MontBell Superior Down Parka
Montbell's updated version of its U.L. Down Inner…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $159
Montbell's updated version of its U.L. Down Inner Parka, the Superior Down Parka, is an unbelievably warm ultralight down hoody. The Superior Down Parka is very affordable and it keeps you shockingly warm for its sub-eight ounce weight.
This down hoody is plenty warm enough to be a stand alone jacket to 35 degrees, but can be a really warm mid-layer in colder weather when paired with the appropriate outer shell. It is a great three-season jacket that I am sure you will see tons of thru-hikers carrying soon.
- Very affordable
- Very warm
- Very comfortable
- Full features (pockets,cinch hood and waist,etc)
- Nice color options available
- Versatile - could be stand alone or mid-layer
- Down is not waterproof
- Nylon is delicate
- Runs small,cut short
- Interior pocket does not zip
- Weight: 7.7 oz
- 800 fill goose down, 1.3 oz down fill
- 10 denier ballistic nylon shell
Typically when you hear the term ultralight, you immediately think pared down and lacking features. A lot of ultralight garments skimp on features, but the Superior Down Parka has a hood, interior and exterior pockets, cinch cord hem and hood, and a zipper draft tube. It is impressive that the parka is able to have all of these features and keep its weight so low.
The hood is designed to keep you as warm as it possibly can for its weight by being packed with lofty 800 fill down and can be cinched down really tight.
The inner neck area does not have a fleece lining like the Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka, which is warmer and heavier.
The Superior Parka has two exterior hand warmer pockets that zip closed. They are generously sized so that you can comfortably keep your hands in them or have room to store small objects that need to be secured.
The hand warmer pockets are not fleece lined like some of the warmer Montbell jackets, but if you are producing body heat they still keep your hands very warm. Of course, adding fleece there would add weight.
The Superior Parka has two large drop-in pockets, which are located on the interior of the front of the parka, that could be used for gloves, smartphone, or headlamp, etc. They do not seal, but are still nice to have so the exterior pockets can be used for keeping hands warm.
Zipper Pulls and Zipper Draft Tube
Here you can see that the main zipper has a small draft tube to help stop wind from seeping in through the zipper. You can also see the zipper pull from the main zipper. The exterior hand pockets also use these. They are easy to use with gloves on.
Drawcord waist hem
The wrist cuffs have elastic in them to keep them in place and to seal out drafts. I never had an issues with cold air going up them, even though they don't have adjustable Velcro tabs to secure them.
The Superior Down Parka is built with a thin, stretchy 10 denier ballistic nylon shell. It is pretty delicate. I haven't really put it in any situations where it could be ripped, but you should definitely be very careful of your surrounding when wearing this parka. I would not recommend gathering firewood in this jacket, but for the most part it is durable enough to wear around camp or on a summit.
It uses diamond pattern baffles with sewn-through stitching, meaning that there is no barrier fabric between the inner and outer shell - they are sewn directly together. This saves weight and prevents the down in the baffles from shifting.
It also leaves the baffle seams susceptible to cold spots that can develop due to the seams not being sealed. Again, this is a pretty typical sewing pattern in ultralight jackets, so if you want box baffle construction, you will likely be looking at a heavier, warmer jacket.
Even with the sewn-through seams and the thin shell, the Superior Parka is still shockingly warm and retains a lot of heat. The shell feels like your are wearing a high quality sleeping bag. It is very silky and feels nice on the skin.
Fit and Comfort
Both the original U.L. Down Inner Parka and the new Superior Down Parka are cut slim. Again, this is usually consistent in ultralight jackets. I personally found the arm pits and chest area to be snug, so I had to get a large instead of my usual medium. I also found it to be cut rather short. I am 5'4" and have a 17.5" torso.
It fit me fine, but those who are taller or who have longer torsos may want to try it on first and make sure it provides the coverage that you need. I found the arm length to be appropriate, but my arms aren't longer than average. Since I sized up, I had plenty of room for layering. Make sure you consider what types of layers you plan on wearing underneath the parka before you decide on a size.
The Superior Down Parka is very comfortable. As I mentioned earlier, the nylon fabric is soft and feels very comfortable, like you are wearing a sleeping bag. I have worn it every chance that I can because it feels so great. I wear it as long as possible before taking it off.
Water Resistance and Moisture Management
The outer shell of the Superior Parka is treated with DWR and does fend off light rain drops, but it is so thin that it can't be expected to keep you dry during any substantial amount of rain. Its feathers are not treated with water-resistant coating, so this will not keep you as warm if it gets wet.
I didn't really sweat when I wore the parka. It isn't really built for wicking. This jacket isn't really designed to be worn during heavy activity, it is designed to trap heat.
The only venting options on the Superior Down Parka are to loosen the waist hem and to unzip the main zipper. There are no built in vents and the fabric is not very breathable, but because it uses sewn-through construction and the fabric is only 10 denier, it is more breathable than other jackets that use thicker nylon.
The Superior Down Parka is designed to be a great layering piece. Its smooth fabric glides under or over other layers easily. It would be really warm under a shell. As far as layering under it goes, I would always wear something breathable under it since there aren't a lot of venting options.
The Superior Down Parka compresses really well and packs down very small in its stuff sack. I love it because it packs small enough to fit in my pocketbook. It is also a great item to pack in your daypack because you barely even notice you are carrying it.
In August, I wanted to get an ultralight down hoody to use on a road trip to the Rockies that my husband and I went on. I was looking for a very light down hoody to use for temperatures ranging from 55 degrees to 35 degrees that could fit in my daypack and would keep me warm on windy summits. I also wanted to be able to use it spring, fall, and winter in South Carolina, where I live, and in the Blue Ridge Mountains that I mostly hike in.
It was used in Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone National Parks, in Southwest Colorado, in the mountains of Western North Carolina, and at home in South Carolina from late August through late November. The coldest I was able to wear it with just a t-shirt was 40 degrees.
With a Patagonia Capilene 2 1/4 Zip long sleeved top, I was able to comfortably wear it between 35-30 degrees. It could have easily been warmer with a shell on top and a more substantial baselayer underneath. It blocked 10 mph winds, but being as how it is so thin, I didn't push it alone in much in really cold and windy conditions.
This parka is one of the very best ultralight down hoodies available based on its features alone, but with a price tag of only $159, it rises to the top of its class in my opinion. I wanted it as soon as I saw it. It has a very broad temperature range, so it would be worth bringing just about anytime other than in hot weather. I gave this a five star review because I absolutely love it and it exceeded my expectations in just about every category for its intended uses.
My experience with Montbell
I have been using Montbell products from the beginning of my backpacking days. My first sleeping bag was a Montbell U.L. Spiral Down Hugger #1 and it is still my go-to bag when it is between 10-45° degrees. I also have a Montbell U.L. Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 sleeping bag for nights 45-70° degrees. As far as jackets go, I have a Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka, as well. Needless to say, I trust Montbell products to keep me warm and comfortable.
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