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Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Review

This high scorer offers high versatility, warmth, comfort, accommodation of movement, and light weight
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2
Credit: Mountain Hardwear
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $325 List | $194.99 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Incredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, effective hydrophobic down
Cons:  No hood cinch, no chest pocket
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By James Lucas & Buck Yedor  ⋅  Aug 21, 2022
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 12
  • Warmth - 30% 9.0
  • Weight - 20% 8.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 6.0
  • Comfort - 15% 9.0
  • Compressibility - 10% 9.0
  • Features - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody claimed the coveted Editors' Choice award for the best overall down jacket. This standout jacket features high versatility and warmth in a lightweight package. At a mere 8.5 ounces, the highly compressible piece can be stuffed into your pack without a second thought. This jacket includes an insulated hood and a hem drawcord to keep in body heat and despite these features still weighs less than nine ounces. With its athletic and form-fitting design, we love it as a stand-alone jacket to ward off cool evening breezes in the summer just as much as we love wearing it underneath an alpine shell while winter climbing or skiing. While it comes with a slightly higher price and its lightweight comes at the loss of a few missed features, this versatile jacket is easily one of the best we have ever worn, and one we highly recommend.

Editor's Note: We purchased and retested this award winner, putting it through the stringent side-by-side testing process that sets us apart from others. This review was updated on August 21, 2022, to reflect our current findings.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $194.99 at Backcountry
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$209 List$119 List
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Pros Incredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, effective hydrophobic downLightweight, stylish, high warmth to weight ratioStylish, comfortable, long torso provides good coverageInexpensive, fully featured adjustabilityLightweight, inexpensive, excellent for layering
Cons No hood cinch, no chest pocketExpensive, not super durableHeavy, minimal pockets, down is not hydrophobicModerate warmth, noisy material, no internal zip pocketsNo hood cinch, no hem cinch, loses feathers
Bottom Line This high scorer offers high versatility, warmth, comfort, accommodation of movement, and light weightIf you are looking for a warm, light layer for a trip where ounces count, this is a great selectionA classic model that does just about everything and does it all wellThis down offers the warmth and quality of more premium choices at an approachable price pointA good basic and affordable lightweight down jacket for moderately cold temperatures
Rating Categories Mountain Hardwear G... Arc'teryx Cerium SL... Patagonia Down Swea... MontBell Superior Down REI Co-op 650 Down...
Warmth (30%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Water Resistance (15%)
6.0
5.0
5.0
4.0
3.0
Comfort (15%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
Compressibility (10%)
9.0
10.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Features (10%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Specs Mountain Hardwear G... Arc'teryx Cerium SL... Patagonia Down Swea... MontBell Superior Down REI Co-op 650 Down...
Down Fill 800-fill goose down 850-fill goose down 800-fill goose down 800-fill goose down 650-fill goose down
Total Weight 8.5 oz 7.6 oz 14.9 oz 8.7 oz 10.4 oz
Baffle Construction Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles Sewn-through baffles
Main Fabric 10D ripstop nylon 100% nylon 100% ripstop polyester 10D nylon 100% nylon
Compression Method Zips into pocket Stuff sack Zips into pocket Stuff sack Zips into pocket
Pockets 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand 2 zippered hand, 1 zippered internal chest 2 zippered hands, 1 internal 2 zippered hands, 1 internal
Hoodless Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Built upon the success of the original Ghost Whisperer, this new and improved version made a good jacket better. Made from 100% recycled ripstop nylon that is DWR (durable water repellent) treated and stuffed with ethically sourced 800 fill goose down, just the skeleton of this coat makes it great. By keeping only the necessary features and making the basics work well, this jacket excels with its simplicity. With only two zippered hand pockets and an adjustable waist hem, the Ghost Whisperer works with a simple design for a piece of modern outwear. What's not simple is how well-tailored this jacket is for both movement and layering; combine that with its incredible weight-to-warmth ratio, and you really can't ask for more. While its water resistance is comparable to most of the other downs we looked at, this jacket excels in the dry cold.

Performance Comparison


Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 down jacket - the loft down used in the ghost whisperer 2 hoody will keep you warm...
The loft down used in the Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody will keep you warm when the temps are cold.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Warmth


The Ghost Whisperer 2 is a surprisingly warm jacket. The amazing weight-to-warmth ratio quickly made this a tester favorite. Whether they were looking for extra warmth for cold belays or gearing up for pre-dawn approaches, our review team quickly latched onto this piece as an essential part of their kit. As a stand-alone piece, this coat works for temperatures down into the upper thirties, especially if you're moving.


