As I mentioned in my last update, I was thinking about picking up the new Montbell Ex Light Down Anorak… and I did. As I mentioned, I have lost quite a bit of weight (45 lbs to be exact) and I found that my older UL Down Inner Parka, as well as my newer, Ex Light, were a bit baggier on me than I felt they should be (both in sizes XL). So, I bit the bullet, and picked up the new Ex Light Anorak in a size large, and put the other 2 pieces up for sale. (The UL Down Inner Parka has already sold, but the Ex Light is still available.)
Other than fit though, there were a few other reasons that I really liked the idea of this jacket. In a nutshell, I get all the features of the UL Down Inner Parka, but at the weight of the Ex Light. I will explain… But first, let me also say that these thin, insulated puffy sweaters (really), are all that I have needed on any of my hikes. All of my backpacking trips thus far (save the one trip to the Olympics last year) are in the Southeast US, so we don’t generally get super cold temperatures. Rarely does it dip below the teens (F) and for anything above, I have always been just fine with these type of pieces as part of my layering system. So, I have no need for anything thicker/puffier. So, on with it…
Here are the things that attracted me to the new Ex Light Anorak:
- The Anorak has a hood (albeit, no way to adjust the hood to fit around my face).
- The Anorak has a tunnel style kangaroo pocket.
- The Anorak has a cinch cord around the waist.
- The Anorak is light.
All of these things were missing from the Ex Light (although, to be completely fair, I was just fine with that), but were nice features on the UL Down Inner Parka (even though I did remove the cinch cord around the waist in the Parka). But, the kicker here is that I got all of these things back in the Anorak, at only a 0.1 oz heavier weight penalty than my Ex Light! Whereas my Ex Light in a size XL weighed in at 6.5 oz, my new Ex Light Anorak in a size L comes in at 6.6 oz (6.8 oz if I include the stuff sack, which I won’t use).
Besides this, I have also been thinking about the benefits of an Anorak, or a half zip, insulation piece. Obviously, it does cut out a least a tiny bit of weight by using a shorter zipper, but other than this, I wondered if it would also be a bit warmer since cool air can sneak in around zippers, especially those without a zipper guard/collar, which the other Montbell pieces I had did not have. (To be fair though, I don’t expect to be able to tell a difference in warmth due to this feature.)
Of course, one thing that I have heard others complain about when it comes to pull over pieces, is that the bottom of the jacket needs to be big enough to be able to pull over the chest & shoulders, so this may result in a little bit of a looser fit around the stomach area. Another obvious issue is that when pulling the anorak off, it could pull the other layers under the jacket up my back as the anorak is rising up. This really doesn’t bother me personally, so I’m not worried about it. And after trying it on, I am not concerned with the fit around my torso area. In fact, after trying the size large on, I then realized just how big the XL Ex Light is on me now. Besides, the cinch cord around the waist should do a great job at sealing off the bottom edge, so warm air stays inside, and colder air stays outside.
Also, as seen in the photo’s above, the sleeve length is great for me. This is something that I did worry about when ordering without first being able to try it on. To many times have I ordered/tried on long sleeve garments, and found that while the torso size fit me fine, the sleeves were shorter than I would like. But, I can stretch my arms out, and the sleeves stay right at my wrist, no riding up at all. In fact, I can even pull my hands inside the wrist cuffs and still stretch my arms out, and at full reach, the sleeves are still up on my hands a little.
Also, here are some of my rough measurements that may help some:
Chest: 42″ (Measured around my chest, under my arms.)
Shoulders: 49″ (Measured around my chest and shoulders.)
Sleeve: 21″ (Measured from under my arm pit to the base of my palm.)
I feel like a medium would fit me appropriately, however, since I want to layer items beneath it, I think that the large is better choice. It is still a little baggy, but not too much (like my XL’s were).
The hood is a nice addition, although, like I mentioned above, there is no way to adjust it, or to cinch it tight around my face like I could with the UL Down Inner Parka. Montbell calls this hood an Eskimo Hood, and I guess I kind of feel like one when wearing it simply because it just sort of drapes over my head. There is a piece of elastic along each side of the hood that allows it to stretch a little, but for me, this does nothing for fit, but does allow me to slide the hood on/off when the zipper is zipped all the way up. However, when wearing a ball cap, or even my Black Rock Gear Down Hat underneath it, it does help fill some of the void. Now, don’t get me wrong though, at this point, I don’t think that the hood sucks, but it isn’t as good/nice as the one on the UL Down Inner Parka.
And last but not least, there is a nice big pocket on the anorak! A nice kangaroo pocket that goes from one side to the other. I can stick my hands all the way through, from one side to the other. As well, the pocket is behind all that soft, warm down, so my hands are also protected from the cold, cold world when stowed away, inside the pocket! I really like this pocket so far, and am glad that they choose to include it. This may be my favorite feature…
Last, but not least, I feel that I should talk a minute about the down fill. When this jacket was first listed on the Montbell site, they listed the specs from a preproduction piece, and then just recently updated the specs to what they really are in the finalized pieces being built and sold. At first, they only listed that there was 1.9 oz of 900 down fill, which worried me. Between the unknown fit and sleeve length, and this number, I was not sure I would keep the anorak once it arrived. The Ex Light is listed at having 1.8 oz of 900 down fill, but it doesn’t have a hood, and also has a slightly shorter center back length. The anorak only had 0.1 oz of down more, so I was afraid that the loft wasn’t going to be near as good as that of my Ex Light. However, just before my anorak arrived, I noticed that they changed the specs to list 2.2 oz of 900 down fill, and after a quick email response, they confirmed that the 2.2 oz was correct. This made me feel better as this was 0.4 oz of down more, which should have put the loft about the same as my Ex Light. And now that it is here, I believe that it is pretty close, although, the Ex Light still may have a slight advantage… It is too close to tell for sure though, and after personally handling the anorak, I am happy with the amount of loft it has when compared to the other 2 pieces.
So, there are some of my first thoughts about the Anorak. If you can’t tell, I am happy that I pulled the trigger and took the chance. The fit is sooooooo much better now (honestly though, it is about how the XL’s used to fit me), and it is nice having the few extra luxury features back, but with a very minimal amount of weight increase (really… 0.1 oz… come on!)
I am planning to take it on the first trip in just a few weeks, so I just hope that the temps fall enough in order for me to even need it… I am sure that I will talk about the piece in those trip report videos a bit more though. But, until then, here is an unboxing video I made of it earlier.
Thanks for watching!
Disclaimer: While I do feel like I am becoming a pretty big Montbell fan-boy, I must admit, I am not affiliated with them in any way. I actually paid full price for this Anorak from ProLite Gear (and no, I am not affiliated with them either), nor am I receiving any benefits for writing about this item.