Dec 11, 2010 at 3:00 pm #1266486
First, a little about me. I live and hike/camp in SoCal and I'm a three-season person. I spent much time in the outdoors/backcountry in the 70s/80s and just got back to the sport in May 2010. I did four day hikes and two multi-day trips in the Sierras by August and was really revived. My full pack weight on the longer trip was around 35+ lbs. I have been trying to lighten up ever since. I'm a size Medium.
On to the topic. I currently own the Arc'teryx piece, but have never worn it and have read allot about the Montbell jacket. When overnighting, I take four layers: s/s synthetic shirt, l/s nylon shirt (for sun protecton/mosquito's if needed), a fleece (replaced by the Arc’teryx Atom LT), and a Marmot Aegis rain jacket. So, my question is, will the Montbell EX Light, at 5.5 oz. vs. the Arc’teryx Atom LT at 11 oz., be as warm as the Arc'teryx? I don't want to sacrifice warmth for weight. I always take a jacket, whether day hiking or camping. I'd like to lighten up, but also want to be prepared. That means keeping warm if the need arises. I'm not sure how the two jackets compare, so that's why I'm asking. If you have other better options, LMK. I do see the Montbell jackets are on sale and so this is pertinent to me now. And I could take back the Arc'teryx jacket and get the Montbell if that's a solid move. What do you all think?Dec 11, 2010 at 3:40 pm #1673308
mb exl will be much lighter and noticeably warmer
it will however be a bit more fragile, so youll need to be more careful … and of course dont get it wet or sweaty
as long as yr not bushwhacking/climbing in it, hiking in it, or using it in rainy environments … the MB is the one take
otherwise i take the atom hoody
i own and use both extensivelyDec 11, 2010 at 3:47 pm #1673309
Eric, glad you can compare both. I mostly hike on trails and would very rarely bushwack. I'm using it more around camp or early/late when temps drop. Thanks for your real-world-use comments.Dec 11, 2010 at 3:50 pm #1673311
warren … the EXL would serve you well then … the atom isnt much warmer than a fleece, its basically a replacement for a fleece
id be happy to just above freezing with my exl, windshirt, and maybe the rain jacket on if cold in static situations
the UL will also work if you want a tad more durability with minimal weight gainDec 11, 2010 at 4:03 pm #1673317
Wow, much warmer and weighs half as much. That's what I'm looking for. And I bet it stuffs even smaller than the Atom LT. Cool. Thanks Eric. Anybody else?Dec 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm #1673319
Vince ContrerasBPL Member
@pillowthreadLocale: like, in my head???
Everything eric said.Dec 11, 2010 at 4:24 pm #1673324
@rcowmanLocale: Canadian Rockies
the atom comes into its own when u need insulation during activity. sitting around not as much.Dec 11, 2010 at 4:44 pm #1673328
Where I live and hike, I don't need any insulation during activity. It's just for the early/late part of the day or for emergency on a day hike. Of course hoping to never have an emergency, just want to be prepared. I'm also thinking of going to DriDucks for my outter layer because they are so light and I rarely use my rain gear anyways. Again though, just want to be prepared in the event of rain (with a lighter load though).
Looking to go as light as possible. Is there any other Montbell product I should consider? -Please keep the comments coming.Dec 11, 2010 at 5:17 pm #1673336
Eric, so the EXL vs. the UL is just about more durability? Is the UL warmer with that .2 oz of extra down?! Just trying to make the right choice.Dec 11, 2010 at 5:43 pm #1673345
The UL Down Inner uses lower grade down (800fp) versus 900FP for the Ex-Light, so both jackets should be basically the same warmth even though the Ex-light has slightly less down by weight.
