The Vault Regulars

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Montane Minimus Mountain shell jacket review.

The Montane Minimus Mountain jacket is a lightweight waterproof. Its only difference between this one and its brother the Minimus jacket is that the mountain version has two cavernous and extremely well designed midriff pockets. There are other reviews on this product and are generally positive ones.

I did what I have always said I wouldn't do and that was to buy a mountain jacket with an exposed zip. My opposition to this design was mainly to do with the trouble I had with my leaking OMM Cypher smock zip. However my opinion has been swayed with the success i had with my smock used on this years TGO Challenge made by Brenig but now available from Aclimatise. Also, the OMM problem was caused by the absolutely stupid 2 way zip design on the smock which eventually allowed water to permeate.

Cost of the Montane Minimus Mountain Jacket is:-. RRP £160. I paid £112 from Webtogs. The carriage was free and the service excellent.

The material  of the Montane jacket is Pertex shield+, a newish 2.5 layer fabric. 53gr/m sq. 15 denier plus 40 denier rip stop nylon with microporous coating and mesh pattern print to the inner.
Zips- Main, YKK aquagurd. 3 Pockets YKK reverse coil.
All the seams are micro taped. Supposedly to aid breathability.

Montane market this jacket in the following way.
  • Ultra light weight mountain rain wear.
  • Exceptional breathability statistics on par with a technical mountaineering shell. 25,000 mvtr and a 20,000 hydrostatic head.
  • Essential rain wear for any mountaineering activity in warm weather where short sharp downpours are expected.
  • Micro packability.
  • Activities - Mountain walking, high trekking, backpacking and mountain marathons.
Weight. Measured on my scales. Size Large 281 grams.

So having read all the above, how did it perform, you may well be asking?

The recent wet weather has given me the perfect opportunity to get to know it. And as with any product there are good and bad points.

I really like the style and cut. I chose a large size rather than my usual medium size because if it has been designed for racing snakes then it might not have fitted. I was correct the large was perfect for me.

The hood is very pleasing. Almost perfect. Almost as good as the OMM Cypher. Good adjustment at the back and the sides and has a wired peak. Easy to adjust on the go. It's also helmet compatible.

Jacket length, excellent, covers the bottom and with hem tensioners on both sides.
Sleeves are long enough to cover the hands so that the need for gloves can be delayed. The cuff is quite wide and velco closures work well.

Pockets, 1 chest pocket, not huge but good enough for a phone, gps, music player or keys etc. 2 midriff pockets and as I have already said above they are cavernous, well designed and don't interfere with my rucksack straps. Well done for this feature Montane.

On the outside of the shell at the back of the neck is a hanging loop as well as one on the inside. A number of reflective patches are located on the sleeves and body.

The fabric has been treated with a DWR coating.

So what is there not to like about this jacket from a well know and respected company like Montane.

The hood's wired peak is not great and is a little short in my opinion. It deflects quite easily.
Even worse the jacket leaks like a sieve. Disappointingly after only one and a half hours walking without a rucksack in light rain I felt water run down my back. I thought I was dreaming. It couldn't be leaking could it. I went home and when I took the jacket off my hair was wet through and water was running off my head and down my back. My shoulders were wet as were my sleeves. Checking the inside of the jacket it too was wet through. All the dark spotty patches on the inner (see image below), is where water came through the fabric and also which is not quite clear was the sweaty patches on the back, so breathability is questionable from my experience, considering my walk was far from being strenuous.

So looking back at the marketing blurb above and noting how many times the word "mountain" is referred to, I'm at a loss to see where Montane are coming from. If I had gone for a mountain walk today instead of a local walk I could have been in trouble.
Its such a shame because there is so much to like about the jacket but at the end of the day being dry is the most important feature required from a mountain jacket and this does not deliver what Montane say.

I have now sent it back for a refund.

During this test I also wore a pair of Outdoor Research Helium 2 over trousers which are also Pertex Shield + 2.5 layer. Not a drop of water came through the fabric.


Anonymous said...

I never got to test my Minimus jacket properly,nut I found it sweaty and gave it away. I'm waiting to test my Marmot Essence jacket properly, but initial reaction is that it is good. It needs a proper test though.

AlanR said...

Its a real shame Robin, its a nice piece of kit. Good luck with the Essence.I expect to read about it soon.

Marc_1970 said...

Might be a defective jacket. I have the Minimus Smock which pretty good, lets no water in. Pertex Shield+ isn't the most breathable material. I also have a Rab Volt which is one of my favourite jackets and a different material to that used by Montane. It's a lot softer material which might make a difference. I think it may be the compromise of extreme light weight that makes the Minimus less breathable than a jacket like the Volt.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the lack of waterproofing - I've a new Minimus and it soaks through quite quickly. Wouldn't use it GB. OK for a lightweight reserve where you don't expect it to rain. Dissapointing.

