Western Mountaineering Meltdown Jacket Review

Western Mountaineering Meltdown Jacket Review

The Western Mountaineering Meltdown Jacket is a 17 oz jacket for shoulder season and winter adventures. While it isn’t long enough to fall into the parka category, it has enough loft to keep your core warm even in very frigid conditions. As well, it is too lofty to layer under my rain jacket, so it becomes my outermost layer in cold and mostly dry conditions, meaning it effectively falls somewhere between the jacket and parka categories. I have been taking this jacket on most trips between November and March in the intermountain west and have never once regretted carrying it. I throw it on when I get to camp before my body has a chance to cool down and before the sun dips below the canyon wall. Cold mornings are also more tolerable if I’m wrapped in the heat of the Meltdown. In my opinion, 17 oz is nothing considering the incredible warmth the Western Mountaineering Meltdown Jacket provides.

Specs at a Glance

  • Insulation: 850 Plus Fill Power Goose Down
  • Weight: 17 oz (480 g) – (17 oz actual measured)
  • Down Fill Weight: 6.5 oz (185 g)
  • Construction: Sewn-through baffles
  • Hood: StowAway (not helmet compatible)
  • Shell Fabric: 20d Microlite XP Microfiber Fabric
  • Pockets: Two down-filled front pockets
  • Zipper: Two Way YKK Vislon (molded) Zipper w/Draft Tube
  • Sizing: Available In Unisex Sizes XS-XL
  • Made In USA

Pockets

The Western Mountaineering Meltdown Jacket has down-filled pockets, meaning there is down both inside and outside the pockets, so when you put your cold hands in them, they are encapsulated by goose down and warm up quickly. The pockets have zippers for securely storing various items like stakes or stuff sacks as you set up or break down camp. I like to put gloves in one pocket and a small thermos of tea in the other pocket when I’m doing my camp chores.

These insulated hand pockets with zippers are warm and functional.
These insulated hand pockets with zippers are warm and functional.

Wrist Cuffs

The Meltdown has elastic wrist cuffs with velcro gaskets to seal in the heat. I usually keep the gaskets just tight enough that my hands will barely fit through. Often, I don’t bother to close the cuffs around my gloves, but to trap heat even better, it could be a good idea. On a cold weather jacket or parka in this category, I prefer velcro cuffs like these to purely elastic cuffs found on some other jackets. Elastic alone is fine on lighter jackets where sealing in the warmth isn’t quite as much of a priority.

Zippers

Both the pocket zippers and the main zipper are Vislon (molded plastic) rather than a coil zipper, a choice that gets two thumbs up from me. I have found Vislon zippers to last much longer than coil zippers. I typically replace sliders on my jackets with coil zippers every year, whereas I have yet to replace the slider on the Meltdown and it’s been in use for around five years now.

The main zipper is a two-way zipper with a full-length draft tube behind it. I don’t often use the two-way feature but I still think it was a good choice because it allows the jacket to be used for belaying. The draft tube is small but effective, another excellent feature that reflects Western Mountaineering’s sleeping bag expertise.

The Meltdown has a vislon (molded) zipper with a draft tube behind it.
The Meltdown has a vislon (molded) zipper with a draft tube behind it.

Fabric

The Meltdown uses Microlite XP which is an acrylic microfiber fabric. This fabric utilizes a high thread count and dense yarns to give it its water resistance. According to WM “Each microfiber yarn has many more filaments than a normal nylon or polyester yarn of equivalent size.” I love that the fabric itself is responsible for weather resistance, instead of reliance on a DWR coating that will wear off the first few times you use it. This is the same fabric they use for their Ultralite Series sleeping bags, like the Versalite 10 and the Ultralite 20.

This Microlite XP fabric is durable, doesn’t easily absorb water, and features a ripstop grid. Like I already mentioned, I’ve carried armfuls of tamarisk wood many times while wearing this jacket and have noticed no tears or abrasion as a result. When I accidentally closed my cat in my closet and she climbed up my jacket, the ripstop kept the damage in the “pretty bad” category, and out of the “disastrous” category. I have four 1” long tears which I patched with tear-aid and seam grip. The seam grip is very necessary for patching this material, especially if you plan to wash the jacket. I ran it through the wash last week and my patches held just fine.

Sizing/Fit

I am 5’ 11” and 160lbs and the medium fits me well. The sleeve length is perfect for my moderately long arms, and the overall length ends about halfway down my butt. I have no sizing complaints; the jacket is ridiculously comfortable, even to sleep in.

