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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > MontBell Nomad Parka > Test Report by Jason Boyle
Montbell Climapro 200 Nomad Parka
Initial Report – October 20, 2008
Field Report - January 6, 2009
Long Term Report - March 6, 2009
The jacket is full of features. There are four zippered pockets on the jacket. Two handwarmer pockets, a chest pocket on the left side, and laminated wrist pocket on the left arm. The hood has three adjustment points – a hook and loop tab in the center back of the hood and an elastic cord and lock on each side of the hood. The brim of the hood seems to be a small plastic tube of some sort. It is not moldable, but does offer a little bit of support to the brim. Each cuff has a little bit of elastic and a hook and loop fastener to seal off the cuffs. Inside each of the handwarmer pockets there is an elastic cord with a knot in the end. This elastic cord in each pocket can be pulled to tighten the hem of the jacket. Each of the zippers has a small pull that can easily be grasped with light gloves on.
Here are the fabric descriptions taken from the Montbell website:
“Clima Pro – Offering the perfect balance between lightness and warmth, CLIMA PRO fleece provides two times the windstopping ability of regular fleece. A water-repellent treatment on the surface helps the fleece to shed rain and snow, so you stay drier on the outside. This treatment does not interfere with the fabric’s ability to breath, however, so you stay drier on the inside too. CLIMA PRO fleece retains its bulk even after repeated washings, and it features a special weave to prevent pilling. Clothes made with CLIMA PRO fleece are ideal for activities that involve a lot of start-and-stop activity, such as trekking, skiing, and snowshoeing.
Polkatex - Did you know that ever time you wash a water-repellant fabric, you are reducing its effectiveness? Or that the natural oils from your skin and hair can also wreak havoc on your water-repellent apparel? That’s why MontBell has taken water-repellent technology a step further with Polkatex, its permanent water-repellent fabric.
Unlike other water-repellent fabrics, Polkatex will retain its ability to keep you dry wear after wear, wash after wash. Here’s how it works: Polkatex is treated with a water-based fluorine finish that adheres to the fibers of the fabric, providing excellent water resistance. Polkatex also contains a cushioning agent that “fills in” the molecular bonds, giving them a unique elasticity. This elasticity allows the bonds to rebound from the excess wear and tear that can result from harsh detergents and oils. Water-repellent and abrasion resistant, Polkatex lasts.”
The cleaning instructions are pretty simple – machine wash warm on a gentle or delicate cycle, do not bleach. The jacket can be ironed on low under a damp cloth. Do not dry clean, do not wring, do not tumble dry, instead line dry in the shade.
We are entering the cold, dark and wet months of winter here on Kodiak Island. I expect to use this jacket while backpacking and day hiking here on the Rock. I expect temperatures to range between 45 F and 25 F (7 C to -4 C) over the next four months and an average of 8 inches (20 cm) of precipitation a month. The jacket should get to experience some pretty fun weather.
As the owner of two other Montbell Jackets, I found that their jackets ran a bit on the small side so I opted to go up one size for the Nomad to an XL as mentioned in my Initial Report. The XL large is quite a bit larger than I expected and I had some concerns that the additional sleeve length and bulk would be an issue, but so far that has not materialized as an issue. The sleeves are too long for my arms, but the hook and loop fastener on the cuffs allows me to adjust the sleeves to fit me, and the extra bulk of the sleeves has not interfered with my arm movement or hindered my movements in any way. The extra room in the jacket does allow me to add multiple layers underneath without any concern of compressing my insulating layers. I routinely wore the jacket with a long sleeve base layer and a lightweight fleece or a synthetic puffy jacket without any issues. The jacket has a high collar and chin guard that is very nice. I find that on me the jacket covers the bottom of my chin almost all the way to my mouth when it is completely zipped. This was especially nice on the windier days since I was able to bury my face into the jacket for extra protection against the wind. The hood is quiet large and fit easily over a ball cap or beanie. I have not had the need to use the hood with a climbing helmet, but have confidence that the hood will fit over a helmet with no issues. The hook and loop fastener on the hood is easy to adjust and the shock cord side adjustments can be operated one handed if not wearing gloves. I found that they are little bit too small to adjust while wearing liner gloves. The brim is not wire stiffened and I found that to be a minor annoyance in rainy conditions. The bill has something in it to help hold shape, but it is very flimsy and won’t hold a specific shape.
