MontBell Ultra Light Wind Jacket
TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER
INITIAL REPORT - August 22, 2007
FIELD REPORT - October 29, 2007
LONG-TERM REPORT - January 7, 2008
asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
5' 9" (1.75 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids
are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do a few weekend
hikes per year, and have recently spent time over the past 2 years backpacking at the Philmont Scout
Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico and canoeing the Atikaki wilderness in Manitoba.
I like to travel "in comfort", so I often
pack a little heavier than needed, but I'm trying to cut down. With all of my
investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: MontBell Co.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: www.montbell.com
MSRP: USD $84.00
Listed Weight: 2.4 oz (74 g) for size M jacket
Measured Weight: 3.1 oz (88.5 g) for size XL jacket
Dimensions as provided (size M): 2.4 x 1.6 x 3.5 in (61 x 41 x 89 mm)
Dimensions as measured (size XL): 3 x 2.5 x 5.5 in (76 x 64 x 140 mm)
I received the Montbell Ultra Light (U.L.) Wind Jacket in the mail in an envelope that felt
like it carried just a few sheets of paper. Opening it up, I was pleasantly
surprised to find the jacket colored a natty shade of red, called by the company 'Deep Red'
(DRD). I took it out of its packaging, and found the stuff bag for the jacket attached to the tag.
As can be seen in the photo above, the jacket has a very wrinkly texture from
the nylon, and this did not change after taking the jacket out of the packing
and letting it sit. The jacket itself is a very lightweight fabric, rated as 15
denier ripstop nylon. As described on the product tag, the jacket is made out of
"Polkatex"-treated fabric, which for you chemists out there is a fluorinated
polymer that is supposed to provide long-lasting and washing-machine resistant
waterproofing. It has the feel of a very soft plasticized nylon.
The jacket itself has a single zip up the front. The zipper itself is very
lightweight but otherwise appears sturdy. There is a small pocket on the right
shoulder that appears large enough to fit maybe a credit card and a key or two,
but that would be about it. The jacket has a double thickness collar
all the way up, but no hood. There are also no pockets in which to put the hands.
The ends of the sleeves have a sewn fabric ring with slight elasticity around it.
It does not fit snugly around my wrists, but it is small enough to keep the sleeves
from riding up. The bottom also has small areas of elasticized fabric in the side
panels. Again, this does keep the jacket tight around the waist and hip area, but
prevents it from riding up.
As noted, the jacket comes with a small stuff bag made out of the same material.
The jacket fits easily into the bag, although as might be expected, it comes out
with its usually crinkly look. As shown in the figure, the stuff bag for the XL size
of the jacket is somewhat larger than the specs indicate (note the 1 in/2.54 cm grid in the photo)
but it easily squashes smaller than full size.
TRYING IT OUT
I happened to be carrying the jacket in its stuff bag on my way home from work
(where I had taken it to weigh it) when it began raining. I quickly pulled the
jacket out of its bag and tried to put it on. I was carrying a day pack and
trying to put the jacket on one-handed, which was a little difficult because the
jacket was flapping in the wind. Eventually, I got both arms in the sleeves.
As soon as I had it zipped up, I noticed an immediate difference. First of all,
the jacket does an excellent job at repelling rain. The rain was falling on the
jacket and beading up nicely. I also noticed that I could no longer feel the wind
that had kicked up the precipitation. Of course, I was without my hat, so my head
was still getting wet. When I got home, I gave the jacket a good shake, and the
beads of water went flying. It was dry within a few minutes.
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE JACKET
As noted above, I was actually expecting the jacket to be somewhat heavier, so I
am pleased by its low weight. Other than that, the jacket looks just like its picture
on the MontBell website, and so far, it is performing as expected.
For now, my plan is to carry the jacket with me to work in case I should get
caught out in another rain squall. I will of course be taking it with me on my
upcoming treks through the summer and fall months, and I'll be hoping for wind
and rain so that I can give the Montbell UL Wind Jacket a good trial. Additionally,
I am going to use the jacket when biking back and forth to work over the next couple
of months. I would like to assess not only the ability of the jacket to shield out
the wind and rain, but also to check the breathability of the fabric. I would also
like to see how warm it is, both by itself and in combination with a fleece underneath.
Finally, I expect to get the jacket dirty with wear and see how it does in the washing machine.
Please check back in 2 months for my Field Report on the Montbell U.L. Wind Jacket.
Thanks to MontBell for providing this jacket for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org
for giving me the chance to be blown away by this item.
Back to the Top
October 29, 2007
Since I received the Montbell UL Wind Jacket in late August, I have it with me
on three weekend trips in central Ohio. This has been a particularly warm fall
until the last week or two, and the temperature on each of the first two trips
was rather warm, around between 60-65 F (16-18C) at night and in the 80s F (28+ C)
during the day. On the third trip, the weather was cool at night (40 F, or 4 C)
but it was not windy at all. I have also worn the jacket once or twice when
bicycling when the temperature was around 55 C (12 C).
To date, I have not had a lot of opportunity to test the jacket for its main
purpose, which is providing protection from a blowing wind. I have, however, worn
it as an outer layer for the cold weather. Contrary to my initial impression, I
found the jacket roomy enough to wear a few layers underneath. When used in this
way, the jacket did a nice job of keeping in my body heat and keeping me warm. I
also wore the jacket during a brief rain shower. It was somewhat warm to wear over
a short-sleeve shirt, but it certainly kept me dry. It has no lining, so
the wet jacket tended to cling, but after the rain stopped, I took the jacket off
and shook it dry. I let it air for a few minutes, and then it was fine to re-stuff.
