MontBell EX Light Down Jacket

Ultralight Puffy
MontBell EX Light Down Jacket
$190, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s S-XL
montbell.us

Don’t ask: How lightweight can a down jacket be and still keep you warm? Instead, reframe the question: How light a puffy do you want and how does it fit into your layering system? With sewn-through construction to prevent down from migrating, elastic cuffs to seal out drafts, and no hand pockets, this jacket stuffed with just 1.8 ounces of premium, 900-fill down feathers is no fat puffy. But it’s a very light stand-alone insulation piece for mild summer temperatures, or a versatile middle layer in a system that you can customize for a variety of outdoor activities in any season.

I wore the EX Light comfortably over just a midweight, long-sleeve base layer on mornings in the high 40s Fahrenheit in Idaho’s Smoky Mountains and City of Rocks, and between a rain shell and two base layers when shooting photos outside huts on afternoons and evenings in the 30s and 40s during an eight-day trek in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park. Its trim cut fits a light fleece vest underneath and layers well under heavier insulation or shell jackets. The EX Light sacrifices hand pockets—but they aren’t necessary in mild temps or when you have a shell over it. One warning: Be careful to avoid treating this 7-denier ballistic nylon shell too roughly, or it might tear. But ultralight backpackers or anyone interested in a puffy that weighs less than a long-sleeve jersey, packs down barely larger than your fist (in the included stuff sack), and delivers outstanding warmth for its paltry weight, will love the EX Light.

—Michael Lanza