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FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Snowshoeing with Kathryn Doiron at Snowbasin
With the Christmas holidays and then a bout with a nasty cold, I was only
able to wear the MontBell Ultra Light Down Vest on 3 day hikes during these
last two months. I did take the Vest with me on my trip to Walt Disney World
one day in Orlando, Florida and I sure was glad I had as the temps were
around the freezing mark! Lastly, I wore the Vest on an all-day outing at
Snowbasin in Utah for the annual All Mountain Day at the Outdoor Retailer
Winter 2010 Show.
All the day hikes were in the mountains behind my land in Canon City,
Colorado with the elevation upwards of 5600 ft (1700 m) to 5800 ft (1770 m).
The weather was generally sunny to partly cloudy with temperatures from 38 F
(3 C) to 65 F (18 C). The terrain is rocky to muddy with lots of ups and
downs and scrubby pine to juniper and cactus vegetation. While I didn't hike
in snowy conditions, I did encounter snow on the ground in patches.
At Snowbasin, it was very cloudy with heavy mist turning off and on to snow.
That day combined walking around on snow-covered ground, snowshoeing a 7.5K
(4.7 mi) trail and messing around with cross-country skis (don't ask!).
I also wore the Vest constantly at work and at leisure for extra warmth
instead of a sweatshirt or sweater...
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
When this Vest arrived, I thought it was just too thin to be of any real
value in cold weather. It was cute, to be sure, but useful? Boy was I wrong!
This Vest is super! Wearing it for these past weeks has given me an
appreciation of just how versatile it is. I've worn it over and under base
layers, under a fleece, with a windproof shell and various combinations of
First, it is so lightweight that I don't even know I have an extra layer of
clothing on when it comes to being overburdened with layers of fabric.
However, I can tell immediately when I remove the Vest because my body cools
down a lot.
It is thin enough to go under all of my tightest outer clothing and yet
roomy enough to go over one or two base layers. It is trim enough to not be
in the way with excess fabric, but doesn't constrict my movements. I find it
is warm enough to be worn on its own (with just a medium-weight base layer)
down to 50 F (10 C) when mildly active and down to 30 F (-1 C) when very
actively snowshoeing and such. Just below freezing, I find adding another
layer is necessary.
If I were to negatively comment on any feature of the Vest, I would have to
point to the zipper and its tiny storm flap. More than once I have snagged
the zipper on the storm flap when unzipping. The storm flap just gets in the
way too easily for my liking and is very hard to un-snag. It most often
catches at the top of the Vest and I've had to ask my husband to help me.
I'm always worried I might rip the fabric.
Surprisingly, the Vest has survived my forays into the juniper and
pine-covered hills where I usually roam. No rips, tears or snags have
developed though; occasionally an errant feather will escape. That is not
unusual with down products, I know.
I have not had to wash the Vest yet - it looks brand-new - and I don't
expect to do so in the near future. I did spill a bit of ketchup on it and a
damp cloth made quick work of cleaning it off. The only care I have taken
with the Vest is when not wearing it; I have it hanging up on a wooden
hanger in my closet. It hasn't spent much time there though!
I also haven't yet used the stuff sack included with the Vest other than to
try it out when I first received it. I have been too busy wearing the Vest
to store it. With warmer weather approaching, I will most likely utilize the
pouch so as to have the Vest handy when the weather turns colder as it is
prone to d0 on the mountains I frequently hike.
I like the look and color of the Vest and its comfort and utility continue
to impress me. I'm still not sure I like the fit though. I think I prefer a
longer hem so as to have my backside covered more when bending over and a
slightly looser neckline. However, the Vest's stellar performance at keeping
me warm definitely overrides those two minor points and I certainly plan on
wearing the Vest a lot in the near future. It's a keeper.
I will be updating this report in two months after additional field testing
of the Vest. Please return then (early April 2010) to see my closing
Thank you to MontBell and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test
this special article of clothing!
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters