MONTBELL EX LIGHT DOWN ANORAK
TEST SERIES BY ANDRIUS JANUSAS
INITIAL REPORT - October 12, 2019
FIELD REPORT - January 6, 2020
LONG-TERM REPORT - March 8, 2020
andrius.janusas+bgt AT gmail DOT com
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
6' 3" (1.90 m)
174 lb (78.90 kg)
Backpacking Background: I started backpacking when I moved to Southwestern Canada five years ago. I usually spend my weekends car camping, day hiking or on 2-3 day overnight hikes in the area. I'm a gear junkie and I don't mind investing some money into high-end gear which brings me joy on every trip. I try to be as light as possible, my backpack usually weighs around 7-12 kg (15.43-26.46 lb) and after every trip I revise the gear I took and think of ways how to reduce weight even more.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Web site: https://www.montbell.com
Product: EX Light Down Anorak (Style #2301351)
Country of origin: Vietnam
Year manufactured: 2019
MSRP: US $299.00
Weight listed: 7.58 oz (215 g)
Measured weight (including stuff sack): 7.94 oz (225 g)
Measured weight (without stuff sack): 7.76 oz (220 g)
Measured stuff sack weight: 0.18 oz (5 g)
Insulation: 900 Fill Power EX Down
Fabric: 7-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon shell
Water repellency: Standard DWR treatment
Available colors: Primary Blue, Charcoal Grey, Red Brick
Color tested: Charcoal Grey
Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
Size tested: Medium
Compressed size: 4.72 in x 7.87 in (12 cm x 20 cm)
Center back length: 27.95 in (71 cm)
Chest length: 39 in - 41 in (99 cm - 104 cm)
Sleeve length: 34 in (86 cm)
MontBell EX Light Down Anorak is an ultra-light minimalist down sweater for wearing in cooler weather. It features a 2-way adjustable hood, 13.4 in (34 cm) half zip, elastic cuffs, adjustable hem and a single fully insulated non-zippered through pocket. It's filled with extremely high quality 900 fill power down in sewn-through construction which creates small pockets to keep the down in place. The ultra-thin shell material is made of 7-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon which makes the sweater very lightweight yet durable.
I opened the box and I was very impressed by how light this anorak is! Once I put it on I could barely feel any weight from it. I found the sizing chart on the manufacturer's website really helpful when I was picking my size. I ended up choosing a medium and it fits me well - the arm-length is perfect and I do not feel constrained around the chest or shoulders.
The hood has elastic drawstrings to shrink hood opening as well as a rear volume hook and loop adjustment. The front through pocket is big enough to put both hands together even when wearing thick gloves. The inside of the pocket has two elastic drawstrings to adjust the hem. The EX Light is quite puffy and feels soft and silky on bare skin. However, the fabric looks very thin and has a little bit of crinkly sound.
The sweater came with a stuff sack which is made of the same fabric. It was easy to stuff the jacket into the sack. I also found that the whole stuff sack could be compressed even more if necessary. Once the anorak is taken out of the sack it regains loftiness quite quickly.
MAINTENANCE AND CARE
The jacket came with four tags attached to it. One of them contains information about maintenance of down leakage. In case some small feather spines or down clusters get through the fabric it's advised to reach behind the fabric and pull the down cluster back into its down chamber and then gently massage the area to re-align fabric threads and better distribute down insulation. It is not recommended to pull the cluster from the garment since it can cause the exposed cluster to tangle with others and draw them from the chamber.
Care instructions are sewn-in on the inside. It's not advised to wash the jacket frequently since it can cause fabric damage. The manufacturer recommends washing once at the end of each season. The jacket should be hand-washed with down specific detergent in cold water or on gentle cycle in a machine. To dry the jacket, it should be hanged to air dry or tumble dried with low heat. Patting the item would help restore the loft to the down.
I've got a few chances to try this jacket outside. The first time that I've tried it was early in the morning while fishing. The temperature was approximately 45 F (7 C) and the elevation was minimal. Under the jacket, I was wearing a thin merino wool long sleeve shirt. I felt warm enough even though there was a cold breeze the whole morning. Over the next few days, I wore it during my cycle commute to work. The temperature was ranging from 40 F (4 C) to 50 F (10 C). During the first 5 minutes of cycling, I was feeling nice and warm, but later on, I quickly started sweating and had to either open the zip to ventilate or take the jacket off entirely.
Things I like:
- Weight (great insulation for such a low weight)
- Packability (compresses well and regains loftiness quickly)
- Windproofness (blocks light breeze well)
Things I do not like:
- The stuff sack is easy to misplace (would be better if I could securely attach it somewhere on the inside or in the pocket)
- Non-zippered pocket is only good for storing items temporarily (I kept my gloves and neck warmer in it. Both items were constantly falling off when I was putting the anorak on and taking it off.)
Overall, I'm really happy with this anorak and can't wait to test it out in colder weather.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
In the past two months, I used Montbell EX Light Down Anorak on four different trips:
- Car camping and fishing weekend in Upper Squamish Valley, BC. The sky was clear. The temperature was ranging from 41 F (5 C) to 30 F (-1 C) and the elevation was minimal.
- Two-day bikepacking trip to one of the Southern Gulf Islands in BC. It was raining most of the time. The temperature was ranging from 47 F (8 C) to 36 F (2 C). The elevation was ranging from 650 ft (200 m) to 1400 ft (430 m).
- Day hike to Saint Mark's Summit on the North Shore Mountains, BC. The sky was overcast and some parts of the trail were icy. The temperature was ranging from 36 F (2 C) to 30 F (-1 C). Trail length was 7.9 mi (11.9 km) roundtrip with an elevation gain of 1600 ft (490 m) and the highest point reaching 4430 ft (1350 m).
