Apr 28, 2013 at 10:32 pm #1302315
I'm looking at purchasing a puffy and I'm looking at the Mont-bell EX Light Down jacket.
Any reason why there is a better choice for the dollar and ounces? I don't mind spending a few more $ but I want a pay off for it.
Interested in your thoughts?
CGApr 28, 2013 at 10:38 pm #1981456
It depends on what you need. If you are looking to replace a fleece jacket with something lighter and more compressible, it's a good choice. With that said, there are plenty of reasons to get something different. It just depends on your needs.
Do you need more warmth? A hood? A different fit? A water repellant shell? Those are some considerations.Apr 28, 2013 at 11:18 pm #1981466
delApr 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm #1981469
A lot of people really like the EX light but unfortunately they don't offer a hoody version of it. Personally I went with the UL Inner Parka because I find, for the weight, nothing keeps you warmer than a full hood. In size M my UL inner is still under 9oz and much warmer than a heavy 300wt fleece.
As others posted, it depends on what your expected temps are. Like Rick I enjoy the few slight features that UL offers since I think a hem drawcord is essential for locking in warmth. I've taken my UL down to freezing and been warm enough. I've used it to hike in 20F weather in the dark at altitude (not recommended really, but sometimes a trip throws you a curve ball…). There's a lot of lab and field reports that say they're roughly the same warmth but the UL inner has more coverage hence why I can take mine to freezing and Rick can only go to 45F/5C in his EX (+/- a few degrees for individual physiology).
If you want the puffy for colder temps you'll wanting something more substantial (either an alpine light parka or the mirage…along with a host of other offerings from different companies).Apr 29, 2013 at 12:09 am #1981471
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Do you want to wear this with or without a pack?
Never wear down jackets under apack – it mashes the down.
CheersApr 29, 2013 at 3:00 am #1981477
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
And repeated compression can ruin the loft of synthetic fill very easily.Apr 29, 2013 at 9:48 am #1981594
@ezabielskiLocale: Boulder, CO
"It is a 5C or 45F minimalist down sweater. The EX Light does not have a DWR coating."
I don't have mine with me right now to test it, but I am quite sure the EX Light has a DWR coating. The Montbell website says it has "standard DWR treatment".
Also, what's the point of a temperature rating on a jacket? Is that a rating while standing still? Wearing a base layer? What humidity? From my experience, I am fine with it below 45 degrees, in a t-shirt.
In general, the EX Light is the most featureless jacket there is, but it's also within a shout of the lightest down jacket you could buy, and I am pretty happy with it. It is a bit short, though. If you're under 6' it shouldn't be too bad.
The Ghost Whisperer does have a lot more features, for $100 more and 2+ more oz.Apr 29, 2013 at 11:01 am #1981626
Wow lots of info. So i am in Ca for now and mainly looking at a warm layer i can put on under my quilt on a colder than expected night or just to wear around on a crisp morning. I have my froggtogz for a rain layer so I'm not too worried about that. Mainly just to keep me warm when needed. As for the hood and pockets I carry a beanie and gloves so I'm not sure they are really needed. All in all the main thing that intrigues me is the not wearing a down jacket under a pack….. This seems ridiculous to me. What good is a jacket if is cant be warn under a pack when you decide to take off early while it is still brisk outside?Apr 29, 2013 at 11:25 am #1981633
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
Both down and synethic is best for static use, for use on the move fleece is far better.Apr 29, 2013 at 11:45 am #1981642
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I use a heavy fleece zip-up jacket if I am cold while out on the trail (with a pack on). Then when in camp and I am cooling down, I don a Mont Bell down inner jacket. Once I am heading out on the trail again, it gets stuffed. The fleece or a simple shirt will do me while on the trail again.
If I expect the trip to be very cold, I take one more down layer. That is a thicker down vest, and it gets used along with the inner jacket. Each garment is around 7 ounces.
–B.G.–Apr 29, 2013 at 1:49 pm #1981681
This concept of using the fleece is interesting to me as i use a combination of a fleece and wind shirt today for my cold weather needs. It really sounds like the Down jacket is really just for down time off the trail. Then what real advantage does it offer over just layering on top of my fleece and wind shirt (assuming they aren't sweaty from my hike)?
I guess the more look into this i don't see a real advantage to the Puffy. Although all of my friends swear by them and say it is their most treasured piece of gear besides their quilt.Apr 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm #1981688
I have the MB EX Light and the MB Parka – I tend to take the hooded parka more often than the Ex Light – the hood is very nice for minimal weight gain.
Yes, for me, the puffy is primarily for camp time or chilly rest breaks. As such, it's lighter than the equivalent thickness of fleece. It can also extend the temperature of a light sleeping bag.Apr 29, 2013 at 2:28 pm #1981692
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"Then what real advantage does it offer over just layering on top of my fleece"
That is exactly what I suggested.
