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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > MontBell Ultralight Wind Jacket > Test Report by Jo Ann Moffi

MONTBELL U.L. WIND JACKET

INITIAL REPORT: August 24th, 2007
FIELD REPORT: October 24th, 2007
LONG TERM REPORT: January 5, 2008

MontBell U.L. Wind Jacket
Photo Courtesy of MontBell Website

Name Jo Ann Moffi Backpacking Background:

I was introduced to backpacking about 15 years ago when I met my husband. We have been backpacking, canoe camping, car camping, hiking, and participating in all sorts of outdoor activities ever since. We live in a border town (US & Canada), so we spend lots of time in both countries for our outdoor excursions. When making a decision on gear, I like to go lightweight and practical. I don't like to carry around extraneous bits and pieces.
Age 34
Gender Female
Height 168 cm (5 ft, 6 in)
Torso Length 50 cm (19.5 in)
Hip Measurement 104 cm (41 in)
Weight 84 kg (185 lbs)
Email Address jomoffi AT gmail DOT com
City, State, Country Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada

Product Information

Manufacturer:  MontBell Co., Ltd.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufactured In: China
URL: http://www.montbell.us
MSRP: $84.00
Size: Large (Also available in Small, Medium, and X-Large)
Colour: Royal Blue (Also Available in Deep Red, White, and Muscat (Lime Green))
Listed Weight: 74 g (2.6 oz) (For size medium)
Actual Weight: Just the jacket: 77 g (2.7 oz), With the stuff sack: 83 g (2.9 oz)
Material: 15-Denier Ballistic Airlight polyamide rip-stop nylon with POLKATEX DWR Treatment
Listed Stuffed Size: 6.1 x 4.1 x 8.9 cm (2.4 x 1.6 x 3.5 in)
Measured Stuffed Size: 16.5 x 4.5 x 8.9 cm (6.5 x 1.75 x 3.5 in)
Listed Measurements: None provided.
My Measurements: Sleeve Length (from collar) 86 cm (34 in), Bust 117 cm (46 in), Hip 107 cm (42 in), Collar 47 cm (18.5 in)

INITIAL REPORT
Date: August 24, 2007

Item Received: August 20, 2007
MonBell Wind Jacket Pocket
The MontBell U.L. Wind Jacket is an ultra light, ultra compact jacket that protects against wind and light precipitation. It is made from 15-Denier Ballistic Airlight polyamide rip-stop nylon which is a very thin and semi-translucent fabric that keeps body heat in and wind out. The sleeves are raglan style with an elasticized cuff. The collar stands up approximately 5.75 cm (2 1/4 in) high at the front of the neck and rises to about 7.75 cm (3 1/8 in) at the back of the neck. The hem of the jacket is elasticized at the black fabric areas on the sides of the jacket. The zipper is a full length standard zipper with a YKK zipper pull and a MontBell labeled pull cord attached. There one pocket with a concealed zipper on the upper left arm. The 'MontBell' logo on this pocket is reflective. There is another graphic logo on the back just below the collar that is also reflective. 

This is an extremely lightweight jacket. The fabric of the jacket is very smooth and slippery. The first time I zipped up the jacket, I got small area of the jacket caught in the zipper. Luckily, I noticed it right away and was careful not to pull and damage the area while I was getting the fabric extracted from the zipper. 

The jacket came with a small stuff sack. It fits very easily into the stuff sack whether rolled up or just stuffed in. There is even a bit of room to spare at the top of the stuff sack. The stuff sack closes with a draw cord and a draw cord lock.

MontBell Wind Jacket StuffedI requested the jacket in a men's large, mainly for my preference of men's cut jackets over women's cut jackets. I'm not trim around the middle and I find the women's taper around the waist and hips to be less comfortable than a men's jacket for the purposes of backpacking and hiking. This doesn't apply just to MontBell products, but to all manufacturer's that produce women's versions of clothing. The large fits me nicely, not to roomy, but enough that I could get a lightweight fleece pullover underneath. The sizing on the manufacturer's website was accurate as was the description provided except for the measurements provided for the stuffed size of the jacket. My measurements have the stuffed size at almost three times the length the website indicates. Although I can jam the jacket further into the stuff sack to make it a bit smaller, I can't get it anywhere near their measurement of 6.1 cm (2.4 in).

I plan on wearing the jacket during my outdoor activities including backpacking, hiking, biking, running, canoeing, and for anything else that I can see the jacket useful for.


