Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Review

  • Ultralight Backpacker
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Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Overview

What if I asked you to walk into an outdoor gear store and pick out a single item of clothing that would have to function as your primary source of warmth? It would also need to pack into a tiny ball and be exceptionally light. You would also need to hike in it for hours, sleep in it on cold nights, and wear it nearly every day for weeks on end. What would you choose? You, like me, might feel a little overwhelmed at first.

But I’ve got your back. Skip the hassle of combing through every down jacket and settle in for the one that will get the job done. The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Jacket has been an ultralight staple for years because it fulfills each of these requirements and somehow weighs less than eight ounces with a hood.

High quality goose down is wrapped in impossibly light fabric for legitimate warmth. Then, because Mountain Hardwear knows us backpackers sometime hike in the rain, or spill water all over ourselves, they covered all the down in something called Q.Shield, which helps to repel water and keep you warm even if your jacket gets damp.

We’re calling out the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer as our Premium Pick for the Ultralight Backpacker because of its unmatched weight and warmth for the cost. Oh, and it’s available in a sweet array of colors.

While we don’t feel there’s a better choice for a high-end ultralight down jacket with a hood in this price range, the Ghost Whisperer Hooded Jacket does have competition. The operative phrase is “warmth for weight”, which links the two together. There are slightly heavier jackets that are a bit warmer, like the Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody or the Western Mountaineering Flash Hooded Down Jacket. Both will treat you right, but tack on another three ounces or so. There are also two Montbell jackets, the Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka and the Plasma 1000 Down Jacket, which rival the Ghost Whisperer for weight and warmth. The former is more expensive and the latter doesn’t have a hood, but they are both worth checking out.

Dig into down jackets in our comprehensive guide, and read the full Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded review below.

Ghost Whisperer Hooded Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 7.2 oz. (203 g) Basically the lightest down jacket on the market with a hood. Under half a pound!
Down Quality 800-Fill The higher end of down fill power. Extremely lofty, warm, and light.
Down Type Q.Shield Down Mountain Hardwear’s special water resistant down coating. Helps to repel water and dry out the down much more quickly. MH doesn’t specify if it’s goose or duck down, but it is certified by the Responsible Down Standard.
Fill Weight 2.53 oz. (72 g) Decent fill weight for such a light jacket. Very warm, but not “crazy” warm.
Shell Fabric Whisperer 7D x 10D Ripstop One-of-a-kind fabric designed by Mountain Hardwear specifically for this jacket. Incredibly light, surprisingly durable, and shiny!
DWR Treatment Yes The exterior of this jacket is DWR treated to repel light rain.
Number of Pockets 2 Two basic zippered pockets on the exterior of the jacket. Not much, but you don’t need much when you’re going ultralight.
Stuffs Into Itself Yes Stuff the jacket into either pocket. One pocket has a carabiner for easy clipping.
Adjustable Hood No Elastic hood is form-fitting, but not fully adjustable. Unfortunate, but it saves weight.
Adjustable Waist No Elastic waist is form fitting, but not fully adjustable. Unfortunate, but it saves weight.
Hood/Jacket Option Hooded and Jacket Mountain Hardwear offers the Ghost Whisperer in a Hooded Jacket and a regular (no hood) Jacket. We prefer hoods when you need warmth, but your layering system may be better without a hood.
Gender Men’s, Women’s Mountain Hardwear offers the Ghost Whisperer in men’s and women’s versions. The colors are updated yearly.
Sizes Available Women’s: XS-XL, Men’s: S-XXL Not a huge range of sizes, but covers 90% of people. It’s form fitting.
Manufacturer Warranty Limited Lifetime Warranty Warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship for the practical lifetime of the product. Normal wear and tear is not covered, but Mountain Hardwear has a great reputation on repairs. Email them if something (like a zipper) fails.
Retail Cost $350 A premium price for one of the lightest jackets on the market.

Gear Review of Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded

Origins: Easing You In

I’ll admit to being apprehensive as I packed the Ghost Whisperer Hooded Jacket into my backpack before departing for my thru-hike of the John Muir Trail. The jacket, which weighs less than my cup of morning coffee, would be my primary insulation layer on this trip. Would it be enough?

