Last Updated on January 31, 2021
|Price: $279 MSRP – Check Price on Montbell|
|Keri’s Rating: 4.8 of 5 stars|
|Pros: Great weight to warmth ratio; practically waterproof; extremely comfortable|
|Cons: No internal zippered pockets; a tad bulky for ultralight backpacking|
|Weight: 13.8 oz|
|Men’s Model: Permafrost Light Down Parka|
|Lighter Option: Alpine Light Down Parka: 12 oz|
|Budget Option: Highland Parka: $149 MSRP|
Overview: Montbell Permafrost Light Down Parka Women’s Jacket
With a string of cold and wet months on the horizon, I recently turned to the Montbell Permafrost Light Women’s Down Parka with hopes that it’d become my go-to winter jacket. I made the right choice.
Since I switched to the Permafrost Light Down Parka, I’ve put it through the gauntlet: bitter temperatures, ice-cold rain, and brisk wind during the dreary winter months in the Sichuan Province of China. It has performed flawlessly in the face of every challenge and validated my decision to step up my down jacket game.
My first two months in this jacket confirm exactly what I’d hoped: It’s lightweight, comfortable and boasts a well-engineered set of features – all while offering incredible warmth, durability, and water-resistance. I do have a few minor issues with it, however, which I’ll address later in this review.
So, keep reading to see exactly what makes the Montbell Permafrost Light Women’s Down Parka such a versatile jacket. It has been my cozy refuge during these last few cold and wet winter months, and I look forward to weathering more storms with it in the future.
The Women’s Permafrost Light Down Parka boasts a full set of well-designed features. The one tiny gripe I have — and I’m probably nitpicking here — is that the internal pockets aren’t zippered. Pocketed items could become slightly vulnerable during athletic activity – skiing is what comes to mind for me.
With that in mind, Montbell’s Permafrost Light Down Parka is well-constructed and leaves little else to be desired. Here’s are a few of the features I love:
2-Way Adjustable Hood: Adjusting the hood with its two-part drawcord and velcro system is easy and straightforward. It’s burly and warm, and won’t flinch when properly cinched down in high winds.
Two Zippered Hand Pockets: Montbell treats customers to two spacious zippered hand pockets with plenty of space to hold gloves, snacks, cell phones, and other accessories.
Hidden Draw Cords for Waist Adjustment: Tucked away within the hand pockets are hand waist adjustment cords, which make tightening the hip of the jacket simple and effortless.
Stuff Sack: The included stuff sack is lightweight, durable, and handy to use for storage when the jacket is being worn. It is a tad large, in my opinion, as the jacket could fit in a more compact stuff sack.
Features Rating: 4.5 out of 4.5 stars
The Permafrost Light Down Parka is the most comfortable down jacket I’ve ever owned. Its inner nylon taffeta fabric is silky smooth and is incredibly soft to the touch. This jacket fits the contours of my body well and doesn’t bunch up or constrict my movements when I’m active.
When the waist drawcord is cinched, the bottom of the jacket rests at a comfortable level near the bottom of my hips. The hood fits comfortably around my face when tightened and isn’t a bother when it’s not in use.
(For what it’s worth, I’m 5′ 7″ and 130 pounds and fit comfortably into the size small.)
Comfort Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Though I haven’t exactly beaten this jacket up, I’m confident it will handle any reasonable future abuse that I throw its way. Its 30-denier Ballistic rip-stop nylon shell has three times the tear strength of nylons used in similar down jackets across the market while weighing 20% less. In more simple terms: it’s made with lighter and more durable fabric than many of its competitors.
The fabric on the Permafrost Light Down Parka doesn’t have the thin and fragile feel that many similarly weighted down jackets are known for. When wearing this jacket, I see few reasons to baby it, knowing that fluke tears are all extremely unlikely. And while this jacket’s Ballistic nylon is sturdy and durable, it has shown great breathability and flexibility during a wide range of cold-weather activities.