FIELD REPORT
Date: October 24, 2007

Testing Locations:

Day hiking, running, biking, and trekking in the following areas:
  • Hiawatha Highlands, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The Hiawatha Highlands is a 3000-acre wooded area. There are 50 km (31 mi) of maintained trails as well as many more non maintained trails requiring navigational skills to wind through. This area contains a range of forest types including red and white pine old-growth forests and dense boreal stands of jack pine and spruce linked by a network of rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
  • Voyageur Trail, Algoma Region, Ontario. The Voyageur Hiking Trail is an over 500 km (311 mi) discontinuous trail that extends from the Nipigon River Recreation Trail beginning just north of Red Rock, Ontario and ending at South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island in Ontario. Each area has it’s own local club that maintain and add to the trail every year with the goal of a continuous, non-motorized trail extending across Ontario. The area I spend most time in is very similar to the Hiawatha Highlands, in fact, a lot of the trails tie together.  
  • Lake Superior Provincial Park is a 1600 sq km park located in the transition zone between the Great Lakes deciduous and Boreal forests. It’s vegetation is comprised of sugar maple and yellow birch in the hardwood areas, white spruce and white birch in the uplands and white cedar, black spruce and tamarack in the lowland areas. The harsh climate and topography has a significant effect of the climate and conditions in the area, especially along the shore of Lake Superior, where wind, waves, and spray create a challenging growing environment for vegetation. 
MontBell Wind Jacket PaddlingTwo day backpacking and canoeing trip to the Fenton/Treeby Lakes area in Lake Superior Provincial Park. A 16 km (10 mi) leisurely paddle with a few portages thrown in for good measure. We also spent some time exploring the bush and trails to adjacent lakes in the area. Lots of pine, spruce, cedar, poplar, and birch trees. The rainy weather we have been experiencing has made the ground quite soggy in low lying areas and has made the creeks and rivers bulging at their banks.

Testing Conditions:
We have been blessed with fantastic weather conditions for testing a wind jacket. The jacket has thus far seen sun, clouds, misty rain, drizzle, downpours, and wind. I have been able to expose the jacket to lots of wind, varying in intensity from approximately 5 km/h to 35 km/h (3 mph to 21.7 mph), with gusts up to 45 km/h (28 mph) from the east and southeast. Temperatures have ranged from 5 to 36 C (41 to 97 F) during the Field Testing stage.

Fit:
The jacket fits great. I have found it to be very comfortable for all my outdoor activities. It doesn't ride up my back when I'm biking or working with my arms overhead. The sleeves are long enough that when I pull my arms out in front of me they are still adequately covered. The collar gives me plenty of room for my chin without any chaffing from the zipper. It is very easy to forget that I am wearing the jacket, especially because it is so lightweight.

The one problem I do have with the jacket is when I do not have it zipped up. When walking around without the zipper done up the natural swing of my arms pulls the front panels backwards under my armpits. This makes the sleeves rotate downwards somewhat and the collar pulls tight across the back of my neck. I think it is the slickness of the material that makes the jacket do this. Not a huge issue in my books, but worth mentioning none the less.

Durability:
I have worn the jacket under a regular day pack, under my weekender backpack, and under a PFD. There have been no rub marks or pulled fibers on the jacket from the friction of wearing a pack or PFD. All the packs and my PFD slide easily over the fabric of the jacket.

Some of the trails and terrain I have worn the jacket in had me tromping through bush with close quarters, branches needing to be pushed out of the way. I haven't found any snag marks or felt a branch catching on the fabric of the jacket.

All of the components of the jacket still function fine, the elastic is maintaining its original elasticity and the zippers work fine. I do still find that the fabric of the jacket can easily get caught in the main zipper. I am just careful that I am not aggressive when zipping up the jacket.
 
Weight: 
This is by far the lightest jacket I have ever worn. It is easy to forget that I'm wearing the jacket when conditions are ideal for its use.

Waterproof and Windproof features:
The rain the jacket has been worn in varied from misty, damp mornings to running in a torrential downpour. It easily handles a 30 minute trial run in misty conditions, keeping me dry from the mist. Although I never expected the jacket to keep the volume of rain from a downpour out, it did an admirable job for the 400 m (1300 ft) I ran from the coffee shop to my work. I was not completely dry, but I wasn't soaked either. The rain seemed to have seeped through at the neck, on my chest, and the fronts of my arms where the rain was hitting me the hardest. 

