Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka Review

Price: $439 MSRP – Check Price on Montbell
Noel’s Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars  4.6 of 5 stars
Pros: Extremely warm and lightweight, very comfortable, full set of features
Cons: Not very water-resistant, slightly delicate, expensive
Weight: 8.4 oz
Women’s Model: Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka
Lighter Option: Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Jacket: 4.8 oz
Budget Option: Superior Down Parka: $209 MSRP

Overview: Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka

Exploring glaciers in Torres del Paine National Park

Over my years of backpacking, I’ve turned into a hopeless ultralight gear junkie. Before making a purchase, I spend hours poring over specs, reading reviews, and comparing countless products before finally pulling the trigger. I can’t help myself.

This agonizing process is how I arrived at Montbell’s Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka. After exhaustive research, I decided to give it a shot at becoming part of my beloved ultralight backpacking gear list.

And I can confidently say that, after over 100 miles of backpacking and extensive everyday use, Montbell’s Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka has exceeded my lofty expectations.

This jacket is packed with useful features, made from high-quality materials, and stuffed with ultra-efficient 1000-fill down. It’s exceptionally warm, lightweight, and packable and has earned a permanent spot in my backpack.

Though it’s nearly perfect, The Plasma 1000 is a bit delicate and doesn’t repel moisture at a high level. But for my minimalist style of ultralight backpacking, these characteristics aren’t issues for me, but rather prerequisites. I’ll dive into them more later.

Thinking about buying a Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka to add to your arsenal? Stay tuned for my complete and unbiased review of Montbell’s most impressive down jacket.


1000-fill down: an ultralight backpacker’s dream

For only 8.4 ounces, it’s remarkable how many features Montbell squeezed into the Plasma 1000. This full-featured jacket is minimalist at heart yet leaves very little to be desired. Here are a few of its best features.

Ethically Sourced 1000-Fill Down: In the world of backpacking, it doesn’t get more efficient than 1000-fill down insulation, which gives the Plasma 1000 an elite warmth-to-weight ratio that’s unrivaled in the industry.

2-Way Adjustable Hood: The hood and its two-part drawcord and velcro system are simple to adjust and fit comfortably without catching drafts of wind or blocking your vision.

Zippered Hand Pockets: The Plasma 1000’s two zippered hand pockets are great for stashing gear and warming up hands. They’re spacious, warm, and one of this jacket’s best features.

Hidden Drawcords for Waist Adjustment: Within the hand pockets are inconspicuous drawcords that make cinching the waist a breeze. This traps heat and adds to the jacket’s top-notch efficiency.

Features Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars


Guiding a 10-day hike of the ‘O’ Circuit with my not-so-ultralight backpack

Thanks to the Plasma 1000’s high-quality materials and thoughtfully engineered set of features, Montbell has blessed the ultralight backpacking world with an extremely comfortable down jacket.

The Plasma 1000 boasts a generous 3.4 oz of 1000-fill down, which packs the jacket evenly and comfortably. When I put the Plasma 1000 on, the ultra-lofty insulation lightly squeezes my arms as I slide the sleeves on. Montbell isn’t stingy with its down fill, like many other ultralight down jackets in its weight range.

But what makes the feel of this jacket so comfortable isn’t only the lofty 1000-fill down. It’s the 7-denier Ballistic Airlight ripstop nylon fabric, which is very soft and silky against my skin. It’s also quite breathable.

The Plasma 1000 has a longer and looser fit than my last down jacket, the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody, and this is a good thing. My old Cerium LT had too much of a snug fit and tended to ride up my hips if the waistband was cinched.

Because the Plasma 1000 is a touch longer than the Cerium LT, the waist of the jacket sits comfortably on my hips when cinched, even when I’m stretching or extending my arms. The jacket also has a bit more wiggle room than its counterpart, which gives me a wider range of motion and allows me to layer up comfortably below.

Comfort Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars


The 7-denier nylon fabric on the Plasma 1000 is ultra-thin

Ultralight jackets aren’t usually known for their durability and the Plasma 1000 is no exception. The jacket’s 7-denier Ballistic Airlight ripstop nylon fabric weighs in at a ridiculously light 21 grams per square meter and is extremely thin.

Yes, the material is touted as ‘ripstop’, but that doesn’t mean it’s impervious to tearing. It means that its nylon fabric is woven in a crosshatch pattern that makes the material resistant (but not immune) to ripping, tearing, and spreading.

