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Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Hoody - Women's Review

A lightweight versatile jacket with good warmth and great coverage that's got your back on any mission
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Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Hoody - Women's Review (The Ghost Shadow is a great lightweight jacket that's highly packable and ounce-saving, without making drastic...)
The Ghost Shadow is a great lightweight jacket that's highly packable and ounce-saving, without making drastic compromises to its warmth and weather protection.
Credit: Maggie Nichols
Price:  $230 List
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Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 5, 2023
  • Warmth - 25% 6.5
  • Comfort - 25% 6.5
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 7.5
  • Weight and Compressibility - 15% 9.5
  • Breathability - 15% 6.5

Our Verdict

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow lives up to its name when it comes to weight and packability, earning it our Top Pick for Lightweight award. This featherweight puffy offers more coverage than so many others we tested, adding warmth and comfort. The cuffs are some of our favorites, with their style of baffling extending beyond the elastic wristband to add significant warmth for wrists and hands. Though it's a thin jacket, the Ghost brings solid weather resistance to the table and features a baffle-free bottom hem to avoid conflicting with a climbing harness or your pack's hip belt. We're impressed by the warmth-to-weight ratio of this highly packable jacket and can easily make an excuse to bring it along for pretty much any winter adventure where weight matters. Get the skinny on how it stacks up against other great options in our article on the top women's insulated jackets.
Lightweight and packable
More coverage
Excellent cuffs
Good warmth-to-weight ratio
Versatile fit and function
Hood is drafty without a beanie or helmet
Stuff pocket is oddly shaped

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow is a lightweight jacket with a tlarger hood and a relaxed slim fit. Its exterior is made of partially recycled 80g (body and sleeves) and 60g (hood and side panels) nylon, with a single bungee cord adjustment on the hem. It has four pockets — two zippered hand pockets, creating two internal drop pockets — and packs into its right hand pocket.

Performance Comparison

mountain hardwear ghost shadow hoody for women - we enjoy wearing the ghost shadow hoody, even when we don't need to...
We enjoy wearing the Ghost Shadow Hoody, even when we don't need to keep track of every ounce.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


As a lightweight jacket, the Ghost Shadow is on a different playing field from the midweight and heavyweight insulated jackets we tested. But as a lightweight model, the Ghost provides solid warmth to the wearer. A large part of this is due to clever coverage details. The cuffs extend beyond their elastic band inside, adding coverage to the backs of your hands and keeping your wrists warm. Even our main tester, with her very high ape index, felt her hands and wrists have good protection in this jacket. The torso is slightly longer than average, with a moderate drop hem that once again helps to keep us covered when we're moving and even more covered when standing still.

The hood is fitted with enough space to wear a beanie underneath. Elastic portions rimming the sides of the hood by your eyes let this hood move more easily when worn. A full-length wind guard behind the main zipper helps stop gusts from getting in so easily. The relaxed slim fit of this jacket makes adding layers overtop or underneath a cinch, creating even more warmth based on your needs.

mountain hardwear ghost shadow hoody for women - the ghost shadow hood is a bit large for wearing without a beanie...
The Ghost Shadow hood is a bit large for wearing without a beanie, though it's still doable.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


The Ghost Shadow has that typical swishy feel and sound we've come to associate with puffy jackets. It's less flexible than some but its thinness helps it to move, regardless. While wearing it, we don't feel like marshmallows, which says a lot about this jacket's comfort. It has okay shoulder space for regular movements, though nothing special that we'd be excited to wear while climbing.

