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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > MontBell Wind Blast Parka > Test Report by Brian Hartman

MONTBELL WIND BLAST PARKA
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
LONG-TERM REPORT
September 24, 2015

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

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brian Hartman
EMAIL: bhart1426ATyahooDOT com
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Westfield, Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and most recently in Western USA. In addition to backpacking I enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in general. I would describe myself as a mid-weight backpacker. I use fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

IMAGE 1
Manufacturer: Montbell Co.
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.montbell.us/
MSRP: US $59.00
Listed Weight: 6.4 oz (181 g)
Measured Weight: 6.4 oz (180 g); Size: Small
Sizes Available: Small, Medium, Large, XL
Colors Available: Hot Red, Black, Navy
Fabric: 40-denier nylon taffeta
Waterproof treatment: Polkatex DWR

Features:
2 zippered hand pockets
Elastic cuffs
Hood adjustment
Chin guard
Draw cord for hem adjustment
Micro vents in arm pits

PRODUCT INFORMATION

IMAGE 2
Draw cord
The Montbell Wind Blast parka (hereafter called Wind Blast, parka, or jacket) is an uninsulated nylon jacket (or Windshell, as Montbell refers to it) with a DWR finish and a non-removable hood. Montbell describes the Wind Blast as "simple, relatively light, and compact" and I think that is a great description of this jacket. It is after all very basic, with few frills; it is lightweight at 6.4 oz (180 g); and it is very compressible, easily fitting into the 6.5" (16.5 cm) long by 3.5" (9 cm) diameter stuff sack that was provided with it.

The Wind Blast is made of 40D nylon and features a proprietary DWR finish called Polkatex that is purported to retain 90% of its original water resistance after 100 washings. Upon further research I found out that Polkatex is a water based treatment with a fluorine finish and a cushioning agent that fills in the molecular bonds, making them more elastic. This elasticity allows the finish to resist abrasion and be less susceptible to breakdown from body sweat and laundry washings.

The Wind Blast has a full-length front zipper and two zippered hand pockets which measure 7" (18 cm) x 11" (28 cm) each. All three zippers are YKK and have pull cords. The arm cuffs are elastic and the hood and waist are adjustable via a draw cord. Montbell added micro vents to the arm pits and there is a small piece of nylon fabric behind the top of the front zipper which appears to be a chin guard.

CARE INSTRUCTIONS: Montbell provides basic care instructions for the Wind Blast parka on a small tag inside the jacket. Of note is that the jacket should not be wrung out and needs to be line dried in the shade.

o Machine wash in warm water. Gentle or delicate cycle.
o Iron, low, under damp cloth.
o Dry clean, petroleum solvent only.
o Do not wring. Line dry in shade.

Finally the Wind Blast has a lifetime guarantee which protects it from defects in material or workmanship.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Wind Blast parka arrived at my doorstep in excellent condition and upon initial inspection, it appeared to be well made with no blemishes, flaws or loose fabric threads. Even though I'd researched it online, I was still somewhat surprised at how little the jacket weighed. Even though the fabric is quite thin I'm confident it will hold up to the rigors of at least one season of backpacking given the manufacturer's great reputation. I'm just hoping my pack straps don't abraid the fabric or wear away the DWR coating as I really like that feature. Montbell provides three great color choices for this jacket and I especially like the Navy blue color.

I ordered a size small and it fits perfect over a short sleeve shirt and even my long sleeve base layer. In this respect, Montbell's sizing chart appeared to be right-on based on how well the jacket fit my chest and waist size. The arm pits and forearms of this jacket also had plenty of room which was a nice change of pace since I'm often constricted in these two areas with other jackets (when ordering a size small).

The jacket draped well and was easy to slip on and off. The zippers slid open and closed quite easily and the pockets were quite roomy. The hood fit well and was easily adjustable and the arm length was perfect for me. I haven't tried the jacket with my backpack yet but it appears that the pockets are high enough that they won't be covered up by my pack straps.

