At once cozy and svelte, the Ghost can be worn alone as a light insulating layer, or layered underneath a shell or parka for extra warmth.

The Ghost makes an excellent midlayer insulating jacket. It slides imperceptibly beneath a hardshell jacket, or even another, bigger, burlier, puffier down jacket. We used to have only fleece jackets to fill this "mid-layer" niche, but as down jackets become more breathable, they're able to do the job, and often at a lower weight penalty.

The down in the Ghost is certified Responsible Down Standard 800 fill power goose down. The baffles are relatively narrow, which creates potentially more cold spots in the jacket, so this again points to the optimal use of this jacket—as a mid-layer under a shell jacket. The 7 and 10 Denier recycled nylon ripstop resists wind, and the snug, adjustable fit keeps warm air trapped inside.

Weight


We're not sure how much a ghost weighs, but maybe it's 8 ounces, like this jacket in size small.


That's so light that it's hard to tell it's even there, except for the cozy warm feeling around you. Maybe it's a friendly ghost. This is by far the lightest jacket in our review, and while that also means it is not the absolute warmest, it certainly is the warmest for its un-contested light weight. This weight savings comes from the excellent 800 fill down, the ultra-lightweight 10 denier fabric, and a meticulous, streamlined set of features. It is relatively minimalist in the Features metric, discussed below.

The Ghost is so light it helps us float  no matter what we're climbing!
The Ghost is so light it helps us float, no matter what we're climbing!

Looking to Ditch the Hood?
The Women's Ghost Whisperer is also available without the bulk of a hood; check it out here. The addition of a hood to any jacket provides extra warmth, but we also understand that it also adds bulk. If you're looking for a more streamlined layering option, check out the Ghost Whisperer Jacket.

Compressibility


The Ghost was one of our favorites for long rock climbs because of its light weight and compressibility. When you stuff it inside its hand pocket and clip it to the back of your harness with the revealed clippable loop, you barely notice it's there. Then it deploys quickly and easily when you get to the top of the pitch, helping you keep that well-earned body heat while you belay your partner up.


The Ghost is a spectacular mid-layer jacket for extremely cold conditions; given how light and compact it is, it is hard to justify not taking it along on every adventure. We consider this jacket to be the wind shirt equivalent of the down jacket world. It's so small, light, and compressible that you'll take it everywhere.

The Ghost Whisperer 2 is a very lightweight and highly compressible down jacket
The Ghost Whisperer 2 is a very lightweight and highly compressible down jacket

Features


The Ghost is a minimalist jacket, so it does not have any extraneous features. It is simple, streamlined, no-frills, but highly functional.


Mountain Hardwear managed to streamline the necessities of a very comfortable and useful down jacket. It has everything we need and nothing we don't. We do miss the chest pocket; it's our favorite feature for stashing our phone, so the battery doesn't get cold and die, or for a couple of small snacks that we don't want to get cold, but the jacket is so well made that we forgive the lack of chest pocket.

The cuff is cozy and provides a good seal  keeping the warmth inside.
The cuff is cozy and provides a good seal, keeping the warmth inside.

The Ghost packs easily and quickly into its own hand pocket, revealing a loop that you can clip to the back of your harness. This was our go-to jacket for late fall desert tower rock climbs or backpacking trips - those steep and strenuous climbs where every ounce counts. It packs down so small that we hardly noticed it was there, even when we were pulling steep roof moves or hiking uphill.

This jacket also features raglan sleeves, which extend to the collar. We like this sleeve style, as it accommodates a broader range of shoulder widths, and improves freedom of movement. This is an excellent feature in a climbing jacket.

The itsy bitsy cinching cord and toggle help keep this jacket light as a ghost.
The itsy bitsy cinching cord and toggle help keep this jacket light as a ghost.

Durability


As expected, this award-winner is made of some of the lighter materials in this review: 7 and 10 Denier recycled ripstop nylon. These ultralight materials are ultimately less durable than heavier weight materials. If lightweight is your top priority, this is probably not a big issue. But we would also contend that this jacket is not penalized much in the durability metric for the gains made in the weight metric.

We climbed sandstone towers and hiking steep mountains, wearing it in cold conditions and carrying it clipped to the back of our harness when wearing one. Climbing in it produced no holes. The slippery fabric seemed to help it glide over abrasive surfaces, and the svelte shape kept it close to our body to help prevent it from snagging. This jacket is durable for what it is, but it's a very lightweight jacket.


Water Resistance


A down jacket is not meant to be waterproof—that is the job of a good hardshell jacket. But if you're out for a week and your down jacket gets wet on day two, you could be in a dangerous situation. And in some of our field tests, we were in cold enough conditions that if we got damp at all, it could be serious.


This jacket resisted moisture from the outside, keeping us dry when we were covered in snow or dripped on while climbing ice, or hiking. It resisted moisture from the inside; when we got going a little too fast, and our body heat climbed, this jacket didn't absorb any sweat; it wicked right through. Great news for staying warm and dry—once we got out of that sweaty base layer.

The Ghost Whisperer 2  simple  durable  warm  light  all great.
The Ghost Whisperer 2, simple, durable, warm, light, all great.

Down jackets are not meant to be waterproof, but since down loses its insulating properties when wet, it's good for the jacket to have some water repellent abilities.

Value


The Ghost is on the pricier end of the lightweight down jacket spectrum. But we think the craftsmanship and technology make this award-winner a great value. It has high-quality goose down, excellent, lightweight, recycled materials, good fit and mobility, and features that add up to an excellent, versatile, and very comfortable down jacket.

Conclusion


The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer truly is as light as a ghost. We loved this as an active, aerobic climbing layer for cold ice climbing or hiking days, and as a fast-and-light summer mountaineering jacket. It is light enough for rock climbs and ultralight enthusiasts.

We loved all the ways we could move in the Ghost Whisperer 2.
We loved all the ways we could move in the Ghost Whisperer 2.

Lyra Pierotti