That said, I’ve been cautious while wearing the Plasma 1000 and have yet to rip or tear it. I actively avoid low hanging tree branches, campfires, and other dicey situations that could damage its delicate fabric. I baby this jacket and recommend that you do the same.

In the unfortunate event that I do damage the fabric, I carry black Tenacious Tape to patch up any potential tears, rips, or burns.

If you’re looking for a more durable jacket, I recommend the Ignis Down Parka, which uses a thicker 13-denier Ballistic Airlight ripstop nylon fabric on the exterior, but has less down fill, and weighs a couple more ounces.

Durability Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 stars


For its weight, the Plasma 1000 is as warm as it gets

Though it weighs less than most ultralight hooded jackets on the market, the Plasma 1000 has kept me warm and toasty into temperatures well below freezing. The jacket traps my body heat extremely well and, when cinched properly, doesn’t allow any of the warmth to escape.

How can it insulate so well while weighing so little?

More than 40% of the jacket’s weight comes from its 3.4 ounces of uber lofty 1000-fill goose down. Montbell completely minimized the weight of the Plasma 1000’s materials and jammed in as much high-quality down as possible. Its lightweight ripstop nylon fabric is great at blocking cold gusts of wind as well.

This jacket is brilliantly engineered and, as a result, is about as warm and efficient as you could ask for in cold weather.

The Plasma 1000 is so warm, in fact, that I rarely hike or exercise in it when temperatures are 40 degrees or above. Strenuous physical activity in these temperatures traps too much of my body heat and gets me pouring sweat within a few minutes. This jacket is best for keeping warm during periods of rest and light physical activity in chilly temperatures.

Warmth Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars


Jacket: 8.4 oz | Stuff Sack: .4 oz

Weighing in at 8.4 oz and compressing down to the size of a Nalgene bottle, the Plasma 1000 is second-to-none in terms of weight and packability in the ultralight down jacket universe. We can once again thank Montbell’s use of 1000-fill down for its packable lightweight superiority.

Other popular jackets across the ultralight industry, such as the Feathered Friends Eos (13 oz), the Arc’teryx Cerium LT (12 oz), and The North Face Summit L3 (13.8 oz) are significantly heavier and bulkier than the Plasma 1000.

Why? Because these brands use lower fill down (usually between 700 and 900) and heavier fabrics than Montbell. As a result, these jackets are slightly more affordable than the Plasma 1000 but far less packable, efficient, and lightweight.

For the ultralight backpacking gear junkies, it doesn’t get much lighter and more packable than the Plasma 1000.

Weight/Packability Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars

Weather Resistance

Collecting some precipitation at the base of the towers in Torres del Paine National Park

The Plasma 1000 doesn’t claim to be a four-season weather stopping down jacket, yet it holds up reasonably well when faced with wind and rain.

Though the jacket’s 7-denier Ballistic Airlight ripstop nylon fabric is quite thin, it does a wonderful job of keeping the wind from penetrating into the insulation. While I was testing out the Plasma 1000 on the blustery ‘O’ Circuit in Patagonia, I experienced plenty of forceful gusts, and not once did I feel the wind hit my skin underneath.

In terms of water resistance, the Plasma 1000 is decent but should be paired with a rain jacket when exposed to substantial precipitation. The jacket’s thin nylon fabric is treated with a standard DWR water repellant but will only keep water out for so long before it starts seeping into the down insulation.

Montbell had to sacrifice a bit of water resistance to keep the jacket so lightweight, but that shouldn’t matter so long as you bring a solid rain jacket to pair with it when the precipitation starts to accumulate.

If you’re looking for a jacket with better water resistance, check out the Permafrost Light Down Parka, which uses a heavier GORE-TEX fabric to repel moisture exceptionally well.

Weather Resistance Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars


I get it, $430 is a lot of money to spend on a single piece of backpacking gear.

But if you’re looking for an elite ultralight down jacket that’s superior to its competitors, you likely know that it’s not going to come cheap. With that in mind, if you’re ready to take your ultralight backpacking setup to the next level, the Plasma 1000 is worth every penny.

And if you can’t get past the price tag, check out Montbell’s Alpine Light Down Parka instead. It weighs about six more ounces than the Plasma 1000 because it uses a heavier nylon and less efficient 800-fill down. That said, it’ll keep you just as warm the Plasma 1000 and is significantly more durable. The best part? It comes in at half the price.

