Mountain Hardwear Nilas

FULL REVIEW

The Mountain Hardwear Nilas Jacket is a down jacket that fits really well and has great features. It did not provide me as much warmth as I had expected as the expedition continued. Though it’s still warm enough to block the weather on 8000m peaks.

The Good of Mountain Hardwear Nilas

The Bad of Mountain Hardwear Nilas

Warmth/weight performance of Mountain Hardwear Nilas

The Nilas is half the weight of a North Face Himalayan Parka or Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Parka. Also, it provides greater warmth than any other jacket. I used the layering system and it proved greatly versatile. I was surprised by the protection it offered despite its packability.

Design/features of Mountain Hardwear Nilas

The Nilas has great features though few flaws exist. For starters, the butter jersey cuffs are amazingly comfortable and squashy. They are much better than the previous Velcro cuffs. Moreover, the interior mesh pockets secure belongings such as food, water, or wallet really well. However, I found that the insulation was not well distributed i.e the sleeves were warmer than the back. Also, there are no pulls on the zippers so you cannot adjust them if you’re wearing any mittens or big gloves. (Of course, you may make your own out of thin cord or purchase after-market ones—just don’t forget about this when packing for your vacation).

Weatherproofing of Mountain Hardwear Nilas

The outer fabric blocked the wind pretty well without getting wrinkled. Though the jacket did start to leak down from a few spots after I returned from my Lhotse expedition. Also, the baffles in the back were particularly large and as a result, cold spots were developed. This wasn’t the case with the Nilas Bib.

Insulation of Mountain Hardwear Nilas

The Q-shield down is amazing and lives up to its reputation of an 850-fill rating. However, the down’s distribution was disturbed after clumsy expedition because of the large baffles in the torso.

Value of Mountain Hardwear Nilas

Nilas is a pretty expensive jacket costing $550. However, there are other competing items by the North Face and Mountain Hardwear that are more expensive. The fact that Nilas is a relatively more expensive option is because its price is not justified as it does not provide the warmth of a $550 jacket. There are other jackets like First Ascent Peak XV or the Patagonia Das Parka which provide better value overall.

Douvet is a very warm layer that may be used as a belay layer in the winter or as a high altitude layer on very cold peaks. Some excellent features, most of which are carefully thought out, and a couple that might be improved.

Nilas Jacket Review:

Almost every climbers know about the great Ueli Steck. His solo runs, especially the one on the north face of the Eiger, has brought him praise from around the world.Few people have become as fond of Ueli and his climbing as I have.. I have watched his free solo on the Eiger many a times and kept myself updated about his latest feats through his websites.

I was very excited when MHW announced that they were launching a new Alpine line inspired and designed by Ueli himself. As I used to be very brand loyal to MWH but then I lost my liking for them due to their stagnancy in recent years. The quality they always promised and delivered seemed missing in these last few years.

Last January, I was at the Outdoor Retailer show and I checked out the new Ueli-themed line of climbing apparel by Mountain Hardwear. The sales representative admitted that MHW had lacked up a little the past few year in terms of innovation but they were back in the game with this new Ueli line of apparel.

I’m a jackets enthusiast. When I heard about the Nilas which is part of Ueli’s line, I decided to get one for myself. It weighs the same as my Rab Nuetrino. I didn’t believe that a 22oz down jacket would be suitable for 8000m climbs. It was a painful purchase since the jacket costed a whopping $500. I also intended to get the Quasar Pullover but my size wasn’t available.

The Features and Stats:

Nilas is compared with the Rab Neutrino Endurance. This will be a like-with-like comparison since both jackets are the same weight. I have already done a detailed review of the Neutrino Endurance. Having said that, I believe the Neutrino is one of the best down jackets in the mid weight category.

Continuation of Features

– I am 6 feet 2 inches tall and I weight around 185 pounds. The jacket fits great over a t-shirt but it’s a little too big to put over a few layers. This size is perfect for me. The Neutrino is a little tighter.

– The hood is great as in it does not restrict head movement. There are two adjustments on the hood. One at the front for closing and one behind the hood. The hood is helmet-friendly.

– Neutrino as a point of reference. The hood is loftier, but it does not zip up as high in front. There are also two hood adjustments.

– The pull cords are relatively small. They are on the interior which means you have to unzip the jacket in order to adjust the cords. Though they don’t flutter in your face whilst in windy conditions. They are difficult to adjust with gloves on.

– The Nilas has two mesh pockets on the inside which are big enough to hold Nalgene bottles. The drawcords on the hem and the hood are almost the same skinny ones. However, there is only one adjustment on the hem. This makes it difficult to adjust the hem and there is a lot of a cord hanging out once the hem is cinched. The Neutrino has one zippered pocket on the inside and two adjustments on the hem which easier to adjust. As a result, the cord is divided between the two adjustments and there’s no extra cord hanging out of the Neutrino.

