BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > MontBell Nomad Parka > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

MONTBELL CLIMAPRO 200 NOMAD PARKA
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
LONG-TERM REPORT
February 10, 2009

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: TheMiddleSister@usaring.com
AGE: 57
LOCATION: White Lake, Michigan USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.63 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

I started hiking in 1998 after an eye-opening climb up Hahn's Peak in Colorado. Hooked, I return to Colorado often. I've hiked/snowshoed glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in domestic and exotic locations, including Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. At home, I plan for 2-3 hikes of 6-8 mi (10-13 km) weekly and one weekend hike monthly. Weekday hikes take place in Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, a mixture of heavily-wooded moderate hills and flat terrain. Weekend hike locations vary. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) including food and water


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: MontBell Company, Ltd.
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.montbell.com
MSRP: US$139.00
Sizes Available: Women's Small, Medium and Large (Men's sizes also available)
Size Tested: Women's Medium
Listed Weight: 17 oz (482 g) - Size Medium
Measured Weight: 17 oz (482 g)
Colors Available: Black, Blue and Red
Color Tested: Black

Warranty: "MontBell’s warranty covers all defects in materials and workmanship to the original owner for the lifetime of the product. If a product ever fails due to a manufacturing defect, MontBell will repair the product, or replace it, at our discretion. This warranty does not cover damage(s) caused by accident, improper care, negligence, alterations, or normal wear and tear. "
MontBell Nomad Parka
Image Courtesty of MontBell

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS - Oct 08

This is one good-looking jacket! The website picture doesn't do it justice at all and even having read the website's "descriptions" and "technical specs," I was still surprised and pleased when the Nomad arrived and I discovered all the neat features this jacket boasts. The jacket is not overly technical looking and sports a small tasteful "mont bell" logo unobtrusively embroidered on the left chest. I will have no trouble wearing this jacket casually in town.

First, the fabrics constructing the Nomad are varied.

Nomad Interior
MontBell Nomad Interior
The jacket is a combination soft shell & hard shell. The main body of the jacket is 100% polyester and is made from a gray Durable Water-Resistant (DWR) treated 75-denier CLIMAPRO™TM 200 four way stretch nylon. According to the MontBell website, ClimaPro offers "the perfect balance between lightness and warmth, CLIMA PRO fleece provides two times the windstopping ability of regular fleece." The "water-repellent treatment on the surface helps the fleece to shed rain and snow" and "does not interfere with the fabric's ability to breathe." It is mostly black with a nicely contrasting gray swatch from the wrist cuff to the jacket hem contouring the underarm and sides of the Nomad. The Breeze DryTecTM hood, tail and cuffs also offer a slight contrast from both the main body fabric texture and the medium gray color.

Inside the jacket a insulating laminated fleece in a dark gray. The sleeves, the back and the sides of the jacket feel like a heavy smooth flannel-like material. The front of the jacket is a slightly thicker textured material.


The hood of the Nomad is a hard shell hood with a semi-rigid brim. It is attached to the jacket via a high stand-up collar. There is no option for stashing the hood when not in use. The brim is rather small, 1.5" (4 cm) at the widest. Stretch draw cords with barrel locks serve to adjust the hood to more closely fit the head.

There are a total of four pockets in the Nomad. Two are side seam hidden hand pockets, one is a chest pocket on the left side and the fourth ingenious small pocket is laminated for waterproofness and is located on the outside left sleeve. All the pockets are hardly visible at all. In fact, if they hadn't been adorned with corded zipper pulls, I don't know that I would have even noticed them, especially the sleeve pocket!

Another neat pocket feature is the two hand pockets near the hem have stretch corded pulls with barrel locks to adjust the hem of the jacket without having to expose hands to the elements. Of, course, hem adjustments can also be made externally via the same system. Neat!

Wrist closures are hook and loop straps to tighten the elasticized cuffs.
Pocket Sleeve
MontBell Nomad Pocket Sleeve


One last nicety is the small flap at the top of the front zipper and the fleece-lined storm flap which will which will keep the zipper from rubbing my face when the zipper is fully engaged.

TRYING IT OUT

The Nomad interior fabric simply glided over my shirt when I first tried it on. There was no snagging or bunching up and it felt great! The interior of the jacket is very smooth and pleasing to the touch and the exterior feels pretty nice, too.
Protective Zipper Flap
MontBell Protective Zipper Flap
As to fit, the medium Nomad fits me comfortably snug with just a tank top and a technical base layer. Although I hike and snowshoe "hot", it remains to be seen if I will need more underlayers this winter. Testing will determine whether or not the Nomad will be too snug with heavier layers.