AlanR said...

Hi Mark. You could be right of course. The Volt is different, being stretchy and also 85gr/sq.m. with 30 denier weave. According to the specs the minimus should breath better than the Volt. The volt being 10,000 against the Minimus 25,000 mvtr.

AlanR said...

I think its a travesty that a company so well respected as Montane can say this is a mountain jacket. I was hoping that it was a faulty jacket but you have confirmed I am not alone here. But why are there such great reviews about it being a super waterproof when its looking quite the opposite.

Marc_1970 said...

The thing is, if the jacket performed the same as a heavier jacket, why would we need the heavier jackets. Thanks for posting the review Alan.

AlanR said...

Mark that was at the back of my mind to. I was not expecting a full winter performance and I didn't buy it as a replacement for one. But the specification and the target marketing as writen by Montane needs to reflect honestly what it is capable of. New materials and finishes are becoming better and allowing lighter designs. If the jacket I have tested is within spec then they are way off the mark as to what a mountain jacket needs to be, even in the warmer months.

Marc_1970 said...

Which would mean unfortunately for Montane that the jacket is not fit for purpose.

AlanR said...

A summer, low level, showerproof. But then you wouldn't expect to pay £160 for that.

Al said...

I think you've got a bad'un there Alan...I have this jacket (in the same colour) and not a drop has come thro! It's seen a fair bit of rain, I bought it on the back of buying a Montane cycling jacket made out of the same stuff. Not a drop thro that either, and very breathable. Believe me I cycle at a fair pace, very little condensation either (although I don't wear a sac on the road bike)
I wouldn't give up on Pertex Sheild 2.5 if I were you!

AlanR said...

Hi Alistair, Thanks for your comment. So do i take it that when you use your jacket in the rain you don’t get the mottle effect that is highly visible on the inside shown in the photograph? As you will be aware i am a regular reader of your adventures so i know your cycling prowess and appreciate what you say about the Pertex Shield +.
I am however reluctant to gamble again with Montane’s version. I may try another. Its a pity the OR Hellium 2 jacket has been discontinued as this was my first choice. Robin’s suggestion of the Marmot is interesting as well as Rabs Spark to name 2 options. However the Rab Sparks sleeves are made with Orang Utan’s arms in mind. I tried one on and no joke it was 8 or 9 inches too long.

Alan Sloman said...

That sounds like a complete disaster!
I'm really not sure about Montane's promises. About a year ago I bought a Montane Volt shirt (actually it's a hefty mid layer fleece - odd calling it a 'shirt') and it has been very disappointing - the arms bobbled amazingly badly and very quickly. It doesn't detract from its function, but it looks a total mess. Their blurb said it was "hard wearing." Based on my experience and having read your review of this jacket i won't be parting any of my cash on Montane again.
Good review, Al.

AlanR said...

Hi Al,
I was full of hope for this jacket and so i am now in complete disappointment. Alistair seems to have been lucky with his but how can one jacket be excellent and mine total rubbish from such a renowned Co. like Montane. I looked perfectly ok and the seams were fine. It just leaked directly through the fabric in a very short period of time. If my jacket had been used in the waterproof and breathability testing they would have been back to the drawing board and Pertex Shield + wouldn’t have seen the light of day. Sorry to hear that you have had similar disappointing results. Maybe marketing and manufacturing design don’t talk to each other or when they do they are having a night on the town because the blurb is utter nonsense obviously.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alan, digressing slightly but I have a Jack Wolfskin Vapor Trail XT, which is probably a roughly comparable jacket and is in the same price bracket; it uses one of many derivatives of JW's Texapore fabric.

I've been generally pretty happy with the jacket and its waterproofing has stood up well on some pretty wet days. That said, the breathability has been disappointing on the warm, wet days of which we get plenty, and - because I tend to run quite hot - this was one of the reasons why I lightened up on my waterproof. Bottom line though is that, although it doesn't let water in, I still quite often end up wet.

Martin Rye said...

Some Montane kit is superb. Terra pants rule. Lightspeed still the best windproof shell for many. One of the best I have. Shame on this mind you Alan. I dialled out light shell tops way back. Hammering it down tonight walking home. RAB Bergen on, and toasty warm and dry as a bone inside it.

Al said...

Hi Alan, No neither jacket has had the "mottle" effect when almost looks like its been contaminated by some kind of aerosol at some point? Who knows what might have been sprayed about that day in the factory....or at some other point in its life?

Al said...