As mentioned above, I also wore the jacket for biking on some cool mornings.
On those occasions, I wore the jacket over a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt. After
a brief warm up, I had to unzip the jacket because I was getting too hot. When I
arrived at my destination (about a 30-minute ride), I was soaked with sweat, and
in fact, felt it necessary to re-hydrate on arrival. The jacket does not absorb
moisture, so most of the sweat was trapped on the inside of the jacket, but it
quickly dried when I took it off.
WEAR AND TEAR
As noted, I have carried the jacket around for most of the past 2 months.
It usually resides in its stuff bag, but I have not noticed any adverse effects.
When I pull it out of the bag, it is as wrinkly as ever (see the photos above) but shows no significant wear.
To date, I have been somewhat disappointed that I haven't been able to test this
jacket as thoroughly as hoped. The Montbell UL Wind Jacket blocks the air from going
both in and out, so I found it very warm during exertion, which was somewhat uncomfortable.
The jacket has functioned mostly as expected, although I thought it would be a little more
Now the weather is cooler (at least for the past 2 weeks), I am hoping to get a
better sense of the UL Wind Jacket's function under more appropriate conditions.
For the final part of the test, I want to see if wearing a wicking shirt
underneath makes it more comfortable as an outer layer. I will also try having
multiple layers on underneath and see how that affects its function for warmth
and dryness. I haven't actually needed to wash the jacket yet, but with more use
will come some more washing.
Overall, I have been somewhat pleased with the Montbell UL Wind Jacket, as I
love its portability and wind and water resistance. I don't think it is a great
piece for warm weather hiking because it gets too hot. I am optimistic that I
will like it better in the cool and cold weather, and I hope to get some
significant miles with it over the next two months.
This concludes my Field Report on the Montbell UL Wind Jacket. Please check in back in about
2 months for my final report on this item.
Back to the Top
January 7, 2008
The late fall and early winter provided a much better set of testing conditions for the Montbell UL jacket than the preceding two months.
For much of this time, I wore the UL jacket as my outer layer for my daily life. The temperatures over this time ranged from a low of about 30 F (-1 C) up to about 65 F (18 C). During most of this time, I wore the jacket over a regular shirt (my normal work garb) and a lightweight fleece pullover. I found that this combination provided adequate warmth for the 10-15 minute walk from the car to my office as long as the temperature was above about 40 F (4 C). Although the fleece contributed to this effect, I felt that that a lot of the warmth was due to the wind jacket's screening out the wind and weather, as I definitely noticed the difference when I wore my fleece without the jacket. On the days when it was particularly blustery, it was my face and hands that noticed the biggest difference, whereas my torso still felt fine. When the wind was blowing hard, I definitely felt the lack of a hood as a concern, although the high zip protected my neck fairly well.
I took the jacket with me on a long day-hike in the Mohegan State forest, in north central Ohio. The weather that day wasn't especially windy, and the temperature was around 60 F (16 C). I tried wearing the jacket during the hike, but it was just too warm for me. However, when I stopped for lunch and at the end of the day, I quickly began to cool off. When I put on the UL wind jacket, I felt much warmer and in fact was quite comfortable. I also wore the jacket on another day hike in central Ohio on a day when it was windy and much cooler, around 40 F (4 C). As above, I wore the jacket with just a shirt and a fleece underneath, but I did take a hat and gloves to keep the rest of me warm. Although my companions were wearing winter jackets, I really felt quite comfortable with the fleece/wind jacket combination, and at a much reduced cost in weight.
In terms of durability, I wore the jacket a lot over this time period, taking it on and off and stuffing it when I wasn't wearing it. The jacket has held up very well, and still looks as crinkly as it did when I unstuffed it for the first time. There are no noticeable rips or frays anywhere that I could see. I have also washed the jacket 2-3 times over this period, and this has not caused any problems.
A final word on fit: I am testing the XL, which fits me well with a light or heavyweight fleece underneath, but I don't think there would be room for many other layers. Part of this may be due to the fact that I have broad shoulders/chest, but I think that backpackers who are significantly bigger than I am should be advised to try it on before purchasing, as the XL is the largest size produced in this model.
Back to the Top
The Montbell UL Wind Jacket has worked very well for me as an outer shell for all types of weather down to about 40 F (4 C).
It provides good protection for both wind and rain, and I will definitely continue to take it with me as a layering piece when the weather forecast is at all dicey. It is especially comfortable when worn over another long-sleeved piece that provides a barrier between the skin and the jacket.
Things I liked about the Montbell UL Wind Jacket:
Things I disliked about the Jacket:
- Extremely light and compact
- Easy to stuff, and easy to extract from its stuff bag
- Very good at blocking the wind and rain
- Excellent durability
- Excellent job at retaining body heat
- No hood or pockets for the hands
- A little sticky if worn next to the skin
- Can be rather hot in warm weather
This concludes my report on the Montbell UL Wind Jacket. My thanks once again to
Montbbell for providing this excellent jacket for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org
for allowing me to participate in the evaluation process.
Read more gear reviews by Larry Kirschner