Value Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Final Word: Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka

The Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka is at the top of its class

My obsession with seeking out the best ultralight backpacking gear has paid off yet again. After all the research, Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka lived up to the giant expectations I placed upon it. It’s exactly what I was looking for.

In terms of hooded ultralight down jackets, the Plasma 1000 checks off all the boxes. It’s full-featured, comfortable, warm, lightweight, and ultra-packable. Montbell put their best foot forward when engineering this jacket, and it was apparent from the moment I first tried it on.

Though the Plasma 1000 doesn’t boast great durability or water resistance, it does everything I need it to. This jacket is supposed to be a bit delicate and is meant to pair up with rain jackets to fight moisture. By designing the jacket this way, Montbell has created the most efficient ultralight down jacket on the market.

So, is Montbell’s Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka worth its lofty price tag? Absolutely. It earned its way onto my ultralight backpacking gear list and won’t be leaving anytime soon.

View Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka

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Do you have any questions about the Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka that weren’t answered in my review? Let me know by leaving some feedback in the comments below!

Last Updated on April 9, 2023

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Noel Krasomil

Hey, I'm Noel Krasomil, the founder of The Packable Life. I pack light and explore the globe searching for awe-inspiring hiking trails, rich cultural experiences, and ways to continue traveling indefinitely.

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11 thoughts on “Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka Review”

    • I’ve never tested the Ghost Whisperer 2, but by looking at the specs of both jackets, I can tell that the Plasma 1000 is going to be the warmer of the two since it uses 1000 fill down (compared to 800). The Ghost Whisperer 2 is very popular in the UL community, though, and comes in at half the price. Can’t go wrong either way in my opinion, but the Plasma 1000 is about as good as it gets when looking at warm to weight ratio.

    • I like the Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka better for hiking and backpacking, and I like the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody better for everyday wear in the city. The Alpine Down Parka is more lightweight and keeps you warmer, however, it’s a little less durable and not quite as stylish.

      They’re both incredible jackets!

  1. This parka (the Plasma 1000) impressed me as being very well made. It is very light but still quite warm. It is not as ‘puffy’ as I was expecting from reading reviews, but it doesn’t need to be any thicker than it is. The features are simple and complete. I would add or delete nothing. The fabric is thin but but feels nice and is at least as good as older lightweight nylon. I have a heavyweight parka, and this parka fills a much different need. The Plasma 1000 has instantly become part of my lightweight (most would say ultralight) kit. This is a layer that is very nice on frosty mornings in the Northern Rockies, and on cold mountain nights. It lets me stay up later instead of having to seek shelter in my tent soon after sunset. In addition to wearing it as a parka, I use it to supplement my ultralight sleeping bag, to keep it comfortable into the 20’s. I get a bit of a laugh out of people who complain that a few feathers might work their way out of the fabric or seams. Every down parka or sleeping bag I have ever owned had that happen, include my 30-year-old sleeping bag, which is still going strong. If it didn’t happen, I would wonder what kind of insulation was being used: seagull feathers? Fine down is just that: fine. 1000 fill down is as fine as it gets! This is an expensive bit of kit, but I really like it. Based on the patches on my old jackets, the wrists, chest and back are the most vulnerable spots to get a rip or puncture. I advise people not to freak out if they get a small tear or puncture in a down garment. It happens. Wearing a durable shell over the parka will keep it safe, but a bit of extra care will do the same thing. Don’t stand around a campfire in this parka, and be careful going over or under obstacles. The extra care will pay off, because a light pack is its own reward.
    Do not buy this to wear in a city! You will look ridiculous to anyone who actually spends time on the trails, and you will be helping to keep the price high and the availability limited. There are far cheaper and much better options for those who will be riding the bus and hitting the coffee shops.

    • Christopher,

      I agree with pretty much everything you said about the Plasma 1000! Thanks for the super in-depth feedback. I don’t wear my parka in the city, either, as I wear my Arc’teryx instead. I’m really excited to get the jacket out again this coming season and hit some trails! Will be taking it along with me on the CDT in 2023.

      If you’d ever be interested in writing a gear review for the website, let me know! I’m hiring freelance writers.


  2. How much warmer than the Cerium LT is this jacket?

    I have a Cerium and find that it is only just barely warm enough for some of the evenings at camp that I do. It’s also heavier so…


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