Mountain-Hardwear-Ghost-Whisperer-Hooded-review-desert-selfie
The Ghost Whisperer is certainly light, and warm enough for the desert, but what about the peaks of the JMT?

I assuaged my fears with the knowledge that the Ghost Whisperer has been a long time favorite of ultralight backpackers, and with good reason. Despite being on the market for years, the Ghost Whisperer is still a perennial classic for the reason that so many things become benchmarks in their respective categories: it works incredibly well.

The obvious way it works well is what had me worried in the first place: it’s crazy light. As in, could this possibly be warm enough, it feels like nothing!

The second way it works well is in sheer warmth. This proved to hold true during my three-week trek.

Mountain-Hardwear-Ghost-Whisperer-Hooded-Jacket-review-warm-in-the-morning
Stoked on warmth in the morning. The Ghost Whisperer Hooded jacket lives up to expectations!

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

We departed for the John Muir Trail in late August and while beach goers were still reveling in the peak of summer, in the high Sierras the nights were getting longer and the evenings brought the unmistakable chill of approaching fall.

On our second day of the trip, the approaching fall weather made itself known, and we summited Mount Whitney in a freezing cloud bank. We’d been sweating on the approach to the top, but once on the summit the biting winds and complete lack of sun meant that we both quickly donned all our layers. Throwing on my Ghost Whisperer in the summit hut I felt like someone had wrapped me in a warm blanket. Over the Ghost Whisperer I added my rain jacket and soon felt impervious to the elements!

Mountain-Hardware-Ghost-Whisperer-Hooded-review-mt-whitney-cold
Stoked for two reasons — signing the guest log at the top of Whitney, and being surprisingly toasty in freezing temps.

As we descended the sloping shoulders of Whitney and the wind died down, I found myself shedding my rain jacket once I started to overheat. The Ghost Whisperer layers well under other jackets and backpacks, and I especially liked that I could zip it all the way up without feeling like I was choking.

Digging Deeper

Mountain Hardwear has pulled out all the stops in their quest to make the Ghost Whisperer Hooded jacket as light and warm as possible. They use 800-fill responsibly sourced goose down, which is the higher echelon of down. (It does go as high as 1000-fill, so while this is good, it’s certainly not the “best” down out there.)

Mountain-Hardwear-Ghost-Whisperer-Hooded-review-logo-and-baffles
Solid zipper and super see-through shell fabric. Yes, you can see the down plumes through this thing.

The down is treated with Q.Shield, which coats the down in water resisting material.  The one time I got this jacket wet — while hiking through dripping trees after a rain storm — I found that the jacket kept me warm despite being damp and was fully dry by the next morning.

The exterior of the jacket uses the Ghost Whisperer fabric, a custom-made 7D x 10D ripstop nylon material. In case you’re wondering, yes, that’s a very low Denier rating. Buyers should be gentle with how they treat the Ghost Whisperer, but it’s not much less durable than other ultralight down jackets. The material can only be sewn by one mill in the world, and it’s sourced responsibly. I for one love seeing a large company like Mountain Hardwear taking steps to source their materials sustainably.

Mountain-Hardwear-Ghost-Whisperer-Hooded-review-zippered-pocket
Two zippered pockets are the only real features on this jacket.

There are exactly two pockets on this entire jacket, one of which has an extra loop sewn into it so it can be clipped to a carabiner. In keeping with the simplicity theme, neither the hood or wrist cuffs have and adjustable cords, but are instead elastic and lined with “Butter Jersey”, which feels soft against your skin and helps keep the cold out. Some might dislike the lack of adjustable features or pockets, but think of the weight savings!

Mountain-Hardwear-Ghost-Whisperer-Hooded-review-cuffs
Elastic cuffs and see-through fabric.

Comfort

The lack of features in this jacket actually make it perfect for thru-hiking. There are no extra draw cords or tabs to get pressed into your side while wearing it under a pack, and that same sleek design makes it comfortable to wear while sleeping. The hood boasts a similarly minimalist design, but with enough room to accommodate a hat or the all-important messy hiker ponytail.