–B.G.–Apr 29, 2013 at 3:01 pm #1981706
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Puffies are best used around camp while not wearing a pack.
Why? Puffies have some issues. Sweat is a huge issue with down, synthetic puffies can have their loft permanently damaged from repeated compression, they aren't that breathable in the first place, your pack is going to compress the loft on the back and shoulders of the puffy making it less warm, and your pack prevents airflow and makes your back sweaty – and moisture just kills lofted insulation. They also take forever to dry.
You can wear your puffy while hiking if you want, but if it's something that you are going to use all day long (or most of the day) you should choose something that is much more capable and effective instead of something that's lighter. Wearing a puffy during cold mornings is very common.
If you rarely use your fleece during the day, it could be replaced by a puffy that is lighter and warmer.
Do you need something around camp? Or are you just going to get into your sleeping bag when it gets dark?Apr 30, 2013 at 10:00 am #1981935
Yes having something around camp is critical as well. I like to sit up and play cards at night either by myself or with others if the opportunity presents itself. So it sounds like i need to plan to pack a few extra ounces and keep my fleece for the trail and potentially a puffy for in camp…..Apr 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm #1982040
@barrypLocale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
“…Then what real advantage does it offer over just layering on top of my fleece and wind shirt (assuming they aren't sweaty from my hike)?… I guess the more look into this i don't see a real advantage to the Puffy. Although all of my friends swear by them and say it is their most treasured piece of gear besides their quilt. ”
As I have found out, there are some puffies (Montbell synthetics with breathable panels for example) that breathe almost as good as a fleece; definitively lighter than a fleece; definitively warmer than a fleece; doesn’t hold water like a fleece; packs smaller than a fleece. So my fleece is relegated to household use.
And in winter time, oddly enough, I swear my WM Flash jacket breathes like a fleece, as it is still puffy and dry after a strenuous day. My backpack towel is soaked though.
Good luck on coat choice
-The mountains were made for TevasApr 30, 2013 at 3:59 pm #1982067
@dafiremedicLocale: Southern California
I was looking for one last year and ended up with the Montbell UL down jacket, mainly because Mammoth Mountaineering happened to have killer deals on them at the time and I was in the store browsing. I probably would have bought the EX, but they where sold out. After a year, and one thru-hike of the JMT, I'm glad I bought the one that I did. Its a little more durable, has DWR, and pockets. Mine weighs 8.1 oz in the large size which is half the weight of my Columbia fleece jacket and packs to the size of a grapefruit without over packing it. Its warm, I've had it on under my quilt on some of the colder nights, and I keep the stuff sack in the pocket when I use it. I still go back and forth as to whether or not I should have gotten the parka for the hood, but in reality I would be carrying a fleece lined beanie anyway for when I want my head covered but don't need the jacket (such as when hiking), so I decided against it at the time.
I've used it under my pack quite a few times, including on the JMT, and will continue in the future. In reality though, that's not a whole lot of total time as I rarely end up needing a jacket while actually hiking. Its usually just putting it on when starting out in the morning till I warm up, then it goes in the pack. But its comfortable and fairly breathable when I do. It's kept me warm into the mid 30's in camp, I'm guessing well down into the 20's while actually hiking although I haven't had it out in weather that cold. I'm really not worried about it breaking down the fill under the jacket just by wearing it under a pack. It may eventually do so, but I've used other down jackets under packs a lot more than this one with no noticeable loss in loft or comfort. But overall, I consider this to be one of the best backpacking investments I've made.Apr 30, 2013 at 8:52 pm #1982133
@redpointLocale: British Columbia
I bought a Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket in January and I've been very happy with it. Not sure how it compares with the Montbell. I've been using it all winter as a mid layer while at rest when backcountry skiing. It allows me to carry a much lighter sleeping bag if I wear the ultralight to bed. It's cut like a mid layer and therefore doesn't feel bulky under shells etc. It's very light, has decent water repellence and a good fit [generally]. Traditionally, I always carried a bulkier mid-layer, this is lighter and packs-up into an extremely small package. If it gets really cold, I just toss on a much heavier/bulkier belay parka [essential gear in the mountains summer/winter].Apr 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm #1982146
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
In my avatar I'm wearing my Eddie Bauer Down Sweater. I take it even in summer if I plan to be above 6,000 ft.
> Alone it's nice on cool evenings.
> Under my eVent parka it's quite warm for cold mornings/days (below 20 F.)
> In my WM Megalite bag it can take me to 15 F. if I wear long johns and a balaclava as well.
