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Reviews > Clothing > Pants and Shorts > MontBell Light Down Insulated Pants > Test Report by Christie Kimber

MontBell Light Down Insulated Pants

Initial Report
Field Report
Long Term Report

Initial Report

November 3, 2019

Background Information:
Name: Christie Kimber
Age: 28
Gender: Female
Height: 6’0" (183 cm)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kg)
Email address: christiekimber AT yahoo DOT com
City, Province, Country: Campbell River, British Columbia (BC), Canada
Backpacking Background:
    I started hiking in 2015 when I moved from Saskatchewan to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I started with day hikes and have eventually pushed myself to weekend and even week-long excursions. I am a three-season hiker. That being said, as I gather new gear and develop skills I am pushing my limits to try out 4-season backpacking and mountaineering. Vancouver Island gets a lot of rain and has a moderate climate. I also spend time in interior British Columbia in the Rocky Mountains.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: mont-bell Co., Ltd.
Year of manufacture: 2019
Style: Women's Light Down Pants
Size: M

Other sizes available: S, M, L, XL
MSRP: $209 USD
Color tested: black
Other available colors: none

Listed weight: 186 g (6.6 oz)
Fill weight: 80 g (2.8 oz)
Measured weight:
  • Pants: 186 g (6.6 oz)
  • Stuff sack: 4 g (0.14 oz)
Listed measurements: inseam 77.5 cm (30.5 inches)
Compressed size: 4.3 x 7.3 in. (11 x 19 cm)
Actual measurements:
  • waist: 31 inches
  • inseam 29 inches
Insulation: 90% 800 fill power EX down, 10% feather
Fabric: 10-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon

Product Description:

    The mont-bell Light Down Pants are an updated version of this company's original down pants released initially in 2004. These pants are slim cut with tapered, elastic ankles. There is a draw string and elasticized waist band. Other than that, these pants are bare bones which makes them incredibly light weight. There are no pockets, fly opening, attachments, or reinforcements.
    These pants are made of rip-stop nylon material. They are filled with 800 fill power down. Fill power refers to the loftiness of the down. The higher the number, the lighter and more compressible the down is while providing the same amount of warmth as a lower number. These pants are made with sewn through construction which creates small pockets, so the down will stay in place.
    The mont-bell Light Down Pants are made in Vietnam. mont-bell is a Japanese company.

Initial Impressions:
    I did not know what to expect when I received the Light Down Pants as I had never heard of down pants until this test call. However, they are exactly what I should have expected! They are just like a down jacket, but in the form of pants. To me, they are like putting on a down sleeping bag. They are made of the same type of nylon rip stop material and feel very airy, yet warm.
    These pants are remarkably light; even lighter than the down jackets that I own. They are totally stripped down in terms of features to accommodate this.

    A stuff sack was included with my pants. The pants fit in the sack easily. I would guess the stuff sack is the same for all sizes as the stuff sack actually has quite a bit of extra room for my medium pants. If I was so inclined I could fit them in to an even smaller sack.
    Because I have never had down pants before I am not certain exactly how I am going to use them, thus picking a size was a bit of a challenge. I decided on medium. They fit great in the waist and hip area. I also like the tapered look. They are quite snug, so I think they will work great for layering over long underwear and under a waterproof shell. This is what I was hoping for. The website mentions using them for "lounging around camp or to boost the warmth of your sleep system." I can see using them for both of these purposes over long underwear. I do not think I would be able to fit the slim cut down pants over a pair of hiking pants unless I sized up. The inseam is also a bit short for me. The pants taper above the ankles. However, I think this will work well for midlayer pants, as I will be wearing boots in any condition I need these pants for. I can see them being useful for snow shoeing or winter hiking and camping.
    There is no temperature rating on these pants, so I will be curious to see what the "comfort" temperature is. I should be able to push the limit in this upcoming Canadian winter.
    My only other concern is the pants do not seem to have any extra padding or reinforcement in the rear or knees which will likely be areas with constant wear and compression.

Field Report

January 14, 2020

Field Testing:
  • Callaghan Valley, British Columbia, Canada
    • Elevation: 240 m (787 ft)
    • Duration: 8 km (5 miles)
    • Temperature: - 5 C (23 F)
    • Weather: cloudy, snowy
    • Trail conditions: snow covered, steep at points, black diamond snowshoe trail
  • Canmore, Alberta, Canada
    • Elevation: 118 m (387 ft)
    • Duration: 5.7 km (3.5 miles)
    • Temperature: - 15 C (5 F)
    • Weather: sunny, clear, crisp
    • Trail conditions: groomed cross-country trail
  • Brandywine Falls, British Columbia, Canada
    • Elevation: mostly flat
    • Duration: 2 km (1.2 miles)
    • Temperature: - 5 C (23 F)
    • Weather: overcast, light snow
    • Trail conditions: snow covered
  • Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
    • Variable activities including five days of downhill skiing, walking to work, front country camping
    • Temperature: - 10 C to 1 C (14 to 34 F)
Unfortunately, we have been having a wild winter so far here in British Columbia, full of much more rain than snow. Avalanche conditions have been high for almost the entire season, so this has quashed some overnight backpacking and ski touring plans. However, I just spent the past month front country camping in Whistler in my camper van, so the mont-bell Light Down Pants still saw a ton of use, just not necessarily in the back country.
First of all, I wore these pants walking to and from work every day (thirteen days), which is a 5 km (3 mile) round trip. I also used the pants a lot at "home" in my van. I used them almost every night and every morning while getting ready. I also used them as part of my sleep system for about ten nights total when I was not plugged in and did not have an additional heat source. During these nights my sleep system consisted of a base layer and down pants, jacket, and booties, as well as a toque. I then slept under a down blanket. I have heard of the two camps of cold weather camping - those that sleep heavily layered and those that sleep naked. I think we know what camp I am in!
I also used these pants during more high-intensity activities. This included five days downhill skiing, one day cross country skiing, and two days snowshoeing. The temperatures I used the pants in ranged from - 15 C to 1 C (5 to 34 F).