If you plan on using it as a belay coat, i.e. standing still for long periods of time or spending much of your day in sub-freezing temps, you will almost certainly want to layer this piece over a fleece midlayer. If temps are getting into or below the single digits, you will want to think about upgrading to a more serious cold-weather option. It performs equally well as part of a layering system or as a super-light single insulation piece. In terms of its warmth-to-weight ratio, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything better.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 down jacket - the athletic fit of the whisperer 2 hoody makes it the perfect down...
The athletic fit of the Whisperer 2 Hoody makes it the perfect down for climbing, skiing, or any other athletic pursuit.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Constructed using 800 fill-power down, we can honestly say that this jacket demonstrates how the quality of materials matter when it comes to warmth. The Whisperer ripstop nylon does a great job of resisting the wind, a crucial element in keeping out the cold with such a thin jacket. We don't think you will be disappointed.

Weight


On our scale, the Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody weighs a mere 8.5 ounces for a size men's medium; a close competitor, the Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody, weighs in at 7.6 ounces. With no drawcord in the hood, no Velcro on the wrists, two handwarmer pockets, ultra-light zippers, and no reinforced areas, the minimalist design of the Ghost Whisperer 2 couldn't get much more pared down. Consequently, Mountain Hardwear relies on some extremely light materials to further reduce the weight of this coat.


Made entirely from recycled materials, the ripstop nylon used on this coat is incredibly strong for an ultralight fabric but can still be susceptible to tearing. Down is the most efficient insulator per gram available, so naturally, it is the material of choice when attempting to make the lightest jacket possible. However, the combination of an ultralight exterior and down insulation can result in some hasty and necessary field repairs if you get bad enough tears. While we have not dealt with any tears in the past couple of years of testing, stories abound on the internet. Be careful and realize that when you opt for going the lightweight route, it comes at the cost of durability. Regardless, for offering such a lightweight and warm down, this jacket received top marks in the weight metric.

Don't need a hood? Check out the jacket version!
The Ghost Whisperer Jacket is similar to this model but without the hood. The main difference is that jacket is a little lighter than the hoody and saves you some money. We prefer a hood in most applications because it adds a lot of warmth and not much extra weight. But the hoodless version is easier to layer under other jackets. We highly recommend both models.

Water Resistance


In our testing, we found that the recycled nylon outer fabric, combined with a DWR coating, does a pretty decent job of beading up and shedding water — better than most of the other jackets we tested.


Although we aren't sure whether the chemical composition of the DWR coating has changed in recent years, it seemed to perform better in our testing than it had in the past, and the down is Q-shield hydrophobic down. After subjecting the jacket to our spay test, we found that after a continuous stream of water was applied, the down would eventually soak through and lose much of its warmth-trapping loft. You'll be fine in a passing shower, but as soon as you find yourself in persistent rain, you'll want to throw on a rain shell — as with any piece of down apparel.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 down jacket - the ghost whisperer 2 hoody relies entirely on its dwr coating for...
The Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody relies entirely on its DWR coating for any amount of water proofing.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Comfort


When it comes to comfort, the Ghost Whisperer fits much more snuggly and close to the body than most, but in a very good way. Although there was still enough room beneath it for a light layer, this jacket was clearly designed with movement in mind, and there was no hint of extra space or bagginess.


This jacket allowed great mobility in the shoulders, upper back, and chest, and also had sleeves that were plenty long enough, no matter what the arm position. If you intend to wear this jacket while moving, as we did, we think it presents pretty much a perfect fit. This fit made it comfortable to wear and easy to move in.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 down jacket - the fit of the ghost whisperer is very sleek, which makes it ideal...
The fit of the Ghost Whisperer is very sleek, which makes it ideal for layering over the top of, or wearing while being active. As you can see the hem and sleeves are plenty long, and we found there to be no restricting parts anywhere. This was easily one of the best fits of any down jacket.
Credit: James Lucas

Compressibility


This jacket belongs on your ultralight climbing or hiking gear wish list. The Ghost Whisperer 2 is highly compressible and packs away into one of its zippered hand pockets, leaving you with a tidy package that's small enough to clip to your harness. It is the smallest compressed hoody in this review, better than both the Arc'teryx Cerium LT, which came with its own stuff sack, and the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody, that similarly stuffed into its own pocket. This translated to the jacket fitting easily into any small place in our packs and on our harnesses for longer climbs.


