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planetFear - Rock Climbing, Adventure Racing, Mountain Biking

Phantom Jacket

Review by planetFear
Tuesday 5th December 2006

Mountain Hardwear Phantom Jacket
Reviewer - Daniel Webber

Several people in my office have been speculating recently about what has happened to the British winter and whether global warming is really having an effect on our climate.  This is a question I've been asking myself as 'the cold' is a prerequisite for testing down jackets!  I've nearly resorted to hanging around the frozen food aisle of my local supermarket to test the warmth of the down but fortunately a few starry nights have given me the opportunity to put the jacket through its paces.

Made from 800-fill European goose down and weighing in at only 440gms / 16oz this is one of the lightest down jackets on the market - perfect for fast alpine ascents or simply winter bouldering in the UK!

Although not designed to be fully waterproof the Phantom kept me dry up at the Stanage Plantation for a good half hour with the rain 'beading' on the fabric rather than soaking in which can be a major problem with down jackets as the warmth of the down is greatly reduced when wet.  It will be interesting to see how long this beading will last before the fabric becomes saturated.  The waterproofing of this jacket is a DWR coating to the fabric and the manufacturer claims that it will take 300mm of water to become saturated.  Only time and use will completely verify this claim.

As mentioned above the Jacket is ideal for lightweight alpinism and it packs down incredibily small - once packed into its stuff sack it only messages 20cm by 8.5cm - that's about the size of a standard Nalgene bottle.

The jacket has a useful chest pocket and inner pocket for storage of wallets, mobiles, keys etc.  These pockets are on each side, which helps the jacket to feel balanced when they are loaded up.  It also has two hand pockets with fleece lining to help warm those battered hands in between boulder problems or to keep the wind off whilst up in the mountains.  The jacket doesn't have a hood or means of attaching a one which some may not like but personally I feel hoods get in the way and this jacket is aimed at the lightweight end of the market and a hood would add unnecessary weight.  It does however have two small patches of fleece in the collar to keep the neck warm.  Guys with stubble will find this can snag!

There is a laminated storm baffle on the inside of the main zip that stops the wind and keeps the jacket looking sleek and uncluttered.  The wind can also be kept out by adjusting the two one handed draw cords - one on the hem and one on the lower back. The Velcro® cuffs are also small but functional.  Three discreet Mountain Hardwear logos - one on the chest, one on the sleeve and one on the upper back - confirm the minimalist nature of this jacket.

So far I've got no complaints with the jacket other than the lightweight nature of the fabric could snag easily, however it is apparently tear resistant so this may not be a problem. Mountain Hardwear does also offer a lifetime warranty on this jacket, which is testament to its build quality.

Toasty warm, lightweight and stylish; is this the ultimate combination for a down jacket?  For me it is - and the Mountain Hardwear Phantom ticks all these boxes.  I'm off to Switzerland tomorrow and hopefully it will be cold enough for me to use the jacket, as I really want to wear it more!

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