I can't believe I have never heard of down insulated pants before I started testing these. They are probably the best piece of cold weather gear I own! I am someone who is always cold in winter, so these are right up my alley. There are so many things I like about the pants. First of all, they are so warm and comfortable. At the lowest temperatures I was wearing a base layer with the down pants over top. If I was staying indoors, and as part of my sleep system, that was it. If I went outside I added an outer Gortex layer. I never found I was too warm or too cold with this set up. The down pants are so light it doesn't even feel like I am wearing them, yet they hug my legs like a cloud. I was warm at night, but did not sweat in my down sleep set up.

The pants are likely a little bit short for me, however for winter wear this actually turned out well. Having them a bit short means they sit above my ski boots, hiking boots, and winter booties, which is perfect. I liked the tapered fit with the cinched ankles because if I needed them to sit a bit higher, they stayed in place around my calf. I would never wear the down pants outside on their own in winter since they are not waterproof, so my outer Gortex layer is what covered my boots and protected my feet from snow when outdoors.

The elastic waist band made the pants easy to slide on and off. I also appreciated the lack of zipper or snaps, because these often get cold and uncomfortable in the winter. The tapered legs make the pants easy to layer. However, with the size I chose I could not fit the pants comfortably over anything more than leggings or a base layer. It would be tight to put them on over the top of hiking pants. However, that is not how I planned to use them, so I think I sized them appropriately. Also, the seat of the pants is a little big, considering everything else fits really well.

The construction of the pants seems to be high end. I have not lost any feathers, and the quilted stitch pattern does not have loose threads. The down has stayed lofty. I have stored the pants loosely folded to maintain loft. They pack down nicely into the included stuff sack, however I do not store them in the stuff sack. I have always put the pants on at the beginning of my activity, so have not had to pack them or take them in and out of the stuff sack yet.

The pants add an incredible amount of warmth to my usual winter system. I usually get cold, especially when downhill skiing. I have found these pants have made a big difference when sitting on the chair lift, yet I do not get too warm coming down hill. The only time I have been a little warm is while snowshoeing, but not to the point that I needed to remove the pants. Although I have not done it, I think removing the pants during an activity would be a bit cumbersome. I would need to remove my boots to get them off.

I have been asked by several people up here in Canada where I got my pants. Everyone seems very impressed with them, and I can't blame them. These pants are incredibly light weight, comfortable, and add some much-needed warmth to both my sleep system and cold weather adventure attire.They will be well used on all cold days to come.

Long-Term Report

March 2, 2020

Even after four months, I am still gushing about these pants to anyone that will listen. I have continued to use them for the same activities as above including snowshoeing, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, lounging, and recently a day of ski touring. They are a great addition to any of these activities. I have been based around Vancouver for the past two months, so most of my snow days have been spent at Whistler or Cypress and the surrounding areas. The temperatures have been anywhere from +1 C (34 F) to -10 C (14 F).

Ski touring is the newest activity I have used the pants for. I found they were a bit too hot to wear while actively climbing. I didn't bother removing them as this would have been quite the ordeal, but they were perfect for our rest points, as well as staying warm while coming back down. They are a particularly nice addition when I have to sit in the cold snow to eat lunch. In this scenario, even a bit more padding in the seat area would have been great.

Unfortunately, during one downhill ski day I got caught in a "snow that turned to rain" storm. The only silver lining to this experience was the ability to test the down pants in awful conditions. I was wearing my Gortex layer over top of the down pants, however I discovered there is not a taped seam in the crotch of the Gortex pants. This, of course, meant water found its way in and then my down pants took on water. This is definitely not what I wanted. The mont-bell pants got very heavy, cold, and were not going to dry out. I cut the ski day short and went about removing all of my soaked gear. I was worried about how the feathers would hold up. Luckily after air drying overnight everything was back to normal. While I wouldn't recommend taking down pants into a rain storm, I was happy to see they were able to withstand the abuse.

These down insulated pants have lost a few feathers here and there, however there are no holes, rips, runs, or snags. All seams are intact. The over sewn diamond pattern has kept the feathers in position, and there is still lots of loft. The cinched ankles of the pants have not stretched out. Other than accidentally soaking the down pants in the rain storm, I have not otherwise cleaned or washed them.

I would recommend a pair of down insulated pants, and in particular these mont-bell pants to any winter adventurer. For me, they were a great addition under a Gortex layer for many winter activities. They kept me warm but were so light weight that I didn't find myself getting bogged down. They also work great as loungewear or as an addition to my sleep system. They are incredibly comfortable with no extra bells or whistles to get in the way or add any discomfort. They are a simple, but elegant solution to the cold.

This concludes my Long-Term Report. Thanks to mont-bell and for the opportunity to test these pants.

Read more reviews of MontBell gear
Read more gear reviews by Christie Kimber

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