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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Mountain Hardwear Phantom Jacket > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Mountain Hardwear Phantom Jacket
By Raymond Estrella
March 13, 2006


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.

The Product

Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
Web site:
Product: Phantom Jacket
Size: Xlarge
Year manufactured: 2005
MSRP: $ 225.00 (US).
Weight listed: 16 oz (453 g)
Actual weight 16.8 oz (475 g)
Stuffed size: 8.5 x 5.5 in (21.3 x 13.7 cm) My measurement
Insulation type: 800 fill goose down.
Color reviewed: Shark
Additional colors available: Lichen, Chili and Sapphire
Warranty: (from company web site), “Mountain Hardwear guarantees that the materials and workmanship in every product we make will stand up to the use for which it was designed. This warranty does not cover damages caused by improper care, accidents or the natural breakdown of materials over extended time and use.”

Product Description

The Mountain Hardwear Phantom Jacket (hereafter referred to as the Phantom, or the jacket) is a light weight, down filled jacket. It employs box-quilt construction. The pockets that hold the down in place are sewn through. It does not have baffles, to keep the weight and pack-ability down. The individual quilt-pockets loft to about 2.5 in (6.25 cm) at the thickest point. When laid down flat, the jacket has about 5 in (12.5 cm) of loft.

The outer and inner shell is made of “Superlight 15D Lining, Shell Fabric, 359 thread count, 66 high tenacity nylon. 300 mm waterproofness. DWR finish. Lightweight and tear resistant. 0.85 oz./sq. yd.” It has a rip-stop grid pattern, and is very soft to the touch. Mine is what Mountain Hardwear calls Shark color. It is a very dark gray, almost black.

The collar is a Cadet-style, stand up collar. The inner 3.5 in (8.75 cm) of the collar to either side of the zipper is lined with “Micro-chamois”, a very soft fabric. A narrow track nylon YKK zipper runs from the bottom of the jacket to the top of the collar, where it tucks into a zipper-guard. This keeps the zipper from digging into me when it is fully raised. There is a nylon cord threaded through the metal zipper-pull to facilitate use with gloves on. To the left of the main zipper, at chest level, is a smaller vertical zipper that accesses a pocket. On this pocket the Mountain Hardwear “Nut” logo is embroidered.

To each side of the jacket toward the bottom, there are two more vertical zippers accessing the “hand-warmer” pockets. The pockets are lined with a light fleece on the side toward the outer shell. The inner facing side is the same material as the rest of the jacket. All of the exterior pocket zippers have a cord pull on them.

The sleeve cuffs have an elastic band sewn in, and have a Velcro closure to allow them to be snuggly closed around my wrist.

On the inside of the jacket, centered under the collar are a Mountain Hardwear patch and a tag with the size listed, and “Made in China”. Near the bottom inside left, is a sewn in patch listing materials, and cleaning instructions. On the opposite side is a generous interior pocket that is accessed by a horizontal zipper. At the bottom, inside of the jacket is a draw string that allows the Phantom to be tightened to keep the wind out.

The Phantom came with a very small .4 oz (11 g) stuff sack. Here is a picture of the Phantom in the sack.


Field Conditions

This coat has seen action in the White Mountains, on a trip to place caches along a 33 mile future hike. While we were in the area we climbed White Peak, which at 14,245' (4,273 m) elevation, is the highest point I have worn the Phantom so far. It was 24 to 30 F that trip (-1 to -4 C) with winds of about 10 mph (16 kph). I also wore it on the north half of the John Muir Trail in October 2005, where it was below freezing most of the trip. The lowest temps that I experienced were 17 F and 18 F (-8 C) consecutive mornings. It was on the peak of San Jacinto in September 2005. On a return trip in November temps dropped down to 25 F (-4 C), with very high winds.

It was also taken on trips to Kings Canyon and San Gorgonio. Reviewing my hiking log I see that I have had it along for 235 miles (376 k) of backpacking to date. Here is a picture of me wearing it on the JMT.

Hungry hiker cooks dinner


I bought the Phantom to replace a much liked, but heavier down sweater. I found the Phantom on sale at a very good price, and am so impressed with Mountain Hardwear’s Phantom 32 sleeping bag (see review), that I decided to try it out. I told myself that the weight difference, and the higher fill power down, allowing it to pack smaller, would be worth it.

I was right. This is a great jacket. It is very comfortable to wear, and has proven to be quite warm. I had a very cold week on the John Muir Trail, and the Phantom kept my upper body warm. I was wishing for some matching pants for a few days.

As I climb faster than my hiking partner, I have to wait for him once I summit. On White and San Jacinto last September, I was quite happy to wear the Phantom in the strong cold winds at the top. At 16 oz, and as small as it packs down, I do not mind carrying it in my day pack, even if I do not plan to use it.

I encountered some very strong winds in November. Because the shell is sewn through I did feel the cold through the stitching. But putting my rain shell over the Phantom remedied that situation very well.

When I first saw the tiny stuff sack I thought, “There is no way this jacket is going to fit in this sack”. But it does. And on my JMT hike, I did not even use the sack, but just stuffed it into the little spaces at the top of my pack. It seems to just disappear into the little nooks and crannies.

I like the hand warmer pockets, but wish that the fleece liner was on both sides of them, even though it would add a little more weight. My old down sweater had a full fleece lining in the pockets and it is noticeably warmer to have it full.

I need a pillow to sleep well, and stuff the Phantom into a Cascade Designs fleece pillow sack when I turn in. It works so well for this purpose that I carry it even for warm weather hikes when I don’t need to wear it.

I am very satisfied with this jacket. It has already started seeing action again as the 2006 hiking season is here.

Pros: Light weight, small packed size, warm.
Cons: Sewn-through stitching not as warm as baffled construction. Pockets not fully fleece lined.

I'll raise you 1 piece of jerky  Dave
Relaxing in the Phantom near the Merced River.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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