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Thanks for the replies. One more question. For those who have purchased and/or tried Ghost Whisperer jackets: All things being equal (i.e., forget price), how would you compare the Rab to the Ghost Whisperer? I can read stats (the GW is lighter and has higher fill weight), I'm after "feel"--is the Rab warmer? I don't find the GW to be any warmer than any of the similar jackets...
@climbrocks We have dropped both jackets and so I am very familiar with both. The Ghost Whisperer is a backpacker favorite for being super light, but it is more of the 'down sweater' level of warmth (albeit with a hood). It basically replaces a thick fleece, and in a much lighter, more packable format. The Microlight Alpine is a proper down jacket with nearly twice the down fill as the GW. It uses slightly heavier, but overall much more durable, fabric (which also has the distinct advantage of not being so crinkly/noisy, or looking like a garbage bag). The hood is designed to retain warmth AND protect you from the weather. So the GW is roughly half the weight, half the warmth, half (?) the durability. If I had to recommend based on sports, I'd go with the GW for backpacking warm layer, otherwise my vote is on the Rab.
Mountain Hardwear has done a great job of promoting the GW in the US. Rab is well known internationally but fairly new to the US market, starting around ten years ago with limited products available. FWIW, I guide part time on Mt. Shasta and buy my own Rab clothing for that. I see a lot of guides wearing Rab, plus BD, Mammut, and Patagonia.
@dannymilks Wow, thanks a ton for the detailed reply, incredibly helpful. I'm in for a Rab hoodie. Anyone wanna buy a brand new Ghost Whisperer? (I was looking for something a bit thicker, but got a great deal on one...) Thanks again.