Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket

A field test of the super-light, minimalist, tough Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket.

mtbelljacket$160 | | 5 Stars

Montbell’s Ex Light Down Jacket weighs less than that cheap, tissue-thin short-sleeve T-shirt you scored at Country Jam and may be the lightest-weight insulated jacket ever made. Tipping the scales at a mere 5.4 ounces and stuffed with 1.8 ounces of 900-fill goose down, the Ex Light is literally featherweight, yet warm enough for the needs of most folks, most of the time. I wore it this past winter in Colorado for mixed and ice climbing, and as my everyday town and work coat, and can report that it kept me toasty in the 20 to 25-degree F range, which is just about right for everything except serious mountaineering.

Its secret? For one, this thing is so minimalist it would give a Trappist monk morning wood. There’s no pocket, no hood, and the cuffs are simple bands of elastic. A sewn-through construction eliminates weighty baffles and keeps the price reasonable. The fabric is a trick “Ballistic Airlight” that weights just 1.1 ounces per square meter, and, due to a strange and wonderous thread-shingling process, is “down proof” due to its DWR treatment that helps keep the down dry in a light sprinkle. All that fancy jargon aside, it really is a great jacket. Often, I have it on and, snug and warm, I don’t even realize it.

—Duane Raleigh

  • Super light 5.4 ounces.
  • Very minimalist.
  • Packs down to the size of a softball.
  • 900-fill goose down.
  • Light but tough Ballistic Airlight fabric.