I have the Ex-light vest (3.64oz in medium!) and up until recently I owned the UL Down Inner. To me, there doesn't seem to be a big difference in durability. Both are really light fabrics that will not hold up to continued abuse/abrasion. Either will hold up well if you take proper care of it. If you don't want the pockets than the UL Down Inner has, then I would go with the Ex-light.Dec 11, 2010 at 7:11 pm #1673374
warren … functionally they are roughly the same warmth
the UL has a 15D vs the exl 7D shell … slight bit more tear and abrasion resistance IMO
put it this way … i dont even sneeze without a windshirt on top of my EXL … as long as you have a windshirt on top of your exl youll be fine
dan yr exl is a lot lighter than mine in med … i got 156g …. maybe u got some super mutant duck … lolDec 11, 2010 at 7:35 pm #1673380
Didn't realize they were that fragile. I guess I could just wear my rain jacket over it then. Again, mostly just static and around camp is where I'll need the warmth. -I guess I shouldn't wear it around a camp fire without some other garment covering it then?Dec 11, 2010 at 7:51 pm #1673386
they prob arent THAT fragile … im paranoid anyways … but i wouldnt want to snag it on a the wrong branch
the windshirt would add to the warmth anyways
i tent to stay away from fires in any nylon clothing …Dec 11, 2010 at 7:51 pm #1673387
Mike MBPL Member
I haven't found the ex light overly fragile. I agree w/ Ben I certainly wouldn't be bushwhacking in it, but I wear mine plenty sans windshirt and knock on wood- no holes/rips/tears
also Dan is talking vest w/ that weight :)Dec 11, 2010 at 8:05 pm #1673396
hmmm that makes sense
anyways one more story before i go out for the night
last year when i first got my atom lt and exl … i went for a walk with this girl
she didnt bring any insulation … so i lent her my exl , i had both in my pack …
she was less than impressed… "OMG ur so cheap u wear garbage bags??? … im not wearing that" … my exl was black of course
so i took out my atom lt … and she was pretty happy … "this is soooooo warm … arteryx makes the BESSSST (read yuppiest) stuffff"
i get the same reaction when i wear them out in town … the MB looks like some cheap "garbage bag" … however one glance of the dead bird logo on the atom will prompt a conversation … "suuuch a niiice jacket" … in fact i had girls open the doors for me at bars in north van, and their eyes were on the logo ..
so if yr young, single, and upwardely mobile …. i urge you to buy the arteryx … you dont need the down, youll find some yuppie girl to keep you warm …
time to get drunk !!!Dec 11, 2010 at 10:05 pm #1673420
Dan/Mike, thanks for the comments. I think I'm much more comfortable making the move to the EXL.
Eric, I'm 47 and married over 21 of those years. So, the bird is of no use to me. At least for pickin' up chicks anyway. Ha! I just want the warmest, lightest, most packable, and most useful jacket out there. It sounds like it is the EXL. The "bird" is going back and the EXL is getting ordered. It just appears to be the best insulation for my needs. BPL rocks.Dec 11, 2010 at 11:50 pm #1673444
. .BPL Member
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
The Ex Lught is ex-cellent. I have the jacket in M and the vest in L for layering and both are under spec weight and have proven plenty durable. I have even used them for around town and traveling. My wife snags them whenever she can (even though they are big on her and even after I gave her a UL down inner for her birthday). The only thing I miss is the pockets for hand warming and stashing things during everyday wear. For the trail and mountain, it's tops. The navy blue is quite stylish taboot, in my opinion.Dec 12, 2010 at 9:54 am #1673512
Regarding durability, I often wear my Ex-Light/UL Down Inner around camp without anything over top but I am somewhat careful with what I'm doing. If I'm going to be wearing it for an extended period of time, or if I'm going to be sitting at a fire or walking through brush then I toss my windshirt over top. A spark from a fire will go through these jackets instantly. You won't even have a split second to brush it off. It's not meant to be an outer layer that takes abuse. If you take reasonable care then it will last a very long time.
I consider a windshirt to be my piece of gear that gets the abuse. I don't spend too much on one (ie. $30-$40) and then it takes the brunt of the abuse from bushwacking, fire sparks etc. You may want to add a medium weight (ie. 3-6oz) windshirt to your kit so you have a comfortable and fairly durable layer that while not essential, you will find yourself wearing all the time. I used to just use a rain jkt as my only shell, but now I find myself taking a windshirt too just because it gets used all the time and it's quite a bit more comfortable to wear than a rain jacket when it's not raining. Also, the lighter rain jackets out there don't stand up to sparks and bushwacking that well either. A cheap durable windshirt can improve your comfort and greatly extended the life of your expensive rain jacket and down jacket.
