Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka
Best all-around light insulated jacket
Model: Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka
With temps in Utah’s Little Death Hollow hovering around freezing on a November trip, the Plasma 1000 kept us warm over a T-shirt and light fleece as we did camp chores. On ski tours in the Rockies, we paired it with a baselayer and midlayer for comfort into the single digits. While sitting around camp, we overheated in this puffy at around 55°F.
For a jacket with such a dialed feature set, the Plasma doesn’t take up much space. It leverages premium, 1000-fill down (it’s not hydrophobic, but still jacks the price up) to squish into an eggplant-size cylinder with its included stuffsack. This feat is all the more impressive given that it’s the warmest jacket in the test.
The 7-denier ripstop nylon is among the most delicate here, crinkly, and saw its share of dings over a season. While scrambling up boulders to get a photo of the night sky from Little Death Hollow, one sleeve suffered a small tear on a sharp corner; we experienced a few of these tiny snags over 5 months of testing, but they never spread and we patched them easily.
A beefy, fully insulated hood (not helmet compatible) is adjustable on the sides and back. The Plasma 1000’s full zipper makes for easy on/off, and two zippered hand pockets keep your digits toasty and hold small items. A DWR treatment was welcome while we pushed through dewy brush, but it doesn’t hold up to more than a quick drizzle.
$439; 8.4 oz.; m’s XS-XXL, w’s S-XL