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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > MontBell Tachyon Anorak > Test Report by alex legg

MontBell Tachyon Anorak
Test Series by Alex Legg
Initial Report March 24, 2012
Field Report June 12, 2012
Long Term Report August 14th, 2012

(Picture from http://www.montbell.us)

Tester Information:

Name:  Alex Legg
Age:  30
Gender:  Male
Height:  6'4" (1.9 m)
Weight:  195 lb (88 kg)
Email address:  alexlegg2 AT yahoo DOT com
City, State, Country:  Tucson, Arizona, USA

I grew up backpacking in the Rockies.   I hike ranges throughout Arizona and Colorado year round.  I carry a light pack, mostly water.  I prefer a tarp shelter to my heavier 2-person tent.  I do many day hikes and I also spend as many as 5 days out at a time.  Temperatures range from below freezing to above 100 F (38 C), and elevations from 2,000 ft to 14,000 ft ( 610 m to 4,300 m).  I bag a mountain almost every weekend, and I walk my dogs 4 miles daily through deep sand and overgrown mesquite trees in our local washes.
Initial Report:

Product Information and Specifications:

Manufacturer: MontBell Co., Ltd
Year of Manufacture: 2012
URL:  http://www.montbell.us
Listed Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g)
Actual Weight: 2.2 oz (62 g)
Size: XL
Available Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Color:  Sax Blue
Available Color: Green, Orange
MSRP: US $99.00

Product Description and Initial Impressions:

The MontBell Tachyon Anorak (from here on referred to as the wind shirt, shirt, or Anorak) is an extremely lightweight wind shirt that fits into a stuff sack that measures approximately 3.5 in by 0.8 in by 2.8 in (9 cm by 2 cm by 7 cm) while packed.  The manufacturer claims that it is a must for any serious "Light and Fast" trail user.  When I first looked at the shirt I thought that it looked insanely thin.  It looked thinner than most garbage can liners, and near as thin as some of the sandwich bags I used back in grade school.  I am very curious about the Ballistic Airlight nylon that makes up the construction of the Anorak.  It looks like it has a lot of fibers running through it and MontBell says that its tight durable weave will offer highly wind-resistant performance that feels silky smooth.  It looks as though I could tear it with my fingers, but this is a MontBell product, and I suspect that I will be surprised by its strength in the long run. 

The 10 in (25 cm) zipper that starts at my chin and stops in my lower chest allows me to slide the Anorak on and off as easy as a stretched out t-shirt, but still tighten and secure it quickly.  The zipper seems to run good and smooth at this point.  I can even fit my chin into the neck of the shirt when its fully zipped and breath some warm air on my face.

The hood of the wind shirt is very lightweight.   I could probably fit my climbing helmet under it, but I haven't gotten the chance to try it out yet.  It can easily cover the bill of my baseball cap with about an inch (2.5 cm) to spare.  It even has a thick seam on the end that helps to secure it onto the tip of my hat bill. The hood has drawstrings on both sides of my face that I can use to tighten it, I think that seems like a cool feature in case wind may be blowing rain into my face from the left or right side.

The cuffs fit snugly around my wrists without being overly tight.  They seem to be made with an elastic material that stretches and contracts.  It appears to be holding its shape as I pull on it.  The waistband of the wind shirt has a drawstring cord that can be tightened and secured into place.  I think this looks like another well thought out feature of the Anorak.

In true minimalist form, the Anorak has no side pockets for my hands or extra zipper pockets to store things in.  No bells and whistles, just built intelligently as the protective layer that I need to get me out of a weather situation.  Based on their other intelligent design features, I am surprised that it has a separate stuff sack as opposed to a built in one that could also serve as a pocket.  I would hate to lose the tiny little stuff sack, and I like the idea of multi-purpose features such as a stuff sack/pocket built into a product.

I am also a little surprised by how small the extra large size seems.  I have used similar (heavier) products in the past, and this does seem a bit smaller.  It's not too small by any means, it just fits tight like a shirt and less like a windbreaker jacket.  I suppose this is why it is called a wind shirt by the manufacturer and not a jacket.  The material is slightly stretchy, and I will see soon how well it fits over a base layer or two. 

The entire wind shirt is sprayed with MontBell's own Polkatex water-repellent.   Just reading that name and Polka music starts flowing through my head.  They say that the Polkatex is a water-based treatment with a fluorine finish that adheres to the fibers in the fabric to provide excellent water resistance.  They claim this to be a permanent water repellent unlike most similar DWR finishes.  MontBell claims Polkatex will last for 100 washes compared to 25 washes of similar products.  Not quite permanent when they break it down like that, but bound to last a considerable amount of time.  I can't wait to see just how well this stuff works!