– Kudos to MHW, The cuffs on the Nilas are much more comfortable than those on the Neutrino. Although not adjustable, they keep the snow out and work great with gloves on. The add to the warmth at the hands.

To Sum Things Up:

The Nilas is an amazing jacket though I’m not sure if it’s better than the Neutrino. Both are equally lightweight and I think the Nilas has greater warmth than the Neutrino. The mesh pockets and cuffs are also a plus point for the Nilas as coTmpared to the Nuetrino. They both have the same adjustments though the Nilas is a bit more difficult to adjust with gloves on.

Although the Nilas is a better option overall than the Neutrino, I’d go with the Neutrino if I have the choice. The Nilas costs $175 more than the Nuetrino which is not justified according to me. However, I have not put the Nilas to its limit as I have only walked outside wearing it. I’ll update the review once I’m a bit more sure about its functionality.

People who have the money for it and want the best warmth to weight ratio always opt for Nilas. Nilas can be trusted as your warmest layer even up to Denali. I wouldn’t be as much confident with the Neutrino since it has vulnerable seams.

If you want a lightweight jacket and consider the Nilas slightly expensive, you should go for the Neutrino plus. It’s baffled and has more down than the Neutrino Endurance. It is sewn through and weighs 5 ounces more than the Nilas. It’s retail price is $400.

After a Couple Months of Use:

I’ve been using the Nilas for a few months now. I just used it for a week in Wind Rivers, Wyoming. Every time I wear this jacket, my admiration for it grows. The following are some of the characteristics that make this jacket a superb product:

In terms of warmth, the jacket is among the top three, if not the top three, lightweight jackets. Despite being 14 ounces less than the montbell alpine light down parka, the coats are equally warm. Though I haven’t been in severe cold (colder than 0 degrees F) with it yet, I start to sweat sitting in camp when it’s 15 or 20 degrees F and the jacket is zipped up.

Because the drawcords are too tiny, adjusting the hood with gloves is a chore. In order to pull the drawcords on the hood, you must unzip the jacket. The hem is considerably simpler to alter. It’s just as aggravating to loosen the cable. While I was out and about, the weather wasn’t very cold, so taking off my gloves wasn’t too difficult. However, in colder environments, such as Denali, taking off your gloves is a big annoyance. The Neutrino is considerably better designed in this respect.

The two interior mesh pockets are fantastic. They are deep enough that nothing, not even tiny objects like batteries, has ever fallen out of them. The elastic closure at the top of the pocket keeps everything in place. For further protection, I wouldn’t mind an interior zip pocket in addition to the mesh pockets, but I’d prefer have the mesh pockets and no zipped pocket than the other way around. These compartments can easily hold a litre Nalgene, gloves, a propane canister, a beanie, a wallet, and a GPS.

Downsides

Except for the thumbholes, the cuffs are well-designed. For someone my size, the sleeves are a little short. As a consequence, anytime I grab for anything, the thumbholes push against my thumbs. After a time, I stopped using the thumbholes because they were becoming irritating. Otherwise, the cuffs are excellent. They keep the hands warm by blocking the cold. They keep the cold out and are extremely comfy. Someone with shorter arms might not have as much trouble utilising the thumbholes as I did.

As a belay jacket, I really like the fit. This jacket is somewhat boxier than the Neutrino, but it is the perfect size for use as a belay jacket in my opinion. It feels tidy but not too tight when I put it over additional layers. There is no loss of loft in the jacket. Even when worn alone over a t-shirt, it didn’t seem overly big. The Neutrino fits well as a standalone jacket, however it feels a little snug when placed over additional garments. It’s not very unpleasant, but it does compress the skin somewhat. The Nilas is somewhat roomier, which I believe makes it a better belay jacket.

The face fabric and the liner material is great. The liner is squashy and feels very comfortable to the skin. The face fabric is great at weather blocking and is very light. I haven’t tried it in downpours except one time in a five-minute rain. The DWR worked great and a few hours of blowing snow couldn’t touch it.

Overall, I have started liking this jacket more than when I first got it. I think it somewhat justifies the $500 price. However, I still believe the heavier Neutrino is a better value for money.

Source: bought it new

Price Paid: $500

THE VERDICT

The jacket’s pros and cons sort of balance out. Overall, it’s a great product but it has a few downsides as compared with alternative options. It’s a high-altitude jacket that is lightweight and provides great warmth. It fits well and features great options like interior pockets and the cuffs. However, the insulation does not work well at expeditions as in it doesn’t spread adequately. Moreover, the fact that you cannot maneuver the zippers with the mitts on is annoying.