First Look @ the Montbell Ex Light Anorak

P1040969As 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.

Recently Updated

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.

P1040953 P1040954 P1040955 P1040956 P1040957Also, 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…

P1040962Last, 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!

~Stick~

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. 

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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25 Responses to First Look @ the Montbell Ex Light Anorak

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  4. R says:

    Hello,
    Nice review. I am considering this anorak but am not sure on sizing. I’m 150 pounds and just under 6′ tall with athletic build. I typically like size L but have gear in my closet ranging from S to XL that fit me similarly.
    That said, can you tell me your height and weight in the photos?
    Thanks!

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    • Stick says:

      R,

      At that time I was about 200 lbs, 5’10”. Currently, I am 172 lbs (same height). At my current weight, I feel quite certain a medium would work, even layered over my cap 2 long sleeve shirt and either my R1 or my Cap 4 hoody. However, I would be afraid that the sleeves would not be long enough for me… that is always my problem by going with the size that fits me the closest is that the sleeves always seem just a little short. That said, the size large isn’t to the point that it is hanging off of me, so it is fine I guess…

      Hope this helps some.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  5. Pingback: Post Hike Gear Talk: March 2015 – Carver’s Gap to Kincora Hostel (Dennis Cove Rd) | Stick's Blog

  6. Jim says:

    Hi Stick. Is there any insulation behind the kangaroo pocket of the Anorak? I am concerned about heat escaping through the opening of the pocket since it can’t be sealed off. Thanks.

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    • Stick says:

      Jim,

      The insulation is in the front part of the pocket, and the back side is just a piece of material. I will admit, it would have been nice to have insulation on both sides, however, in the few times I have used it already, I don’t really feel like I am loosing any insulation out of the pocket. I am sure that I probably am, but not that I can really tell. On a side note though, adding another layer with some down in it might be a pretty easy thing to do. As well, adding snaps would also be pretty easy…

      ~Stick~

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  7. Dan says:

    Stick – what are your measurements? You do a GREAT job modeling the jacket but I have no idea what size YOU are. 😉

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    • Stick says:

      Dan,

      Post updated with measurements! Hope this helps.

      ~Stick~

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    • Heath says:

      I wore it this weekend camping and the lows at night were 35 degrees and it worked great. I wore a midweight synthetic montbell base layer, lightweight icebreaker wool hiking t, montbell fleece and this over the top and I was quite toasty during the evenings. I am 5’9″ 170lbs and the medium fit perfectly even with all the layers.

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    • Stick says:

      Heath,

      That is pretty similar to my layering system too. In cooler weather, I will wear a cap 2 long sleeve base, then either the cap 4 zip hoody or the R1 over that. Next is my insulation piece, and then of course I still have my hard shell, and more than likely a wind shell too. With these layers I have been comfy well into the teens…

      I recently wore my EL Anorak on a trip this past weekend. At Groundhog Creek Shelter it was low 40’s and I slipped it over my cap 2 & cap 4 zip hoody as I was packing things up. It was plenty warm. I didn’t even pull the hood up. Later that day, my watch read 32 F as we were hiking to the top of Max Patch, and then of course there was lots of wind blowing… so not sure what the wind chill was. I pulled it out and put it back on as we stood on top of Max Patch taking photos and talking with others for a while. I also threw my rain shell over it to help cut the wind. I was again plenty warm.

      I think this piece is going to work just as well as my previous MB pieces, and am excited to have it!

      As for fit, I think a medium would be fine on me too, but I like the slightly baggier fit, so the large is a good option for me.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  8. Heath says:

    I saw these on the Southwest Ultralight backpacking blogs trip report from the Outdoor Retail show and I was stoked! I bought mine last week it arrived today and its fantastic I can’t wait to use it next weekend. I ordered a size medium and with the stuff sack it weights 6.25 ounces, without stuff sack it is 6.05 ounces. So thats almost a full ounce less than the Ghost Whisperer and $101 less. I also had some points with Montbell so I got the jacket for even less than that. Montbell continues to impress me!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Heath,

      Thanks for the weight on the medium. That sounds about right too as others have stated that their size XL is 7.2 oz, so it seems that there is about a 0.5 oz weight difference between sizes.