Summary:

The MontBell Tachyon Anorak appears to be in great shape at this stage of the testing period.  I hope it stays that way, but only time will tell.  I have a lot of backpacking planned for the next few months and I can already see myself carrying this shirt everywhere.  It is just the type of minimalist wind shirt that I like, and maybe just the one I was looking for.  I am very excited to test this product. 

Pros:

1.  Very lightweight
2.  Easy to get into and out of
3.  Large hood

Cons:

1.  Stuff sack is not connected to the shirt

   Field Report:
Field Conditions:

I wore the Anorak during a 3-day 2-night trip in Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona.  The elevation ranged from 8,400 ft to 12,637 ft (2,560 m to 3,866 m) and temperatures ranged from 32 F to 65 F (0 C to 18 C).

I also wore the Anorak for a 3-day 2-night trip in the Rincon Mountain district of Saguaro National Park.  The elevation ranged from 4,240 ft to 8,482 ft (1,292 m to 2,585 m) and the temperature ranged from 32 F to 80 F (0 C to 27 C)

The Anorak came with me on a 2-day 1-night trip in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson, Arizona.  The elevation ranged from 5,400 ft to 9,453 ft (1,646 m to 2,909 m) and the temperatures ranged from the low 50s F to the mid 70s F (low 10s C to mid 20s C).

Performance in the Field:

First off, the size of this wind shirt makes it very convenient.  I can carry it in my pants pocket on a short walk, or I can stuff it almost anywhere in an already full backpack for an overnight trip.  The Anorak packs up tiny, and it's so light that I easily forget that I am carrying it.  When I pull it out and slip into it I notice how easy the shirt pulls over my other layers.  I have found myself changing in and out of it multiple times over the course of a hike depending on the wind and/or precipitation. 

                          
                     

One of the fun things about the Anorak is that when I am on a popular trail other hikers are curious about it.  People stop and ask about it all the time.  They are genuinely interested in how strong it is and how well the shirt works against wind and rain.  The Anorak is definitely an attention grabber.

The first time I really needed to wear the Anorak was on the way up Mt. Humphreys in northern Arizona.  When I got above tree line to the ridge that leads to the summit I encountered intense wind that about knocked me over. I pulled out the Anorak and I felt like I was trying to hold onto a kite in a hurricane.  Luckily I didn't lose the shirt or the minuscule stuff sack as I wrestled to get my arms in.  I was skeptical at first about this product due to the light weight and incredibly thin fabric, (not to mention the steep MSRP) but I became pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.  My main concern while getting pounded in one of the few alpine regions in Arizona was whether the Anorak would block the wind.  The answer in short is yes.  My skin had been burning from the punishment of hard blown cold air when I pulled the hood over the side of my face.  I could still feel the force of the wind, but not the cold.  I was shocked at how well this small shirt blocked the cold.  Most of the other hikers on the trail were wearing much larger shell jackets and many of them told me that they were not satisfied with the protection they were receiving.  When I thought about how much more their jackets weighed and how much easier my Anorak was to carry, I felt lucky to have it.

This jacket holds in a lot of my body heat when worn over a short sleeved t-shirt, and considerably more heat when worn over a base layer.  I wore the Anorak over a long sleeve base layer in the early mornings when I woke up in camp. The temperature was around freezing.  I feel that I can get a comparable amount of warmth wearing the Anorak over a base layer as I can get out of a shell jacket worn over a t-shirt.  When I consider how light and easy the Anorak is to carry, it is a winning product for me.

I wore this wind shirt on two outings in southern Arizona over the field testing period.  Although I did not encounter the intense wind as I did on my previous trip, I still wore the shirt in the mornings and evenings in camp and on the trail.  I was again impressed at the warmth provided from such a small package.  When in temperatures of around 50 F (10 C), I could wear the Anorak over just a t-shirt and be more than comfortable.

Unfortunately, I did not experience enough precipitation on the trail to properly test the water resistance of the Anorak.  I felt this left out important information from my test, so I decided to do an at home test while being doused with a garden hose.  Water does get through, but not right away.  Water had to be poured directly on the shirt for about thirty seconds before any moisture got through, and even then it felt more like slight condensation.  Considering the quantity of water that was poured over me during this test, I think the shirt would hold up against a light to moderate rainstorm.  If I was hiking for many hours in the rain however, I know I would get wet.

I have not managed to rip the thin material of the shirt yet, and I did a decent amount of bushwhacking while in the Santa Rita Mountains in southern Arizona.  I was not only rubbing up against pine trees, but many types of desert shrubs that tend to scratch the heck out of my skin.  In my opinion, if the Anorak held up to this abuse better than my skin, it has proven to be far stronger than I anticipated.

