Mountain Hardwear Phantom

This duvet jacket’ s big advantage over most others is its 446g weight. It’s also very warm. The insulation is provided by top-quality down. The outer shell is very thin, which reduces weight greatly. Like most duvets you get two zipped pockets, an internal pocket, a chest pocket and a stuffsack . The collar gets microfleece lining around the chin area. A valuable addition is a drawcord across the back of the waist to help keep draughts out. This is an ideal duvet for those who want a very lightweight warm layer for carrying regularly in the rucksack and whipping out occasionally to take the chill of a winter camp or summit sunset gazing session. Highly recommended. But a removable hood would be a useful addition for winter camping and sitting on winter summits, as would a  fully lined fleece collar.  The outer fabric of some other jackets is slightly more durable, particularly on the shoulders and elbows too. But these extra features would all add weight of course and you may be able to live without these frills. So if weight is your priority then these drawbacks can probably be tolerated. The price is perhaps not quite as competitive as it could be.


Outer: Superlight 15D with 3m hydrostatic head
Inner: Superlight 15D
insulation: 800 fill power goose down
Sizes: S-XL (men’s); 6-16 (women’s)
Weight: 446g (men’s size L)
Made in China
Stores in UK: England 40; Wales 5; Scotland 8; Ireland 2

Verdict: Buy it if you want a simple, no-frills design that is very lightweight as well as being very warm and reasonably featured for taking regularly to the winter hills.

Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man Zip T

This fleece mid layer weighs 498g (size L); Polartec Thermal Pro provides more insulation than some other fleece mid layers; Powerstretch side panels for extra-close fit and freedom of movement; chest pocket; elasticated hem; drawcord collar; very fluffy style. But not as practical as some others (no large pockets; Powerstretch does not extend over shoulders), not as fashionable as some fleeces (thumb loops).

Verdict: Buy it if you want a fluffy fleece that is not sure if it wants to be technical or fashionable.

Mountain Hardwear Compressor PL Jacket

This insulated jacket tips the scales at only 420g, and for my money it is the best lightweight option if you value a few features as well as a low weight. It gets a chamois-lined chinguard, which is just the job in winter. To keep draughts out you get front zip has a baffle on the inside, plus a hem drawcord, neck drawcord and adjustable cuffs, which is more than most jackets of this type have. The two zipped hip pockets take a map and have fleece linings. The fit of the sleeves is particularly good compared to most others w looked at. All that for £110 is a good option and if you don’t want a hood I’d say this is the best option and it’s ideal for taking on the hill. But there is no stuffsack. So I stuffed it into one of the pockets (although it is not designed to do this, which is a trick missed by the manufacturer). There is no hood and no reinforced areas, though most comparable jackets have similar drawbacks. The fabric is a bit more rustly than some other jackets, which will niggle those looking for a jacket for wearing down the pub rather than in a tent.


Outer: 15D nylon
Inner: 20D nylon
Insulation: Primaloft
Sizes: S-XL (men’s); 6-16 (women’s)
Weight: 420g (size L)
Made in China
Stores in UK: England 25; Wales 3; Scotland 5; Ireland 1

Verdict: If you don’t want a hood but do want a lightweight insulated jacket with practical features for the hill this is ideal.

Mountain Hardwear Synchro Hooded

This soft shell weighs 644g; outstanding hood movement; stiff peak; external seam tapes make this waterproof; welded seams for less bulk, lighter weight and softer feel; brushed fleece lining adds warmth; pit zips for venting; two chest and two waist pockets. But waist pockets easily obscured by rucksack belts; chest pockets too small for maps; high price.

Verdict: Buy it if you want a hooded soft shell and can tolerate the pockets.