The drop hem of the Ghost can be cinched up and out of the way or keep out frigid breezes. The internal bungee doesn't go all the way around the jacket's hem, though — it starts and ends just in front of each side panel, extending around the back of the hem for a more targeted tightening. It's adjusted by a single toggle that's sewn inside the bottom of the hem, with just a loop of bungee cord hanging out. The hand pockets zip quite high and have lots of space left over, so even if your backpack's hip belt cuts off the bottom, you'll still have access to reasonably-sized pockets.

mountain hardwear ghost shadow hoody for women - we're big fans of the overhanging baffle that adds both comfort and...
We're big fans of the overhanging baffle that adds both comfort and warmth to the ends of the Ghost Shadow sleeves.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Weather Resistance

For blocking wind, the Ghost Shadow is best paired with other layers. As a thin jacket, it does a solid job but can't match the stopping power of thicker coats. The main zipper wind guard and adjustable hem help a lot, but it's not a jacket we'd wear over a t-shirt on a cold, blustery day. The hood is also on the loose side, begging to be worn with a beanie to properly seal out gusts. However, the cuff overhang on our hands makes a big difference in our happiness when the wind picks up.

In our water resistance tests, the Ghost had no problem repelling light precipitation and water left sitting for extended periods of time. It has quite a lot of baffle stitching, which may be weak points for water entry down the line, but during our several months of wear, it never leaked. It's with this in mind that we appreciate the lack of baffles on the bottom several inches of the jacket — if we wear it with a harness or hip belt pack regularly, baffle stitching could get pulled and create holes that compromise the integrity of the fabric. No baffles = a significantly lesser chance of that happening.

mountain hardwear ghost shadow hoody for women - it's no rain shell, but it performed admirably in our water...
It's no rain shell, but it performed admirably in our water resistance testing.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


On top of an already solidly above-average performance, the Ghost is one of the most packable jackets we tested. The size Small we wore for months weighs a mere 9.7 ounces, making it one of the lightest models in our lineup. It packs away into its right hand pocket for easy carrying.

But shaving ounces isn't the end of the story. Not all jackets are easy to cram into their pockets. Some have small zippered openings that are hard to stuff into or pockets that just barely fit the jacket, requiring you to force it in, using your legs or the ground as support, and needing to squeeze it between your knees just to zip it shut. Not so with the Ghost Shadow. Though its pockets are long and narrow, it took just a few practices to see the best and easiest way to pack it away. We were consistently able to do so without the typical cramming job so many others require. And once it's zipped closed, a carabiner loop on the end makes it easy to clip to whatever you want.

mountain hardwear ghost shadow hoody for women - we appreciate the long zipper that makes it easy to pack and unpack...
We appreciate the long zipper that makes it easy to pack and unpack the Ghost Shadow into itself. A large carabiner loop on the end adds to its portability.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


The Ghost performed marginally above average in our breathability tests. Its adjustable hem helps to add airflow when you need it, and the hand pocket lining is thin, which can be loosely co-opted into a sort of minor vent if bloused over a harness and held open.

It's here where the middling features of the Ghost come in handy. It's thin and lightweight, therefore less warm than heavier models. It has a slightly longer torso and sleeves but not the longest, still allowing for them to be pulled out of the way if you need to breathe without removing the jacket. Though the Ghost lacks specific breathability features, it still does just fine for many low and medium-output winter activities like hiking and holiday shopping.

mountain hardwear ghost shadow hoody for women - the ghost shadow is thin yet warm, and the bottom several inches are...
The Ghost Shadow is thin yet warm, and the bottom several inches are baffle-free to be more easily worn under a hip belt or harness.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Should You Buy the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow?

The Ghost Shadow is a medium investment, hitting right around the average cost of models we tested. If you're after a lightweight, packable jacket that still delivers protection and performance, the Ghost is a worthy investment. If you don't need a highly packable jacket, there may be others that offer better performance for what you desire.

What Other Insulated Jackets Should You Consider?

When it comes to merging low weight and packability with solid protection, the Ghost Shadow provides great portability and a good warmth-to-weight ratio. If you're more concerned with counting your dollars than ounces, the Columbia Heavenly Hoody will save you some money while keeping you toasty and cozy, but it's over twice the weight and far less packable. If you're looking for an easily layered adventure jacket, we love the breathability, fit, and feel of the Arc'teryx Atom.

Maggie Nichols