Mont-bell Ex Light Down Jacket

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A few years back, I purchased my first Mont-bell down garment, the UL Down Inner jacket. Then shortly after, I also ordered the UL Down Inner parka.  Being that I couldn’t justify having both, the jacket and the parka, I decided to return the jacket. I reasoned that the parka would keep me warmer since it has a hood.

Also worth noting, since then, I have also purchased the Mont-bell Alpine Light down parka. Honestly, I didn’t get the Alpine Light for backpacking, but for wearing around home & town. After owning the other Mont-bell pieces, I found that I was happy with the overall quality, and thought that the Alpine Light would be a good winter coat. (And it has been.)

So, for the last couple of years I have been quite happy carrying my UL Down Inner parka on hikes once the temps started to drop. However, of the 7 days on my recent Olympic National Park hike, I only wore the parka twice! The temps just never dropped low enough for me to really need it, let alone the extra warmth of the hood!

This got me to thinking…

My parka weighs 9.5 oz in the provided stuff sack (which I use, surprisingly). I started thinking that for trips in which the temps do not drop much below freezing, a parka is somewhat unnecessary weight (for me). Of course I wouldn’t head out on a hike when expecting these temps without an insulating piece, but the question I asked myself was: “Do I need that much insulation for such warm temps?” My brain told me no…

As I mentioned above, I had already been impressed with my Mont-bell jackets, and then this type of thinking made me start thinking about a rather obvious jacket. One that I had actually considered in the past, but shot down because it didn’t have a few of the “features” that I was (then) drawn too… namely pockets, and then later, the hood. The Ex Light.

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Now this is the interesting part… For a while, I wouldn’t even consider a jacket (whether it was an insulating jacket, a wind jacket or a rain jacket) if it did not have pockets, but over the course of the last few years, I have somehow managed to acquire a few jackets without pockets. My Columbia Peak 2 Peak rain shell, the North Face Verto, the Patagonia Houdini, the AntiGravity Gear silnylon rain jacket and the Luke’s UltraLite silnylon rain jacket, a DriDucks rain jacket… and so on.

After realizing that I had been making do without pockets for longer than I realized, the Montbell Ex Light suddenly shined bright in my mind’s eye!

Ok, actually, the newer Mont-bell Plasma 1000 shined bright, but the price tag made the light flicker a little (although, I will admit that I have spent more than this to save less weight…) So, like I was saying, the price tag on the new Plasma jacket was tough to swallow, but I still turned it over, and over, and over, and over, and over…. in my mind.

In the end though, what made me just go ahead and flick that Plasma 1000 light off for good (for now), was the deal I found on an Ex Light… It just so happened that Backcountry.com happened to have exactly one Ex Light left in “clearance”… and it just so happened to be the size I needed, XL! Sure, the color was listed as “Citron Yellow,” but for $80 off of regular price, I was a-ok with that color. (And to be completely honest, I kinda thought the color looked pretty cool.)

After a bit of debate as to whether or not I really wanted to order another down jacket, I ordered the last Citron Yellow Ex Light from Backcountry.com… It was mine!

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Now, as I touched on above, the reason I bought the Ex Light jacket was because it-is-light! Possibly, the lightest jacket of its kind (well, before the Plasma 1000 came around… but we have already covered that!) My goal with the Ex Light was to get the lightest weight jacket (that I could afford). My goal was not pockets, not hoods, and not cinch cords (AKA: “conveniences”). In fact, these things were the exact opposite of my goal. And this was ok with me because as I have already covered, I found that I didn’t actually need all of these bells & whistles.

I knew that I didn’t want places to stow things for day-to-day use, or hoods to put over my head, or cinch cords to lock out drafts. I wanted a basic, simple jacket, that was as light as could be. And that’s it. The choices were few… very few. In fact, I can think of two off the top of my head, the Mont-bell Plasma 1000, and the Mont-bell Ex Light.

