IR - Montbell - Down Vest - Shawn Wakefield
- Here's my IR for the Montbell EX Light Down Vest.... thanks in advance for any edits.
Montbell Extremely Light Down Vest - Men's
Test Series by Shawn Wakefield
Initial Report: November 27, 2009
Name: Shawn Wakefield
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 165 lb (75 kg)
Email: shawn AT wakefieldsoft DOT com
City, State, Country: Tishomingo, Oklahoma, United States
Backpacking Background: I started camping and backpacking about 25 years ago as a teenager in the Boy Scouts. I am enjoying backpacking again, and I really like going lightweight now and covering a lot of miles. My wife and I take frequent backpacking trips together, and our kids (all under 13) go occasionally. We like to hike in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas for short trips, but enjoy Wyoming and Colorado for longer trips. My current pack averages 16 lb (7.3 kg) including water and three days' food.
INITIAL REPORT: November 27, 2009
Manufacturer: Montbell Co. Ltd.
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Listed weight: 4.30 oz (122 g) for Men's Medium
Weight as delivered: 3.60 oz (102 g) for Men's Medium (vest only)
3.77 oz (107 g) for vest and stuff sack
MSRP: US $130.00
Shell Material: 7-denier Ballistic Airlight calendered nylon
Fill Material: 900 Fill power goose down
Color: Available in Dark Navy, Gunmetal
Color as delivered: Dark Navy
Other Details from Manufacturer Website
Single quilt construction for weight reduction
Lightweight 3C YKK zipper
Stuff sack included
Standard 25-wash rated DWR treatment
The Montbell Men's US EX Light Down Vest is described as the "ultimate in minimalist design" on their website, and once I saw the vest and held it in my hands, I can certainly agree. The 900 fill power goose down should provide warmth with little weight, and the super light shell fabric is just that. The vest does not even include pockets in an effort to reduce the product's weight. In addition, the lightweight 3C YKK zipper is much smaller than that I have seen on other jackets and vests. The product does include a tiny stuff sack for storing and protecting the vest when not in use, made of the same material as the jacket shell.
The vest is amazingly light. It is hard to imagine much insulating power in a garment that weighs so little, but having worn another lightweight down jacket before; I know that it is possible for a garment to be light and warm. The dark navy color is an accurate description, as it is somewhere between navy and black in color. The arm openings have elastic around them that allows some stretching. There is a short collar on the vest to give some coverage around the base of the neck. The shell material is very light and thin, and the inside of the vest appears to be of the same material as the exterior. Upon very close inspection, it does look like it is reinforced or ripstop type nylon. The down is held in place between the two layers of nylon by sewn through stitching (single quilting) which creates individual pockets of down in rectangular sections all over the vest. The photos show this more clearly. The zipper pull includes an attached cord and plastic tab which should make it easier to grab with gloves on. There is a small flap of material behind the zipper that may prevent wind or moisture penetration. On the front left side of the vest, "mont-bell" is embroidered onto the outside shell fabric.
The inside of the jacket looks almost identical to the outside, with the exception of several tags. On the back collar, the tags indicate the size is a USA medium, European medium, and Japanese large. Another black tag lists "FUNCTION IS BEAUTY, mont-bell, SINCE 1975". A third tag indicates the garment was made in China and gives the USA address, email, and phone number. The care instructions tag is on a left side seam. It gives a style and factory number, lists the shell and liner as 100% nylon, and that the filling is 90% goose down and 10% goose feather. The care instructions state: "Do Not Wash, Do Not Bleach, Do Not Iron, Dry Clean, Petroleum Solvent Only, Commercial Dry Clean Only." Care icons indicate the vest should not be washed, should not be bleached, should not be ironed, and should be dry cleaned with petroleum solvent only.
Having read other down care instructions that washing may be possible, I went to the Montbell website to see if any additional information was available. The website talks about down garment care and states that it can be washed in a front loading machine, on cold, gentle cycle, with a down specific soap (ReVivex recommended). It recommends tumble drying on the lowest heat setting while checking it often. The website also says to see the DWR care instructions. The most interesting statement is this: "If your care label indicates Dry Clean Only it may be incorrect. Please follow the online care instructions or contact customer service for more information." If find it odd that the vest instructions and the website are almost opposite in their recommendations. I plan to contact customer service to check their response time and to get further clarification. Further down the care page, the DWR instructions recommend washing and rinsing in warm water, not all hot or all cold. It also gives information about replenishing the treatment, again recommending ReVivex products. This is a bit confusing, since the down instructions say to wash in cold, but the DWR instructions say to NOT wash in cold.
The compressibility of the vest is remarkable. It easily stuffs into the included stuff sack and reduces the size to a cylinder approximately 3.5 in (8.9 cm) diameter by 6.5 in (16.5 cm) tall. The stuff sack is made of the same material as the shell, and has an exterior black tag with "mont-bell" on it. The sack cinches closed with a cord lock. I wondered about the water repellency of the material, so I filled the stuff sack with water. Other than a slow drip at one or two places on the seams, the material itself seemed completely waterproof. I know that down loses its insulating value when wet, so a water repellent shell would be very important in a vest like this.
The website states that all Montbell products in a limited lifetime warranty, with the usual exclusions for wear and tear, etc. The website does state the extra care is needed for products with a shell material this light and thin, so I don't plan to bushwhack through the briar patch while wearing the vest. But this is one risk I have to accept as a lightweight backpacker - ultra-light products can't be ultra-durable.
I think the sizing of Montbell products is accurate. I have a Montbell jacket in a size large that fits well in the arms, but is a bit roomy around my torso. My arms are long, so I usually need a size large of a jacket or long sleeve shirt. Since this was a vest, and my waist and chest fit within the Montbell size chart for medium, I ordered the medium and it fits just right. I can wear a shirt under the vest and not be too constricted. The advantage of the more fitted vest is that I can wear a rain jacket or wind shell over my shirt and vest and still not be too tight to move. It looks like this vest will fit my layered approach very well.
1. Very lightweight
1. Contradictory care instructions
2. Can something this light still be warm?
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be appended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.
Thanks to Montbell Co. Ltd. and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
- Shawn Wakefield
- Hi Shawn,
HTML looks good, mfr link works.
Great error checking. My edits are comments you can apply or not.
I know that down loses its insulating value when wet, so a water repellent shell would be very important in a vest like this.
*** Comment: "is very important" reads better ***
But this is one risk I have to accept as a lightweight backpacker - ultra-light products can't be ultra-durable.
*** I suggest toning down the second part of this statement. As written, it is a prediction that applies to all current and future ul products. ***
My arms are long, so I usually need a size large of a jacket or long *** need a size large jacket ***
- Is there a folder for this yet? I was looking for it under Clothing / Jackets, but had not found it.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Carol" <cmcrooker@...> wrote:
> Hi Shawn,
> HTML looks good, mfr link works.
> Great error checking. My edits are comments you can apply or not.
> Carol, Monitor
> I know that down loses its insulating value when wet, so a water repellent shell would be very important in a vest like this.
> *** Comment: "is very important" reads better ***
> But this is one risk I have to accept as a lightweight backpacker - ultra-light products can't be ultra-durable.
> *** I suggest toning down the second part of this statement. As written, it is a prediction that applies to all current and future ul products. ***
> My arms are long, so I usually need a size large of a jacket or long *** need a size large jacket ***