Montbell takes home the prestigious Backcountry Skiing Canada Gear of the Year Award for their innovative Mirage Parka. It's the ultimate combination of super light weight warmth in a packable down jacket that features box construction with 900 fill power goose down. Aptly named the 'Mirage' as you won't believe you're actually wearing a down jacket. Congratulations Montbell.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
The Montbell Mirage Parka is a mid or outer layer down jacket built for warmth and comfort. Aptly named, you’ll barely notice wearing this lightweight garment aside from feeling snug and protected from the cold and wind This jacket is extremely compressible and comes with a variety of features you want in a down jacket (more on this later). The Mirage Parka sells for about three hundred dollars (American). It comes in three distinct colours (green, blue and graphite) all three accented with black under the arms as well as down the sides.
Isamu Tatsuno, the world renowned Japanese climber who opened Japan’s first rock climbing school, founded Montbell Co. Ltd. in 1975. In its early years, the Osaka-born company produced mainly high quality rain gear and sleeping bags, later becoming more focused on tents and mountaineering outerwear. Since its inception, Montbell’s products have been tried and tested by adventurous folks on arduous climbing expeditions and all over the world.
In 2002, the Montbell brand was introduced to the North American marketplace. The company was to receive numerous awards and accolades from backpacker magazines, and recognition within the backcountry industry as being a high quality manufacturer. Given Montbell’s prestigious history and its commitment to developing products that are known for their “light and fast” qualities, it’s no wonder reviewers consider the Mirage Parka to be one of the best down jackets on the market today.
A goose down jacket that features a high fill power is a piece of gear that typically remains tucked in your pack for the better part of the day (until you’ve reached the summit or encountered severe weather). The Mirage Parka is ideal for winter adventures such as backcountry skiing thanks to its extremely light weight (363g / 12.8oz) and super compressible seven denier, Ballistic, airtight rip-stop, nylon shell. This light weight parka takes up virtually no space in your pack, but what is lacks in bulk it makes up for in warmth.
The unique fabric of this jacket makes it resistant to wind as well as light abrasions, yet has also a soft and comfortable feeling on your skin. Ballistic nylon makes this jacket (some what) durable while boasting half the weight of typical shell fabrics. The baffle-box construction ensures no outer seams are connected through the jacket, therefore eliminating a way for wind and cold air to penetrate to your body. The 900 fill power, goose down ensures that the insulation is as lightweight as possible while not compromising compressibility, or warmth to weight ratio.
The jacket features two low profile zippered hand warmer pockets with pull tabs to ensure ease of access, and to keep your valuable safe. The pull tabs are easy to find yet stylishly discreet. Two additional pockets can be found on the inside. While the inner pockets don’t have zippers they are sufficiently deep and hug closely to your torso once the jacket’s main YKK zipper is closed. The main zip rests snugly in a garage at the base of the hood when closed.
The hood is of the same down construction as the jacket. Draw cords on either side of your face keep the brim fitting snugly from cheek to cheek. Velcro on the rear of the hood allows for optional brim adjustment to accommodate a headlamp on your forehead. The hood easily and effectively substitutes for a toque (or winter hat for our American readers). Velcro closures coupled with an elastic cuff create an effective seal that prevents body heat from escaping, and fits comfortably over or under your gloves.
The water resistant nylon beads water off initially, but prolonged standing water will absorb into the material. When washing your Mirage Parka be sure to use down specific detergent in cold water. A low heat, tumble setting when drying will help maintain and restore loft. If air drying the Mirage, use a hanger to maintain its shape.
Montbell’s company slogan “function is beauty” indicates that dependability, as well as warmth and comfort, are priorities in the design of their products.
Interested in reading other reviews of Mont Bell Down products? See below for links to reviews about the Montbell Down Hugger 900 sleeping bag, the Montbell UL Spiral Down Hugger 1 sleeping bag, and the Montbell Frost Smoke Down Parka.
- Box construction eliminating seams threw the jacket
- 2 zippered hand warmer pockets with pull tabs
- Adjustable Velcro cuffs
- Hood with duel draw cords
- 2 internal drop-in pockets
- Low profile, duel hem draw cords
- Stuff sack included
Ask any reputable adventure lover, “who makes the best down sleeping bags?” and Montbell is a very likely response. Owing to their history and experience with down sleeping bags (especially the ultra-light and compact) it’s only natural that they should produce kick-ass down jackets like the Mirage.
Over the past few months I’ve been testing this jacket in all types of weather conditions ranging from really cold mornings in the alpine to late fall and early winter weather in day to day life. It’s obvious the Montbell Mirage is warm given its 900 fill power, goose down, and its box construction design. But what makes it a truly amazing jacket is its light weight and compressibility. A full forty percent of the jackets weight is in its down insulation, a considerably higher percentage than most down jackets. Montbell was able to dedicate more weight to insulation due mainly to the use of the 7-denier Ballistic, air-tight Nylon as the outer shell fabric, which is very light. It feels super fragile but is reported to “withstand the rigours of normal use”. Bear in mind that the term “normal use” is relative and changes from person to person. I personally treat the Mirage Parka very carefully as it doesn’t feel like it could endure many hard scrapes or pokes, but the same can be said about most down jackets on the market.
Although I know you’ve likely heard this claim before from several manufacturers of light apparel, I will say that while wearing this jacket it’s truly hard to tell you have it on. You’ll just have to try it for yourself if you don’t believe me!
Another reason the Montbell Mirage Parka’s scored so highly with yours truly is its compact design. I rarely wear my down jacket when ski touring so it spends most of the day in my pack. The jacket’s compact design allows me to pack lots of other necessary gear for my outing. A custom stuff sac comes with the jacket for easy storage. A lot of companies scrimp on Velcro cuff adjustments or zipper pulls in order to keep things compressible, but MontBell is an exception.
The Montbell Mirage Parka is designated as a mid-layer, but given its ‘puffiness’ it would feel a little claustrophobic under a shell. I would choose a more minimal down jacket for a mid-layer and use the Montbell Mirage Parka as an outer-layer for really cold winter days, ski touring lunch stops, or prolonged stationary periods out of doors.
The baffle-box construction of the Mirage Parka keeps the down in place making it much warmer than traditional sewn through designs. Baffle-box construction is far more labour intensive to construct, and most manufacturers don’t go this extra mile. Sewn through construction is the structural choice in most down jackets, but because the threads go through the inner and outer fabrics you will feel cold spots at each and every seam. I applaud Montbell for manufacturing a baffle-box construction 900 fill down jacket for just over $300.00 U.S. It’s a great value!
Bottom line, if you are looking for an ultra-light yet super warm down jacket, then I highly recommend giving the Montbell Mirage Parka a try.
Price: $309 US
Colours: Blue, Green, Graphite
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
Weight: 363g / 12.8oz (Fill weight 150g / 5.3oz)
Insulation: 900 Fill Power Goose Down
Fabric: 7 Denier Ballistic Airtight rip-stop nylon shell & lining
Stuff Sack: 5.3 x 9.5 inches
Pack ability: 2/2
Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in below and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.