Ultralight Down Jacket
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Down Hoody
$325, 8.8 (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
There’s no getting around a hard truth about most of the products we buy to use outdoors: Their materials come from the petroleum products that are a primary driver of climate change. Increasingly, outdoor brands and consumers are leaning in on manufacturing and buying products with a smaller carbon footprint—products like the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Down Hoody. Made with recycled shell fabric and responsibly resourced down, this ultralight puffy keeps you warm without contributing as severely as other products to a warmer Earth.
Hardwear has revamped the classic Ghost Whisperer—long one of the best ultralight down jackets on the market—with shell fabric made from 100 percent recycled, 10-denier nylon ripstop, plus responsibly resourced, RDS-certified down insulation. The fabric also has a DWR (durable, water-resistant) finish to shed light precipitation.
At just under nine ounces, the Ghost Whisperer/2 Hoody is one of the lightest, three-season puffy jackets on the market and delivers impressive warmth for its weight, thanks to the 800-fill goose down feathers: It kept me warm over a light base layer in temps in the 40s on a four-day July backpacking trip on Nevada’s Ruby Crest Trail and six days in Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness in July; on breezy mornings in the 50s Fahrenheit on an early June backpacking trip in Hells Canyon, when I was unzipping the jacket at times to release heat when wearing it only over a T-shirt; and on mornings near freezing on a seven-day, 96-mile traverse of the Wind River High Route, among other trips.
Pop the hood up and it’ll keep many people warm in temps in the 40s, and maybe the high 30s with a midweight, long-sleeve top. I also experienced its limits sitting around camp in Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve in June, staying marginally warm wearing it over two base layers, with a wool hat on and the hood up, on an evening of strong winds and temps in the low 40s.
The non-adjustable, elasticized hood provides a close-enough fit to stay put on your head in wind, and the adjustable hem and snug cuffs seal out cold air. Apropos of an ultralight down jacket, the fit permits wearing a couple of base layers underneath.
The two zippered hand pockets are the size you’d expect in an ultralight jacket—you could stick a pair of three-season gloves inside either of them—and the jacket stuffs inside one pocket, packing down to about a liter size. Those pockets sit high enough to wear a climbing harness, but I’d use it only for belaying: The thin fabric wouldn’t survive brushes with rough rock.
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The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Down Hoody sets the bar high for performance in an ultralight down jacket for three-season backpacking and camping, and it’s sustainable materials, as well as construction that guarantees years of use, make buying one a good choice for the planet. Plus, the price hasn’t changed in at least six years.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase a men’s or women’s Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Down Hoody at backcountry.com or Moosejaw.com; or other versions of the Ghost Whisperer down jackets at backcountry.com or Moosejaw.com.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.
Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Wilderness Backpacking Trip” and “A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of both stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Wilderness Backpacking Trip” and the lightweight backpacking guide without having a paid membership.