Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket

Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket

Greetings Adventurers!

Hitting the scale at only 238 grams (8.4 ounces), the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket has been my go-to, primary wear, top thermal garment (jacket) for a few years – and I freaking love it!

Featuring 15-denier rip-stop nylon shell, 50g Exceloft synthetic insulation, and a full front zipper, the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket is a jacket that can be a year around jacket for pretty much anybody anywhere.

It is perfect for the summer season on cold mornings, and a great thermal layer for the colder seasons.

In the world of sub 10 oz synthetic jackets, finding a jacket like the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket, can present a challenge but thankfully it is not really necessary to look all that hard as this jacket ticks off pretty much all of the checkboxes that I feel needs to be checked to fit into this category.

Normally I try very hard to not write about how x-product compares to y-product, but in this situation, that is, the sub 10 ounce hoodless jacket market, I think it is fair to be able to compare the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket to both the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer (197 grams / 6.95 oz) and the Montbell Plasma 1000 Down Jacket (135 grams / 4.8 oz). If you are into animal down thermals, the dominator on the market the last few years has been the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer – used by more big mile hikers I know and respect than any other animal down jacket in this weight/warmth category. Likewise, the Montbell Plasma 1000 has been embraced as one of the best weight/warmth animal down jackets you can buy.

While the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket is obviously not an animal down jacket, it can easily go head-to-head with those two amazing animal down jackets! Plus it is under the magical 10 oz mark, it is half as expensive as the Plasma 1000, and $200 dollars less expensive than the Ghost Whisperer! To say MH has gotten greedy with their price of the Ghost Whisperer is putting it mildly. You can buy both a Montbell Plasma AND a Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket for just a few dollars more and have one hell of a sweet multi-layer thermal system!

Likes:

  • Great year-round warmth to weight.
  • Like all gear from Monbell, an excellent price point. Almost three times less expensive than the MH Ghost Whisperer!
  • Does not have a bunch of fancy features I do not want that just adds weight (exception, as indicated below, are bottom hem tightener and wrist tighteners.)
  • Does not have a chest pocket – first/second layer thermal should just not chest pockets… when is the industry going to stop this!
  • Two full seasons of use and zero noticeable loft degradation.
  • Available in an XXL size. While I do not wear that size, I get a lot of people asking me for recommendations on jackets that are XXL sized, well, here ya go!
  • Very good pack volume size. While it does not compress down as small as the Montbell Plasma 1000, it packs down small enough to always go with me.

Dislikes:

  • Arm length is an issue for me with most jackets, this one included.
  • Lack of bottom hem tightener.

Wish List:

  • In an effort to keep weight down Montbell has not included any wrist tighteners nor a bottom hem tightener. These decisions are unfortunate, as they allow warm air to outflow from the garment. For an understanding of why this is so important watch this video. At the very top of my wishlist for this jacket would be these two additions.
  • Longer arm lengths.
  • A version without hand pockets. Like chest pockets, I just do not like pockets on a jacket that is primarily a second layer garment. Extra weight can be saved by not having hand pockets, albeit very little, but still, weight savings is weight savings.

 

My Usage:

I have been using the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket as my primary thermal top garment for three hiking seasons. During the summer, shoulder and winter seasons. During the winter seasons, which is when I am typically involved in aiding media crews and other adventurers, I carry the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket along with the Montbell Thermawrap Guide Jacket, a true beast of a synthetic jacket.

Being as light as it is, and as small of pack volume as it is, it has also gone with me on all of my adventures while doing trail designing in the Mojave desert for the Mojave Trail. While there might be ground level temps of F120°+ during the day, as PCT hikers quickly learn, the deserts of Southern California can get rather cold at night. Many a night have I put on the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket while sleeping out in the desert during the winter seasons.

Living in the Redwoods, where it tends to rain a lot, I have tried hard to not be wearing it when it is raining, but a few times I have. The DRW on it is rather lacking, to be honest, but I have only owned one jacket that did not have this problem – the Nunatak Torre Parka, the quintessential OMG-it’s-cold parka money can buy. The few times that the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket has gotten a little damp from rain/fog, it very quickly dried out by just shoving it under my base layer or putting it inside of my quilt at night.

When not out on the trail hiking, the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket is also my around-town jacket… it goes with me pretty much everywhere and anytime I leave the house.

Layering:

For next-to-skin I usually wear either an Icebreaker Tech Lite Short Sleeve Crewe T-Shirt or a Mountain Hardwear WickedCool Tank.

On top of that I have been wearing the Kora ‘Shola 230 Zip’, a 100% Yak Wool thermal – read my review of this amazing garment.

If I get cold wearing those, on goes the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket.

If I get cold wearing those, on goes the ZPacks Ventum Wind Shell Jacket, which I basically use a type of quasi-VBL, to trap heat in. Check out this excellent article by Skurka for more on true VBL.

Those four layers of garments are able to keep me warm throughout almost the entire hiking season. As already mentioned above, in winter, I do have to put on more layers, but that is of course, to be expected.

Final Thoughts:

The Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket truly is an exceptional sub 10 ounce thermal garment. It should not be overlooked by those looking to buy a new thermal garment.

While everybody is a bit different in how hot/cold they get, the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket falls right into the same quality and warmth as other thermal garments within this category.

And it does so at a significantly less expensive price point.

The jacket has a good size pack volume – I have never put it back into its stuff sack since I bought mine, as I always just tuck it into either my outer backpack pocket, or toss it into the top of my backpack for easy access.

For those who have issues (typically medical, but for some ethical) with animal down the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket being synthetic insulation is an amazing option for you!

The 15-denier rip-stop nylon shell has held up amazingly well for me. Not a single issue with the fabric over the course of three seasons (two different jackets, a large and then a medium when the larget got too large after losing a bunch of weight) on either the outside or inside of the jacket.

The zipper has never got stuck on me and both of mine have never had any noticeable fade in color (both in gunmetal colour.)

Where to buy:

You can buy the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket directly from the Montbell website:

http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?p_id=2301182

I have always found it a good idea to buy Montbell products directly from the Montbell website because Montbell has that sweet ‘Member Points’ feature that after a couple purchases, you might be able to have enough points to score a new one for free. I have a couple thousand points, just from buying stuff earlier this year. And they (usually & location dependant) have free shipping on orders over $50 bucks.

Thanks,
+John Abela
HikeLighter.Com

Disclaimer: As of the time of this being published I am a sponsored hiker of Montbell. While I have received a few items from Montbell for use&review over the years, I typically buy almost all of the gear that I use, even when I am sponsored by a company.

 

3 thoughts on “Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket

  1. Nice review.
    I love this jackets weight, durability and price. Agree that it would be nice to have a bit more arm length and a hem cord. I think it makes sense to also compare this to a bit thicker fleece (Patagonia R1 or R2). As in you could wear it in winter for active use (-15˚C or below depending on your body and your activity level), and also you can wear it easier in long hard cold sustained rain like a fleece. Good for when you have to slow down due to technical terrain or just plain old typhoon like weather or what have you.

    1. Thank you, and I absolutely agree that some of these thicker fleece garments are getting up to a point where they can be substituted for/with some of these lighter weight thermal jackets on the market. While the fleece usually are heavier (not by much) they can be a bit less expensive and offer a bit more diversity. I think if Kora were to introduce something in the 260g or 280g range, much like the Icebreaker 260, they too could be included in this small list of top end non-jacket garments, along with the Patagonia R series. Thanks for taking the time to share!

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