Mar 26, 2013 at 5:51 pm #1300931
Down jacket threads seem to pop up all the time, so you might be rolling your eyes – oh no, not another one. I've read reviews and used the search feature, and not quite found an answer to my question. I need some real-world expertise from you gram counters.
If you could have one Montbell hooded down jacket for 3-season use across a variety of environments, which one would you choose? That's the basic question. I can only afford one hooded jacket at this point.
My specs and gear: I'm 6'2" 175 pounds (skinny, as in my mom worries about me) and tend to be a cold sleeper. I'm trying to get my 3-season baseweight between 4-6 pounds, depending on the trip. I recently switched from a WM mummy bag to an EE Revelation 20 and absolutely love the design and craftsmanship. I normally hike in a Patagucci merino wool baselayer, and my Houdini windshirt if the temps drop or the wind picks up. I use my Driducks (or Frogg Toggs, whatever) as a rain jacket. Works for me on open trails. I never actually hike in down. This jacket will not be for hiking. It will be for camp, perhaps early morning starts if truly necessary, and to augment my sleep system. For a shelter, I have a Zpacks Hexamid Solo. For sleep, I have REI silk top and bottoms and use an extra pair of merino wool socks.
Location: I live east of Santa Cruz in the mountains and typically hike through Big Basin State Park. There are several other parks with similar terrain that I also visit. Winter overnight lows can dip between 25 to 35 degrees, but usually hover around 40 degrees. I also make several trips to the Sierras and will be on the JMT this year. I'm going to the Grand Canyon in spring, and hopefully Utah in late spring. I'm also going to be section hiking the PCT in Socal, near Idylwild. I'm not a hardcore alpinist or climber seeking out harsh winter conditions at this point.
Obviously, no jacket is perfect for every situation. I realize this. What I'm looking at is the MB UL Down Parka, and the Frost Smoke Parka. I think the Alpine Light Parka will be too warm for me with 4.5 ounces of fill. The Frost Smoke seems like an interesting jacket, but I'm not sure if it's worth carrying the extra 3 ounces of jacket for 1 more ounce of fill. I'm looking for responses from people with experience using these products. There doesn't seem to be much info on on the Frost Smoke Parka.
As of now, I'm leaning towards the UL down parka, which weighs 9.5 ounces for the medium. I wear a large, so I'm anticipating it being 10-10.5 ounces. The Frost Parka is 12.5 ounces for the medium, so probably 13-13.5 ounces for the large.
I looked at other jackets – WM Flash, FF Daybreak, RAB – but for price, features, and quality, MB seems to be the most popular choice for ULers. I'm open to other suggestions, however, as there are several options available nowadays. I apologize for the long post, but it seems the extra detail can get better responses. Thanks in advance.Mar 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm #1969878
todd harperBPL Member
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
Don't apologize for all the words…It helps give you the most complete recommendation!
I have a nearly identical build and wear a size Large UL Down inner (and all other Montbell jackets I own are large as well). The trim fit is perfect. That's the garment I recommend for you, all things considered.
You are correct, I feel, about the Alpine Light being too warm for those conditions. I have the jacket version.
The feature set, warmth, and weight of the of the UL Down Inner should be best for you. The pockets, for me, are worth the added weight over the lightest Montbell's, FWIW.Mar 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm #1969880
Steven ParisBPL Member
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
I like the UL Down Parka for 3-Season layering. It will pair well with your existing baselayer and the Houdini, worn under the UL parka. If you were still cold, then you could throw a rain shell over the whole thing (like the Driducks).
If I was going to be spending a lot of time standing around in camp (like winter or a GGG event) or if the temps were consistently lower, I'd want a little more down.
Btw, there's a lot of 20% off coupons floating around right now, but most seem to exclude MontBell. Might be worth searching, however.
Edit: you didn't mention the jacket version, but just in case, I'd recommend the Parka. Even if you take a warm hat, the hood is nice.Mar 26, 2013 at 8:01 pm #1969936
Hey guys, thanks for the responses. The MB UL Down Parka seems like the way to go for my needs at this point. For weight, warmth, price, and features (adjustable hood, drawstring waist, zippered pockets), it seems like the best all-around jacket I've come across.
The large sounds like a perfect fit for me. I like an athletic cut that can possibly layer under my Houdini, and I know it will layer under my balloon-like large Driducks.
In regards to the 20% off coupons, I've read the fine print and Montbell is always excluded from the sales. I've checked Backcountrygear, Backcountry.com, REI member coupon, Altrec, DepartmentofGoods, and several other sites to no avail. Every site I've found has the jacket for 175$, which seems very reasonable anyway. However, because I am cheap, if anybody knows of a good deal I would definitely be interested.Mar 26, 2013 at 8:08 pm #1969939
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"Every site I've found has the jacket for 175$, which seems very reasonable anyway. However, because I am cheap, if anybody knows of a good deal I would definitely be interested."
