In the 10 years that I’ve been testing gear I don’t think I’ve tried a single product from Montane that has disappointed me. In fact, one of my favourite items of kit that I’ve owned was the Jaguar, a beautifully made and wonderfully comfortable fleece. While the Jaguar has been discontinued, recently I’ve been trying out the Montane Featherlite Down Vest, a lightweight (well it’d have to be with a name like that) down gilet that’s designed for outdoor active use.
The Featherlite makes use of a lightweight but hardwearing Pertex Quantum fabric on the outer, while insulation and warmth is provided by the inclusion of a water resistant 750+ HyperDRY Eco down. Of course, the water-resistant quality of this insulator lessens the impact of down’s nemesis, rain and damp (which renders untreated fill almost useless at trapping warm air), and also enables you to pack the Featherlite down into a small bundle that’s about the size of a small loaf of bread.
With such a light weight (316g for our size XL) the Featherlight offers a great amount of warmth, with the down performing well. With this in mind, the Featherlite is an ideal midlayer for cold weather excursions, when the temperature is near the zero mark (making it perfect for these six incredible winter adventures), and a great outer for summer camping when the sun goes down and it gets a bit nippy. The baffles are stitch-through, though they’re amply packed and I there were no cold spots formed during use.
You get two large, zipped hand warmer pockets and these are big enough to hold an OS map comfortably. An effective baffle helps to prevent cold spots forming behind the zip, and a nice and soft microfleece lining at the top of this ensures comfort against the neck and chin. The collar rises up high to help keep the chill out, and the zip also features a nicely sized pull on it to make gloved-up usage easy.
An effective drawcord at the hem helps you trap in warm air, and this is easily operable with one hand, though it can get a bit fiddly when wearing thick winter gloves. Stylistically it looks brilliant, with the colours on offer working very well when out on the hills or on the high street. One thing to bear in mind is that I find Montane sizes to come up a bit smaller than you’d expect, so it’s worth trying this on before you buy to ensure you get the right fit.
All in all, if you’re looking for a lightweight but warm insulated gilet that’ll handle the rigours of on-trail life, while also offering the style for everyday wear, the Montane Featherlite Down Vest performs very well. It’s a bit pricey at £120, but you’re paying for quality and, of course, it comes with a Montane warranty that lasts for the lifetime of the product.