IMAGE 3
YKK zipper
IMAGE 4
Hood
IMAGE 5
Elastic cuffs


One thing that I'll have to keep in mind while on the trail is that although the Wind Blast has a well engineered waterproof finish it does not have storm flaps, waterproof zippers or taped seams. As such, it will be interesting to see just how long I can stay in the rain and remain dry.

I took a brief walk around my neighborhood last night in a long sleeve T shirt in 52 F (11 C) weather and the Wind Blast did a decent job of blocking the wind from my body although I still felt cold with no insulation. The zippered pockets were easy to open and the hood worked surprisingly well at keeping my head and ears warm.

SUMMARY

The Wind Blast is a very basic windshell that's inexpensive and well constructed. I really like its DWR finish as well as its large pockets and adjustable hood. It is lightweight, compressible, and seems like it will provide adequate protection from wind and rain in warm weather situations. I am anxious to evaluate its waterproofness and durability, and am hoping to use it quite often on backpacking trips during the next few months.

This concludes my Initial Report for the Montbell Wind Blast parka.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I had many opportunities to evaluate the Montbell Wind Blast parka during Field Testing thanks to record rainfall and cooler than normal temperatures in the Midwest. Most of my testing took place on trails in Central and Southern Indiana although I also wore the Wind Blast quite frequently while biking and around town during the past two months. Temperatures during this test period ranged from 52 to 86 F (11 to 30 C) while weather conditions varied from warm, rainy days and nights to cool, rainy days and nights. Yes, rain was a common theme throughout the past two months. In fact Indiana set a record of 9 in (23 cm) of rain in the month of June. June was also the fourth-wettest of any month on record in Indiana, dating back to 1895. The elevations I backpacked in ranged from 550 to 932 ft (168 to 284 m). Further details of my trips are highlighted below:

IMAGE 1 Trip One: (2 days, 2 nights) Backpacking in Southern Indiana
Weather: Mild (66 to 72 F / 19 to 22 C) and rainy
Elevation: 710 to 860 ft (216 to 262 m)
Distance: This trip involved hiking though hilly terrain for several miles and then setting up camp on high ground. Total distance hiked was 7.4 mi (12 km).
Pack Weight: 22 lb (10 kg)
Brief Comments: I wore the jacket during most of the trip and only got mildly sweaty while hiking in and out.

Trip Two: (3 days, 2 nights) Backpacking in the Hoosier National Forest over July 4th weekend
Temperature: Warm (65 to 76 F / 18 to 24 C) with heavy rain the first night and then scattered showers the following two days.
Elevation: 600 to 920 ft (183 to 280 m)
Distance: This trip involved bushwhacking 2 mi (3.2 km) into my campsite. Thank goodness I was hammocking and not camping on the ground in these wet, muddy conditions. Total distance hiked was 5.6 mi (9 km).
Pack Weight: 24 lb (11 kg)
Brief Comments: The jacket kept me warm and dry while backpacking and hanging (no pun intended) around camp.

Trip Three: (2 days, 1 night) Hiking and camping in Franklin County, IN
Temperature: Warm (74 to 79 F / 20 to 27 C) with steady showers throughout the day.
Elevation: 889 ft (271 m)
Distance: On this trip, I hiked 4.5 mi (7.2 km)
Pack Weight: 26 lbs (12 kg)
Brief Comments: Once again the jacket kept me dry although it did not seem to breathe very well in the hot, humid weather, especially when I was hiking hard.

