Mountain Hardwear Nilas Jacket ReviewMarch 19, 2014
- Light! Half the weight of true 8000m outerwear
- The fit for climbing is excellent: simple and stripped down
- Butter jersey cuffs are amazing and comfortable
- The face fabric offers a lot of protection without feeling too stiff
- Just the right number of pockets for an 8000m summit day
- No zipper pulls—a huge oversight for mitt users
- Requires another insulation layer on really cold days
- Insulation not as well distributed as with the Nilas Bib
- Insulation didn’t hold up particularly well
The Mountain Hardwear Nilas Jacket is such a mixed bag. It has a huge upside and a lot of potential but there are some serious shortcomings when compared with competing pieces. It’s light, it’s pretty warm for a high-altitude jacket, it has a good fit, and it has a few nicely thought-out features, like the cuffs and interior pockets. But the insulation didn’t hold up well through the expedition, it did not stay well distributed, and there were some unacceptable oversights, like that fact you cannot manipulate the zippers with mitts on.
The Nilas Jacket is a well-constructed and nicely-fitting down jacket—no doubt about that. I didn’t find it quite as warm around camp as one may expect, particularly as the expedition progressed. However, it was still quite warm enough for my needs on an 8000m peak as the capstone of a modern layering system.
This isn’t the warmest jacket out there, but at half the weight of a North Face Himalayan Parka or Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Parka, it packs quite a punch. I used the Nilas as part of a versatile layering system and was blown away by the protection it offered given its packability.
Some good, some bad here. I loved the butter jersey cuffs. They are soft and comfortable—a huge upgrade from Velcro. Also, I’ll give a big thumbs up to the large mesh interior pockets for water, food or that spare headlamp. I found the location of some of the insulation to be a bit strange—for example, it almost seemed like the sleeves are warmer than the back. The zippers lack pulls, which means that you can’t adjust the jacket with bulky gloves or mittens on (you can obviously build your own out of thin chord, or buy after-market ones—just don’t forget this in the midst of packing for your trip).
The face fabric offered a great deal of protection from wind and spindrift without feeling too “crinkly.” The jacket did develop a couple spots that got cut or started to leak down by the end of my Lhotse expedition. Unlike the Nilas Bib, I did find that the baffles in the torso, particularly in the back, were somewhat too large or misplaced so that I developed colder spots.
The Q-shield down is impressive and it is true to its 850-fill rating. But after an expedition of abuse and certainly after washing the garment, the down became poorly distributed, particularly with the large baffles in the back.
The price tag of $550 makes this a fairly expensive jacket, although it is a bit cheaper than competing (and heavier) items from The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, etc. That said, it may be a bit expensive for what it offers in terms of warmth, and there may be better values to be found in the First Ascent Peak XV parka or the tried and true Patagonia DAS Parka.