The sleeves' cuffs fall just over my wrists and the hem of the jacket comes to just about 8" ( cm) from my natural waist and almost covers my derriere. When the hood is pulled over my head and the cinch cords are not pulled tight, the stand-up collar covers my chin (good thing there is a fleece lined storm flap!).

TESTING STRATEGY

While testing the MontBell Climapro 200 Nomad Parka, I will be sure to test it thoroughly for comfort, function and durability. The Nomad will be my only choice of shell/Parka for the testing period unless weather dictates otherwise. I will wear it with various under/over garments to see what works best for me, but I WILL wear it a lot in all kinds of weather conditions.

In the field, will the Nomad be warm enough in most conditions? Conversely, will it be cool enough under most conditions or will I be overly sweaty? Most of my winter hikes are snowshoe hikes and I sweat! The Nomad Climapro 200 fabric will have to earn its claim of being "highly breathable".

Will the Nomad keep the wind out? Here in the mountains of Colorado - heck, even in the Arkansas River Valley plains area - the winds can be mighty fierce. I need a Parka to be a barrier between the blowing and my body. Will the Nomad be able to withstand constant 10-15 mph (16-24 km/h) winds with regular gusts up to 40-50 mph (64-81 km/h)? Will the interior storm zipper flap be sufficient to keep the wind out?

While I can't guarantee rain, I can pretty much predict I will be experiencing snow which after all is just cold rain ! How well will the Nomad perform under wet, slushy snow storms or stinging ice pellets? Will I stay dry? Will the zipper wick water into the Parka? Will the hood keep the wet off my face? I wear sunglasses outdoors almost all the time except at night? Is the hood long enough to keep the wet (or the sun as the case may be) off the glasses?

How big is the packed up Parka?

How well does the MontBell Nomad hold up in the field? Will it stain easily? How about ripping? Will the wrist pocket hold up in the cold or will it crack and tear? I run the risk of tripping and falling on rocky mountain trails and my clothing often suffers for my clumsiness. Can the Nomad take it? What about my encounters with all the plant life that seems to jump onto the trails to snag me and the burrs that hitchhike on my clothing? Will the Nomad still look brand-new after a month, two months, and four months? And what are the care instructions? Any special treatments needed to renew the waterproof qualities of the Nomad?

Phew! So many questions, so little time! I'm sure I'll have more and I will also report any other issues that arise during the testing period.

SUMMARY

At over 5000' (1524 m), here in Canon City, we can sometimes be literally "in the clouds." Today is one of those rare damp days and it's time for my daily 5 mile (8 km) hike to my mailbox. It's cool - 48 F (9 C), and I'm about to try out the Nomad Parka for the first time. I'm ready ro go!

Please continue below for the results of my first two months of testing the MontBell Nomad Parka


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS/CONDITIONS - Dec 08

When I first received the Nomad Parka, we were experiencing very warm conditions here in Colorado. Temperatures were in the high 70s-low 80s F (25-28 C). Since then, winter has set in and we have experienced several low temperatures around the -6 F (-21 C) range. Our daily highs are averaging about 37 F (3 C). Oddly, we have had more humidity and more snow this year so far this winter season than we had all of last winter. The weather has been very diverse and variable with one day being dry and cold and the next being warm and damp and everything in between! We have had a lot of wind to contend with, also.

For most of the last two months, I've worn the Nomad every chance I could get, including routine trips about town. I wore the parka on daily hikes around our property, 5 mile (8 km) hikes down our dirt road to get the mail and several day hikes in the Cooper Mountain range.

This area is high desert and the Arkansas Valley is set between the Wet Mountains to the south, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the southwest and the Cooper Mountains to the northeast. The terrain is mostly very rocky, but can change quickly from sand to shale to granite. We have lots of scrubby brush and cactus. Most of the vegetation is evergreen; and juniper and pine with their prickly foliage abound.

My last outing with the parka was a snowshoe trip to Mt. Evans in Colorado where the temperature was 1 F (-17 C) with an estimated wind-chill of -25 F (-32 C) and LOTS of blowing snow!

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

On two separate occasions while wearing the Nomad, I encountered rain on the trail. Fortunately, both times, it wasn't a hard downpour sort of rain, but rather a steady dripping with a slushy mixture. The parka kept me totally dry, even though the outside of the parka was quite wet. I actually wore the hood during both rain falls and was pleased with its comfort. The brim of the hood did little to keep the water off my glasses, though. When I fully tightened the dual hood adjustments, the hood pulled inward and the brim became less effective. I am not a big fan of hoods anyway, but the Nomad's was tolerable for me. It is a bit restrictive to my already compromised peripheral vision for my liking.