Durability Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Warmth to Weight Ratio
When I switched to the Permafrost Light Down Parka from my beat-up old Marmot down jacket, I noticed a huge difference in my warmth immediately. The jacket’s GORE-TEX Windstopper fabric and 3.3 oz of 800 Fill Power EX Down insulation block harsh weather elements and trap my body heat incredibly well.
I tend to run cold, so this toasty and well-insulated down jacket has been a godsend during the wet and brisk winters here in the Sichuan Province of China. While not incredibly lightweight in comparison to similar products across the market, it doesn’t feel bulky, as many down jackets that keep you this warm do.
This jacket doesn’t pack down quite as compact as I’d like, but I don’t see this as much of an issue. Ultralight backpackers might prefer a lighter, more packable jacket — such as the Ignis Down Parka — but they would ultimately sacrifice warmth to save weight.
Warmth to Weight Ratio Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The Permafrost Light Down Parka and its DWT treated GORE-TEX INFINIUM fabric have shed water flawlessly every occasion I’ve exposed it to rain. Its three external zippers are finished with sturdy water repellant seals, and, as a result, moisture has never penetrated this jacket, even in prolonged bouts of steady rain.
Montbell’s official website states that this jacket is ‘not completely waterproof.’ I reached out to the company to ask why, and they replied with this:
“The reason why we don’t state the Permafrost Light Down Parka as waterproof is because it’s not seam taped. The fabric itself is waterproof but in order to have a garment waterproofed, all the seams must be seam taped so that water doesn’t seep through the seams. The GORE-TEX Infinium fabric does provide a good amount of water resistance, but it’s only going to hold up until the water seeps through the seams.”
Though it’s not completely waterproof, the Permafrost Light Down Parka seems to come quite close. And if there are any down jackets on the market that can offer a comparable level of water resistance at such a low weight, I haven’t seen them yet.
Water Resistance Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Though the Permafrost Light Down Parka may seem pricy at $279 MSRP, I know firsthand that it’s worth every penny. The truth is, that if you want to own a down jacket of this caliber, you’re going to have to pay the price.
In fact, many of the most highly-reviewed women’s down jackets on the market don’t offer the same water resistance, yet are often priced above the Permafrost Light Down Parka. (I’m looking at you, Ghost Whisperer, Cerium SV, and Summit L3.)
Montbell has provided incredible value to its customers, even with a price tag nearing the $300 range.
Value Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The Final Word: Montbell Permafrost Light Down Women’s Parka Review
It’s safe to say that the Montbell Permafrost Light Down Women’s Parka checks off all the boxes for a cold and wet weather jacket, as outlined in my review. It’s performed exceptionally during the chilly and damp winter months here in the Sichuan Province, and I expect it to keep me warm and dry for years to come – wherever the road may take me.
I did have a couple of tiny nitpicks with this jacket: the internal pockets aren’t zippered and it’s not the most packable for ultralight backpacking endeavors. That said, these issues aren’t dealbreakers for me, and shouldn’t be a concern for you either.
Minor gripes aside, the Permafrost Light Down Women’s Parka is well-engineered and made from high-quality, state-of-the-art materials. The jacket is comfortable, durable, warm, and water-resistant, and exceeded my high expectations. Montbell nailed this one, plain and simple.
Hiking & Backpacking Resources
- Essential Backpacking Gear: The Items I Can’t Hike Without
- What to Bring on a Day Hike: 10 Essentials + Checklist
- My 8.8 lb Ultralight Backpacking Gear List
- Budget Backpacking Gear: Affordable 10 lb Ultralight Kit
- Backpacking Food: Meal Plan Tips & Ideas for Your Next Hike
- Get Paid to Hike: 10 Jobs to Make Money on the Trail
- Best Gifts for Hikers: Unique Hiking Gifts for Any Budget
Do you have any questions about the Permafrost Light Down Women’s Parka that weren’t answered in my review? If so, please leave me some feedback in the comments below.