I should point out Alan that I have NO connection with any outdoor company!
I can only speak as I find, and although I put many trips on my blog, however many trips both by bike and walking don't find their way on there!
I haven't found it necessary to wash either jacket yet..perhaps that might b###er them up!
Just as an aside, a good mate and very experienced hillman (member of SARDA) bought a pair of overtrousers (RAB or Montane, can't remember) made from the pertex-shield fabric. After my experience with firstly the cycle jacket. He's delighted with the performance of them prefering them to the much admired Berghaus Paclites.
We all have a different set of parameter's......

AlanR said...

Hi Al, I wouldn't mind at all if you did have. That's what blog comments are about and why blog reviews offer mainly unbiased opinions. As I also put in the main review I too used a pair of Pertex Shield + over trousers and they are great.

AlanR said...

It's all very weird. I have enquired about the fabric with another company who shall remain nameless at this point. Cutting the story short the jacket should have done far better than it did but I was recommended not to backpack with it.

AlanR said...

OS's its all relevant stuff. Robin said he gave away the jacket because of being very sweaty. Now if it is supposed to have the property of being highly specified in this very department why are people finding it too sweaty. Something is not right. Again why do some 2.5 layers have pit zips if breath ability is so good. Again it doesn't hold water, excuse the pun.
In my case, I was not at all even close to getting sweaty as my walk was flat, mainly along a canal towpath and I was ambling.

AlanR said...

I a! In agreement with all your points Martin. Although I was very disappointed with my Ran Bergen OT's. Sheila's Bergen jacket has been brilliant.

FellBound said...

Not at all good, Alan, but was good that you could get a refund. In 40 plus years I have never had the perfect jacket. What many might find surprising is that the one I am still overall most satisfied with, and confident about, is my Berghaus Paclite which I have used on the last two TGO Challenges.

Jules said...

I have a Rab Bergen jacket, chosen after much deliberation a couple of years or so back, an experience I wrote about here:

I like the Bergen, and would classify it as a good all-rounder - light enough to carry, waterproof enough on pretty wet days, and tough enough if worn all day under a pack. I would imagine, therefore, it would be about right for what you wanted (at least the version I have, around 4 years old, I guess). BUT it is heavier than this Montane.

Perhaps it is the constant drive for lightweight that is actually serving up products that might not be fit for purpose? Breathability in the UK can be a problem, because of the relatively warm, wet conditions we usually have. Maybe the answer is a "heavier" out, and less beneath it? I don't know - but it's an interesting, thought-provoking post!

Jules said...

Would it be too cynical to suggest that products that meet the "lightweight" tag, but which actually wear out or fail sooner, is good business for suppliers? Change that jacket every 2-3 years, not every 5? Do we sometimes forget that, from the manufacturers point of view, at the end of the day it is ALWAYS about profit and shifting units?

AlanR said...

Hi Jules, What i class as heavier waterproofs, amazingly now above 400 grams, i am quite well off. The smock i used on this years Challenge is still showing very little wear and will cope with anything this winter offers. I also have a few other older ones as most people of my age (61) do have. And my Cypher smock is ok but i wished i had gone for the jacket instead.
Hence the idea of me going for another very light weight jacket was to use instead of the Cypher, more as a windproof and rainwear for the summer but when i read the spec for the Mountain Jacket i thought it sounds ideal for my day out walks and maybe the odd lightweight backpacking overnighter for 3 season use. So i went for it. It is a lovely jacket and i am bitterly disappointed with it’s lack of proofing and breathability. I know the Bergen jacket very well btw as Sheila has been using one for about 6 years. It is still excellent and will be used again this winter. I would recommend it without a quibble.
I see your second comment (Thanks), you may well have a point there. My feeling is that Berghaus and Gore-Tex have done so well with the Paclite range that the others have tried to jump on the bandwagon with there own fabrics.

AlanR said...

Hi Dave, Webtogs have a good money back guarantee but it was first time out straight from the bag and so i think that any retailer would have to refund you.
The Berghaus Paclites have a strong following, and rightly so, which means it will probably be discontinued very soon. Ha.

markswalkingblog said...

Hi Alan, Interesting post. I looked at the Minimus but went for the Rab Myriad instead which has been good in some pretty bad rain during my 4 day walk in the Lakes back in August. Difficult know whether it was a bad-un or not which is rather frustrating!

AlanR said...

Hi Mark. Yes i am rather at a loss to know too. This was my first piece of kit made from 2.5L Since this post i have read many other pieces about the 2.5 layer having problems. I have been advised (by a manufacturer) that if i want to use it for backpacking that i should have gone for the 3L. What is really strange is that people like Al in the above comments have found it to be adequate with no sign of water ingress. My view now is that you take the 2,5L out with you when you generally feel it isn’t going to rain but you may get the odd shower. Any prolonged rain then you need a more substantial jacket.

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