So Wrong It's Right

This Ultralight Down Jacket Is Getting Heavier for a Good Reason


February 1, 2019 Sports and Outdoors By
Outdoor Retailer and Snow Show, the biggest outdoor and snowsports event of the year, is happening now at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado. We’ve got a team on the ground, there to bring you news about the most exciting new product releases. Follow our coverage here, and also be sure to check us out on Instagram. We’ll be posting exclusive images and interviews to our feed throughout the week.
Key Specs:
Brand: Mountain Hardwear
Model: Phantom Hoody
Price: $350
Availability: Fall 2019
Unique Features: ultralight diamond ripstop shell fabric

Upshot: The Ghost Whisperer down jacket has been Mountain Hardwear’s most popular ultralight jacket since its debut in 2012. Seven years later, Mountain Hardwear is making a new version called the Phantom that’s heavier by 2.1 ounces. The weight gain comes from a more durable outer shell fabric, and it still fits nicely in the ultralight category. The Phantom will cost $350 and drive the price of the Ghost Whisperer down to $325.

Who It’s For: Climbers, skiers, everyday hikers; really, anyone who wants the lightest down jacket available but also needs a little more assurance against tears.

Insight: Mountain Hardwear developed the Ghost Whisperer in close collaboration with Ueli Steck, the late Swiss mountaineer who helped establish the fast-and-light approach to recreation in the mountains. In that vein and to Steck’s wishes, the jacket was as light as possible but remained fully windproof, water-resistant and warm. In the years following its release, it became a best-seller for Mountain Hardwear.

Innovation orthodox when it comes to outdoor gear has always been to make things lighter without sacrificing performance. The Ghost Whisperer did that, so it would seem counterintuitive that Mountain Hardwear would make it heavier, but in this case, the move is a welcome one. Beyond packing a higher fill count, or less stuffing altogether, down jackets get lighter by including fewer features (zippers, pockets) and using thinner shell fabrics. The Phantom uses a more durable shell fabric but manages to keep the weight below ten ounces — think of it as a beefier, but still ultralight, Ghost Whisperer.

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