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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > MontBell Nomad Parka > Test Report by David Bradish

MONTBELL NOMAD PARKA
TEST SERIES BY DAVID BRADISH
LONG-TERM REPORT
February 22, 2009

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: David Bradish
EMAIL: davebradishATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Southern California USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 2" (1.88 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I started hiking in my teens in Arizona and New Mexico, primarily focusing on winter hiking. Since 1991 I have hiked a lot with my brother-in-law Ray mostly in California's Sierra Nevada range, and the southern mountains. In winter I bring as much gear as necessary to be safe and comfortable. For 3-season hiking I try to follow the principles of ultra light.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: MontBell Co LTD
Web site: www.montbell.us
Product: ClimaPro200 Nomad Parka
Size: Extra Large
Year manufactured: 2008
MSRP: $139.00 (US)
Weight listed: 1 lb 4 oz/0.57 kg
Weight measured: 1 lb 7.7 oz/0.67 kg
Color: Black

IMAGE 1
Picture from MontBell


INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

While the ClimaPro200 Nomad Parka is listed in with MontBell's soft shell outerwear it is actually a combination of hard and soft shell construction. The main parts of the Nomad are made from a four-way stretch material called ClimaPro. This 75 denier fleece is treated with DWR for waterproofness and they claim that it provides two times the windstopping ability of regular fleece. It has a lot of stretch and seems to move quite well with me.

The outside of the ClimaPro is smooth and tightly woven. The inside is very fleecy and warm feeling. According to the hang tag about ClimaPro it is supposed to wick body moisture away from the skin

The hood, tail and cuffs are made of Breeze DryTec fabric. This is like the hard shell fabrics found on all of my other hard shell parkas and jackets. It is not lined but has a textured finish on the inside. It is made in a very small ripstop patten.

The hood seen below has what I would call an alpine cut in as much as it comes high on the face when closed. I have found this style works very well in blowing snow. It has a somewhat rigid brim and draw cords on each side to pull the sides of the hood down. It does not close the top portion of the hood around the top of my face. The hood is large enough to wear a climbing helmet under it if needed.

IMAGE 2
Picture from Montbell


The Nomad has a full zipper that has a storm flap behind it to keep the wind and rain out. On the left chest area is a vertical pocket with a curving concealed zipper. The MontBell logo is above it.

Concealed zippers are also used on the two vertical hand pockets on the sides of the coat. Inside these pockets are draw cords that when pulled close the waist of the Nomad to keep wind and snow out. The cord locks for these are inside the body of the parka at the bottom of the zipper. The side pockets are backed with soft mesh fabric that lets the Nomad be vented when the pockets are opened.

All of the zippers have plastic pulls attached to make it easier to use with gloves on.

The body and sleeves have been put together in a way so as to keep the seams off the top of the shoulder. This should be more comfortable when carrying a heavy winter backpack.

On the left sleeve is another small vertical pocket made of the Breeze DryTech that has been laminated on. I may try to keep sun block or lip balm here, or maybe my hiking permit.

The sleeves end with an 'Alpine Cuff' system. This uses both elastic and Velcro to keep them in place on my wrists.

The Nomad is exactly what I expected after viewing it on MontBell's web site and I am looking forward to getting it out in some winter weather. It is a bit early for snow yet, but I will use it in place of fleece for the end of fall and beginning of winter.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I used it on a one day 23 mi/37 km trip to Mount San Gorgonio. It was 35 F/1.7 C at the trailhead. At the 11500'/3505 m summit it was 31 F/-0.6 C with a wind chill of 17 F/-8 C. It was very windy for the high portions of the hike.

I used it on a one day 27 mi/43 km hike on the PCT from Green Valley to Vasquez Rocks We did 5000'/1524 m of altitude gain with temperatures from 43 F/6 C to 70 F/21 C. There was no rain.

Next was 42 mi/68 km two day trip in the Tehachapi Mountains just south of Sequoia National Forest. The temperatures were from 35 F/2 C to 66 F/19 C. There was no rain.