Hood

The hood on the Meltdown isn’t super poofy, which seems fine for a jacket in this category. It is very comfortable though and has an effective drawcord with cord locks on each side. Western Mountaineering calls this hood a StowAway hood, meaning it can be tucked into the collar and contained with a zipper closure. While I don’t know if I see a benefit to this modular design, it doesn’t particularly bother me either. I like the hood itself—minimally-poofy though it is—and wouldn’t mind if it was permanently attached like those on most hoodies.

The StowAway hood is comfortable, has effective adjustments, and tucks away into the collar when you want to get it out of the way.
The StowAway hood is comfortable, has effective adjustments, and tucks away into the collar when you want to get it out of the way.

Weight

When I pull the Meltdown out of my pack upon reaching camp, friends often ask how much it weighs, thinking it’s surely more than twice the weight of their puffy jackets. When I tell them that it’s just over a pound (17 oz) they are blown away. “It just looks so lofty! How could it weigh that little?” they usually exclaim.

Down Insulation

There is 6.5 oz of 850+ fill power down in the Meltdown Jacket. As many folks already know, this could easily be 870, 930, or even 990 fill power down, the 850 rating is just a minimum. When compared to other jackets in this category there are many contenders including the Feathered Friends Helios Hooded Jacket or the Montbell Alpine Down Parka. The warmth of all three of these is pretty similar, and choosing one may come down to price.

Sewn-through Construction

This jacket uses sewn-through construction which is usually lighter, but not as warm as jackets with box-baffle construction. Sewn-through baffles are also easier and quicker to make, which typically results in a less expensive product. Considering these factors, $500 for a sewn-through jacket feels a little steep.

Staying warm through one of many frigid evenings in southern Utah this winter
Staying warm through one of many frigid evenings in southern Utah this winter.

Best Uses

I have been using the Meltdown primarily for backpacking between November and March in the intermountain west and especially the Colorado Plateau region. Nighttime temperatures in this area during these months are often between 0 and 32 F. In temps like these, I have really enjoyed having the very lofty Meltdown for sitting around in camp and doing chores.

I should also mention that having a lofty jacket like the Meltdown is a good idea if you plan to read at night in the winter. There are a lot of hours of darkness to kill, and they’ll be easier to kill if you don’t have to be in your sleeping bag the whole time.

Comparable Down Jackets

Make / ModelGenderWeight (oz)Fill Weight (oz)Fill PowerPrice
Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash JacketM/F10.253850$390
Montbell Plasma 1000 Down ParkaM/F8.43.41000$439
Feathered Friends Eos JacketM/F10.63.7900$339
Montbell Permafrost Light ParkaM/F15.84.2800$299
Rab Zero G JacketM114.51000$550
Montbell Alpine Light Down ParkaM/F14.24.8800$239
Montbell Alpine Down ParkaM167.1800$299
Feathered Friends Ellia Women's JacketF134.9900$349
Montbell Mirage ParkaM12.85.3900$399
Feathered Friends HeliosM187.8900$389
Western Mountaineering Meltdown JacketM176.5850$500

Recommendation

The Western Mountaineering Meltdown Jacket with its 6.5 oz of down 850 fill power down insulation will keep your core warm when you’re doing camp chores in cold temperatures. Also, how amazing is it that there’s no logo on the chest!? I truly wish more companies would do this. The Meltdown is a little pricey, especially considering the specs of something like the Feathered Friends Helios which has more down in it, while the Montbell Alpine Down Parka also has a similar amount of down and uses box-baffle construction. That said, I still don’t think you could go wrong with the Western Mountaineering Meltdown Jacket; it’s light, comfortable, and extremely warm.

Disclosure: The author owns this jacket.

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Last updated: 2021-04-09 02:37:15
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About the author

Ben Kilbourne has been backpacking at least once a month every month for the last twelve years. His explorations have taken him all over the west, but especially the canyon country of the Colorado Plateau. The geography of the west has become familiar to him. He has developed a rudimentary understanding of its geology, and an awareness of the subtle changes in flora and fauna due to soil, elevation, aspect, and precipitation and how these elemental things interact with both ancient and modern humans. His experiences on the land, whether triumphant or thwarted by events either in or out of his control, have provided the foundation for the work he does. Find Ben’s paintings, songs, and essays here http://benkilbourne.com/.

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