As I write this, snow is falling outside. In this damp climate of ours you might think that a down jacket is the last garment you’d want to wear on a cold, snowy day. But thanks to the introduction of water-resistant down over recent years, down jackets can now withstand damp conditions as well as keep us warm on those crisp, cold days we all love.
Montane’s Featherlight jacket uses 140g of HyperDRY water-resistant down together with a windproof and water-resistant outer layer made of ripstop Pertex. The individual fibres of down are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) which means that it resists the ‘balling’ effect and loss of loft and insulating properties when it gets wet, the big disadvantage with conventional down jackets in the past. With its 750+ fill power, it’s kept me warm during the recent cold, snowy snap and has also meant that I haven’t had to worry (too much) about the chance of a light shower. With its water-resistant Pertex coating the jacket has dried quickly once back indoors and hasn’t showed any signs of losing performance.
I haven’t been brave enough to test exactly how water-resistant this new concept is by going out in heavy rain – and I don’t plan to – but HyperDRY (and similar hydrophobic versions) now provide even stronger competition to jackets with synthetic insulation. The water-resistant properties can also be ‘topped up’ using Nikwax Downproof, maintaining the insulation and breathability over time.
Down-filled jackets have always had better performance and tend to have a longer lifespan than synthetic fillings. Weight-for-weight they’re warmer and they compress down to a smaller size. The Montane Featherlight compacts down to the size of a grapefruit – just the thing to keep in your rucsac until you set up camp.
The jacket weighs 419g (14.8 oz) in medium and comes in two versions – mine is the hooded version with its three-point adjustment and compression drawcord to allow it to be stowed away in windy conditions. I wasn’t that sure about the hooded version at first (if it’s wet enough to need a hood you probably wouldn’t want to be wearing the jacket anyway) but I’m glad I chose that version. The hood is snug and warm against biting winds and I think it looks the part too, showing the contrasting inner lining. It has a slightly stiffened peak to make sure it retains its shape.
I’ve found the fit to be reasonably generous and not as close-fitting as some other insulated down jackets. I’m a slim build and chose the medium size, which comes down below the hips to just about cover my rear end. The jacket isn’t particularly bulky and also fits neatly under my Goretex outer shell. In really cold conditions the flexibility of the Featherlight means this is a great combination.
There are two insulated hand pockets and two additional pockets, both wallet-sized, one outside on the left chest and one inside on the right. This is one of the reasons I chose the hooded version of the Featherlight; neither the micro (non-hooded) or vest versions have an outside pocket. The cuffs are elasticated and waist band has an adjustable compression drawcord.
I like the bright colour combinations of the Featherlight. Mine is ‘shadow’ (dark grey) with a contrasting red lining but the ‘jelly bean’ (bright green) and ‘antarctic blue’ colours are great choices also.
Ethical considerations are a real concern with down. However, I was reassured to learn that Allied Feather (the suppliers) are members of the ‘TrackMyDown.com‘ responsible sourcing initiative. This provides full traceability of the down: just type your garment code into the website and you’ll find out where the down originated. My jacket includes 100% down from grey ducks from China, the Responsible Down Standard certifying that none of the ducks have been force-fed or live-plucked.
My only minor concern with this jacket is the risk of losing the stuff sac. This came attached to one of the hand pocket zips by a plastic tie; I’ve simply used the elastic drawcord of the stuff sac to attach it more permanently to the zip to make sure it doesn’t fall out of the pocket.
Ease of use 10
Features and design 9
Build quality 10
Value for money 9
Very warm, lightweight, water-resistant, good fit, pockets, compresses down well, sustainably-sourced down, attractive colour combinations.
While water-resistant the jacket is not designed to withstand heavy rain, stuff sac can easily be lost unless secured.
Great for anyone who loves the outdoors in colder months of the year.