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Montane Featherlite Down Jacket Review

Montane Featherlite Down Jacket

The Montane Featherlite Down Jacket is an exceptional lightweight down jacket, good for year-round use as an outer layer or as a mid-layer under a shell in very cold winter conditions.

The hood is one of the best I’ve tested on lightweight insulated jackets and is fully adjustable, something you find less and less on other jackets in its class. It has two drawstrings (shown above), a rear volume adjuster, and a semi-stiff bill above the eyes good for keeping blowing snow out of your face. The main zip comes up very high forming a good snorkel while providing excellent wind protection for the neck. The hood also rolls up and folds away to form a warm collar when not needed, for example when wearing it under a shell as a mid-layer.  Montane really nailed the hood.

The Montane Featherlite is also amazingly warm, surprisingly so, since it’s filled with 750 fill power goose down and not a higher grade like 800 or 850 fill power. Montane attributes this to a specialized baffle design that gives the down insulation optimal space to loft. Whatever. With 140 grams (4.9 ounces of goose down) this jacket is a furnace and beats the pants off of the other down mid-weight down jackets I use in terms of warmth.

Weighing just 16.2 ounces (in a size XL mens), the exterior of the Featherlite is a lightweight, windproof Pertex Quantum ripstop. The jacket has two zippered hand-warmer pockets, a zippered chest pocket, and an internal right-hand side pocket that is secured with a velcro tab, perfectly sized for storing an iPhone or smartphone.

The sleeves have snug elastic cuffs and the arms are cut so that you can lift them without much hem lift, making Featherlite a good belay jacket too. Plus there are hem adjusters to provide a snug fit and prevent wind from blowing up underneath.

Fit is a big snug when worn over a thick mid-layer, but not enough to require sizing up. There’s also a women’s version of this coat and all the colors available are rad.

The Montane Featherlite Down Jacket is a good buy and recommended.

The Montane Featherlite Down Jacket

Moisture Resistence
Hood Adjustment

Superior Hood

The Montane Featherlite Down Jacket is an exceptional lightweight down jacket, good for year-round use as an outer-layer or as a mid-layer under a shell in very cold winter conditions. The hood is fully adjustable, something you find less and less on other jackets in its class.

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Disclosure: Montane provided the author with a sample jacket for this review.

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  1. My main sleeping bag and one of my jackets is 750-fill. I also own a couple of 800-fill jackets. Initially I thought at similar weights it’d be colder than 800-fill, but I don’t ever notice a difference. I think the difference from 750, 800, and 850 is minuscule. (I’ve never had a 900+ fill garment.) Sometimes I think these manufacturers don’t have pure fill at one number despite their best intentions. Anyways looks like some great deals for this jacket, I bet they’ll be sold out soon.

  2. Any insight as to how it compares with the Rab Microlight? They seem pretty similar.

  3. Phil, you typically run pretty hot, right? Can you elaborate on these statements – “as a mid-layer under a shell in very cold winter conditions.” and “this jacket is a furnace”. Assuming you’re using it under a shell while moving, what do you define as “very cold conditions”? And if it’s cold enough to be comfortable hiking in this, what do you wear when you stop, another down parka? I run pretty hot and I don’t think I’ve ever been out in weather cold enough where I was comfortable walking/hiking in a down layer.

    • You don’t know what you’ve been missing :-) Seriously, when I get chilled and I can’t warm up, I put a midlayer down or synthetic jacket on under my shell to warm up and hike like that. This generally happens in conditions under 30 degrees (and down to -20.) Not always and not even that often, but it still does happen.

      Not sure if you know that Montbell’s claim to fame was that their mid-layer down and synthetic jackets were designed as an alternative to using a fleece mid-layer. I’m just doing that. This featherlite jacket is quite warm, but not so puffy that you can’t put it under a shell.

      • Hmm, that’s interesting that it is an alternative to fleece, is it treated? I’d be afraid of soaking it through. Coldest I tend to go is 5F and then I get away with poly base + 200wt fleece + super-thin softshell or hardshell. I can do single 100wt fleece + wind layer down to 20F. At 5F and below keeping the extremities and face warm just becomes too much of a chore…

        But you’re right though, I was XC skiing last weekend and underestimated our stoppage time so didn’t put my down vest on until I got chilled. I did not want to take it off once we got going and just kept it on to warm up, worked great.

  4. I just bought something similar to this for Iceland!I love the Neck cover and the brim!

  5. opposite hand “Euro zipper”?

  6. The insulation layer I usually use in cold weather is another Montane product — the Volt fleece. Mine is the jacket, and I think you have (or had) the pullover version? Obv everyone is different, but comparatively how much warmer is this? (I find the Volt pret-ty toasty.)

  7. Philip,

    I agree with your view of the hood. I have their Prism Jacket which uses the same hood design, and I use it just as you say. I’m in the UK where dry cold is less common than wet cold, a few degrees around freezing, so I went for their synthetic insulation, and do use it instead of a fleece. I also like the handwarmer pockets, which look similar (easily swallow folded maps and the zip doesn’t go down too far).

  8. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for all the informative reviews that you post.
    You said that you wore the XL Featherlite – do you mind telling me what is your height and weight? I have read that these ultralight jackets tend to fit a bit trim. I was going to buy one online as I can’t get to a shop to try it on (I’m 6’1″ and 180lbs).


  9. Sizing is a nightmare buying online. I ordered a montane windshield a year or so ago in medium, thought rolling my shoulders would split the seams. Had to give it to my wofe for work, in fairness she has used it a lot and loves it. I’m 5’9″ 168 pounds. Love the look of this jacket, but would have to try one on first rather than buying online.

  10. I must be super dumb, but how the hell does this hood fold down? I can’t figure it out…

  11. In my experience this jacket is not a replacement for a fleece as it is way too fragile. My first trip with my new jacket a 3 week trek in the Himalayas and already 2 small tears in the sleeves. This is despite trying to limit my use of the jacket to evenings only and my 25 year old fleece for the actual hiking. It amazes me that these jackets are so popular as outdoor camping and trekking equipment when they damage so easily.

  12. Good review. Interesting parka.

    NOW… why not review warmer “belay”/”expedition” style parkas?
    I have an Eddie Bauer PEAK XV down expedition parka that I got on sale for $299. Excellent parka even at $400. Almost identical to the Patagonia Fitz Roy parka which is much more expensive and seldom, if ever, goes on sale.

    And while you’re at it review insulated pants, boots and gloves?mittens.

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