The Ex light has been around for a number of years already. It has been used, and loved, by both big name hikers, and the rest of us too. It has been raved about on backpacking forums, as well as in blog write ups. Why though? For it’s simplicity, and the fact that it is so light. In fact, when someone asks for the lightest weight down jacket, the Mont-bell Ex Light is usually the one that comes up. It is not just a jacket… it is THE jacket!  🙂

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This is why I am officially giving it the “Stick’s Blog Award.” **

OK, maybe I am getting a little carried away, and repeating the lack of features on this jacket over and over… but I gotta say, it is a sweet jacket. It is literally everything I need, and not a thing more… and it’s mine! All mine I say…  🙂

So, how about mine…

As I said, I ordered a size XL. I chose this size based on my previous experiences with my other Mont-bell down jackets. I find that the Ex Light fits me just as I expected, which is the same as my parka (only without the hood… and the pockets… and the draw cord at the hem… oh wait though, I removed that thing a long time ago…) Ahem… So, as I was saying… I have room to comfortably layer my R1 under it, and the arms are long enough so that I can bend my elbows, reach up/out with my arms, do a backwards somersault, hand stands, or just whatever I feel like doing. When doing these things, the wrist cuffs don’t ride up my arms, and I don’t feel the sleeves pulling at my elbows or at my shoulders. It fits me the way I want it to fit me.

The back of the Ex Light is listed at 26.6 inches, and no, I have not measured it. However, it does hit my backside at the same location as my UL Down Inner parka does, although, the front of the Ex Light is about 1 to 1.5 inches shorter in length. Ask me if I am ok with this… Are you asking me? Well, I’ll tell you… I am.

The Ex Light has a full length, #3 YKK zipper, and a high collar, which actually covers my entire neck, all the way up to my chin I tell ya! Thankfully though, when the jacket is zipped up all the way, I don’t find it to be excessively tight around my neck, but expect it to do a good job at keeping my neck shielded from the elements. (Especially if my Buff is wrapped around my neck, tucked into the top of the collar.)

But Mont-bell didn’t just leave off all the unneeded bells & whistles to make the Ex Light the lightest jacket around… They also decided to use some of the lightest, highest quality materials available, to create the Ex Light. They chose a wispy-thin, 7 denier material for both, the inner and the outer shell, and then they stuffed a whopping 1.8 oz of super high lofting 900 down fill inside that shell. Once it was all said and done, Mont-bell listed the Ex Light at a mere 5.6 oz (for a size medium of course).

My size XL weighs in at 6.5 oz.

Check out my video to see how the jacket looks, lofts, and fits:

Now, when I’m heading out on a backpacking trip and expect the temps to be around freezing, I will throw my cool, new, Ex Light in my pack rather than my UL Down Inner parka, and save 3 oz! Woohoo!

Also, I would like to make mention that I find that this particular Ex Light seems to loft up very well, and a bit thicker than I expected. When compared to my UL Down Inner parka, there is a noticeable difference. Keep in mind that I have been using my parka for the last 2 years though. It has been stuffed and unstuffed, and worn in humid conditions, so the loft has likely been affected somewhat. But to be honest, I don’t think that my parka lofted this much even when it was new! Maybe I am wrong. None-the-less though, I am impressed with the loft of my Ex Light.

So, that’s it. This is my initial thoughts on my new Mont-bell Ex Light. I am looking forward to using it for a while, and to see how it actually holds up over the next few years, however, based on my previous experience with Mont-bell items, I am pretty confident in it…

Until then, thanks for stopping by!

~Stick~

Disclaimer: I paid for the Ex Light with my own, hard-earned monies. I am not affiliated with Mont-bell and am not obligated to write about this product. The statements within this write-up & video are of my own opinion, which I personally formed after actually handling this jacket.

** I am not really giving this jacket an award… I don’t hand out awards, just talk about gear. Not to mention that I have even yet to use this jacket. The whole “award” thing is actually a joke towards Outdoor Gear Lab…

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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26 Responses to Mont-bell Ex Light Down Jacket

  1. Pingback: Custom GooseFeet Gear Down Anorak First Impressions | Stick's Blog

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  3. Norma Fay says:

    This Down Jacket looks great and it sounds really warm. I found something similar at Burlington Coat Factory. They had great prices there and I love their selection.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Norma,

      They jacket is really nice and I have nothing but good things to say about it. But, if you find something different that works for you, then that is cool too!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  4. Brooks Clay says:

    Great review! Curious if you’d looked at the GoLite Selkirk UL Down Jacket? I have both the Mont Bell UL Thermawrap, and the Patagonia Nanopuff, but recently purchased the Selkirk (on sale for $98.00). My size M comes in just under 6 oz. and when paired with a shell, has worked really well into the teens. I love the MB products, and would love to get my hands on the new Plasma jacket. Thanks again for the great review!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Brooks,

      I did not consider the GoLite jacket at the time. Honestly, I am so happy with my Montbell pieces, the Ex Light was pretty much all that was on my radar, and to be honest, I am happy with it and wouldn’t trade it for anything (ok, maybe for the new Plasma jacket… )

      That sounds like a good price you got the jacket for. Great to hear that it weighs less than 6 oz, just curious how much less? Another poster reported back that his size large weighed 7.1 oz.