- Three-day snowshoeing trip to Elfin Lakes (Squamish, BC). The first day was clear and sunny. The second and third day were cloudy with occasional snow. The temperature was ranging from 32 F (0 C) to 21 F (-6 C). Trail length was 14.3 mi (23 km) roundtrip. The elevation was ranging from 3200 ft (975 m) to 5275 ft (1608 m).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Montbell EX Light Down Anorak performed well during my testing period. I wore it with slight variations of first layers and outer layers. In all cases, it worked well and I liked it a lot.
On warmer days, I wore it on top of a thin long sleeve merino wool base layer. It was enough to be comfortable when the temperature was above 32 F (0 C). I didn't wear the anorak during intense physical activity (cycling, hiking) because I didn't want to become sweaty. But I found that it's perfect to retain heat when walking around the campsite or stopping to rest during the hike. I spent over an hour at St. Mark's Summit eating lunch, enjoying the view and taking pictures. The elastic drawstrings on the hem and the hoodie helped trap the heat so I did not get cold even though there were occasional cold wind gusts. I liked being able to place my hands together in the front pocket to keep them warm.
On colder days, I wore two merino wool base layers and the anorak on top. There was a time when I spent several hours outside building an igloo at Elfin Lakes. The temperature was below freezing and it was snowing occasionally. My upper body felt warm the whole time. I only had to go inside the hut to warm up because my feet and hands were cold.
There were a couple of times that I woke up in the middle of the night feeling cold because my down sleeping bag had a cold spot. Both times, I just put the anorak on and went back to sleep. I found that sleeping with the anorak was pretty comfortable. Its fabric felt very similar to my sleeping bag. I didn't feel constrained and slept warm.
Even though EX Light Down has a 7-denier rip-stop nylon shell coated with standard DWR (durable water repellent), I didn't want to test how long the anorak would hold up before the down gets wet so I always wore it under a hardshell rain jacket in heavier rain. I was also very mindful of it around the campfire or next to trees/bushes. Therefore, it still looks brand new so far and it doesn't have any holes or loose seams. The sewn-through construction kept down in place and I didn't observe any cold spots. Also, I found it very convenient that my base layers have similar length zippers which help control the body temperature more easily.
Initially, I was happy with the fit of the anorak. However, I've got a couple of comments from people saying that it looks too short on me. Now that I think about it, I have to agree that it could be a bit longer. Whenever I raise my hands, my stomach gets exposed. But on the other hand, it doesn't stick out from under my rain jacket, otherwise, it could get wet in the rain.
In my initial report, I mentioned that it's easy to misplace the stuff sack because there's no dedicated pocket to store it. I've solved this problem by tying the stuff sack to the hanging loop. In such a way, the stuff sack always stays with the jacket and I'm able to stuff it in the sack without removing it from the hanging loop.
I'm still impressed by how light yet warm MontBell EX Light Down Anorak is. It doesn't take much space in the backpack. Even better, it regains loftiness quickly, blocks wind well and is pleasant to wear to bed.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Due to severe weather and high avalanche danger in the mountains I had to cancel a couple of my planned trips in the past two months. However, I still managed to test the anorak on the following trips:
- Two-day bikepacking trip to one of the Southern Gulf Islands in BC. It was mostly cloudy with occasional rain. The temperature was ranging from 50 F (10 C) to 28 F (-2 C). The elevation was ranging from 164 ft (50 m) to 650 ft (200 m).
- Day snowshoeing trip to Hollyburn Peak on the Cypress Mountain, BC. It was foggy the whole day. The temperature was around 36 F (2 C). Trail length was 4.66 mi (7.5 km) roundtrip with an elevation gain of 1476 ft (450 m) and the highest point reaching 4350 ft (1326 m).
- 5 days cycle commute to work. The elevation was minimal. The distance was around 2.17 mi (3.5 km) one way. The temperature in the morning was ranging from 32 F (0 C) to 23 F (-5 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My impression of the Montbell EX Light Down Anorak hasn't changed in the past two months. It still performs well, regains loftiness quickly, and allows me to sleep with comfort.
I spent an evening sitting next to the fire with occasional wind gusts blowing fire particles around. I was afraid that it could burn holes in my anorak so I put my hardshell rain jacket on top. The short length of the anorak came in handy - my rain jacket kept it covered completely and safe from fire while keeping me warm and cozy at the same time.
In my initial report, I mentioned that it was too hot to cycle with it when the temperature was above 40 F (4 C). However, there was one colder week in Vancouver when the temperature dropped below 32 F (0 C) in the mornings. During those days I enjoyed wearing this jacket while cycling to work. I found that it was just right - I didn't overheat or get sweaty, and it blocked the cold wind entirely.
The only downside I noticed in the past few months was the down leakage. The care instructions for the jacket suggested that small feather spines or down clusters might get through the fabric. Instead of pulling them out, it's best to reach behind the fabric and pull the down cluster back in. However, whenever the feather was coming out it was through the seam and not the fabric itself. I tried to pull it back in from both sides of the seam with no luck. Fortunately, it didn't get tangled with other down clusters inside, and I was able to pull just one feather out.
Montbell EX Light Down Anorak works well as a mid-layer or an outer layer. Its compressibility and weight-to-warmth ratio are exceptional. I'll continue to use the anorak throughout all seasons, and it will definitely replace my other bulkier and heavier jacket, which I currently take on my trips.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Long-Term Report. Thank you MontBell and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test EX Light Down Anorak!
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