I also used it for a day playing in the snow with my daughters at Snow Valley near Big Bear California. There was about 4'/1.2 m of snow. The temperature got up to 42 F/6 C which made for some wet conditions in the afternoon.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

water dropsThe Nomad Parka has been interesting. As a rain coat it worked very well during the heavy rains that southern California was hit with in December. While I was not hiking during them I used it for 5 days visiting job sites and running around. I was worried that the soft shell areas would wet-out but that never happened. The DWR used by MontBell is the best I have ever seen. Water beaded up and ran off like mercury. I took a picture of some water drops on the arm to show how well it beads up. There is so little surface tension because of the good DWR that the droplets look like balls. They literally fly off the fabric. I am very impressed.

The hard shell areas work as well as all similar materials I have used. While shedding the rain with ease the hood never got clammy inside. The textured inner finish works much better than my other single shell garments in this case. Here too I am very impressed.

The parka worked very well as a wind breaker too. On the climb of Mount San Gorgonio we were hit by high winds as soon as we got above 10000'/3050 m elevation. The Nomad blocked it well. I kept it on the rest of the way to the summit where it was so windy I almost got blown off while waiting for Ray to take my picture standing at the USGS marker. I wore it until I got back down into the thick trees. Here is a picture at the summit.

on the peak of San Gorgnio


The problem with the Nomad is that there is not a good way to vent the parka. When I was climbing I needed it to block the wind but I was getting very hot inside. I took off one of my long sleeve base layers but it did not help too much. I also unzipped the pockets but as they sit tight against the body they did not help much. If I unzipped the front the wind froze me. Zipped up I was hot. I think this parka would greatly benefit from the addition of underarm zippers. Going back down to the trailhead I was not as hot and the Nomad was fine.

As just a coat the Nomad works well too. I wore it in camp at night just sitting around and in the morning as we broke camp. I would start out wearing it and take it off once the sun warmed everything up.

I do not use a stuff sack for it but just stuff it into the top of my pack where I can get to it fast if it rains or I get cold.

I have seen no wear from use or stuffing at this time. As the holidays are past I expect to get out on more trips. Please come back in two months to see how it worked out on them.

hiking


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I took the Nomad on an overnight trip to Mt San Jacinto State Park. I had it on in rain at the beginning of the trip and in snow at the top. I got sick and ended up going back the same day. It was 22 F/-6 C at 9100'/2774 m elevation.

I also used the Nomad parka on a one day 15 mi/24 km hiking and climbing trip in the Angeles National Forest near Mt Baldy. The temperature was 30 F/-1 C when we left the truck.

I wore the Nomad as a rain coat at least 6 days visiting job sites in southern California as we have had a lot of rain again.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have felt like I live in Seattle with as much rain as we have received for the start of 2009. And thankfully, I have had the Nomad parka to keep it off me. I like it so much that I keep it in my truck now.

Hiking it has done even better. It was raining when I started a hike to Tamarack which turned into snow at higher elevation. It was cold so I had it on over both light and medium weight fleece tops. I was not feeling well and ended up going back. It dropped snow on me for about an hour hiking back. The Nomad shed it without a problem. The wind was blowing and I had to close the hood a lot. That worked well too. In fact the hood with its stiffened brim works better than those on any of my other coats.

Another positive aspect is the pockets. They are warm when I have to stick bare hands in them and they are roomy enough to shove a hat or beanie in.

On our trip to climb three mountains I started off in the Nomad but got too hot to keep it on. I would take it off for a while and then have to put it back on because the wind would be too cutting. Again I wished there were some pit zips in the Nomad.

The Nomad is still in great shape. I have washed it once so far. There are still no quality control issues or undue wear. In fact there is no wear at all even where my backpack sits.

SUMMARY

The Nomad works very well. It fulfills the intentions of the manufacturer and was exactly what they portrayed it be in their advertising and online information. I like the way that the parka looks, as it is nice enough to wear around town. But, as I think about the usefulness of it compared to its weight I think that I would be better served with just a rain shell with pit zips. The soft shell part adds a half lb/0.23 kg over my regular shell and it takes up more room in my pack. Yet it still needs layers underneath it in cold weather.

Likes
Warmer and more comfortable than a shell
Waterproof
Looks nice
Hand warmer pockets

Dislikes
Lack of pit zips
Heavier than a shell

This concludes my test of the Nomad Parka. My thanks to backpackgeartest.org and MontBell for letting me test it, and being introduced to soft shell technology in doing so.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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