Regarding the vest, I consider the Ex-light vest to probably be the best summer-time insulation layer there is. 3.64oz is crazy light and yet warm enough for evening insulation on warm trips. On colder trips (ie. spring/fall) I'd probably bring a different jacket or layer another thin jacket over the vest.
I don't think the Montbell stuff looks like a 'cheap garbage bag'. I think it looks great. Not that I'm into this scene, but I'd happily wear an Ex-light to Starbucks. I love Montbell's slogan….'function is beauty'.Dec 12, 2010 at 3:38 pm #1673628
Thanks for your comments. It seems that I'll be plenty happy with the Dark Navy medium-sized EXL I just ordered from ProLite.
Dan/Eric, I also appreciate the comments on a wind shirt. I have one that is 25 years old and is 6 oz. with pockets (and is a tight fit! -w/sweat shirt underneath). I may give that a try, but I was looking for the total weight reduction that the EXL provides. With the windbreaker, total weight is up around 11.5 oz, which is similar to the Arc'teryx jacket I'm taking back. Do any of you have input on a lighter windshirt that I should consider? And cheaper in the $30 range? The few I've seen are $90-$100 and I'm not going there. I guess I could also wear a l/s nylon shirt over it too.Dec 12, 2010 at 4:02 pm #1673632
warren … if you dont normally wear a windshirt you can just wear the exl under yr rain jacket while in camp for extra warmth and abrasion resistance … just dont wear it for higher exertion activities as youll sweat it through
i actually do think my exl look like a garbage bag when i take it out of the stuff sack … its all black and crinkly
i guess thats why i have enough dead birds in my closet to start a KFC =PDec 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm #1673633
Ya, I'm taking my dead bird back to REI. Can't justify two $$ jackets in the closet. And that's what I thought Eric, just use the DriDuck over it if I need the extra protection. BTW DriDucks will replace my current Marmot Aegis/Sierra Designs rain combo. Gonna drop around 10-11 oz on that deal! Mmmm, KFC.Dec 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm #1673639
Montbell makes some windshirts that are really light and affordable ($75-90 and often on sale). I got the Montbell UL Wind Jkt on eBay for $35 a month or two ago and these are often listed but there's none right now.
It's really a question of how much durability do you want in your clothing system and where do you want it? Montbell makes windshirts with 7D nylon (same fabric as the ex-light) and 15D nylon and they are very light at 2-3oz. These shirts work well as a windshirt (ie. avoiding wind chill) and they will transfer a lot of the wear off of your Ex-light onto the windshirt, but they won't hold up that well to sparks or bushwacking. A big spark can pass through these and through your down jacket, so you need to decide how much protection you want. You need a windshirt in the 5-6oz range to really give you a second to brush off sparks.
The traditional backpacker would likely bring a heavy durable insulating jacket, heavy durable rain jacket and a heavy durable windshirt (and more). By using either the windshirt or rain jacket over the down jacket, you avoid the need for a more durable windshirt. This is a simple UL technique to save weight with no major downsides. If you want to take things a step further you can either reduce the durability of one/both of these garments or leave one or both behind. Either of these decisions comes with a more significant compromise and responsibility.
Around camp, either of these garments will do fine to protect the down layer (except from maybe large fire sparks). I prefer to use the windshirt as they are cheaper to replace. My wife put a few holes in her rain jacket when wearing it over her down jkt around a fire.
I wouldn't carry a wind shirt just to protect the ex-light. I carry a windshirt for other reasons, and then I wear it over the ex-light around camp because it's the best choice (less critical and expensive than the rain jkt). If you don't carry a windshirt anyways, then just use the rain jkt over the ex-light. I carry a windshirt because it's the most comfortable thing to hike in when it's chilly out. I find myself wearing it all the time, rather than bringing a heavier hiking shirt. A light hiking t-shirt (2.5oz) + light windshirt (2.5oz) is lighter and more versatile than a heaver long sleeve hiking shirt.
A similar benefit exists with carrying the windshirt and the ex-light (versus carrying the Atom LT). You have 2 separate layers so you can wear just the windshirt if it's a bit chilly, or both if it's colder. You can also replace the windshirt when it wears out and your ex-light will still be in great shape. Two separate layers will also be easier to dry than one combined layer.
