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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Montane Flux Mens Jacket > Test Report by David Wilkes

Test series by David Wilkes

Montane Flux Jacket 

Initial Report - Dec 4 2013
Field Report - Feb 20 2014
Long Term Report - Apr 15 2014

Tester Information

Name: David Wilkes
E-Mail: amatbrewer@yahoo.com
Age: 47
Location: Yakima Washington USA
Gender: M
Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight: 197 lb (89.40 kg)

Biography:

I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions the Northwest has to offer.  I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30 lbs (14 kg).

Product Information

Manufacturer:

Montane

Year of Manufacture:

2013

Manufacturer’s Website:

www.montane.co.uk

MSRP:

US$ 198.95

Weight:

Listed 550 g / 19.4 oz (Size M) 
Measured 567 g / 20oz (Size L)

Size:

S, M, L, XL, XXL

Color:

  • Steel / Burnt orange lining / Burnt orange zips
  • Alpine red / Graphite lining / Graphite zips
  • Moroccan blue / Graphite lining / Graphite zips
  • Black / Steel lining / Kiwi zips

Product image
Image courtesy of www.montane.co.uk

Product Description:

The Montane Flux jacket is marketed as a belay jacket, with PRIMALOFT Echo insulation and a windproof, water resistant, rip stop outer shell and a number of features intended to make this jacket usable for alpine activities in various weather, including but not limited to an adjustable helmet compatible hood and large pockets designed to be usable even when wearing a backpack or climbing harness.

Initial Report

Dec 4 2013

Hood adjustmentNOTE: At the time of submitting this report, the jacket I received has been returned and I am awaiting a replacement due to needing a larger size. When requesting the jacket I looked at the size chart and product description. Per the size chart I was between a large and an extra large.I misread the sizing description thinking the jacket was from the High Mountain line which offers a loose cut to fit over bulky insulation.  Rather this jacket comes from the “CLASSI MOUNTIAN” line with a more relaxed and general fit. Based upon my reading the wrong description I requested a size large because I do not think I will end up using it over another insulating layer. Upon trying the size large on I found that while the torso and sleeve lengths fit me well, it was a bit tight across the back. I contacted the distributor and was instructed to return the jacket and they would send me a replacement.

Upon receiving the jacket I inspected it for any flaws or signs of defect and found none. I tried the jacket on and aside for the above mentioned issue with the size I liked the cut and ease of accessing the features. The jacket features large pockets, two hand warmer pockets positioned to be accessible even when wearing a backpack hip belt or a harness, two large (described as “map sized”) Napoleon pockets, and one internal “security” pocket which I found to also be quite large. Given its features something that surprised me is that it does not contain an internal mesh glove drying pocket like many jackets do. The jacket has no collar, but the hood can be rolled up and secured with strip of material using hook-n-loop patches to hold it in place. The hood has 3 adjustments; one on either side to adjust the face opening and one in the back to adjust the hood volume. The hood also includes a visor with an internal wire to help it hold its shape (a feature I like). The hood side adjustment cords have another of the details that I like about this jacket; they are routed through ports down the front of the jacket, presumably to prevent them from flopping around and possibly striking the wearer in the face. The sleeve cuffs can be adjusted using tabs with hook-n-loop.

Zipper close upThe jacket uses PRIMALOFT Echo insulation in different weights throughout the jacket. 100 g [3.5 oz] is used in the main body and arms, 60 g [2 oz] in the hood and in front of the chest pockets (with the 100g [3.5 oz] in the jacket body behind the chest pocket that means a total of 160 g  [5.6 oz]). The idea is more insulation in the core where it is most needed. Something of note is the jacket does not contain any venting options aside for the front, dual, zip. The insulated pockets are a good idea as they can be utilized without losing much body heat however in many jackets the pockets, along with what is known as pit zips help the user to ventilate rather than remove the garment when necessary. Since this is marketed as a belay jacket so intended to be used when less active, I can understand the reasoning for this as it gives maximum warmth while minimizing the weight.


Field Report

Feb 20 2014
Wine TrailDuring the time of the field testing my area got very strange weather. Very little snow and extreme temperatures ranging from record (or near record) lows to abnormal highs. For example after a period of record low temperatures making outings dangerous I finally managed an overnight trip up in the Washington Cascades and the temperatures never got below freezing. Go figure.

Usage:
  • 1 overnight snowshoeing trip – Washington Cascades (5500’/1700 m)
  • 7 days of Nordic Skiing (Ski Patrol) – White Pass Washington
  • 1 day of Nordic Skiing (for fun) – White Pass Washington
  • 1 day hike – Bear Canyon, Eastern foothills, Washington Cascades
  • 1 day hike – Cowiche Canyon, Yakima Washington
  • 5 day family (holiday) trip to Cancun Mexico

As mentioned in the Initial Report I originally ordered the wrong size, so I contacted the distributer and had no trouble sending mine back for a replacement, and the replacement fit very well.