Mountain-Hardwear-Ghost-Whisperer-Hooded-review-hood
Slim fitting hood for maximum coziness.

Durability

This jacket has made it through three thru-hikes in 2017 alone: the John Muir Trail, the California Hiking and Riding Trail, and the Silver Moccasin Trail. It has been on countless other backpacking trips, too, and still looks brand new — albeit a bit dirtier. Everything functions as it should.

When it comes to the durability on a jacket with a 7D x 10D fabric it’s all about how you care for it. If you’re kind to it — as in, pack it away when on the trail and hang it up at home — the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Jacket will last you for years to come.

Warmth

Don’t you just love it when you’re wrong? Seriously! When I first put on the Ghost Whisperer I had misgivings that it would be able to keep a baked potato warm — it was just so thin.

But there I stood atop Mount Whitney with not a view in sight because we were standing in a freezing cold cloud bank with snow on the ground. I was wrong, and I was warm, and it was awesome. Layer with a rain jacket for those windy days and the Ghost Whisperer could stand up to sub-freezing temperatures.

Mountain-Hardware-Ghost-Whisperer-Hooded-review-selfie
The Ghost Whisperer is warm enough.

Packability

I love a jacket that packs into its own pocket! This is especially important if you’re going to be cramming said jacket into the depths of your thru-hiking backpack along with everything else you’re carrying for the next three weeks.

Mountain-Hardwear-Ghost-Whisperer-Hooded-review-packed-up
If you need to you can stuff the Ghost Whisperer into its zippered pocket. There’s a handy loop for clipping it onto something, too! And yes, that’s the down plumes you can see through the fabric.

The Ghost Whisperer packs down smaller than a Nalgene bottle and comes with a handy loop for hooking it onto a carabiner.

Fit

The women’s version of the Ghost Whisperer runs very true to size and has enough extra space to layer a thermal underneath without being baggy. The men’s version however seems to run a little small — as attested by my boyfriend, who normally wears a medium. He suggests sizing up one size, especially if you plan to wear layers underneath.

Mountain-Hardwear-Ghost-Whisperer-Hooded-review-baffles-posed
A slim fit with a bit of room to layer underneath.

Grievances

There’s not a lot wrong with this jacket, but I did notice one thing through countless uses.

When I came upon this issue I thought I was going crazy, until my boyfriend pointed out that he has the same problem with his Ghost Whisperer. If you’re wearing the jacket with the pockets open, the teeth from the zipper will snag on the seam from the arm of the jacket — the one that faces your body on inside of the arm. I know, weird right? It’s not enough of a snag to damage the seam, but it is persistent and annoying.

Mountain Hardwear, maybe adjust the angle of the zipper teeth?

Final Word

Wearing the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer down jacket is akin to being wrapped in a big, warm, cozy ball of cotton candy: exactly what you want for cold days on the trail and chilly nights in camp.

Where to Buy Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer line of jackets is pretty much legendary at this point. They are used and abused by backpackers everywhere, so if you want something uber light and decently warm, grab this jacket. There are updated colors and small changes in fit from year to year, but Mountain Hardwear hasn’t significantly changed the jacket in a few years because it hasn’t needed to.

We recommend the Hooded version because we like hoods on items of clothing meant to keep you warm. Also, it’s only $25 more than the non-hooded version, and that’s not that big of a price difference. However, if you don’t want a hood, by all means consider the Ghost Whisperer Jacket.

The Ghost Whisperer line is often on serious sale — up to 50% off — so if you see the color and size you want, grab it!

Compare Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded and regular Jacket prices below.

kara kieffer bio pic

Kara Kieffer

Kara grew up a grubby tomboy in Boulder, CO, where she spent most of her time outside collecting rocks in her pockets, much to her mother's chagrin. Now, as a Los Angeles based art director and writer she still loves being outside and exploring every chance she gets. On any given weekend, you can find her backpacking, hiking, or running ridiculous distances up and down mountains. You can follow her blog, Wild Country Found, or check out her personal website for more information.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.

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