Staying warm in the winter is of the highest priority. That’s why I spend so much time testing and reviewing winter jackets. There are a lot of good jackets out there, but few are truly exceptional. The Alpine Light Down Parka from Montbell, might just be the exception I’ve been looking for.
The Alpine Light covers all the basics of cold weather design. An ultralight-weight 20 denier ballistic nylon taffeta comprises the body of the jacket, while a soft micro-fleece collar lines the neck. A full vertical zipper runs down the chest of the jacket for putting the jacket on and off, while two more zippers allow the higher than normal hand pockets (usable while using a backpacking hip belt) to be zipped shut to avoid losing precious gear while moving about. A thick, cinchable hood provides protection for the ears and head, while elastic cuffs and an adjustable draw string hood helps to block in precious heat while in the mountains. Two interior pockets allow users to keep phones, gloves and snacks close, and a DWR treatment helps the jacket repel water. The jacket weighs just 13.3 oz, includes a stuff sack, is filled with 4.3 oz of 800 power down, and retails for just $179.00.
What I liked
When it comes to a puffy jacket, staying warm is the number one function. The Alpine Light delivers. Firstly, the ballistic nylon body does an excellent job of blocking wind. Even on gusty evenings on fully exposed peaks, the jacket’s body was able to block practically all wind from leaching away my body heat. The large, rectangular, generously filled baffles are able to trap more warm air thanks to the large internal volume, and the vertical separations prevent the down from moving around and clumping, which practically eliminates cold spots. The hand pockets are raised, allowing the pockets to be usable while carrying a backpack and they’re lined with a warm fleece for a bit of an extra warming effect. Having the thick, fluffy hood to protect my ears and head certainly didn’t hurt either. This comes together to form an exceptionally warm jacket, usable in practically any temperature.
The jacket is one of the most comfortable I’ve tested. It’s comfy enough to be enjoyable when worn for extended periods of time, instead of feeling like a chore. The light weight build means the jacket sits softy against the body, without creating that weighted down feeling that many jackets produce. The materials are very thin, supple and smooth, feeling like silken sheets against the skin without getting clammy or sticky when I started to sweat when moving. The fluffy, light weight build wraps gently around the body, with plenty of room to move and stretch. The hood is particularly well designed, with a soft fleece lining wrapping around the head, creating a nice seal around the face without being constricting when cinched. Having it on is a pleasure, which only encourages outdoor play when it’s cold out.
The DWR finished body does an excellent job of keeping out rain and fog. Too stubborn to crawl into my tent at 4pm on a rainy Saturday evening, I opted instead to sit in the rain to continue cooking my meal. Even after hours of sprinkling and wet clouds blowing through, the jacket stayed dry, kept me warm, and beaded off water. It’s nice to not have to reach for a rain jacket when just a light misting is rolling.
The build quality is excellent, with clean stitching and high quality fabrics all around. Not a single stray feather or stitch could be found, and the zippers slide smoothly without once getting hung up.
The parka is incredibly light weight for its warmth. At only 13.3 oz, it’s light enough to bring along on even mild weather trips. It packs down tiny at around 3″x8″, and takes up very little space, especially when paired with a stuff sack. It also doubles as a nice fluffy pillow case, or pillow, if need be.
At $179, the jacket is an excellent deal, easily outperforming many jackets that cost much more.
What I didn’t like
The same large baffles that provide the ever so enjoyable warmth also makes the jacket look a little bulky at times. Overall, it still looks pretty snazzy though.
When completely zipped up, the zipper can be a little stiff against the transition between the neck and chin. Thankfully, it’s nicely padded and has a fleece cap. It’s quite minor and after wearing it for a bit I didn’t even notice.
The Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka is primed for the coldest, windiest of conditions. The generous fill and excellent wind stopping ability does an excellent job of protecting from even the harshest of conditions. The roomy, comfortable interior and soft fabrics make it enjoyable to wear for hours on end, without being restrictive or in the way, and it packs down tiny when not in use. If you want to stay warm and dry without paying a hefty price penalty, it’s an exquisite option.
For more information on Montbell and their excellent products, check out http://www.montbell.us/
For information on our rating system and our testing procedures, check out our About us/ Contact us page.
I want to extend a huge thanks to Montbell for supporting us by providing us this great jacket for review. We couldn’t do this alone, and we certainly appreciate the help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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