Keep your eye on moosejaw.com. They're having a 20% off sale beginning April 1, and they have the Montbell UL Down Parka.Mar 26, 2013 at 8:48 pm #1969967
Thayne NBPL Member
I have the MB UL down jacket and the Western Mountaineering hooded flash and they both get used pretty often.
I think you'd be very happy with the MB parka. If you're open to buying used, and you spend enough time on ebay, you'll find a WM jacket, at the same price as the MB new….(or the feathered friends equivalent.)Mar 26, 2013 at 10:49 pm #1970009
Foo BarBPL Member
@schasseyLocale: Bay Area
I live just over the hill in San Jose, and cover a lot of the same or similar territory on my trips.
Both my girlfriend and I have been using the Stoic Hadron Anoraks for the past year or so, and we love them. Both are just shy of 8 oz (smalls), plenty warm, and the handwarmer pocket is fantastic. Basically, it's an uber light down hoodie.
You might want to consider it, as it's a good bit cheaper:
Prior to this, my go-to down layer was a MB Ex-Light jacket, and I haven't looked back after making the switch- I love having the hood, especially for when I sleep in the jacket to extend the range of my MB UL SS #1 bag.
Fat Wallet offers up to 5% cash back:
This coupon might still work for DoG (it's listed as expiring 3/12/13, but I've used 'expired' coupons on their site before):
Anyway, I highly recommend the Stoic jacket.Mar 26, 2013 at 11:30 pm #1970016
You know, I actually researched the Stoic Hadron Anorak for quite a while and almost bought it a few months ago. I like the simplicity of the design; that really appeals to my taste these days. It seems to have positive reviews here on BPL, and the weight is fantastic. I noticed there's no drawcord for the hood. Has that been a problem for you?
I'm seriously tempted. I had forgotten about Stoic.Mar 27, 2013 at 12:00 am #1970018
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
I just hate the colors of the stoic, good deal though.
Also the MH ghost whisperer is super light, 6-7 ounces. expensive if not on sale though.Mar 27, 2013 at 8:49 am #1970101
Yeah, it seems many people don't like the Hadron colors. I'm probably not the best judge of color or fashion since I'm now wearing Driducks jackets and MLD rain chaps on the trail:)
Seriously though, I do prefer muted colors such as black, gray, olive green, dark blue – not purple, yellow, or bright orange. Right now BC and DoG are offering the Hadron Anorak for 116$ in midnight/agave, which appears to be a nice dark blue with yellow buttons. I don't mind a little yellow.
In regards to the hooded Ghost Whisperer, I've read mostly excellent reviews about the product, but have yet to find it for a decent price. I've had good luck with MH apparel in the past and would be willing to try it.Mar 27, 2013 at 9:24 am #1970122
Foo BarBPL Member
@schasseyLocale: Bay Area
I don't mind the lack of a drawcord at all- it's got a nice light elastic around the face which does the job for me. Obviously this is a fit issue, so YMMV. However, I generally use this in conjunction with my Houdini, sounds like you will to, and the Houdini's hood drawcord might be contributing to my overall happiness with the system, given that the Houdini is on anytime the winds start gusting up; I never have had any issues with wind getting under the hood, let alone blowing off or the like.
Hope that helps!Mar 27, 2013 at 10:16 am #1970137
I have a patagonia down sweater the Ultra light version(8.3 oz). but they make a hooded version at 9.3 oz. I know at rei right now all that stuff is on sale plus if you are a member with your 20% off and a dividend you could get it pretty cheap I would imagine.Mar 27, 2013 at 11:40 am #1970180
When I posted this thread yesterday, I had completely forgotten about Stoic. Based on reviews, and talking to another friend last night, I decided to give the Stoic Anorak a try. It can't be beat for the price. With a coupon, I got it for under a 100$ with free shipping, almost 80$ cheaper than the MB. I got the midnight/agave, which is a dark blue with yellow trim. We'll see about the colors. Luckily for me, most fashionistas and hipsters hang out in SF, far away from the trails I prefer.
