Gear Review - Montbell Thermawrap versus Down

I was the lucky recipient of a Montbell Thermawrap Parka this Christmas, and the recent cold weather has given me the chance to truly review it. I confess that my old standby, a hefty 800 fill down jacket, has given me my money worth, and is in dire need of its first wash.

When you first pick up the Thermawrap, there is a certain disbelief that something so light can actually keep you warm or withstand any kind of vigorous use. Both are misconceptions! Synthetic insulated jackets can certainly hold their own against similar down jackets, with the added bonus of retaining heat even in a downpour.

I went climbing last weekend near Lake Lure, North Carolina, and hiked past many a pointy limb and nasty brier with nary a snag to my new jacket. The weather was blustery, and all around much more miserable than any of us had anticipated. I was extremely happy to have an insulated hood to pull over my beanie as I belayed, and am an instant convert to insulated hoods. The deep pockets gave welcome reprieve for cold hands between climbs and belay duty. The DWR coating makes certain that a fleeting shower will not slow you down, and, although the Thermawrap is not intended as a wind-proof layer, it did a fabulous job with the wintry wind blowing up from the lake, and I never felt the need to add a shell to the top of my layering system. Still, the Thermawrap is so light and compressible, it is fantastic for days when the weather does quickly change and you need to stuff it in your pack for a warm hike out.

Head to head, the synthetic Thermawrap really holds its own against down in the warmth category, but may nudge out the down in versatility due to the DWR coating that my old down jacket lacks. Te extreme compressibility of both jackets is neck and neck, meaning either can easily head up a multipitch route on the back of your harness. We have the men's parka and both men's and women's jackets on sale at Looking Glass Outfitters- check out the price!

No comments: