Montbell Superior Down Parka Review
The Montbell Superior Down Parka is a seriously competitive player in the hypothetical competition of backpacking puffy rankings. With features like 800 fill power, a hood, pocketed hem adjuster, and a total weight of 7.7 ounces (women’s), this is a versatile three-season puffy that’s well suited for many outdoor adventures.
This puffy is a great midlayer for backpackers who are seeking to cut weight and bulkiness without sacrificing warmth during high altitude and shoulder season (or summer) outings. It’s a great addition to the kit for anyone who likes to be cozy around the dinner circle after a long day frolicking in the forest or slogging through a sufferfest.
Montbell Superior Down Parka At a Glance
- MSRP: $209
- Weight: 7.7 oz.
- Fill weight: 1.9 oz.
- Insulation: 800 Fill Power EX Down
- Material: 10-denier Ballistic Airlight nylon (water repellent finish)
- Compressed size: 4.3×7.9 in.
Circumstances of Review
I tested the Superior during almost the entire Colorado section of the Continental Divide Trail (and intend to take it all the way to Canada). Specifically, I picked this puffy up at the end of May in Pagosa Springs. If you’re familiar with the CDT, you’ll know this is a tad early to be trekking through southern Colorado and the San Juan mountains, so this jacket has seen some cold evenings (and days) above treeline in early season conditions—including plenty of wind, snow, and rain.
Down vs. Synthetic Fill
The Montbell Superior Down Parka is filled with down rather than synthetic materials. This means it’s warmer for less weight, compresses easily, and lasts longer when properly cared for.
The alternative to down is synthetic fill, which is usually cheaper, better at insulating when wet, and hypoallergenic (an obvious concern for those who are allergic to down).
Personally, I prefer down fill to synthetic (to keep it light) and am always careful to keep my puffy dry. Those who are vegan, allergic to down, or will be in very wet conditions might opt for synthetic fill.
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Fill power refers to the quality of the down and is measured by the amount of space one ounce of down takes up. The higher the fill power, the lighter and fluffier your puffy will be. Beginner and budget-friendly puffies often feature 650-fill power down. Higher-end midlayers may use 800, 900, or even 1000-fill down instead.
Key Features of the Montbell Superior Down Parka
Although not a feature you might traditionally highlight, I find the stuff sack for the Montbell Superior Down Parka to be the perfect dual-use item. It gives the puffy enough room to squash and become the perfect cradle for your weary head and neck after long days of swiveling around to check out all the great views.
Pocket Hem Adjuster
Inside the pockets of the Montbell Superior Down Parka are pull cords that allow you to adjust the waist for maximum warmth. I found this feature particularly helpful since I chose to size up in case of layering. When I’m just wearing my thin hiking shirt underneath, I can adjust the hem to keep any heat from escaping.
2-Way Adjustable Hood
The Montbell Superior Down Parka’s hood had the classic “around the face” adjustment cords as well as a tab that allows you to adjust the depth and height of the hood. Pull it further back for maximum visibility while hiking and further down for maximum comfort while relaxing.
Montbell created chambers to keep the down in place by sewing the outer shell and lining materials together. This means the design of the Montbell Superior Down Parka is optimized for both warmth and weight.
At 800 fill power, the Superior Down Parka is described as “sweater weight warmth.” This is the ideal weight-to-warmth ratio for three-season backpacking. Typically, this means you can withstand temperatures down to 20 degrees (usually overnight).
At 7.7 oz., the Montbell Superior Down Parka is among the lightest puffies in the backpacking market.
For those of us who are looking for a seriously packable puffy, the superior down parka fits the bill. The listed compressed size is 4.3×7.9 inches, but I found that once packed among other gear, it can actually compress even smaller. It flattens well and can fill awkward holes in your pack.
A puffy is not just a puffy for lightweight backpackers. If you’re anything like me, it is often also a pillow. The Montbell Superior Down Parka gets bonus points for its utility as a backpacking pillow if you are sick of using a lumpy pile of your sweaty hiking clothes. The stuff sack is the perfect size for a small pillow and let’s the puffy breathe just enough to stay fluffy.
Montbell Superior Down Parka Pros
- Packable – This puffy compresses well in its stuff sack or it can be taken out and pushed between the odd gaps in the rest of your gear for maximum space utilization.
- Lightweight – At 7.7 oz., this jacket is definitely competitively light.
- Affordable (relatively) – When compared to similar products in this category, the Montbell Superior Down Parka is one of the most affordable options on the market.
- Versatile – This puffy is great for layering in shoulder season and by itself in the summer.
Montbell Superior Down Parka Cons
- Limited color variety – The jacket currently only comes in three colors (yellow, black, and blue).
- Montbell does not follow RDS (responsible down standard), but their website states they do not source any down from companies that use live-plucking methods.
When considering warmth, weight, size, and price, the Montbell Superior Down Parka is a great choice for three-season trips. It’s much more affordable than other comparable down jackets, holds up to high use on a thru-hike, and keeps you cozy in the process.
Comparable Puffy Jackets
- $350 MSRP
- 800 fill down
- 7.8 oz.
- $180 MSRP
- Synthetic fill
- 8.4 oz.
- $279 MSRP
- 800 fill down
- 13.1 oz.
The Montbell Superior Down Parka was donated for purpose of review.
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