The pockets on the jacket are well thought out except for the wrist pocket. I just don’t find that I use this pocket since it takes two hands to operate and all the other pockets can be operated with a single hand. The two side pockets are huge and will hold a multitude of gear from gloves, headlamp and snacks. I like to use the chest pocket to hold my camera or my iPod. I would like to see an internal port from this pocket to allow me to keep the cord from my iPod inside of my jacket. I used my iPod mostly for my walks to work, headphones while hiking in 1500 pound (680 kg) Kodiak brown bear country is not a good idea.
As I said I am pleased with the overall performance of the jacket. I think it could be improved by adding a wire stiffened brim and removing the wrist pocket since it is so challenging to use. Otherwise it has performed as advertised. I look forward to continued use during our challenging winter conditions.
Long Term Report – March 6, 2009
The jacket has continued to perform well over the past couple of months. It has done a good job of shedding mixed winter precipitation and light rain while keeping me dry and warm on the inside. Durability is still good, with all zippers, pockets, and elastic pulls in good working condition. Overall, I have been very pleased with this jacket and it will be my go to jacket in all but the heaviest downpours.
Since my Field Report, I have used the jacket on two day hikes at Ft Abercrombie State Park, a day hike in the Monashka Bay region, a snowshoeing trip on Pillar Mountain and a two night snow camping trip near the base of Pyramid Mountain. In addition to my outdoor experiences, I have worn the jacket an additional 7 days while walking to and from work. This brings my total days of use to 51 plus. Temperatures ranged from just above freezing to 12 F (-11 C) with wind chill dropping the temperatures to the 4 F (-16 C) range. Winds experienced have been 40 mph (64 kmph) or more with a few calmer days thrown in. The jacket has experienced snow, and more importantly and nice winter mix of snow, rain and sleet as well as some normal light rain.
I was skeptical that a hybrid jacket would be able to handle the wild weather we have here in Kodiak, but the Nomad has become a great late fall to early spring jacket for me here on the island. As I mentioned in my Field Report, I evaluate jackets on four main criteria – Fit, Durability, Warmth, and Usefulness. I don’t know that jackets break in per se, but I do find that jacket to be very comfortable, almost like the way an old sweatshirt breaks in. I also find that I don’t really notice the sleeves being too long any more; I have found the sweet spot on the cuffs where I can easily slide my hand through the cuffs, but where they still hang properly on my wrist.
The durability of the jacket has been good. Through brush bashing hikes and hauling wood the jacket still looks mostly new, except for a bit of wood sap on the front of the jacket. One area where I was concerned that I might see some issues was the mesh pockets. I carry all sorts of items in my pockets; wallet, coins, keys, iPod, cell phones (I carry a personal cell and I have to carry a cell phone for work, ugh) etc… However, no issues have developed! All of the zippers, hook and loop fasteners, and elastic pulls are still in good condition with no signs of wear.
I think the jacket is plenty warm by itself for active winter use and in colder weather works well as the outer layer of a multi-layer system. As I mentioned before, I sweat a lot and while snowshoeing on Pillar Mountain I only wore the jacket during rest breaks because I was heating up. However, while hanging out around camp at the base of Pyramid Mountain, it was perfect for snowshoeing on a blustery day. One feature I hadn’t used before was the elastic pulls to adjust the hem. It was quite windy and even with a light fleece and base layer I felt the wind coming underneath the jacket. I tightened the hem using the elastic band and pulls and that completely shut out the wind from coming under the hem of the jacket.
Finally – usefulness. I think all the other criteria are important but if a jacket cannot multitask here in Kodiak it is probably going to get replaced by one that can. For me this jacket is perfect for late fall to early spring here on the island. It is a technical jacket that works well in a variety of conditions, but is comfortable and stylish enough to wear with my everyday clothes. The multiple pockets are large enough to carry an assortment of items without feeling to clunky or getting in the way of backpack straps. As I said in my Field Report, the hood could use a stiffer brim, and the wrist pocket is hard to use but overall the jacket is well laid out.
Overall this jacket has performed well and will continue to be my go to jacket until we warm up enough where I don’t need the insulation of the Nomad. This concludes my Long Term Report. Thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and Montbell for allowing me to participate in this test.
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