      I agree with your analysis on using a jacket like this with appropriate layers and it working out for you to a relatively low temperature. I think some people don’t understand that these types of jackets are not necessarily stand alone jackets (at least past a certain point), but instead are designed with the idea of using it as part of a layering system. When layered, these jackets are awesome! I love mine.

      Thanks for sharing.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  5. Doug Layne says:

    Nice video review. I have a Montbell UL down vest. Love it
    and used as for a layer, as my arms don’t get as cold my core area.
    Looking to get a UL jacket, have a Patagonia Nano Puff at moment.
    Maybe I will watch for one to come up. Love the no frills.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Doug,

      I have really been contemplating a vest… now though, it is really going to narrow the use down… Who know’s though… for quite a while I put off the Ex Light… 🙂

      ~Stick~

      Like

  6. Hey Chad, my all time favorite Sticks video – loved it!!

    So, what the heck is up with that bottom row of baffles… you made me go pull out my Montbell Mirage Parka and see if it did the same thing… and what the heck… it does the same thing. Not as drastic as what the Ex Lite is… but it too has that narrowing of the bottom baffle.

    And I too always felt like the Montbell ULDIP did not have the lof that it should… I think it is because the baffles on it are huge and they did not get the fillbaffle ratio right. (just my presumption).

    Anyway, enjoyed this one Chad!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      John,

      I always appreciate your comments!

      Yeah, that bottom row of baffles was a bit unexpected… sorta… I knew that it was shorter than my other jackets, but did not expect it to just be in the front. And I will admit, I found myself unconsciously pulling at the bottom on the front… and even trying to slide my hands in the pockets… that weren’t there… (Don’t know if I’ll ever stop doing that…) But, for what the jacket is, I think it is going to work out great! Can’t wait to use it…

      As for the loft on the ULDIP, I can’t say that I ever felt that it was less than what it needed since it has worked very well for me in temps to mid teens (with my other layers of course). I can’t say that it has ever left me feeling cold, which is what really matters… But in comparison, my Ex Light really does look much poofier… maybe it is that awful yellow color though… 🙂

      (I really like the color too…)

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Talk with you later,

      ~Stick~

      Like

  7. Chad at the end you forgot to give us a nice little turn around and curtsy… LoL Funning aside I really liked this review and you sharing your experience with the two designs of jackets. As for me I think I am going to go with your old trusty hooded version for me as I may need it when hanging around camp and I am not in motion keeping warm but standing still. I think the option of the hood and hand warmers will be perfect for what I need. Although I really like your lime green color on your ex lite jacket. Also I think if I wear this jacket with my lighter sleeping bag I can sneak about 10 more degrees out of it before having to go to my heavier bag that I may use for shorter hikes only if I really need it on cold nights. The jacket will help in packing lighter bag on longer hikes.. Thanks for all this info. I really think you found your calling on the reviews on your blog. You really come across as a honest Joe just sharing your views on what you buy and actually use. Not like so many youtube guys I see shouting about how they bought the most expensive new found gadget or gear and how cool it is for them to have it before anyone else. So keep up the goood ole Joe reviews they are honest and down home good.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks for all the kind words about my video’s, and my blog entries. I do try to be honest about the items I talk about, and also try to pass on why I have the item, and how I intend to use it. These things are important to me…

      Anyway, I could have easily done without getting the Ex Light and just stuck with my Parka, but the truth of the matter is, I had a little bit of money and I saw a way to cut some weight out of my pack, on certain trips. And I will admit, I am very impressed with the quality of Montbell products, and love down jackets… 🙂

      Anyway, I have not had a chance to take it out yet, so I cannot comment on how it will perform, but I have got to say that with my prior experience with very similar garments, I feel like it will work out very well for me… Hope to find out soon though! 🙂

      Thanks again for stopping by, and the kind words. I appreciate them.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  8. The only way I will believe this review is if I see you do a backwards somersault AND a hand stand. Without it, this is just not a true review 🙂