I think the Nomad is absolutely the greatest jacket/parka I have had the pleasure of wearing in the windy conditions I often hike and backpack in! For example, my son, his wife and my husband and I take an annual Christmas snowshoe trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. This year, we decided on a day trip to Mt. Evans instead. Mt. Evans is one of Colorado's "Fourteeners" (14,264 ft/4348 m) and the trailhead we were starting from was at 10,650 ft (3246 m). It was a pleasant 27 F (-3 C) when we left Denver, but a frigid 1 F (-17 C) when we clamped on our snowshoes.

The snow was blowing mercilessly and I could hardly see. We later estimated a wind-chill of -25 F (-32 C). I had layered up with a brand new medium weight polyester base layer, a medium weight shirt over that, then my light weight fleece jacket and finally the Nomad Parka over it all. I was really worried I would be cold because within the time it took to get my snowshoes on, my fingers were numb, my toes hurt and my cheeks burned. I was very pleased and thankful the parka kept me much warmer than I thought it would. My upper body was quite comfortable and I never felt the icy cold wind penetrate through the fabric. I wish the rest of me had been as warm!

This jacket is very rugged! I always worry about destroying my clothes when bushwhacking through our terrain here. The ground is very rocky (and I'm very clumsy) and the vegetation tends to reach out and grab at me. After many hours of wear - at least, 100 - I can truthfully say the Nomad hardly looks like it has been worn. About three weeks ago, I took a very nasty fall from a height of two ft (61 C) onto hard rock and slid on my right arm several feet/meters. After I sobbed for a few minutes, in pain, I felt my sleeve, sure it would be ripped. I was quite surprised the parka wasn't damaged at all. My wrist was not so lucky - I broke that!

As a result of the fall, I now have a plastic removable cast which causes most of my clothing to be not wearable due to tight sleeves. Thanks to the adjustable Velcro wrist straps, I can still wear the Nomad over the cast. Yeah!

I haven't washed the Nomad yet and have taken no special care of it, except to hang it to dry before putting it away in my gear closet. Very impressive, so far.

SUMMARY

So far, I am very happy to be testing the Nomad. It has been very versatile and has performed well in all situations I have tested it in.

Please see below for the final results of my testing of the MontBell Nomad Parka. My sincere thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and MontBell for the opportunity to test this neat jacket.

Kathleen Waters


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I have worn the MontBell Nomad Parka almost daily for the whole four months of this test. It was my "go-to" jacket for all occasions except for, I believe, Christmas Mass and an annual dinner for the Canon City Chamber of Commerce members! I'm not kidding; this parka is very versatile, looks great and is comfortable while protecting me from damp and/or windy weather.

In casual settings, I've encountered sunshine, mist, snow flurries, blinding blizzard and wind, lots of wind. Temperatures have been anywhere from 0 F to 70 F (-18 C to 21 C).

Wearing the Nomad Parka, I've also hiked on several day hike/snowshoe trips - one on Mt. Evans, December 27 and two on the Rainbow Trail in the Sangre de Cristo mountains on January 7 and January 14, come to mind. And just last weekend, I wore the parka on a night snowshoe at the Tennessee Pass near Leadville with a day hike there the next day.

Mt. Evans was bitterly cold and windy. Normally, I would have preferred to stay home in front of a fire that day, but this is a family Christmas tradition (albeit, a bit late this year). The temperature was a frigid 1 F (-17 C) when we set out. Ferocious winds took the wind chill to -25 F (-32 C). Our famous Colorado blue skies were no where to be seen.

Because of the wind, in clearings, the newly-fallen, blowing snow was blinding. We stuck to the pine forest as much as we could. Estimated snow base was 30 in (0.8 m) and the terrain was fairly gently sloped. My pack weight was about 20 lb (9 kg). This trip was cut short as the weather was just too brutal for our 7 year-old granddaughter (We want her to LIKE snowshoeing!).
Snowshoe in Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Snowshoeing in Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Both trips in January were on brilliantly sunny days with no wind at all, temps in the mid 30s F (-1 C) and estimated snow base of 25 - 36 in (0.6 - 0.9 m). We were stymied by unplowed roads and so had to hike over 1 mi (2 km) to even get to the trail heads. No worry, though, the trips were well worth it. Total mileage was approximately 7 mi (11 km). Pack weights on both these trips were barely 15 lb (7 kg), mostly liquids and snacks.