Summary:

The Anorak is an effective product.  It blocks wind much better than I had hoped and it has proven to be considerably stronger than it looks.  It does slightly resemble a plastic garbage bag when first removed from the stuff sack, but I don't think of backpacking as a fashion sensitive sport so I don't mind.  I would like to test the shirt in more wet conditions and I hope to get the opportunity to do so during my long term testing period.  I will report back in two months from now with my long term test report of the Anorak.  So far I have had a lot of fun testing this product.

Things I like:

1.  Decent warmth in a small package.
2.  Good wind resistance.
3.  Water repellancy was better than expected.

Things I don't like:

1.  Nothing at this time.



Long Term Report:

Field Conditions:

I didn't get to wear the Anorak as much as I had hoped during the long term testing period.  An injury to my left foot forced me to cancel my Grand Canyon trip, and forest closures in Colorado attributed to the limited use I was able to get while out there.  I was visiting family in Colorado Springs while the Waldo Canyon fire was in full force and the mountains were on fire.  The local forests were all closed.  It was truly heartbreaking to see the mountains I grew up in on fire.  We spent most of our time following the news and sorting personal belongings for family members incase of an evacuation order.  Luckily I had the chance to do some hiking in the northern part of Colorado before coming back to Arizona. 

I did manage to get in an overnight trip in Roosevelt National Forest in northern Colorado.  The temperature ranged from 45 F  (7 C) in the early morning to about 80 F (27 C) mid day.  The elevation ranged from 7,000 ft (2,134 m) to around 9,500 ft (2,896 m).

I also wore the Anorak on few day hikes and an overnight trip in the Mount Baldy Wilderness in northern Arizona.  The temperatures ranged from the mid 40's F (4's C) to the mid 70's F (20's C) and the elevation ranged from 9,394 ft (2,862 m) to 11,414 ft (3,479 m).

I took the Anorak on 2 overnight trips to the Mount Bigelow area of Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona.  The temperatures ranged from 60 F (16 C) to 85 F (29 C) and the elevation ranged from about 7,500 ft (2,286 m) to 8,000 ft (2,438 m).  I did not get the chance to summit the peak due to my foot injury, but I did get to enjoy the cool mountain air and even got a little bit wet!

Performance in the Field:

I am still amazed every time I pull out the little pouch containing the Anorak.  It is just so small and light that it's easy to forget about.  I was able to stay warm with the wind shirt layered over just a cotton t-shirt when the temperature got down to about 45 F (7 C).  I was impressed to stand around camp and not be cold as the morning dew was still dripping from the trees.  At night the Anorak also kept me comfortable which was great in northern Colorado as there were still fire bans all over the state.   There was no sitting by the flames to warm my body.  During the day I experienced many strong winds sweeping down the canyons and I felt unfazed by them.  Although the Anorak flaps loudly like a trash bag in the wind, the air hardly penetrates the fabric keeping me warm and comfortable.

The Anorak got to experience some more rain while in the Mount Baldy Wilderness area in northern Arizona.  I got rained on a few times during the hike, and no water got through the wind shirt.  Again I wore it at camp in the morning and at night and was comfortable. 

I went to the higher elevation of Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona seeking shelter from the insane heat of Tucson, and I even found some rain!  There were lots of dark clouds the whole drive up to the mountain and I couldn't wait to get out and see how well the wind shirt did in the monsoon storms.  In typical southern Arizona monsoon storm fashion the rain came up quick, poured hard, and ended fast.  I probably only got dumped on for about twenty minutes before the clouds cleared and the humidity and heat rose, but in that time I can say with assurance that the Anorak did not leak.  Through the stinging fast rain and the strong wind gusts the wind shirt held its own.  The rain just beaded up on the surface of the fabric when it came into contact with the DWR finish.  It looked much like rain beading up on a freshly waxed car or a recently varnished wooden deck.  I am impressed that the shirt worked so well against the rain, but I would have liked to get the chance to hike in a steady downpour for a few solid hours to see how long the Anorak could keep its water repellency up.  During this trip I also wore the wind shirt in the evenings and mornings as my second layer over a t-shirt.  I felt comfortable the whole time.

Summary:

The MontBell Anorak is an awesome product in my opinion.  My initial skepticisms about its strength and overall fragile feel have been debunked.  I am now a believer that such a small wind shirt can be an effective layer against mild elements.  I still hope to get the chance to test it against extended rainstorms, but other than that I feel I have put it into a few situations wear its warmth and wind/water resistance were proven to work great.  I absolutely love that it is so light and easy to pack.  I plan on the Anorak remaining in my pack for every backpacking trip as well as in my car for any unexpected weather situations for a long time to come. 

What I like:

1.  Super light and easy to pack
2.  Wind resistance
3.  Good lightweight layer

Concerns:

I have no concerns with this product.

I would like to thank MontBell and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test this product!  I have had a blast getting to use it!




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