The down regains its loft quickly after being compressed and is immensely durable. Throw it in your pack and forget about it until the cold reminds you it's there. It takes up less space than any other fully-featured insulated jacket that we've tested.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 down jacket - the ghost whisperer packs down into its own pocket fairly easily and...
The Ghost Whisperer packs down into its own pocket fairly easily and is lightweight.
Credit: James Lucas

Pro tip: Store this jacket in the closet and not in the bottom of your pack if you want to extend its lifespan, and don't be afraid to wash it!

Features


The Ghost Whisperer 2 is defined more by what it doesn't have than what it does. This piece is a minimalist's dream and will make others redefine what "essential" features really are. The elastic hood rim and cuffs lack adjustability but have no trouble keeping out drafts and keeping in body heat. This provides adequate protection and performance and keeps the grams down. In truly horrid squalls of wind, you might want the adjustability of a cinchable hood like that of the Rab Microlight Alpine, but overall we didn't find ourselves missing this often unutilized feature.


The two handwarmer pockets are placed high enough on the body of the jacket to not get buried under a harness. The hem sits low enough to stay under your harness when you're moving, and the sleeves accommodate a positive ape index when reaching. We wish this jacket had some internal stash pockets, like many of the other warmth layers we tested. Our testers also didn't care for the fact that the hem drawcord leaves a large loop of bungee cord hanging down below the waist for gear or brush to get caught on.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 down jacket - the ghost whisperer 2 hoody's small zipper can he hard to use in...
The Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody's small zipper can he hard to use in bulky gloves.
Credit: Buck Yedor

Other than the lack of pockets and the long drawcord, our other biggest complaint is how small the zipper is. This only becomes an issue while wearing bulky gloves, but nothing is more obnoxious than not being able to easily work a zipper when it's cold enough to be wearing gloves in the first place.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 down jacket - despite having no drawcords to help cinch up this hood, the elastic...
Despite having no drawcords to help cinch up this hood, the elastic rimmed face opening was well sealed against the cold, and fit very comfortably.

The Ghost Whisperer is designed for technical use — think climbing or backcountry skiing. It thrives in moderately cold temperatures where it can spend some of the time in the pack, and where the thickest and warmest of outer layers are not necessary. At the same time, the clean silhouette and athletic fit make this a great piece for cold-weather streetwear.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 down jacket - on a frigid fall day, hiking out to the upper gorge area to do some...
On a frigid fall day, hiking out to the upper gorge area to do some climbs in the sun and out of the wind. The Ghost Whisperer was the perfect active layer for this long hike.

Due to its thin construction, this is a good option for actually exercising in, rather than just waiting out the cold. It's also a great choice for mountain use in the summer when temperatures can fluctuate drastically, and a lightweight warmth layer can be very handy.

Should You Buy the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody?


The Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody is easily one of the best overall down jackets on the market. It is very light, super packable, and shows surprising warmth and water resistance for such a thin garment. While we think it was one of the best jackets in this review, we warn that it would not be our first choice as a cold-weather belay jacket where there will be lots of standing around, or for consistent single-digit or below zero cold as that found in Alaska or the high Himalaya. It is best used for active pursuits in moderate cold and has the versatility to serve as an outer layer or as a warm mid-layer. This jacket truly embodies the ethos of innovation and lightweight, and we happily recommend it to you, the reader.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 down jacket - the ghost whisperer moves as you move and was an ideal choice for...
The Ghost Whisperer moves as you move and was an ideal choice for chilly evening hikes in the fall, as we took here with Chip the dog to the backside of Smith Rock State Park, OR.

What Other Down Jackets Should You Consider?


When you compare price points, you'll notice that the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer outperforms many that follow it — and at a lower price. While this is our first pick in our line up, other jackets are also worth your consideration. If you're shopping on a budget, the Patagonia Down Sweater and Rab Microlight Alpine are top performers that will save you a little. If you want to save even more, consider our value picks, the Montbell Superior Down or REI Co-op 650 2.0.

James Lucas & Buck Yedor
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