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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > MontBell Tec Down Jacket > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

Montbell TEC Down Jacket


Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Nov 29, 2009

Field Report: Jan 19, 2010

Long Term Report: Apr 1, 2010


Image of Montbell Tec Jacket



Personal Information:
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 0.5 L of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.


Product Information:


Manufacturer: Montbell
Website: http://www.montbell.us/
MSRP: $175 USD
Weight: (stated) 10 oz (283 g) (size medium)
Weight: (actual) 10 oz (283 g) (size large)
Size/Color: Cobalt Blue
Material: 800 fill power down, nylon and Polkatex



Initial Report:
November 29th, 2009

The Montbell UL TEC Down jacket is a mid-weight jacket offered by Montbell. This jacket had a fill weight of 2.4 oz (68 g) of 800-fill power down. The inner and outer material of the jacket is a 15-denier ballistic airlight nylon with a 50-denier nylon taffeta in areas requiring reinforcement, in this case the shoulders, collar, cuffs to elbows, and sides. The material on the outside is treated with a DWR treatment. The jacket comes in two colors, I opted for the cobalt blue and it is a very nice color. The zipper fobs are nice plastic fobs with a cord embedded inside and wrapped around the zipper pull.

The jacket comes with external and internal pockets. The external pockets are micro-fleece lined and have a zipper closure. The waist has a draw cord that is accessible from the exterior pockets. It is possible to tighten the cord with one hand. The cuffs which are reinforced have both an elastic section and a hook and loop enclosure to tighten or loosen as needed. The collar is micro-fleece lined on the inside and has a zipper cover at the top. The jacket as a whole is tailored for a woman's body. The jacket comes with a small stuff sack.

Detail of the cuff   Detail of the fleece lined pocket
Detailing of the cuff and fleece lined pocket

Based on what I read on the website, I wasn't surprised by anything. The jacket is exactly as described. This is a nice, light-weight jacket with a fitted shaping. The micro-fleece detailing is very nice although I assumed it would line the entire pocket. This is not the case, the micro-fleece lining in only on the back of the hands (when placed in the pockets). With both the down layer and the micro-fleece layer against the back of the hands, the hands are protected from the elements. Having only a thin nylon layer between the hands and the body means the hands can likely be warmed with body heat.

Detail of the interior pocket   Back of jacket
Close up of interior pocket and jacket back with reinforced areas

The sizing is about on par with what I require. I have previously worn a Montbell jacket before and an XL is too big for me. For this jacket, I opted to get a large, while the fit is quite good, I do wish the hip area flared out just a little more. This jacket falls to just below the waist and does not give any butt coverage. The pockets are in a good location and I find I don't have to go searching for them when I find my hands require warmth. The seams are very nice and mostly well sewn, I did notice a seam with a long tail and loop which looks to have missed a trim.

My test plan over the next couple of months will be to use the jacket on all my outdoor activities including hiking and backpacking trips. My trips are generally quite varied with dayhikes, weekend backpacking trips and jaunts around town.



Field Report:
January 19th, 2010

I have used this jacket on three occasions as detailed below. I have also been using the jacket for everyday wear around town and while walking to work. I have a 2 mi (3.2 km) round-trip walk to get to work each day and the jacket is both stylish enough and warm enough to contend with the chilly winter experienced so far.

Trips:

The first trip out was a hike out in Zion NP in Utah. The weather was around the freezing point most of the time. The hike up to Angel's Landing was nice and once we made it out onto the exposed rock the wind picked up a little. I was initially wearing the down jacket under a rain shell just to aid in breaking the wind. Once I built up some heat, I ended up removing the jacket as it had become too warm. It was stuffed into my day pack. At the top, I once again removed the jacket and simply tossed it on over the rain shell for warmth. The jacket performed very well in keeping me warm and does help stop the wind to a point. The pockets are great but I do wish the microfleece was on both sides. A draw cord to close up the collar a little would also be a nice feature.

Windy perch enjoyment
Enjoying the jacket on a windy perch

Another hike was a nice evening hike along a bike trail out in Zion NP again. The moon was not up yet and the temperature was down to about 20 F (-7 C). There was very little wind and the walk was just fast enough to stay warm without building up heat. It was about 3 mi (4.8 km) of hiking. The next day saw the Emerald Pools loop hike. The temperatures were back up to the freezing point. The loop hike was in near constant shade until the last part of the loop. The jacket really helped to keep the cold morning chill at bay. We also had time to do a hike up to one of the arches. This hike had more sunlight and I found myself unzipping the jacket to vent some heat.

