Montbell Plasma 1000 Down Jacket Review
It may not be one of backpacking’s Big 3, but the down jacket is right up there as one of the most discussed pieces of gear. Who makes the warmest jacket? Which one is the lightest? What colors can I get it in? Montbell is a little niche, but their products are all top of the line. And I finally got the chance to test out one of the lightest down jackets I’ve ever heard of: the Plasma 1000 Down Jacket. At just 4.8 ounces, this thing seemed too good to be true. But how warm is it? And is it worth the price tag?
Montbell Plasma 1000 Down Jacket At-a-Glance
- MSRP: $329
- Weight: 4.8 Ounces (Men’s Medium)
- Unique Quilting Pattern
- No Pockets
Circumstance of Review
I’ve worked hard to find tough conditions to put this jacket through in my local Southeast Region. Throughout the fall and first bit of winter, I’ve taken it to my nearest big mountains in North Carolina. The coldest conditions I’ve been able to encounter have been low 20’s (Fahrenheit) with a strong breeze camping over 6,000 feet on the Art Loeb Trail. I have spent a couple of evenings enjoying dinner after dark in these conditions, as well as a handful of other nights in the 30s and 40s.
Plasma 1000 Down Jacket Features
Insanely Lightweight – 4.8 ounces speaks for itself here. That’s barely more than an extra pair of socks.
1000 Fill Power EX Down – If you’re new to down jackets, Fill Power is the name of the game. Montbell has a nice little explanation of how it all works here on their website. Most jackets you’ll see at your local outfitter will be in the 550-850 range. 1000 is bold.
Unique Quilting Pattern – Instead of traditional rectangles, Montbell has a Tetris-like pattern ideal for keeping down in place and minimizing cold patches.
7-Denier Ballistic Airlight Nylon Ripstop – Again, Montbell really lays it all out here. But basically, the nylon material is extra thin, extra strong, and even has a water-repellent finish.
No Pockets – Probably a downer for most folks, but this is the efficient gram shaving method in play here that shaves us under the five-ounce mark.
How Warm Is the Montbell Plasma 1000?
I’ve gotta say, so far, I am truly impressed. From what I can remember, this is actually the warmest down jacket I have ever worn. I have worn down jackets by Patagonia in regular life (the Micro Puff and old UL Down Jacket) and took an Arc’teryx Cerium SL on the PCT. I haven’t had this jacket as long, of course, but at least at this point it’s coming up impressive.
The 1000 fill power down is no joke. Holding the jacket is more reminiscent of an empty grocery bag than something you’d expect to keep warm in. And yet when worn, the jacket makes a substantial difference. Even without a shell layer on top, as long as the wind isn’t crazy strong, this thing makes chilly nights at camp somewhere between bearable and cozy.
READ NEXT – Montbell Plasma 1000 Down Vest Review
Is It Worth the Price Tag?
So yeah, the obvious question here. Is a 4.8-ounce piece of fabric worth about as much as the average (non-DCF) tent? I think in a lot of cases, the answer is actually yes.
Especially if you don’t already own a down jacket. Yes, this is pricier than the average down jacket, but not by all that much. In fact, it’s quite comparable to a lot of the competition. It’s pretty easy to go down the UL rabbit hole and pay hundreds of dollars to shave off ounces. In this case, we’re talking tens of dollars to shave off a few ounces. So if it’s actually time to get a new puffy (not just replace the one you got from last season) I think this is worth the investment.
All that being said, this isn’t the jacket for everyone. The jacket is crazy light and quite warm, but there really aren’t any extra features to it. I know the lack of pockets can certainly be a deal-breaker. This jacket is extremely simple. I find I’m content using gloves to warm my hands and always carry a fanny pack to stick odds and ends.
Montbell Plasma 1000 Pros
Weight – Four. Point. Eight. Ounces. That number is actually crazy. And it’s not just a garbage bag with feathers either. This thing works.
Simplicity – Some might say to a fault here. But seeing things in a positive light, the lack of bells and whistles can actually be kinda nice. It’s super streamlined and super simple.
Warmth – The weight of this jacket would be meaningless if it didn’t also come to play. As I said above, after years of playing around with jackets, I think this one is actually the warmest I’ve ever used.
Montbell Plasma 1000 Cons
No Pockets – I expect this will be a tough pill to swallow for a lot of folks. Pockets are certainly nice for warm hands, but I can bring an extra pair of gloves for the weight I’m saving. But of course, that’s more gear and more money…
Price Tag – It ain’t cheap. It isn’t that fair off from the steepest competition, but you can save about $100 and get more features if you don’t mind carrying a few more ounces.
At the end of the day, I think this is a controversial jacket. Some will call it perfect, some will call it pointless. I lean pretty far on the side of favorability myself. I love the weight I’m saving in my pack with this, and I’m a gloves-and-jacket guy anyway. While I understand why some folks would scoff at it for that, I stand firm in this jacket’s warmth. At 4.8 ounces, it’s here to play.
Weight: 7.6 Ounces
850 Fill Power
Weight: 8.3 Ounces
65g PlumaFill Synthetic Fibers
Weight: 6.7 Ounces
1000 Fill Power
Weight: 13.8 Ounces
850 Fill Power
The Montbell Plasma 1000 was donated for purpose of review
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This jacket with 4 pockets is available from Montbell Japan. They list the weight at 188g or 6.6oz.
Apologies – it’s available from Montbell Japan with TWO pockets with the weight listed as 130g or 4.6oz. They also have a white color option. Sizing may differ.
For reference, I have the Japanese version and my size L weighs 5.11oz. I needed to size up one from my regular US size (M).
Used on the PCT last year (21), where it doubled as my very comfy pillow every night inside a HMG small pillow stuff sack. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/💯