FWIW, My summer upper body clothing setup is the Ex-Light Vest (3.6oz), Montbell UL Windshirt (2.7oz), Marmot Essence Rain Jacket (6.2oz) and a really light synthetic hiking t-shirt (2.5oz).
Sorry about the long winded post.Dec 12, 2010 at 7:58 pm #1673698
Very appreciative of your post. I'm here to research and learn. I will be coming back to this thread to guide me in other decisions I make. Understanding the benefit a l/w windshirt can provide, I will look more into them. I live where its warmer so I might not need one. But I haven't really thought it through enough to know if I do or not. You've brought some good points to the fore and I'll consider them all. Thanks for your encouragement and enthusiasm. It's really infective, if that's a word!Dec 13, 2010 at 3:33 am #1673758
Yeah learning is fun. The more reading, learning and research you do before you buy, the less times you will regret your purchase and wind up wanting something else.
With pretty much any gear purchase, for me step one is identifying the function I want to obtain (ie. I want an extremely light and low durability insulating jacket for summer use because I'll wear it under my windshirt). Step two is understanding how best to meet this on a specifications level (ie. I want 15D nylon or lighter, 800fp down or better and I need about 2oz of down to achieve the desired warmth). Step 3 is identifying the potential pieces of gear that meet these specs and then Step 4 is choosing the garment by comparing other relevant factors (ie. feature sets, quality, price) that exist in the gear options that meet your criteria.
By really narrowing it down before you even start looking at actual pieces of gear you can save a lot of time wading through a million different options. In the example above, I could immediately dismiss a lot of the light down jackets on the market because they use 30D nylon and I don't want that because I don't desire that much durability. This is generally how I do it but it happens naturally as I read reviews and technical info and slowly develop a picture of what I want.
After a while deciding on stuff like insulation choice, nylon denier etc. gets a lot easier as you gain experience and have a better idea how well you are able to take care of stuff. When I first bought my UL Down Inner I thought I could use it as more of a stand-alone outer layer because I wasn't too familiar with 15D nylon. I ended up disappointed when it suffered some (minor) damage. Now I understand that you need at least 30D nylon for reasonable durability if you're going to wear it a lot without an over layer. Accordingly, I would choose 30D if I wanted to wear it by itself a lot, but I'm comfortable going all the way down to 7D for a garment I plan on not wearing often as an outer layer. There's no need for 30D if I've got a windshirt that I can just layer over.Dec 13, 2010 at 7:02 pm #1674021
I see. It's about a real (light) layering system. And the wind shirt can be used over a lw s/s shirt or in other ways, not just over my EXL. I currently use a 5 oz. shirt (heavy by your standards, what shirt is that you have anyway!) and when I need more protection, whether it be from sun or cold or mostly from mosquitos, I use a l/s button front shirt like Exofficio. Probably about 10 oz. or so in weight. So now I get it. Get a light wind shirt that can do the same job (as the Exofficio) and pair it with any lw s/s shirt and you've got a great UL setup. I've actually been looking for a l/s button front for a while because I use it against bugs and sun. Sounds like the windshirt is a better choice. Will the wind shirt do as good a job or better compared to the Exofficio? Can I use it while hiking? I think you said you hike in yours. If I can do that, that will be an excellent way to go. I think I mentioned in the beginning of my thread that I use a s/s shirt, l/s button front shirt, insulating layer (now EXL), and a rain jacket as my layering system. Really, the only reason the rain jacket ever comes out is to add heat trapping when its cold. I take it for that and the just in case rain. Didn't need it for rain all this year though. So, I'm going to DriDucks to drop a bunch of weight. The equipment I have now was purchased for a Boy Scout reunion trip to honor our Scoutmaster whom had passed away the year before. I got in five hikes/trips before we did the reunion in Kennedy Meadows (Immigrant Wilderness). So a few pieces I've bought may not be ideal, but they served me well this year and have gotten me back into the sport in a big :)way. I'm trying to get myself into extrememly lighter gear now and have been having much fun researching and moving on those items that seem to meet my objectives. So all of this has helped me significantly and your suggestions on windshirts will lighten the load a bit further. Hmmm, that was long. I appreciate your long and detailed posts Dan. I get it now.
-Any comments on an ideal windshirt + short sleeve (s/s) shirt combo, my mention of driduck, etc, would be and are as always, most appreciated.
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