A down jacket is a staple in any wardrobe for those who depend upon lightweight and effective insulation. A functional mid layer is an essential piece of gear for alpine missions, and almost every prominent brand has a horse in the race when it comes to an ultralight down jacket. The Mountain Hardwear Phantom Hoody boasts some impressive stats, catering to those who religiously count their grams.
Like the Ghost Whisperer, the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Hooded Jacket is über light but also much more durable.
The Phantom is an iteration of the original Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisper jacket which we reviewed several years ago. At the time of its design the ‘lightest full-featured hooded down jacket available’, the Ghost Whisper weighed in at just shy of eight ounces. What is saved in bulk, however, it lost in abrasion resistance. Designers abandoned the Whisperer 7D x 10D Nylon Ripstop and selected a Pertex 20D Nylon Ripstop DWR (durable water repellent) for the Phantom exterior. This nylon weave is noticeable more durable, sheds dirt and debris and beads water effectively. The interior shell is a slightly softer 100% recycled nylon. The Phantom retains Q.Shield 800-fill hydrophobic down which is RDS certified (it's worth mentioning that washing Q.Shield down won’t damage or degrade the treatment if washed in a front-load machine with a down-specific soap).
The Phantom has two harness-compatible YKK zippered front pockets and stows itself into its left pocket, packing down to a rough 15cm x 5cm x 5cm.
Both sleeves have an integrated cuff which accommodates a watch or gloves to be worn without bunching at the wrists. The hood is helmet compatible.
The entire hem is adjustable from a single elastic pull cord on the interior.
The alpine fit is designed to be just loose enough for freedom of movement and layering.
Exterior: Pertex® 20D Diamond Fused Ripstop Nylon
Interior: 100% Recycled Nylon
Fill: 800-fill Q.Shield Hydrophobic Goose Down
Mountain Hardware has one of the top tier hooded down jackets available. If the bar is set at less than 10 ounces, there are only a few options left for those who demand specificity. The Patagonia MicroPuff and Arcteryx Cerium weigh an advertised 9.3 and 7.6 ounces respectively, although the MicroPuff is a synthetic insulation jacket (the material is designed to loft and compress the same as down) and the Cerium® is not DWR treated and does not use hydrophobic down. The Ghost Whisperer 2.0 is also an option with a new 100% recycled nylon shell, although not as light as the original. If double-digit ounces aren’t a deal breaker many options exist for a less aggressive price point.
The Phantom is targeted towards ski tourers, mountaineers, and alpine and ice climbers in particular, and this is evident in the harness compatible pockets and minimalist design. The front pockets are decent sized and could hold several larger items like goggles, gloves and even a litre of water if so desired. Some elements that could improve the function would be more of a tab on the zippers, allowing for easy gloved operation and an adjustable hood for when the wearer is not using a helmet.
Fit is obviously a huge driver in preference for those who would rather fret over ounces. The Phantom is designed to be semi-fitted and be worn over and under other layers. Mountain Hardware has traditionally had less of a euro-fit, accommodating broad shoulders and catering to a slightly stockier build. I’ve personally found both men and womens fits typically run a hair larger than other brands. The wearer in the photos above is 193cm tall and usually wears a size L, however, the arm length in the medium was adequate. The interior material is smooth and comfortable. The exterior beads water well and stays warm when damp. The hoody is set to be available in three eye-catching colours (red, blue and dark green).
Ultimately the Phantom Hoody is a solid insulation layer and compromises durability with weight as well as an ultralight jacket could hope to do. The hydrophobic down and DWR are a convenient bonus - although no one ever plans on getting wet in the alpine it certainly happens and it's nice to stay warm when it does. The minimalist design sticks to the essential features without omitting anything crucial. The RDS certification is an important addition, ensuring a conscientious manufacturing process and humanely sourced material.
Price: $460CAN / $350US
Fit: Alpine (70cm / 27.5” CB)
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Weight: 281g /9.9oz (average)
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