The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite is a simple, effective wind layer lacking in the many bells and whistles of its competitors. While this simplicity appears to have helped keep the price down, the lack of running-specific features made it less competitive. With decent comfort and above-average breathability, this jacket would have been a contender for our Best Buy had we not fallen head over heels for the Brooks LSD. If you're looking for a versatile, packable wind layer, this jacket could be a great choice, though as a running piece, it wasn't our favorite.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite - Women's Review
Cons: Less breathability, no features
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ghost Lite is a lightweight wind layer that is a bit too simple to really be classified as a running jacket.
Running, no matter if you're a seasoned racer or a novice jogger, means working up a sweat. Breathability is key to enjoyment, so our testing team looked at each product's materials and construction to compare their airflow.
The Ghost Lite is made 100% ripstop nylon which we found to have decent breathability. We felt a bit like we were in a trash bag, and we wouldn't recommend this layer for very warm days or high-paced workouts. Compared to the permeable nylon of the Patagonia Airshed, there was a lot of room here for improvement. We found its performance to be similar to other lightweight shells in this review like the Brooks LSD.
One thing that could have improved the breathability of this jacket is vents. As opposed to the Arc'teryx Gaea, which features a few different materials, the Ghost Lite is one cohesive piece. Having some room for air to flow to the underarms and back could have alleviated some of the stuffiness of this jacket. Unfortunately, this garment's performance was just about average in this category.
After months of testing, we started to find that, often, weather resistance and breathability were at odds with one another. It turns out that materials that can easily keep wind out have trouble letting air in. Many of the lightweight jackets in this review struggled to find that balance, so when deciding which jacket is right for you, it may be helpful to decide which of the two metrics is more important to you.
The Ghost Lite, like the LSD and The North Face Flight RKT, provides incredible wind protection at the cost of some breathability. Our testers found that this jacket likely belongs better in our women's wind breaker jacket review. And, to be fair, the manufacturer markets this jacket less for running and more for alpinism, and we'd have to agree.
Similar to the competitors mentioned above, the Ghost Lite does a solid job keeping out moisture, though we won't recommend it for running in a true rainstorm. With no insulation, this jacket provides a bit of warmth but not much. For cool weather, we'd recommend the Brooks Canopy which is a bit heavier.
Comfort means something different to everyone, so to make our review more objective, we brought in a group of friends, colleagues, and runners to give feedback on the fit and feel of each jacket. We were able to reach a consensus by directly comparing each product side-by-side.
The Ghost Lite isn't exactly uncomfortable, but it doesn't offer much regarding luxury. The material is smooth though not as cozy as that of the Outdoor Research Tantrum.
We try not to get too weight-conscious here at OutdoorGearLab, but our testers realized that when it comes to running, every ounce really does count. Whether you're moving fast or slow, our testers noticed the difference in ounces from jacket to jacket that were harder to notice when we were hiking or backpacking. So, to determine how easy it was to bring along each product in this review, we looked at both weight and packability.
The Ghost Lite is one of the lightest jackets that we tested. Coming in at 2.7 ounces, this layer earns its spot in the "sub-3-ounce club", along with the Brooks LSD and The North Face Flight RKT. On days with a chance of bad weather, we no longer had an excuse to not bring a jacket with us.
As far as packability goes, the Ghost Lite excelled. Compared to the other sub 3-ounce contenders, they all fit easily into their own pocket for easy packing. The LSD set itself apart with the ingenious armband, however, while the Ghost Lite and Flight RKT had a simple, standard clip loop not as purposefully designed for running. Still, the weight alone and tiny packing space were enough to earn this jacket a near-perfect 9/10 in this category.
There are a lot of jackets out there that could pass for running layers, but in this section, we wanted to investigate each product had that made them particularly well-suited to running. Some of our must-have features were visibility and unique storage solutions.
The Ghost Lite's biggest downfall was in this scoring metric. With no reflective features, we'd have to rule out night running in this jacket. The LSD, on the other hand, has a sizeable reflective stripe down the back to help keep us safe when we're working out in the dark.
There's one chest pocket on this jacket, which we like, but it isn't large enough to fit a large phone. One thing we did appreciate on this garment was the waist cinch that helps with fit and keeping precipitation out. The hood is useful as well, but we prefer to have a sturdier brim, like the one found on the Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket.
To be clear, we don't dislike the Ghost Lite, but we also don't think it really fits as a running jacket. The best applications for this jacket, honestly, are for climbing or backpacking, where the running-specific features aren't necessary, and packability is the most important quality.
Retailing for $100, the Ghost Lite is a decently priced wind layer. If you're looking for a running product, however, we'd recommend the less expensive LSD that is riddled with awesome features.
At the end of our months-long testing process, we concluded that while the Ghost Lite has a lot of useful applications, running isn't one of them. With decreased breathability and none of the crucial features we need in a running layer, we'd recommend this jacket more to climbers or trekkers looking for a lightweight wind layer.
— Lauren DeLaunay