      How is the loft on yours? Mine seems to be pretty good overall, but after looking at it a bit more, it does look like a few of the baffles are not as filled as the others… I think though that some of the down has shifted, so I need to work on redistributing it.

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and great to hear that you are excited about yours too!

      ~Stick~

      Like

    • Heath says:

      I didn’t have a lot of time to look over the loft as I was heading out to work. I just tried it on the fit was perfect and the build quality was great as most Montbell things are. I’ll check it when I get home later tonight I lived in Japan from 2004-2009 and Montbell’s gear was the only thing I could find in country that was reasonably priced. I have been a huge fan ever since. I wish the rest of their line up would make it to the states.

      Like

  9. justinpmccabe says:

    Hey Stick,

    Great review (as usual!). How do you think this stacks up against the MH Ghost whisperer? Seems like a similar class of insulation piece.

    Thanks!

    Justin

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Justin,

      I am not real familiar with the Ghost Whisperer. The basic specs look nice, however, what I am curious about is how much down is in the piece. I cannot find anywhere that list the amount of down fill. I would assume it is around 2.5 oz, but can’t be sure. From what little I know about it though, I think I personally prefer the MB Ex Light Anorak. There is 2.3 oz of 900 down fill in it, which is about right for a piece like this. For a size large, it is 6.6 oz, which is awesome, and the real kicker is that it is about $120 or $130 less expensive than the MH piece. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Ghost Whisperer would make a lot of folks happy, the same as the MB EL Anorak, but for me, I am happy with what I have.

      Hope this helps some.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  10. Bob Beaullieu says:

    Hi Sticks.. Great review and I sure do appreciate the honest comments about the ex light. I do have a question and that is about your layering. What garment are you using for your outer layer?

    I am having trouble sorting out the best outer layer. Here’s what I’m using now for winter backpacking but would appreciate hearing what you use.

    Skin layer – Smartwool Merino pullover shirt (200 wt). Sometimes wear a performance t shirt under the wool.
    Insulating – GoLite ultralight down sweater
    Outer- REI E-Vent rain jacket (15oz) or Frogg Toggs rain jacket

    Any thoughts about a different outer layer or even changing the whole layering system?

    Many thanks

    Bob Beaullieu

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Bob,

      In camp, I am not worried about a shell to protect the puffy, and I don’t ever wear a puffy when hiking because it is way to hot for me. But, if I get a little cool, or the wind is kicking up in camp, I can throw on my hard shell over the puffy, or even a wind jacket if I carried one for that trip.

      Also, here is a write up I posted a couple of years ago that is basically how I layer things in the winter. I also now have a Cap 4 1/4 zip long sleeve that will sometimes replace the R1, and I have been using my Montane hard shell rather than the DriDucks, but all-in-all, it is essentially the same:

      My Wintry Layering System

      Hope this helps some!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  11. Andy says:

    The Backcountry/Stoic Hadron down Anorak is also a good option, $40 cheaper and about the same weight (well…an ounce heavier but more durable 30D Pertex Quantum) and 2.3oz 850FP down (that’s 1955 in3 vs Montbell’s 1980 in3).

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Andy,

      I remember when those came out not too long ago. The colors were a bit overwhelming from what I remember, but yeah, they seemed like pretty good options. They would also come up on S&C for really inexpensive too… Other than the colors though, I was afraid to buy one because I had heard they were kind of slim cut, which I was not. Although, they would likely work for me pretty well now.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  12. Scott Kolbe says:

    Lost 40lbs myself. Great job and nice review!

    Like

  13. Allen Bishop says:

    Another great review, Stick! I really enjoy your honesty, keep up the good work. It looks like a nice comfortable jacket.

    Like

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