As for the windproof abilities of the jacket, I found the jacket to work great in low wind conditions, but when there were significant gusts, I could feel the wind going through the jacket. This was especially evident when canoeing into a headwind. So far, when I have worn the jacket in the bush during windy conditions it performs at its best. When the wind is at a fairly consistent speed and there are trees and brush to buffer the wind, the jacket can handle this with ease. If I am standing out in the open, either in a field or when I am sitting in a canoe, the wind can penetrate the jacket much more easily. This stands to reason though, more obstacles for the wind to blow around makes it easier for the jacket to keep the wind out.

Breathability:
The jacket does an excellent job of keeping body heat on the inside of the jacket. On cooler days when I had the jacket zipped up all the way, I could feel the space between my body and the fabric of the jacket heating up. Unfortunately, this also means that when I was starting to get hot or sweaty, the fabric does not breathe very well. This for me is a good trade off though, I like the way the jacket holds the heated air close to my skin.

Warmth:
I find I can comfortably wear the jacket to about 15 C (59 F) before I start to notice I'm getting too warm when on a leisurely hike. If I increase the intensity of my hiking or on days when I've worn the jacket trail running, it is about 10 C (50 F) when I start thinking about taking the jacket off.

Care and Cleaning:
I have yet to wash the jacket, even though it has been worn on several runs, been in rain storms, and been backpacking and canoeing. I cannot see any dirt marks or oily areas on the jacket, nor is it starting to smell. I will be sure to wash it before the long term report so that I can include this aspect in the report.

Feel of the Fabric:
The fabric of the jacket is very smooth and does not catch on my skin at all. It does make a fair bit of noise though, especially when I am running or doing an activity that requires a lot of arm movement, like paddling a canoe. It can get distracting at times.


LONG TERM REPORT
Date: January 8, 2008

Testing Locations:
I continued to wear the jacket while
day hiking, running, and trekking in the following areas (to see a description of the areas, please refer to the Field Report section):
Testing Conditions:
As fall has progressed into winter, winds have picked up a bit and more precipitation has fallen, mostly in the form of snow. The jacket has continued to see sun, clouds, and drizzle, with the addition of a light snowfall or two. The jacket didn't see as much wind in the Long Term stage as it did in the Field report, but I did have breezy days on the trail, varying in intensity from approximately 5 km/h to 15 km/h (3 mph to 9.3 mph) from the east. Temperatures have ranged from 7 to -13 C (45 to 9 F) during the Long Term Testing stage.

Fit:
The jacket continues to fit comfortably. I never experienced any rubbing or chafing from the jacket, even during activities requiring higher levels of activity like the movement of arms while running. I didn't find a solution to the jacket twisting around when I wore it with the zipper all the way opened, so I would just leave it zipped up a bit at the bottom if I found it bothersome. If it was windy out and I had the jacket zipped up just a bit, it would balloon out like a parachute.

Durability:
Considering how thin and light this jacket is, I am very impressed with its durability. The jacket looks much as it did when I took it out of the package. It has been stuffed in its stuff sack in my backpack, thrown into the car with the dog leashes and pack after an outing, and washed with other clothing. It still maintains its slick appearance. It also stays clean looking for a long time. After about 5 months of wearing the jacket, I did notice that around the neck and forearms it was starting to look 'greasy', so I tossed it in the washing machine on the warm cycle. I did not put it into the dryer; I hung it up to dry afterwards. The jacket came out fine and dried in a couple of hours hanging on a hanger.

I also wore the jacket while orienteering in dense brush in the Hiawatha Highlands. There were lots of poking branches and other shrubs that scraped over my arms, legs, and torso while I was navigating from point to point. I would carefully check over the jacket when I got home, but the fabric remains snag and hole free.

Warmth:
As the fall progressed into winter, the opportunities for using the wind jacket diminished. I couldn't comfortably wear the wind jacket under about 5 C (41 F) without feeling the need for something more substantial. 
Although I found the jacket to be inadequate for colder temperatures, I have worn it with a light fleece mid layer just to test it out in colder conditions. It functions as it did without a mid layer, keeping mild winds at bay. Light, dry snow easily brushes off the fabric.

Cool Things About the MontBell Wind Jacket:

Extremely Lightweight
Durability
How it holds body heat in

Not So Cool Things About the MontBell Wind Jacket:
None!

This concludes this test series. Thank you to BackpackGearTest and MontBell for the opportunity to test the MontBell U.L. Wind Jack
et.

Read more reviews of MontBell gear
Read more gear reviews by Jo Ann Moffi

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > MontBell Ultralight Wind Jacket > Test Report by Jo Ann Moffi



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