Nov 21, 2013 at 6:23 am #1310083
In the midst of searching around and accumulating several puffies at one time, I have taken some photos and detailed initial impressions. Take a look here:
For full-res versions of the thumbnails included in that document (which are blurry nonetheless), take a look here:
I will end up keeping the Roan Plateau and probably the Thermawrap — the former for cold weather in-camp insulation, and the latter for wearing around town. As for the reset, I will now be returning as many of these as I can to the vendors from which I purchased … but surely some of them will show up for resale on the Gear Swap. Let me know if you want dibs on anything here!
Meanwhile, comments questions concerns etc. Discuss if you wish. Hopefully these notes and pics are helpful for anyone trying to make a decision.
Just so they show up in future search results, here were the jackets surveyed, and their stats from the table in the doc:
GoLite Roan Plateau
5oz 800fp down
Montbell Alpine Light
4oz 800fp down
30d ballistic ripstop nylon
Montbell Thermawrap BC
12d ballistic ripstop nylon
Mountain Equipment Arete
5.6oz 650fp down
Mountain Hardwear Nitrous
??oz 800fp down
??oz 800fp down
15d pertexNov 21, 2013 at 10:45 am #2046895zorobabel frankensteinBPL Member
Thanks Ian for spending the time and sharing your impressions!Nov 21, 2013 at 11:39 am #2046916Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
You may want to add this to your list…..and on saleNov 21, 2013 at 11:52 am #2046922
That's a nice find Ken! But, at more than twice the cost of my winner, and probably too warm for most of the trips that I might use it … I'll let somebody else spring for that deal :-)Dec 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm #2053603
After some careful consideration following the first round of puffies, I moved on to considering hooded pieces again. I had been in the mistaken quest to find a piece that would look good and be durable enough for the city AND be light and puffy enough for the backcountry. After soliciting some feedback, I realized that was a bit of a fool's errand.
As such, I went back to considering hooded pieces for the backcountry, ignoring the use case of the city because it wasn't relevant.
I ended up accumulating four more pieces at various times:
- Uniqlo Ultralight Down Parka
I've mentioned this piece elsewhere. Once I got the sizing down, I've been very happy with this piece. Normally I'm a medium, but in Uniqlo down gear it turns out I'm a small. Odd for a Japanese company, but whatever.
This piece is about 8oz and has simple detailing. Loft is somewhere in the range of the Stoic Hadron or MB Down Inner line. The best feature, though, is the absurdly low price. MSRP for these pieces is equivalent to about 50% off (or more) to its nearest competitors. For those on a budget for a 1-2 season puffy, the Uniqlo down series is probably a value that isn't matched anywhere else right now. They've got a vest, hoodless jacket, hooded parka, and longer-length hooded "coat", all in this same line.
So, this will be my new 1-season puffy. 1-season for the mountains, but 2-3 seasons for Texas :-)
- Montane Featherlite
The remainder of the items I grabbed were in the 12-16oz range, intended to throw on over other layers for sitting around camp, or sleeping, while in colder temperatures, like winter in the high desert.
The Featherlite was promising at 16oz, and acquired at a great price from Campsaver. But, I realized upon receiving it that this really is more a climbing- and mountain-oriented parka, and that that comprises a different sort of beast than what I was looking for. This piece is real long in the arms and has good torso length; also, an exceptionally well-fitting and highly adjustable hood which felt very protective and deep. It also felt more durable than the wispy Montbell-esque pieces that I had tried before.
But, in terms of warmth-per-weight, this just didn't measure up. The small down chambers didn't create a lot of loft. Overall this felt like a souped-up version of the MHW Nitrous jacket that I reviewed in round 1. Commendable and well-built, but not suitable for my purposes.
- EB Downlight Hoody
This was a simpler piece than the Featherlite, and felt more puffy. I believe my size medium clocked in at around 14oz. The detailing was simple — mostly elastic, like MB jackets, and only one set of pockets. The hood felt not nearly as protective compared to the Featherlite. Overall the Downlight was appealing because the down chambers felt genuinely overfilled. They had a squishy, resilient quality to them, that I haven't seen in any other piece in this weight range. I've remarked on this elsewhere — maybe this is due to a higher ratio of feathers? In any case, it's puffy and cushy and nice-feeling.
But overall I found the fit just a tad more boxy than I liked, and I wanted a hood that felt more reassuring, since I'm a hoodless quilt user. All this was kind of a moot point considering that my last piece (below) was sort of in a higher echelon altogether.
- Montbell Mirage Parka
Yes, I went for it. Newfangled and more expensive than anything else I had tried before. I had my justifications and excuses. One of them was that Bobby was offering these for $225 on the Gear Swap, which is a pretty rare markdown for Montbell gear.
So I got it. I put it on. It was obvious this was the winner. This piece is about 12.5oz, somehow has box-wall construction, and is >40% insulation weight. Aside from that, it basically has the same features and sensation as the familiar Down Inner or Alpine Light series. It's just freaking warm for the weight. The hood encapsulates the head quite extensively. It's got MB's well-known slim tailored fit, not boxy and silly. It packs down small. Did I mention it's warm?
There's nothing magical about it, it's just a higher order of care (and price) than anything else I got so far. To get anything warmer than this, in this weight range, would require my spending another $50 or $100 (or $200) above what I already threw down. Not interested in that. I don't camp that cold.
So, in the end, the highest-priced piece won out. It was a no-brainer, really. Lighter and noticeably warmer than anything else in the lineup, the MB Mirage is a great win of a piece.
The end! So concludes my puffy jacket search. Hopefully I won't be purchasing anything new in this category for several years. I can't imagine there would be any real (emphasis) reason to do so.
Hopefully this info (here, and in the Round 1 review above) will help others in their search, and save people from paying shipping / return costs. The idea with posting these impressions, at bottom, is to help us all cut through the consumption and get to the real business of backpacking a bit sooner. Have fun :-)Dec 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm #2053622Bob BankheadBPL Member
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USADec 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm #2053628
Yep, I consulted that substantially.Dec 13, 2013 at 8:26 am #2053899Brock GravesBPL Member
@gravesbrockLocale: asheville nc
Thanks! very helpfullDec 15, 2013 at 1:15 am #2054410Serge GiachettiSpectator
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
These types of impressions are often more helpful than online specs, so thanks for taking the time. I nerded out like this a couple years ago when getting geared up for winter, and although (like most nerdy endeavors) not entirely necessary, the instant portable warmth of a good UL puffy is a wonderful thing in the backcountry. So its good to like what you got. I tried on the MB jacket at the store the other day, and if I were looking for a puffy right now, thats probably what I would get.
- Uniqlo Ultralight Down Parka
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