Also for the size L, it's about the lightest hooded jacket I could find. The only other one in the same range is the MH Ghost Whisperer, and that's a much more expensive piece. I'll write up a detailed review once I put the product to use.Mar 27, 2013 at 11:57 am #1970185
Take advantage of Backcountry's return policy and beat the daylights out of that jacket before you trust it. I've had clothing from Stoic that has failed from relatively poor craftsmanship, a necessary caveat at that price range. So, I wouldn't trust it in the wilderness unequivocally until you know the tolerances of the seams and shell fabric.Mar 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm #1970196
Thanks for the heads up. I've never owned a Stoic product before, so that's good to know. Backcountry has treated me well in the past when I had problem with another product. I don't expect this jacket to last 10 years, as I simply log too many miles and trips for that, but for the original price of 179$, Montbell money, I do expect good craftsmanship and at least 2 years' use since I take care of my gear.
But you're right, it's all about real-world testing before I trust a piece, no matter the positive reviews. Time will tell. If it doesn't work, I'll get my money back and most likely try a MB.
Patagucci products have treated me well. This may be silly, but I'm not looking at the Patagonia UL down hoodie cuz my GF already has one. She's almost as UL as I am now (not quite as obsessive), and we like to try out different products to give us a broader knowledge base of what's on the market. I know she puts her gear through nearly the same mileage I do, and I know how well she cares for her gear, so it's a nice chance to compare products. However, if a product blows us both away, then I would definitely purchase it. She bought her Patagucci this winter, so it needs more testing before I'm satisfied.Mar 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm #1970197
Sumi WadaBPL Member
@detroittigerfanLocale: Ann Arbor
My son has the Stoic Hadron, I have the Montbell Down Inner. His Hadron is warmer.
Both use rather delicate fabrics but if you're just using it around camp like we do, it's probably not an issue.
Only small issue he has with the Hadron are the cuffs — they're tight and not stretchy enough. He's a skinny kid; seems like a guy with normal-sized wrists would find them really annoying.
Nice big hand-warmer pockets but they're not secure for holding things.
For future reference, Campsaver often has great deals on Montbell jackets.Mar 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm #1970200
John HarperBPL Member
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
"Take advantage of Backcountry's return policy and beat the daylights out of that jacket before you trust it."
That is stupid advice. It is a lightweight down jacket – it is not meant to have the "daylights" beaten out of it.
I have many Stoic products (including the Hadron Anorak) and they've all held up fine over the past couple years. If something does happen to your jacket, you should be able to return it to backcountry.com for a refund. Their return policy is pretty similar to REI's.Mar 27, 2013 at 5:25 pm #1970290
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Just remember that 'most versatile' usually means 'not optimal for any particular use'.
CheersMar 27, 2013 at 6:13 pm #1970306
Funny you mention that about all-around not being the best for anything in particular. I've been experimenting with and expanding my UL quiver of gear the last 5 years in particular, and can now adjust and fine tune my gear based on season/weather/distance. However, when you don't have a ton of dough to spend on gear, it makes sense to me to seek out a piece that works for most, if not all, of your trips.
I'm lucky enough to live in a mostly mild climate in the Santa Cruz Mts, so much of my gear can be used year round. A quality down jacket with 2-3 ounces of 800+ fill should be useful to me almost every day outside of summer. Obviously, what's best for me won't necessarily work for somebody climbing in Colorado at 9,000ft in January.
To me, if you have adopted the UL system of backpacking and thinking, you can adapt and expand your gear to cover a wider range of temps based on your real-world experience. The last 5 years, I've developed a much deeper understanding of when to hike, when to eat, when to rest, where to pitch a protected camp, how to avoid hazardous sites, and what I can leave at home and still be comfortable and safe. All of these factors combine to allow me to perhaps carry a lighter jacket deeper into the winter than somebody who spends more time sitting around a camp at night, or somebody who is new to backpacking.
I don't mean this post to sound pedantic or come off as a rant, I guess I'm just trying to explain the way I view a versatile piece.Apr 11, 2013 at 8:29 pm #1975586
Marko BotsarisBPL Member
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
I just got a MB UL parka in the mail today. I put it on with my whole layering system – SW crew under a dragonfly (older version of the houdini), under the parka, under my precip rain jacket and holy crap! That combo seems A LOT warmer than my big huge synthetic winter Micheline-man parka. I'm sure I will feel differently in a sleet storm at 33 degrees, but I not sure anywhere in the SC mountains (I live here too) and any time of the year will not feel warm or too warm, even just wearing the parka by itself. I mostly got it for 3-season high sierra trips. I'm gonna have to try these items out in some tough weather, but I'm suddenly feeling covered in all of the types of weather I'd actually plan to put up with – reasonably dry, and spit freezes AFTER it hits the ground weather.
Anyway, it is a lovely jacket – really amazing for 9.4 oz (m). The pataguicci looks (in pictures at least) to be marginally more "street-attractive" than the MB, but it is so much more expensive. People in the know will still think you are cool when they see the MB logo. LOL
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