The third hike was along Red Butte in Utah. The trail was about 3 mi (4.8 km) total and the weather was cool, in the 30's (0 C). I started off wearing the down jacket and after about 20-30 minutes I found I was getting too hot to continue wearing the jacket. I removed the jacket and left my wind shell on to stop the wind from chilling me. At the checkpoint I wanted to reach, I stopped to enjoy the view and also put the jacket back on to stay warm. It was initially cold, but warmed up quickly. I wore the jacket on the way down and found that I didn't exert myself enough on the downhill hike to feel the need to remove the jacket. It kept me warm on the drive back.

Impressions and Comments:
So far I have been enjoying the jacket very much. The pockets are nicely located and large enough for my hands plus a few small items. I do wish the microfleece covered the entire interior of the pocket as sometimes I can feel cold creeping up under the jacket to chill my hands. The jacket is a nice fit but I do find that the bottom is a little tight against my hips, I wish the bottom flared out just a little for a more fitted fit.

In the warmer weather I experienced at the beginning of the test period, I found that the jacket worked best as a pre- and post-hike warm layer. With the colder weather, I have been using the jacket more as an insulating layer until I build up enough heat to pare back the layers. It still works well as a warm up layer at rest stops and before/after hiking.

Given the amount of times I have been wearing the jacket (almost daily to work), the wear on the jacket hasn't been noticeable. The jacket still has great loft, the zipper slides well, and the material is nice with no abrasions. I have been pleased with the way the jacket has held up over the previous two months and look forward to the next two with pleasure. Until recently (with the wet snow and occasional rain), I have combined the jacket with a rain shell, but otherwise, I have worn the jacket mostly exposed to the elements.

Wrap-up
Pros so far: comfortable to wear, blocks some wind.

Cons so far: a little tight across hips.



Long Term Report:
April 1st, 2010

So far, I have managed to take the TEC jacket out on 2 overnight trips, 3 more day hikes (for a total of 6 day hikes) and I continue to wear the jacket daily to work.

The first trip out was a day hike along the Front Range of the Salt Lake Valley. This was a 3 mi (4.8 km) with some limited elevation gain up to the ridge. The weather started off quite cool but warmed up over the trip. I started wearing the TEC jacket but ended up removing it and tying it around my waist.

The next trip out was an overnight on the Front Range of the Salt Lake Valley. I was up in one of the canyons for a short snowshoeing trip. The day was a cool 40 F (4 C) with no wind. The hike in was about 3 mi (4.8 km) for a 6 mi (9.6 km) trip total. I used the jacket at the beginning of the hike until I warmed up then I mostly used it for insulation for setting up camp and relaxing.

The next trip out was a day hike at a small park. The total distance was about 2 mi (3.2 km) and the day was warm and sunny. The temperatures were around 55 F (13 C). I started out wearing the jacket but I quickly ended up removing it.

The last trip out was for a walk around the block. This amounted to about 3 mi (4.8 km). The temperatures were around 45 F (7 C). It started to rain near the end. I wore the jacket the whole time. It got a little wet in spots but otherwise was fine in spite of getting sprinkled on.

Final Impressions and Comments:
I have really enjoyed wearing this jacket both as an insulation layer and as a performance layer. I do find it does get hot to hike in once the temperatures started rising, but for the most part I have been able to do some non-strenuous hiking with the jacket at temperatures below 40 F (4 C) without too much heat build up. Above that and I notice that the heat starts to build up quickly. As an insulation layer, I really liked the placement of the pockets, as well as the fleece lining. I do wish the lining was on both sides of the pocket as I did find I could feel cold air creeping in from the underside and non-lining side of the pocket.

So far the jacket has been holding up very well. I do find the occasional feather but for the most part it seems to still have good loft. The outer material is not water-resistant and I have gotten the jacket wet in spots. Either I had my drinking hose leak on my pack then had to wear a wet pack, or I got caught in some light rain on my walking commute. The TEC jacket doesn't show any water spots or seem any worse for the wetting.

The jacket has been mostly comfortable. I find that since it is a little snug across my hips, the jacket tends to work itself up a little around my waist. I do notice that without a scarf or neck gaiter on, I will feel a cool draft down the neck. This is entirely preventable with a neck covering of sorts but some way to tighten the neck would have been nice. Other then the snugness of the hip fit, the only other complaint is that the jacket doesn't have a two way zipper to help alleviate some of the tight fit. Otherwise, in spite of it fitting a bit snug across the hips, the jacket is a great fit on top and the sleeves are long enough to cover my wrists.

Pros:

    - comfortable to wear.
    - blocks some wind.

Cons:

    - a little tight across hips.
    - no two way zipper.


This concludes my long term report on the Montbell UL TEC Down Jacket. Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Montbell for allowing me to test this UL TEC jacket. I hope you have enjoyed reading this report series.


Read more reviews of Mont Bell gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathryn Doiron

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > MontBell Tec Down Jacket > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron



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