IMAGE 2 Trip Four: Day trip to Strawtown Koteewi Park, Noblesville, Indiana (IN)
Temperature: 71 F (22 C) with intermittent but heavy rain.
Elevation: 791 ft (241 m)
Distance: 6 mi (9.5 km)
Pack Weight: 7 lb (3 kg)
Brief Comments: More rain, no surprise. Trails, surprisingly, were not too muddy. I took the opportunity on this trip to do some trail running.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

During Field Testing I mainly used the Wind Blast parka as a rain jacket. However on several occasions I also used it as a warmth layer, such as when biking during early morning hours or when waking up to cool temperatures in camp. It also prevented the mosquitoes from biting my torso when I wore it at sunrise and sunset. My overall impressions of the jacket during testing were quite positive. The Wind Blast was comfortable to wear over a wide range of temperatures, provided excellent wind and rain protection, dried quickly, and seemed to be very durable.

Comfort and fit: The jacket was soft and comfortable to wear throughout this test period. In testament to its versatility I packed and used it in temperatures ranging from 52 to 86 F (11 to 30 C). The chest and waist area fit well over my short and long sleeve T-shirts, which were pretty much all that I wore during Field Testing. Thanks to the smooth interior of the jacket it never got hung up on my base layer while putting it on like fleece has a tendency to do. I also didn't notice any rubbing or chafing of the seams against my skin.

Weather Resistance: The Wind Blast did a great job of shedding rain. I can honestly say that I'm a true believer in the Polkatex technology used to treat this jacket as more than half a dozen times I was caught in steady or pouring rain and it simply beaded up and rolled off the jacket. Being that the fabric is only single layer and so thin and lightweight I thought for sure that it would wet through eventually, but contrary to my notions the jacket kept me bone dry for hours at a time. Just as surprisingly no rain entered through the front zipper or seams, neither of which is waterproof.

The hood too did a wonderful job of keeping me dry. It was the perfect size, not too big or small for my head, and it gave me complete freedom of motion to look any direction I wanted without restricting my view. When I wore a baseball cap, which was about half the time, it easily fit under the hood with no problems at all.

IMAGE 3
Although not insulated, the jacket provided some warmth in cooler weather simply by trapping my body heat and not allowing any wind to penetrate the fabric. I found this most evident on cool, early morning bike rides when wind protection was necessary. The elastic arm cuffs kept the cold air from blowing up my sleeves while its waist adjustable draw cord kept the jacket from puffing up around me.

Ventilation / breathability: Although the Wind Blast did a great job of keeping the elements out, I found it was not very good at releasing moisture and water vapor. Several times I found myself sweating in the jacket. Although temperatures and humidity were high on these occasions and I was backpacking aggressively and generating quite a bit of heat, I still found myself wishing there was some way to ventilate without removing the jacket. Opening the front zipper helped cool my chest area but did nothing for my back and underarms and the micro pit vents did not seem to do much at all. One thing I will say is when the inside of the jacket got wet, it dried very quickly as soon as I removed it.

Durability: So far I have had no problems with the durability of this jacket. There was no noticeable deterioration of the fabric anywhere or any indication of loose seams while testing. Despite wearing the Wind Blast through thick forests it did not get torn on any briars or tree branches and that says a lot about the durability of 40D nylon. It also says a lot about Polkatek's ability to resist abrasion, which is something I was interested in seeing for myself after reading about it on the manufacturer's website.

The jacket doesn't show any signs of wear from my pack straps, from washing it twice, or from packing it repeatedly in its stuff sack but I will continue to monitor this during the next two months to see if the water repellency remains as good as it has been so far.

Features: I found the pockets to be quite useful for storing small items and I liked the fact that they were zippered so nothing could fall out. I also appreciated the fact that Montbell made them high enough so they were accessible when wearing my backpack. I also really like that the Wind Blast is light weight and compressible; this in fact guarantees I'll take it wherever I go. One thing that would be nice, however, is if the stuff sack was sewn right into the jacket instead of included as a separate item that could potentially get lost.

SUMMARY

Overall the Wind Blast is a wonderful jacket that delivers on all fronts. It's lightweight, compressible, water resistant, wind proof and quite durable. I really enjoyed wearing this jacket during the past few months and look forward to my next two months of testing.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I took the Wind Blast Parka on three more backpacking trips during Long Term Testing. I also wore it frequently during the past few weeks while bicycling and running errands around town, due to cooler fall temperatures.