At night, the trail at the Tennessee Pass was a very pleasant 28 F (-2 C) when we started and a still pleasant 14 F (-10 C) when we stopped. Clear skies, little or no humidity and no wind at all made it a gorgeous trek. We started at an elevation of 10,500 ft (3200 m) and had a slight, but constant elevation gain to 10,800 ft (3292 m). The trail was hard-packed and meandered through a tall growth pine forest.

The next day, we were on the same trails, but it was sunny and 32 F (0 C). Still, no wind and very little humidity was present.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

When I first tried on the Nomad Parka, I noticed its slim silhouette. I liked the trim styling, but wondered how my winter layers would work with that styling. As winter progressed, I was pleased to find I was able to accommodate a wide variety of underlayers without hindering my range of motion. I have worn up to 4 layers under the parka. For instance, on my recent snowshoe trek up the Tennessee Pass at night when the temperature plunged to 14 F (-10 C), I wore a 180s base layer, an OR LS tee, a Terramar base layer and a Patagonia light fleece. I did not feel like the Michelin Man! This configuration allowed me to ventilate by unzipping the parka and the fleece when laboring uphill. The next day, I left the OR and the Terramar in my pack and was quite comfortable at 32 F (0 C).

At 0 F (-18 C) on my Mt. Evans's snowshoe, I also wore four layers and despite the almost brutal wind, I was not overly cold while snowshoeing. The wind was not able to penetrate the parka and my torso remained warm (unlike the rest of my body). I was astounded as I had forgotten my big heavy ski jacket and was worried I'd be frozen stiff with such a thin jacket.

Having a high standing collar also aided in keeping out the wind. Zipping the parka right to the top kept my neck covered yet the inner fabric never irritated my skin due to the soft lining. I think the interior storm flap for the zipper also contributed to the stellar windproofness of the parka. Never did I feel a draft.

When I would heat up while wearing the parka, I would vent by opening the zipper. During the last two months, I had little trouble being too warm.

The Alpine Cuffs hits my wrist right where I want them and the adjustment of the cuffs is easily accomplished with one hand. This proved to be useful for tucking in gloves after I had taken them off for one reason or another. The cuff adjustment could be tightened enough to keep me warm, but also was loose enough to allow me to wear the parka with my wrist cast while I waited for my broken bone to heal.

I almost never used the hood of the Nomad. I'm not a big fan of hoods in general and when a hood cannot be rolled up and concealed, it tends to collect "things" in it. So, when I do decide to put on the hood, water, tree debris, etc. ends up on my head. For the sake of the test, I did try using the hood a couple of times to keep the wind out of my ears. Easy adjustments with the stretchy loops on either side of my head, made the hood fit perfectly and I actually was comfortable with it on. I wish the hood could have been rolled up though.

After my initial excitement over the neat sleeve pocket, I rarely used it, except for carrying a handkerchief. It is a decent size, but I'm just too clumsy (my recently broken wrist is proof) and I bang my arm often enough to put anything in the sleeve pocket at risk. Roomy soft-lined side pockets were great for stashing all kinds of things, like sunglasses when not in use, a food bar, etc. But the location of the side pockets made access very difficult when wearing a hip belted backpack. This is not a flaw specific to the Nomad though - almost all my jackets have the same problem. I especially liked the chest pocket which I probably used most often for stashing my cell phone.

One curious note about the parka lining - it is very soft and I really enjoy the feel of it. However, some fabrics would "stick" to it when I would be putting on the parka. I would have to hold the end of my sleeves (or use "thumb loops", if available) to get my hands through the sleeves. This would happen with a variety of materials, but surprisingly, not fleece.

Lastly, I have yet to wash the parka. It still looks like new. There are no signs of wear anywhere on the parka at all. And that after many encounters with pokey, sticky, pine branches, a fall in the dirt (broken wrist) and all the routine hiking hazards I find on the trail. With the demonstrated durability of the parka during this test, I'm sure I will be happily wearing the MontBell Nomad Parka for a long time to come!


SUMMARY

The MontBell Climapro 200 Nomad Parka is a versatile jacket which has earned a permanent place in my gear closet. It is not just a pretty face but backs up its good looks with good weather protection from all forms of precipitation and from wind. I can wear it solo as well as with 2-4 underlayers as the temperature warrants. It is sturdy and has taken all the abuse I've thrown at it without a single tear, snag, broken zipper, etc. No special care has been required. There is no question; I like this jacket!

My sincere thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and MontBell for the opportunity to test this neat jacket.

Kathleen Waters

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

Read more reviews of MontBell gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathleen Waters

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > MontBell Nomad Parka > Test Report by Kathleen Waters



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson