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MontBell U.L. Down Inner Jacket
By Dave Loveland & Cori Jones

MontBell U.L. Down Inner Jacket

If you are looking for a lightweight down jacket for moderate winter or alpine weather, the folks at MontBell just might have your next outdoor gear purchase.

In colder weather conditions you need more insulation to keep you warm. This is most evident when you are at rest. It is common when you are mountaineering, snowshoeing, x-country skiing, or doing other physically demanding winter activities, to be quite warm while you are moving. But, as soon as you stop moving your temperature starts to drop. The best way to avoid these extreme temperature swings and the associated health risks is to put on more insulation during these rest stops.

Your choices for insulation are many. You can and should take a base layer and layers of fleece, soft shell, hard shell, and down to meet your needs in the given conditions. A down parka is a great way to add a lot of insulation in a hurry, but usually means packing a significant amount of additional weight.

Fortunately for those of us who participate in winter activities, companies are producing ever lighter and more technically advances products. Lighter gear means lighter packs, which should mean you can move faster and more comfortably.

One of the leading companies creating high quality ultralight outdoor gear is Mont-Bell. MontBell was founded in 1975 in Osaka, Japan by Isamu Tatsuno. In 2002 they established MontBell America, Inc. located in Boulder Colorado. They have always been early adopters of new and innovating materials and technologies. At MontBell they focus on "Light & Fast" without compromising on quality, durability or functionality.

MontBell has some great choices for a lightweight down jacket, the lightest of which is the U.L. Down Inner Jacket. The UL, for Ultralight, Down Jacket is a triple threat: light, warm, and small. When I say small, think of a package smaller than your stove, sitting at the bottom of your pack. When you pull it out, it 'poofs' up into a warm, light-weight jacket, that can survive on it's own for most weather situations, and with the addition of a shell, will suffice for 90% of the cold weather conditions you'll face.

It has a great feel to it, being covered in what is called Ballistic® Airlight Nylon fabric, which also has some water repellency. When I say light, I mean light, weighing in at only 7.4 oz. Again, my XL size jacket will compress down to almost softball size, and is now consistently in my pack, giving me peace of mind even if I don't end up pulling it out.

With the weather on most of my trips being predictably unpredictable, I end up wearing it on cool summer evenings at elevation, early and late season belay stations, and as a layer on cold winter expeditions. It has been slept in, stepped on, and worn on all but my coldest winter trips, where I opted for more jacket, and more weight.

Cori took the UL Down inner jacket on his first mountaineering endeavor, a guided climb of Rainier, in place of the traditional heavy down parka. The UL jacket worked great, granted he never hit extreme cold conditions but he used the UL parka each time others used the heavier down jackets and always felt comfortably warm.

My only real complaint is that the snaps were a bit difficult to fasten with gloves on.

Summary: The pattern on the jacket is nice enough to wear downtown, but the warmth will get you to the summit. This lightweight warmth machine is reasonably price at $129 and should definitely be give consideration when looking for a lightweight down jacket.

Dave Loveland has developed slight brain damage due to lack of oxygen from his persistance to frequent places of higher altitude. Cori Jones is just a freak, plain and simple.

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