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Montbell Mirage Down Parka Review

Montbell Mirage Down Parka Review

The Montbell Mirage Parka is an ultralight 900 fill power hooded down jacket, perfect for winter hiking or backpacking trips when you want to get warm fast and stay warm. Weighing just 14.4 oz in a size men’s XL, this jacket is loaded with features from box baffles to a complete hood sizing and adjustment system. If you’re looking to shave some serious gear weight from your winter hiking gear list, the Mirage is the perfect down parka to don at the top of your next summit or back at basecamp.

Montbell Mirage Parka

Warmth
Weight
Compressibility
Moisture Resistence
Hood Adjustemnt
Features

Superior Ultralight Parka

The Mirage Parka is a 900 fill power goose down parka with a fully adjustable hood ideal for winter hiking, backpacking, and climbing.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Insulation: 900 fill power down
  • Weight: 12.8 oz (medium); 14.4 oz (xl, tested)
  • Down fill weight: 5.3 oz
  • Construction: Box baffles
  • Helmet compatible: Yes
  • Shell fabric: 7-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon shell & lining
  • Pockets: 4 (two outer, two inner)
  • Zipper: YKK, one-way

Parkas or Jackets?

The Montbell Mirage is a down parka, which means it’s meant to be worn as your outmost layer, not as a mid-layer like many lightweight down or synthetic insulated jackets. A parka weighs more and usually has much more insulation because you’re usually not active when you wear it, but standing around, sitting, or sleeping. For example, I usually pull out a parka when I stop for a break on a winter hike when we summit a mountain peak and want to relish the view when I’m in camp melting snow or to augment the insulation in a hoodless quilt when I go to sleep.

Parkas always have hoods and they’re usually loaded with heat-saving features like wrist cuffs and hem drawstrings. In the past, parkas were usually longer than jackets and therefore warmer because they covered more of your body. But these days the line between parkas and jackets has been blurred and the term parka is inconsistently used. The only good way to tell them apart is to look at the amount of insulation a jacket has, but many manufacturers still don’t publish down fill weights, even though it would benefit consumers.

Fully Adjustable Hood

The first thing I look for in any down jacket is to see whether it has an adjustable hood. A non-adjustable hood is basically worthless because you can’t block out heat robbing wind or reduce the air space that your body has to heat up. The perfect hood should have a volume adjuster so you can fit it to your head size and neck toggles so you can shrink the face opening. Your neck and lower face should be covered to keep them warm and block the wind. A zipper garage, like the one below, is especially nice if you have a mustache or beard, because it keeps them from getting caught in the teeth. The Mirage doesn’t have any face lining, but the jacket’s shell fabric is very soft, so it’s not a problem.

The Mirage’s hood volume shrinks enough for my small head, even though it is ice climbing helmet-compatible, which should give you some sense of how good the hood controls are. Helmet compatibility is usually an indication that a hood will be too large a hiker’s head, but the Mirage hood can be reduced enough in size to encase your head comfortably without extra volume. It’s also amazing just how much insulation the hood holds. I own down-filled balaclavas that have less down fill in them, making the Mirage an awesome accompaniment for a down quilt sleep system.

The Montbell Mirage has a fully adjustable hood.
The Montbell Mirage has a fully adjustable hood with neck toggles and a rear volume adjuster.

Wrist cuffs

The Mirage has velcro wrist cuffs at the end of its sleeves so you can seal the ends to prevent body heat from escaping. Blood flowing through your wrists travels very close to the surface of your skin and having wrist cuffs helps you prevent cold wind from blowing up your arms and chilling you. I usually tighten the cuffs around my arm and then put gloves with gauntlets over them, but some people close their sleeve ends over the gloves. Whatever works. If you’re too warm, the jacket wrists are wide enough that you can pull them up your arm to release heat.

Pockets

The Mirage has four pockets, two on the outside of the jacket and two on the inside. The exterior pockets are on the sides of the coat and close with zippers, so stuff won’t fall out. They’re big pockets and insulated so you can put your hands in them to warm up or stuff gloves and hats inside. Each pocket also contains a hidden hem adjuster, so you can cinch the waist tight without taking your hands out of your pockets.

There are also two pockets on the interior sides of the jacket. They’re quite deep and good for storing heavy gloves or food. You can even fit a Mountain House dinner into them if you want to use your jacket to keep your freeze-dried meal hot while it is rehydrated.

Box Baffles

The Mirage is made using box baffles instead of a sewn-thru construction. Box baffles are fabric chambers that hold down clusters in place and prevent them from shifting and creating cold spots. The chambers give the clusters space to fully expand and reach their maximum loft, so you stay warmer. In sewn-thru construction, the down clusters are also prevented from shifting but have less space to reach their maximum loft. Sewn-thru construction is faster to manufacture and less expensive, which is why it’s so prevalent. But the warmest jackets have box baffles.

