Montane Featherlite Down Jacket
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (sample provided by Montane for testing and review)
The Montane Featherlite down jacket is a very well thought-out and constructed jacket, ideal for active mountain activities, winter trekking, and keeping the chill at bay during stops and back in camp. It is wonderfully light and remarkably compressible.
- Very light
- Highly compressible
- Durable, windproof Pertex outer fabric w/effective DWR
- Technical hood and multiple adjustment points
- Dries quickly
- Pocket doubles as stuff sack
- Convenient features and multiple pockets
- Interior pocket too large/shapeless
- Tight/restrictive underarm
- Where is the internal lock-down tab?
Detailed Video Review
Scope of Testing:
Used during eight different outings, on more than 13 days in a variety of conditions including rain, fog, snow flurries, driving wind, at elevations from 1000ft to 5,600ft, and in temperatures down to 24°F.
[Gonzan testing the Montane Featherlite near Hucklberry Knob, Unicoi Range, N.C.]
User Info and Experience:
Male; 5' 8", 190lbs; Frequent hiking and backpacking throughout the Cumberland Plateau and mountains of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, with experience hiking in the northeastern U.S., and western U.S. Rockies.
750+FP jacket, water resistant stuff sack.
140g (4.94oz) down fill; 405g (14.3oz) garment weight; Four pockets (inner chest, outer Napoleon zip, two handwarmer zip); cinch hem; elastic cuffs; Three-point cinch adjustment on fully insulated technical hood; Pertex Quantum shell; “Internal Tab” for rolling away the hood.
Product Testing and Review
I am impressed with the Montane Featherlight. In short, it is light, warm, compresses very small, has great pockets, and achieves a great balance between plenty of features and keeping it simple.
Fit & Comfort:
I am not nearly as in shape as I would like to be, and am a bit overweight, so athletic fit items are not usually the right choice for me. However, I ordered a size large, which actually fits quite well overall. The only point of constriction is on the underarm. The opening between the body of the jacket and the sleeve could be slightly larger, which would benefit a slimmer person as well, especially when worn with multiple layers
There are a number of cinch cords with cord locks to ensure the jacket is able to accommodate to various uses and conditions. The hood uses one rear and two side located cinch points on elastic cord, allowing it to be snugly closed around your face, and securely fitted around a climbing helmet.
The cord locks can be released with one gloved hand, though two hands are needed for precise fit. The cord ends are run to the inside of the collar, which keeps them secure and held out of the way. The sleeves are fitted with elastic cuffs, and I never found myself missing adjustments straps there. The hem also sports a sewn in elastic cord and two cinch points: left and right.
The Featherlite’s shell is Pertex Quantum, a DWR treated and windproof ripstop fabric. Though by not waterproof, it does shed mist, light drizzle, and snow well. When exposed to a heavy drizzle, especially windblown rain, moisture can get though.
Breathability & Moisture:
The interior fabric is delightfully comfortable, and wicks moisture very well. The drying time of the jacket is quite fast, and I did not notice any condensation formation on the inside of the jacket shell or notable buildup of moisture.
I primarily used this jacket for when stationary or during light exertion, and was very pleased with its warmth and usefulness. With the temperatures in which I had the opportunity to use it most (30-50°F), it proved far too warm to wear during strenuous activity.
My body thermostat runs quite warm in general and I sweat very easily, which means it has to be quite cold before I need to wear more than a thin layer while actively hiking or doing other energetic things. This also means I have to put on layers when I stop or am doing things around camp. This jacket is simply perfect for those functions.
The exterior Pertex fabric is also windproof, which I can attest to with certainty: One evening mid October, I sat on the exposed point of Hangover Rock in sustained high winds, buffeted by 30-40mph gusts, and was as cozy as could be.
I most frequently wore this jacket over a t-shirt, a wool base layer, or both. There is also adequate room (other than the fore-mentioned underarm constriction) for the comfortable wearing of a thicker under layer such as light fleece or second woven shirt. The trim tailoring of the jacket allows it to be worn underneath a shell or larger jacket with complete ease, and without compressing the down.
I have a heavier down jacket that is slightly compressed when I wear a shell over it, which is not ideal. The Featherlite, however, gives superb warmth and movement underneath my shell jacket.
I have not noticed any “wear and tear” so far at all, not even on elbows or on hems and cuffs. I am leery of thin fabrics, but I am very impressed with the strength and resilience of the Pertex. I was very cautions when I first got it, thinking it was going to tear easily, but I do not really think about protecting it now that I’ve seen it is so tough.
All of the zippers, cinch cords, cord locks, and pockets all worked properly with a few minor exceptions. The inner pocket is about eight inches high and wide, with only a partial “Velcro” closure. Neither the baggy size of the pocket or the partial fastener are very convenient, as items tended to flop around and did not feel secure. The hand warmer pockets are a good size, with zippers to keep things in place. I especially like the vertically zippered chest pocket, which is an ideal size for a cell phone, folded map, or small GPSR, etc.
On the labels and on its website, Montane states there is an integrated "Internal Tab" to "Lock down and roll away" the hood. After exhausting the wits of a couple people, my own included, I cannot figure out what they are talking about. On this one at least, the feature is not the same as on the North Star model.
I discovered a wonderful surprise feature that is great: either hand pocket works perfectly as an integrated stuff sack, eliminating the need to carry the separate stuff sack. The only drawback is that the zipper pull isn't reversible like on a sleeping bag,
The Montane Featherlight is a versatile and well made down jacket for moderately cold temps. It is well supplied with features and details, but not so many as to weigh things down or make it complicated. With a few minor tweaks I would have nothing to criticize at all! I would definitely recommend this jacket for excellent mid-range insulation in a well planned layering system.