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.
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!
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! 🙂
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!
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…