Comparable Down Parkas and Jackets

Make / ModelGenderWeight (oz)Fill Power
Western Mountaineering Flash JacketM/F10.3850
Montbell Plasma 1000 Down ParkaM/F8.41000
Feathered Friends Eos JacketM/F10.6900
Montbell Permafrost Light ParkaM/F15.8800
Montbell Alpine Light Down ParkaM/F14.2800
Feathered Friends Ellia Women's JacketF13900
Montbell Mirage ParkaM12.8900
Feathered Friends HeliosM18900
Western Mountaineering Meltdown JacketM17850
Box baffle construction allow down clusters to fully loft
Box baffle construction allows the down clusters to fully loft.

Recommendation

The Montbell Mirage Parka is a great down parka that’s ultralight but still loaded with features. Insulated with 900 fill power down, it is super comfortable to wear and has a fully featured hood adjustment, so you can resize it to fit perfectly. My only real concern with Mirage is the thickness and durability of the 7 denier ballistic nylon used for its exterior fabric. The shell is easy to puncture and will abrade in high-friction areas more quickly than jackets made with thicker materials. That’s not a deal-breaker, provided you stock up on Tenacious Tape and are proactive about patching holes and thinning fabric.

View at Montbell

 

Disclosure: Montbell donated a jacket for review.

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16 comments

  1. Philip, is that the summit of Mt Chocorua?

  2. As the reviewer said this parka could use a more durable fabric shell.
    For a garment this warm I go with the built-in parka hood. When not in use it makes a good collar.

    Still a GTX or eVent mountain park is needed to protect the down parka from the elements. And it needs to be a size larger than normal to keep from compressing the down.

  3. Thanks for the review of the Montbell Mirage. I also have a size XL Mirage and this is by far my most highly valued piece of cool weather backpacking gear, I won’t take a trip without it. I also have a Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer hooded jacket that never actually makes it into my pack, it just falls so far short of the Mirage for warmth and versatility.

  4. Phillip, have you had a chance to try out the Eddie Bauer BC EverTherm down jacket?
    I was e-mailed a 50% off any item coupon a couple weeks ago, and grabbed one for $250.00 knowing they list for $500. They don’t have it in any of the EB Outlets, but will carry the standard EverTherm.
    I like the feel, I have not had a chance to wear in very cold weather yet, but plan to this long COLD holiday weekend.. I have been pleased with most EB product, and the reviews in Backpacker and Outside claim it to be a great jacket. I do like the no baffle look, Let us know what you think. Thanks, STD

    • Not enough information to make an assessment. Sorry.
      For example, they don’t say how lightweight it is or provide an equivalence rating for the heat retention of the insulation to down fill powers.

      • Outside magazine, buyers guide 2019, has this BC EverTherm thindown jacket in its gear of the year edition, and claims it ato be 1.2 pounds, with “the best warmth to weight ratio of any waterproof puffy they tested” that their review. That’s pretty light, hopefully pretty warm, I’ll be giving it a workout soon.. hike on! Thanks..

  5. $449. wow that is very expensive jacket.

  6. Fun Montbell fact: you can order from their Japanese website, and save a hilarious amount of money. They now ship from Japan to most countries.

    CAVEATS: some of the product is in Japanese sizing, and some is in US sizing. Double check the sizing! Most of the items with US models are their US sizing, but not all of them.

    For example I got a Permafrost Parka for $289 delivered. It took three weeks to get to the US, but dropping the price from $550 was worth it. They do free shipping over a certain amount of Yen.

    PS- the Permafrost is amazing. It’s like wearing my Western Mountaineering 0-degree bag, and the fabric isn’t delicate like some parkas that use aggressively thin fabric to make weight while being scary to wear around bushes for fear of rips and years. It has 9.5 oz of fill compared to the 5.6 oz of down in the Mirage (which is already a fairly warm parka.) I wish the hood was permanently attached, I cannot imagine wearing this much down without wanting the hood- making them one piece would certainly drop some weight.

  7. I currently have the Montbell Alpine Light down Parka which I use as my outermost layer on summits and hut overnights. It feels very warm and the specs are indicative of that. Is it worth upgrading to this instead?

  8. I’m curious why you left the Montbell Alpine Down parka off your list (not the Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka)? It looks like the closest comparable Montbell option to the Mirage.

    • I have the alpine down parka and love it. Especially since I got it from the Japan based website and it’s wa alike half price. 7 oz of 800 fp, 20d fabric and most of the features he talks about here. Great jacket.

  9. I popped for the Plasma 1000 parka a handful of years ago. I believe it’s the same design and outer fitments but has the slightly loftier fill. A great performer, however, I have punctured it twice with a single, extremely large down feather escapee still on the lam. On reflection, I probably would have been better served with a higher denier, less poofy but more robust and less expensive parka. While it lasts, I’m going to enjoy it. You may want to use a seven denier poofy for basecamp and sleep only and not under a pack or harness.

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