That sucker packs down very small in a little, lightweight dry sack.Apr 30, 2013 at 11:24 pm #1982153
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
For three season hiking, its fairly rare that I need more than a windshirt or event shell to stay warm enough while hiking. In the rare situation where thats not enough, wearing a puffy has worked fine for me. Puffy's don't handle sweat too well, but if you're thermoregulating, then you can just take it off before you start sweating. Wearing a windshirt for on the move warmth and weather protection and then throwing a puffy over top when stopped is lighter and I think more effective than wearing a fleece. Really wet climates might be the exception to that, but even then, I'd rather have a light micro grid fleece as a mid and then a light synthetic puffy as well.
If you're willing to drop some $, I'd also add a vote for the mountain hardwear ghost whisperer. To get the equivalent warmth in a fleece, it would probably be more than double the weight. If you wear a size L, they can be had for a good price here: http://www.everestgear.com/mohameghwhca.html?productid=mohameghwhca&channelid=FROOGMay 1, 2013 at 7:51 am #1982213
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
IMHO, much of the warmth gained from thin puffies like the Mont Bell down and synthetic jackets comes from the two layers of nylon. Those two layers make them more restrictive and less breathable too.
The only use for puffies is when you are standing still, so for cold rest stops and camp.
An alternative to the thinner puffies is a windshirt with a light fleece like R1 or Power Stretch. That gives several breathable combinations that can be worn on the trail and for sleep and they work better in wet conditions. The light fleece is great under a rain shell, where the down puffy is terrible.
Even a 200w fleece is still within reason for warmth/weight when combined with a shell. They are bulky, but less expensive and easy to launder. If you tear a hole in it, nothing leaks out :)May 1, 2013 at 8:00 am #1982217
@mwgillenwaterLocale: Seattle area
agree that a gridded fleece and windshirt is a great combo. but it also probably weights twice as much as a light down puffie (e.g., montbell ex light). so there are tradeoffs to consider.May 1, 2013 at 11:52 am #1982283
My UL parka is noticeably warmer than any fleece windshirt combo I've ever had. Even a heavy 300wt fleece with windstopper membrane couldn't come close to my thin puffy. I don't know many that say fleece is equivalently as warm. It is however a fair bit more versatile due to it's resistance to moisture. But I know when I stop moving that throwing on a fleece and rain shell is not nearly as warm as just a thin down puffy (synthetics are somewhere in between down and fleece for warmth).
Empirically, Richard N. has shown that a MB UL parka (and the EX jacket) is about twice as insulating as a 300wt fleece for a given unit of area in still air conditions.May 1, 2013 at 3:22 pm #1982348
I pack an Ex Light VEST for summer conditions and a Montbell Alpine Light Parka for shoulder season unless it's really sloppy and then fleece comes along. Neither down garment gets worn while hiking, aside from the 15 minutes or so in the morning.
If you're looking for summer insulation, the Black Rock Down Vest looks like a great alternative to Ex Light Vest (warmer for same weight). IMO, when the conditions are mellow enough to be fine with an Ex Light garment, then you really don't need the sleeves and a vest is better (I wear my wind shirt overtop). For colder conditions, you need something warmer than the Ex Light.
With a thin puffy like the Ex Light, we're only talking about about 1-2oz of insulation, so you don't save a lot of weight for the money. Going with a $30 100wt fleece is maybe 9oz vs 6oz. Conversely, for colder garments you save a lot more weight with down, so increasingly weight efficient.May 2, 2013 at 11:27 am #1982567
@cohikerLocale: San Isabel NF
I have a Mont Bell UL inner jacket (no hood) and I'm pretty happy with it. I have occasion to wear virtually every month of the year here in CO.
My sz L weighs 8.5oz and is still appropriate for me insulation-wise down into the 20's with a rainshell over the top. But still comfortable while drinking a beer on the porch in the 50's. I fully recognize that this is a function of the low humidity found in CO and would likley feel differently if I lived in the PNW.
The tag says that the Pertex outer is water repellent with a DWR finish, but I personally wouldn't wear it in precipitation more than a misting or light drizzle. I throw on Frogg Toggs or a Columbia rainshell over it if I need.
I've never found myself wishing the jacket had a hood, but I prefer beanies anyway, so that's personal preference. I do wish it had better wrist cuffs and a waist cinch though.
I'm really satisfied with mine, but if it got destroyed or lost tomorrow, After playing around with a firend's Eddie Bauer DownLight Parka, I'd honestly probably replace it with either that, or the DownLight jacket, solely for the elastic cuffs at the sleeves being superior to the odd triangle wedge of elastic on the MB. Only the hood would be in question.
Edit- to contribute to the OP's question: The EX and the UL are quite similar, the main differences being that the EX has higher Fill-Power down, and better wrist closures, but no hand pockets. The outer shells are a little different material, but still quite similar. I can speak to the quality of the UL, I'm sure the EX is much the same. Both lack a hood.
The EB FA would combine the wrist closures and hand pockets, but uses a heavier 15D outer, with an unknown fill weight and would weigh a touch more. Does have the option for a hood if you want.
I don't think you can go wrong with any of the three, or choices offered in other posts.
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