Brown County, Indiana (IN): This was a two night backpacking trip of approximately 11 miles (18 km). The weather was warm and wet with temperatures in the upper 70s F (26 C). Rainfall during this trip was almost 2.1 inches (5.3 cm), another great test for the Wind Blast parka. The terrain I hiked through was heavily forested and quite rugged.

Hoosier National Forest, Indiana (IN): Daytime temperatures reached 98 F (37 C) on this overnight backpacking trip through the Charles Deam Wilderness Area. I hiked approximately 5 miles (8 km) on this trip, mostly on trail with a brief bushwhack to our campsite on the shore of Lake Monroe. The terrain was forested and moderately hilly with elevations ranging from 530 ft (161 m) to 780 ft (238 m). Needless to say I didn't use the Wind Blast for anything more than a camp pillow on this outing since it was extremely hot and never rained.

Franklin County, Indiana (IN): This was another overnight backpacking trip through the rolling fields and mature forests of Southeastern Indiana. I hiked 5 mi (8 km) on the first day and 4 mi (6.4 km) on the second day. The weather during this trip was cool and breezy with partly sunny skies and afternoon highs in the mid 70s F (24 C). The Wind Blast did a great job of keeping me warm during the cool early morning and late evening hours.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Montbell Wind Blast jacket continued to perform well throughout my Long Term Testing. It even earned its way onto my list of essential three season backpacking gear thanks to its lightweight design and proven capabilities.

During the past two months the Wind Blast protected me from wind and rain and trapped my body heat for warmth when the weather got cool. Most of the time I wore it over a t shirt or long sleeve base layer and it worked wonderfully. I imagine I could also wear it underneath an insulating vest or fleece jacket in colder conditions but the weather wasn't conducive to doing so during this test series.

The Wind Blast also proved to be quite durable despite the thinness of its nylon fabric. After four months of testing I have not noticed any signs of wear on the shoulders or where my pack's waist belt contacted the jacket. The zippers continue to work fine and I have had no problems with them getting stuck or catching other material.

When not on the trail I found myself taking the Wind Blast with me everywhere I went. I frequently tossed it in my car or wore it while biking or running errands around town. It was small enough in its stuff sack that I pretty much took it everywhere. I also really liked the hood which made it so much more versatile in cooler, windy conditions.

During my three day trip to Brown County, IN the Montbell Wind Blast was an indispensable piece of gear due to nearly constant rain showers. As usual, it was up to the task and performed flawlessly. For three days on the trail I stayed warm and dry while everything around me got soaking wet. When not in use I hung the jacket from the ridgeline of my hammock and it dried quickly. Similar to my results during Field Testing, no rain came through the zippers or fabric seams despite the fact that they weren't waterproof. In regards to breathability, I once again noticed some perspiration inside the jacket but only after exerting myself hard while hiking.

My two day backpacking trip to the Hoosier National Forest saw extremely hot and humid weather conditions with a heat index of 104 F (40 C). I thought for sure I would need the Wind Blast while hiking out of camp as early morning radar showed large thunderstorms just west of us in Illinois, but we somehow managed to escape the rain. Although I didn't wear the Wind Blast on this trip I was still able to use it as a camp pillow and it worked surprisingly well. As mentioned above the Wind Blast is so light weight and compact that I don't mind carrying it in my pack, even if it's not needed to protect me from wind or rain.

Temperatures were much nicer on my trip to Franklin County, IN. In fact it got cool enough at night and during the early morning hours that I wore the Wind Blast over my t shirt for additional warmth. Simply adding this thin layer of clothing made a world of difference. As temperatures cool down even further this fall I look forward to wearing this jacket even more.

SUMMARY

This concludes my Long Term Report for the Montbell Wind Blast parka and this test series. Thanks to Montbell and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this jacket.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

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