Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside

Is a down jacket a must-have for a Mount Washington ascent?

I’m climbing Mount Washington for the first time this winter. I have The North Face’s Mountain Light Jacket and Denali Jacket. Do I need a down jacket too? Dan Wilmington, Vermont


The North Face’s Denali ($165; is one of the more formidable fleece jackets out there. It’s made with heavy 300-weight Polartec, has reinforced shoulders, and comes with elastic cuffs and a drawstring waist to help keep warmth in. And The North Face’s Mountain Light ($299) is a classic heavy-duty hardshell, made with Gore-Tex Pro Shell fabric. Throw in some wool underwear (Icebreaker midweight Original Zip, $90; and you have a pretty formidable cold-weather combination. You’ll want a similar layering system for your legs.

The North Face Nuptse Jacket

Nuptse Jacket

But, as you well know, Mount Washington has some of the worst weather on the planet. You can expect wind chill well below zero, and the chance of extreme winds. So, yeah, I think you need a down parka. A pretty heavy one. Check out Marmot’s Parbat MemBrain Jacket ($325;, which has down insulation and Marmot’s temperature-sensitive shell material that allows more breathability when you’re working hard. You seem to like North Face stuff, so the Nuptse from that company ($199) would work as well. For a premium piece, get the Feathered Friends’ Frontpoint with eVent shell material ($424; That will offer unmatched warmth, breathability, and weather protection.

I’d size it to go over the Denali, certainly. That should mean it’s also big enough to be used as an over-layer in case you need to layer up in a hurry and don’t want to take the time to strip off the Mountain Light. Lots of hikers/climbers take that route.

Good luck! Check the weather forecast carefully before you go.

You’ve seen our picks for 2007 Gear of the Year, and now the entire Outside Summer Buyer’s Guide is online. Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including jackets.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Mountaineering
Lead Photo: courtesy, The North Face