    Like

  9. Thanks for sharing. Question: How low would the forecasted temperature need to be for you to take the hooded parka rather than the Ex? Just curious what you think. I have a non-hooded Ghost and it didn’t keep me warm at night down to 40 degrees (in a 38 MLD quilt under a tarp wearing a beanie), so my cutoff is somewhere above that number. Probably about 45-50. I’m a cold sleeper and everyone’s different.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Me personally, I plan to use this jacket for any trip that I expect temperatures to be 25 degrees or more (lower than that and I will carry my parka). I have been fine in my UL Down Inner Parka in the mid teens when doing chores and just hanging out around camp for a bit. However, this is only part of my layering system (shown in the video). So, while I have not yet used the Ex Light, based on previous experiences, I feel like 25 F is a good temp rating for myself with these layers. But, I will see…

      This is a tough thing though, since as you pointed out, everyone is different.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  10. I haven’t tried the Montbell stuff yet but I love my Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer jacket. It helps I get into the employee store once a year so I never pay more than 50% of retail when I do. 🙂 Thanks for the review Stick!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      The Ghost Whisperer jackets are pretty nice… I was able to check them out at the flagship REI store. That is pretty cool that you can get a 50% off code too…

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • I just found out there is a Montbell store opening tomorrow in Portland!!!! I must check it out and see what kind of stuff they will have for sale. No sales tax in Oregon is also a nice bonus. 🙂

      Like

    • Stick says:

      That is awesome that you are able to just walk into stores like these… there is nothing even close to this sort of thing around me… which is why I buy so much off the internet… and do “unboxing”, or “first-look” type videos… These kinds of videos help me, so I hope that they can help others too…

      Anyway, enjoy your new store… 🙂

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • I went into the store on opening day…oh Lord help my pocketbook!!!! I got a few things on sale and spoke to the manager about doing a presentation on the Camino de Santiago.

      It is a luxury of living in Portland. We are kind of an outdoor gear mecca and they keep coming! Snow Peak has a retail store here too. And Icebreaker.

      Like

    • Stick says:

      Awesome! I wish I could check it out… I know when I was in Seattle, I was super excited about getting to go to REI (gasp!) and Feathered Friends. I know that there were other stores in the area too, but I didn’t have the time…

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • David says:

      How much down is in the Ghost Whisperer Jacket? Do you think it would be significantly warmer than the Montbell ExLight?

      Like

    • Stick says:

      David,

      I can’t say for sure. In a past BPL thread there was some confusion on fill weights, so someone that must represent MH posted this about the Ghost Whisperer parka:

      “79g, is the correct fill weight for the Men’s Ghost Whisperer Hooded, or approximately 2.78oz.”

      So, obviously the jacket will have less. Based on Montbell specs, I would say it is about 0.5 oz difference in the parka and the jacket (although, this is my speculation). So, this would mean that there would be approximately 2.2 oz of 850 fill.

      So, with these figures, here is what they look like:

      MHGW: 2.2 oz x 850 df = 1,870
      MBEX: 1.8 oz x 900 df = 1,620

      So, remember, this is not official. But, there is likely a little more down overage in the MHGW.

      However, it will also depend on how the jacket is cut. Obviously, the smaller one will require less df, so it depends on the cut too. I am not sure how they compare in this respect.

      Here is a link to the BPL thread if you are interested in reading more on it:

      http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=67826&disable_pagination=1&id=NF2Ik2u4:98.239.32.17

      If I had to guess, I would say that the MHGW may be a touch warmer than the Ex Light, however, I don’t think I would say it would be significant. Also, based on those numbers, I would say it is also a touch heavier than the Ex Light, but not sure how much. Of course though, the MHGW features pockets, whereas the Ex Light does not, and believe it or not, that does save a tiny bit of weight.

      I would say that these are both going to fill the same need (jacket vs jacket or parka vs parka) so i would say it should come down to features. The MHGW has a few, the Ex Light has fewer. Are those features important to you? If they are, go with the MHGW. If not, go with the Ex Light. Either way, if you use them for what they are, I think you would be quite happy with either jacket.

      Hope this helps some!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  11. Ray says:

    Great review and video as always. I have a lot of their other gear but not this exact jacket. Compared to the parka how well does it block wind on it’s own? Do you notice much difference? Keep up the great reviews.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Ray,

      I just got the jacket in yesterday and it has only been raining, so I haven’t even wore it outside much. Not to mention that it is still quite warm here… I don’t plan on needing this jacket until Thanksgiving weekend… hopefully…

      I will say though, I was very surprised at how well my other Montbell pieces blocked the wind. I did not expect that at all, but they actually do a great job. Even though it’s sewn through, they are warm jackets… at least they have been for me. I really expect the Ex Light to perform the same…

      I will update this though after I have had a chance to use it for a while.

      ~Stick~

      Like

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