MONTBELL VERSALITE JACKET
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M KIDD
INITIAL REPORT - November 29, 2013
Steven M Kidd
5' 9" (1.75 m)
173 lb (78.50 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 30 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have become a hammock camping enthusiast. I generally go on one or two night outings that cover between 5 to 20 mi (8 - 32 km) distances. I try to keep the all-inclusive weight of my pack under 20 lb (9 kg) even in the winter.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Image Courtesy MontBell|
Manufacturer: MontBell Co.
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.montbell.com
MSRP: US $149.00
Listed Weight: 6.7 oz (190 g)* Size Medium
Measured Weight: 6.9 oz (196 g)* Testing Size Large
Accompanying Stuff Sack: 0.3 oz (8.50 g)
Sizes Available: S/M/L/XL
Colors: Red Brick, Orient Blue, Shadow, White
The MontBell Versalite Jacket is a rain shell marketed as a "truly Ultra Light waterproof/breathable garment that doesn't skimp on the features". In fact the Versalite Jacket and Versalite Pants which are sold separately boast a sub-11 oz (312 g) combined weight. I am also testing the pants and reporting on them in a separate series, so please feel free to review these as well.
The material is 15-denier Ballistic Airtight rip-stop nylon. The seams are fully taped with two 8 in (20.3 cm) zippered hand pockets as well as 12 in (30.5 cm) pit zips. The material is a 2.5 layer Super Hydro Breeze® technology. The alpine cuffs are adjustable with hook and loop, and it also boasts a 2-way adjustable hood.
To save grams Montbell states the jacket used Smart Sewing Technology, but still allows for a 2 in (5 cm) drop tail on the back and the arms are slightly articulated for comfort. The hem draw cords are found in the jacket pockets and finally the shell is closed with a Weather resistant Aqua-Tect ™ "European style" left hand zipper.
The aforementioned fabric, 2.5-layer Super Hydro Breeze® technology is rated as follows: (Water resistance: 20,000 mm Breathability: 20,000 g/m˛/ 24 hrs).
The Versalite jacket and pants arrived on my doorstep on a cool rainy afternoon just as I was about to head to downtown Nashville for a concert. I was excited to see them arrive in a package that was around the same size as a ream of paper, yet it weighed much less. In fact I could barely feel anything within the contents of the corrugated box as I knelt down to pick it up.
Eager to wear the shell, I removed it from the box snapped a few images and took my initial weight measurements. I was impressed at how paper thin and smooth, yet not slippery the jacket felt. I was also glad to see a rip-stop material. At the time I hadn't done much research on the jacket material, but I soon found out it used a 15-denier fabric. I own a few down sleeping bags and quilts that utilize 15, 10 or 7-denier fabrics, but I never expected a rain shell to be this thin.
The jacket also has several features that a similarly weighted rain shell I own lacks. In fact this other shell weighs nearly 0.5 oz (14 g) more than the Versalite, yet it has no pit zips. This feature alone impresses me with this jacket. On damp and humid days if I can't vent myself I can easily create my own weather system within a rain shell.
|7.2 oz (204 g) in the Stuff Sack|
I'm also impressed with how easy the pocket cinch cords work to draw the waist hem snug for windy or cool conditions. I adjusted the hood to a comfortable setting and hope I won't have to fiddle with it again unless I find myself in a monsoon and need to cinch it extremely tight.
I've owned nearly a dozen MontBell items over the years and I'm constantly amazed how they continue to trim the weight, yet still keep the desirable features in their products. Just as most every item from MontBell, the item comes with an accompanying stuff sack. This one harkens to their sleeping back stuffs with a double cinch. The stuff sack itself weighed 0.3 oz (8.50 g) when I placed it on the scales. I then put the jacket in it and it came in at 7.2 oz (204 g), and a final check of the jacket alone confirmed a weight of 6.9 oz (190 g). This is for size Large Shadow shell. I typically wear a medium in most MontBell items, but I went up a size as I typically always do for rain gear.
|Compared to a 12 oz (355 ml) can|
The comical thing about these stuff sacks; is that I rarely use them with a MontBell products. For instance I will most certainly stuff the jacket into itself within a pocket. I do, however, often find another use for these little lightweight bags. This appears to be made of the same waterproof material, so I could easily see me stuffing my hammock into the sack for some protection. I do wish they would put a double-sided zipper on one pocket so I could properly close it into itself.
The jacket doesn't get as compact for storage in its own pocket as it does in the stuff sack, but this won't hinder my use. On the trail I generally keep my rain gear in an external pocket on my pack for quick access should the weather turn inclement.
One of the other features I noticed on the Versalite wasn't mentioned in the website description. In fact I only first noticed it after I snapped a photograph of the jacket. This is the reflective striping down sides of the jackets front zipper. Notice the image, not perfect, but it certainly demonstrates the powerful reflection in the light. I really like this safety aspect of the shell.
There is really only one thing I'm going to have to become accustomed to with the Versalite and this is the main zipper. As previously mentioned it is "European style" or a left handed zip and this will certainly take some adapting. Given the choice, I'd prefer a traditional zipper on the right side.
I'm thoroughly excited to begin testing the MontBell Versalite Jacket over the next several months. In fact, I was so eager to do so I wore it on a rainy night to town the very night it arrived. I look forward to a vigorous test, seeing how it holds up to heavy rains and how breathable the shell is. I'm also interested in the durability of the very thin material.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
This shell is loaded with features, but the two key areas for which I see an immediate benefit are the minimal weight accompanied by a shell that still has zippered pit vents.
The two things I'd suggest changing on the jacket would be adding a double-sided zipper to on pocket in order to allow me to stuff the shell into itself and I'd truly prefer the main zipper to be a right handed zip.
These are both luxuries I'm sure I'll be able to overlook in the coming months.
I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest and MontBell Co. for allowing me to test the Versalite Jacket.
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