I first received this jacket spring 2013. Since then I've really put it to the test. These are the things I dig about this jacket:
Water/Wet Snow Resistant: Just this morning I forgot my raincoat when I set out for a half-day fishing adventure to the Ceran St. Vrain Trail. It has been an unusually wet year in Colorado. It rains almost every day. In my mad dash to clean out the car and get on the road, I threw all my extra jackets in the house, including my raincoat. So when I arrived to the parking lot, a storm already impending, I was a bit bummed. But, luckily I had my Ghost Whisperer stuffed under the seat. Though not water proof, it's water resistant and kept me warm and dry through a steady hour-long heavy drizzle. Furthermore, while the snug hood has no draw strings, it fits really well and kept me warm and cozy (even while I waded in my sandals through the frigid water). I have also worn this jacket numerous times in the rain while biking around town, bouldering, and just hanging out. It's so badass... it always retains its loft, warmth, and keeps me dry. I have yet to wear it in a total downpour... it wasn't designed for that.
Earlier this year in March, I wore the Ghost Whisperer to Eldora Ski Resort for a very cold and snowy afternoon of snowboarding. It wouldn’t fit under my fairly tightly fitted Arc'Teryx Beta LT shell, so I put it on over the shell. Mountain Hardwear infuses the jacket’s Shield™ Down fibers with a permanent water repellency that “helps maintain insulating performance even when exposed to moisture.” Subsequently, despite being pelted with snow all day and tumbling down the slopes, my jacket stayed totally dry, maintained its loft, and, most importantly, kept me toasty.
Weight: Because Colorado is blessed with strange and wonderful days of semi-warmth and sunshine even in the middle of winter, I was able to climb at some unknown granite crags in the South St. Vrain Canyon just a few days before I went snowboarding in March. I, of course, took my Ghost Whisperer. Despite the sunshine and 40-degree temps, winter winds still rip down the canyon from Rocky Mountain National Park and frigid shade, even on the north side of the canyon, arrives by 3 p.m. So having a warm jacket is key. In light- to mid-winds, this jacket is bombproof. For freezing temps, gale force winds, and snowboarding, I will still couple it with a solid shell. But, I was plenty warm with two lightweight base layers and my Ghost Whisperer, even after the sun disappeared and temps dropped quickly to the 20s. Made of what Mountain Hardwear says is “the world’s only true 7 denier by 10 denier fabric,” the material is strong and light. It is woven at just one mill in the world. My biggest issue with this jacket is that unless it’s tucked away or tied down, it will blow away because it is about as light as a handful of tissues.
Warmth: This jacket is warmer than some of the heavier, beefier jackets I own. And it makes no sense when you look at or feel it. But the down used is of the highest quality (850 fill). Plus, the quilted construction means there are no thin spots because the down stays in place. I would take this jacket either with or without the hood. For snowboarding I could have done without the hood. The first time I boarded with it, I layered it underneath my larger Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket, and I found that when I turned my head too far to the left or the right, the hood didn’t move with me—especially when the Alpine Jacket’s hood was cinched down—and I ended up having a bit of trouble getting a full view of people on the slopes behind and to the side of me. I didn’t have this problem when I used the hood of my favorite vest—the OR Aria. I’m fairly certain this is because the Aria has draw cords that cinch it down, and the Ghost Whisperer, while insulated, fitted, and “low profile,” does not have draw cords. Regardless, for most occasions I prefer the hood for the added warmth it provides.
It's Sturdy!: So I haven’t worn this jacket yet in a real, Indian Creek offwidth, but I have worn the Ghost Whisperer in chimneys, through tunnels, and while generally exploring the wild, untrammeled granite blobs high on the hills of the South St. Vrain Canyon. Plus, this jacket weathered the massive Front Range floods, during which I camped, cleaned flood debris off trees (i.e. trees, branches, wire, metal tables, etc., wrapped around trees that still miraculously stand by the St. Vrain Rivers), and otherwise navigated the massive wreckage that was Lyons, Colo. In other words, this jacket and I survived in a disaster zone for three months, and I was more worn out than the jacket’s ripstop nylon. I did read a few other reviews, and some people reported more wear and tear after a year of hard use—probably due to the super lightweight nature of the jacket. I’ve had the jacket for a year, and it's still holding up just fabulously.
Other Cool Things:
- The jacket packs into its own pocket, so you can clip it to your harness when climbing longer routes.
- It comes with or without a hood.
- It comes in jacket, vest, and parka form.
- It has two front hand warmer pockets.