Mountain Equipment Puff Jackets – Dewline & Skyline


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | April 12, 2017      
Skyline (left) and Dewline.

Skyline (left) and Dewline. Brothers, sisters, nearly identical twins.

Nearly every winter, I try one or two new puffy jackets. These down-filled warmth layers form an integral part of my kit. They’re what I wear on cold summits — or at chilly trailheads before I stim my metabolism with the climbing. They’re also my street wear for chilly European mid-winter wanders — or when we sometimes find ourselves in Canadian latitudes.

The trend lately has been thinner puffs with the “horizontal rib” “caterpillar” look created by constructing narrower down tubes. I don’t know who began that — it is ridiculous — resulting in thinner and colder jackets simply because the narrow tubes can not loft as thick as wider tubes, as well as every additional sewn-through seam being a cold spot. In all my testing over the years of sewn-through down jackets I never experienced the need for more tubes. Clothing companies will I hope move away from this, back to to wider tubes and fewer seams, or perhaps they’ll even figure out a way to build baffled (not sewn-through) jackets that are not too pricy.

(Some of the “caterpillar” jackets out there have even more tubes than these do! The extreme versions are clearly an impractical fashion piece, as a thick fleece would be just as warm, probably one third the price, and ten times more moisture resilient.)

Rant over. Dewline and Skyline are colder than previous Mountain Equipment puffies I’ve owned, but they still worked if I made sure to carry a robust mid-layer. Good enough for a review — though next season I’ll probably add a few grams and again carry a warmer puffy.

Skyline and Dewline are virtually the same design. Difference: Skyline is shelled with water resistant fabric and does not use water resistant down, while Dewline does _not_ have a water resistant shell but instead uses water-resistant down (my preference). Both jackets use what they call 700 fill down, though in my opinion the WR down lofts slightly less. The Skyline is definitely warmer — if dry and allowed to loft. But after wadding either jacket into my backpack after a dusting of snow, they were virtually identical in warmth. More, at times the Dewline was clearly at an advantage due to moisture retention.

Indeed, I remain unconvinced that down can be made any more reliable by covering it with various water resistant or waterproof-breathable fabrics. Down is incredibly sensitive to moisture. The only real solution is either WR down, or synthetic. Either used with lightweight shell fabric, that’s the magic formula in my opinion.

Both jackets are cut at what I consider to be the perfect length, well over the belt in the front and dropping a bit lower than that at the rear. The hoods will fit over a helmet, but I’d not call them “helmet compatible.” Best feature is the commodious inside breast pocket that’s large enough to easily stuff the jacket in.

Back to basics, these are indeed lightweight puff jackets. They’re simple, which I like. No wrist Velcro catching on stuff, no fancy hood trim, basic hem drawstring, three pockets. Skyline total weight 460 grams — Dewline total weight 442 grams.

Both jackets stow in their interior vest pockets. For us this is nearly a mandatory feature. Good to see.

Both jackets stow in their interior vest pockets. For us this is nearly a mandatory feature. Good to see.

Skyline, showing red hook-loop tab for rolling up the hood.

Skyline, showing red hook-loop tab for rolling up the hood.

Conclusion: Nice looking puffies at a good price. They’re well well made. AS with all “caterpillar” look jackets boasting smaller down tubes, they’re not particularly warm. Thus, as activewear or springtime insulation the Skyline and Dewline are fine, but if you you’re needing a “real” puff jacket for summit lounging or chilly lunch stops, look at other Mountain Equipment jackets (see below).

Shop for Dewline.

Or shop for the Mountain Equipment Vega, an offering with wider tubes, more fill, and more loft. Total weight 621 grams. This is closer to our ideal puff jacket, but I’d prefer it in the same super-lightweight “Helium” fabric used for the Dewline and Skyline.



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Comments

13 Responses to “Mountain Equipment Puff Jackets – Dewline & Skyline”

  1. MIke April 12th, 2017 10:15 am

    Don’t hate on the caterpillar stuff. Since it’s become hip and fashionable all the old school warm big tube puffy’s seem like they sell for 50% off.

  2. Lou Dawson 2 April 12th, 2017 10:17 am

    Aha, every cloud has a silver lining! Or, every puff has an alternate. Lou

  3. Mike Henrick April 12th, 2017 10:36 am

    Montbell has an excellent line of down jackets that are super light and warm with wide baffles. The Superior parka is easily my favorite light jacket and the frostline is a great value for a box baffled true winter jacket.

  4. DavidB April 12th, 2017 4:32 pm

    This is my puffy of choice for the cold – http://www.mountaindesigns.com/store/products/150032/md-pe-wl-down-sweater

    I do carry a Trew Gear thin down as a mid layer if things get stupid cold.

  5. Lenka K. April 13th, 2017 3:15 am

    Yeah, form over function, I’m glad you brought up the issue. I hope my old Nuptse will last for at least another ten years ;).

    As far as thinner outer fabric is concerned, I found that thicker fabric makes a puffy warmer, e.g. Nuptse vs. a “modern” light Phantom Jacket from Mountain Equipment. The Phantom has higher-loft down than the Nuptse and probably more of it too, but yet feels colder. The tubes, however, are thinner than on the Nuptse, so maybe it’s the too factors combined.

  6. Erik A April 13th, 2017 3:37 am
  7. See April 13th, 2017 10:07 am

    I think the skinny tubes are meant to show off the form of the wearer around town. In my opinion, super light material is ok if you have a shell that fits over the puffy without compressing the insulation.

  8. PNW April 13th, 2017 11:17 am

    While the skinny baffles are certainly sometimes purely for looks, I do think they can have a functional element too. Coming from the NW, where it’s never really that cold, I don’t need a jacket with 3 inch thick baffles for all but the very coldest days. I have both a Patagonia Down Sweater (thin baffles) and a big Mtn Hardwear something with big thick baffles, and I carry the Patagonia way more because it packs down smaller and the big one is overkill for the conditions I’m likely to face. So thinner baffles with correspondingly less down in them can make functional sense in some situations IMHO.

  9. See April 13th, 2017 12:56 pm

    I’m not sure it proves anything, but I have a Patagonia Ultralight down shirt and a Montbell down jacket (I think it’s called an Extralight) that are almost exactly the same weight. The Montbell has much larger cells and is considerably warmer. I like Patagonia stuff (I have a down sweater I wear a lot) but the down shirt is kind of a joke (imo). The Montbell, on the other hand, is a go-to piece.

  10. XXX_er April 13th, 2017 1:45 pm

    IME use a light puffy for -10 C or warmer and a big one for colder, find them on sale 40-50% off

  11. Aaron Mattix April 13th, 2017 5:06 pm

    Every puff has a pass?

    I was oblivious to the downsides of the caterpillar nanotubes; good to know when shopping for my next down puffy!

  12. Lou Dawson 2 April 13th, 2017 7:01 pm

    Aaron, they really can be colder, a bunch of seams, and the tubes simply can’t get thick due to the way the fabric works when stitched in the small tubes, without allowing a bunch of slack and then over stuffing. I could feel it on my back while shoveling snow during cold mornings. I was actually surprised at how much difference it made.

  13. Lou Dawson 2 April 28th, 2017 8:54 am

    Made some edits, turns out both jackets have what they call 700 fill down, but the Dewline has that down in the water resistant version.

    Point here remains the same, by going to the caterpiller look, the jacket is generally not as warm as one with wider tubes that lofts a bit thicker and has fewer cold seams.





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