Hood OnI would like to say that this jacket is warm and comfortable. As such, in addition to the above use, it has become my everyday jacket, and by that I mean I have worn it just about every day since receiving it (with the obvious exception of during my trip to Mexico). In the morning it is the jacket I reach for. Being warm and comfortable while not bulky, makes it ideal for going out to sweep snow and/or scrape ice off of my truck. And since it takes most of my drive to work before my truck warms up, a warm comfortable jacket makes the drive a noticeably more comfortable.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, during my one overnight outing so far the temperatures hovered just a little above freezing the entire trip. I departed the trailhead late in the morning, went a short way along the trail before turning to climb a steep hill (about 50-60 degree slope) up to a peek that looked promising. I was hoping for some nice views but the tree cover was too dense for that. Soon after leaving my vehicle I had to remove the Flux jacket due to becoming overheated. After setting up camp I was damp (mostly from the effort of the climb, but also due to high humidity) and started getting cold so I put on the Flux jacket which I wore until I went to bed. For my Ski Patrol duties I mostly carried the jacket in my pack or left it in the Yurt. The jacket is far too warm for Nordic Skiing. However my duties result in frequent stops and periods of inactivity. This is where the jacket comes in handy. It compresses small enough to fit in my larger patrol pack (it is too large to fit in my lumbar pack) so that is where I keep it while I am skiing, ready for use when I need it.

One feature of the jacket is that it stuffs into one of its own pockets and can be used as a pillow. This is nice but there are two problems with this. First is the material. The material in the pocket is the same as on the outside of the jacket, as such it is very slick. The second is that the shape is a bit odd, kind of a trapezoid shape. These combine to make its use as a pillow poor at best. For example, during my trip to Mexico I brought the jacket as I figured it would come in handy (3 flights and 2 very long layovers). My daughter used it as a blanket during one of the layovers and I tried to use it as a pillow during the longer flight home (I was rather sick at the time with some sort of stomach bug), but its shape and slick surface made that impossible. Between the shape and slippery surface, no matter what I tried I could not make it work. Okay, so that is kind of a petty complaint, but I have not found any significant problems with this product.

NappingI have one other concern that I hope will be unfounded. Since receiving the jacket I have found a number of loose threads. When I discover them I make it a point of not pulling on them but wait until I can use a lighter to trim them. Having a few stray threads is not necessarily a problem but since I keep finding new ones I worry about the durability. This may be nothing but it is something I will be paying close attention to during the rest of the testing.

The insulated hood of this jacket is very well made. While it does not allow as much head movement as a separate piece, the rear drawstring tightens the hood around my head so that it fits like a hat and does turn at least part of the way without blocking my view. I really like that detail. The hood also contains a stiffening wire in the brim. That has worked well when it is snowing to keep the snow out of my face and eyes.

As I said above the jacket is very warm and very comfortable. I can’t stress that enough. The pockets are very large and well situated so that they are accessible even when wearing a backpack. The insulated pockets mean that I can actually use the hand warmer pockets to warm my hands without losing a bunch of heat from inside the jacket. Also, since I have a bad habit of forgetting to close the zippers on my pockets I don’t have to worry about that with this jacket. The flip side to this is that aside from the main front zipper there is no way to ventilate the jacket so when I start to overheat my only option is to remove it.

I would like to conclude this Field Report with a visual. Imagine if you will a Nordic Ski Patroller. It is the end of a day spent shoveling snow and skiing all of the trails. He is tired and damp from perspiration, and trying to finish the afternoon sweep of the trails. The final stretch is directly into a strong wind with snow stinging his face and snow bombs dropping from the tree with uncanny accuracy. Upon arriving at the parking lot he strips off his snow encrusted patrol jacket and puts on the Flux jacket with an audible sigh. It feels good to be warm and comfortable again.


Long Term Report

Apr 15 2014
  • 7 days of Nordic Skiing (Ski Patrol) – White Pass Washington
  • 1 overnight snowshoeing trip – Washington Cascades (5500’/1700 m)

For most of the two months since the previous report I continued to wear this jacket almost daily as my primary cold weather jacket. This would be normal for me when testing a product like this but even if I were not testing this jacket I would have been wearing it. This has continued to be the first jacket I reach for.

This jacket has been especially nice on days I patrol. Not for patrolling, it is far too warm for that, but after a hard day of patrolling when I am damp and tired it is so nice to put on this warm comfortable jacket.

I did a second overnight snowshoe trip since the last report. This time I did a full day of skiing (Nordic Ski Patrol) and then after sweep and a beverage with some friends I headed out to an area I had scouted out earlier in the day to set up camp. As a test I wore the Montane jacket for the short trek to my camp. As expected I was overheating very soon after starting out and had to remove it. However after arriving at my camp spot the first thing I did was drop my pack and put on the Montane jacket. It was snowing lightly, there was a light breeze and I was still a bit damp from the day’s skiing, so the comfortable warm layer was just what I needed. I removed the jacket before getting into my sleeping bag and stuffed the jacket into my stuff sack to use as a pillow.

I noted in the previous report that I had found some stray threads and was concerned about the durability and/or construction of the jacket. This has turned out to be unfounded. I have not had any more trouble with loose threads and the jacket is showing no signs of wear or any other problems.

So what is my final take on this jacket? Well, I have to say the jacket is what it is. By that I mean it is very good for what it is intended, a belay jacket. As a warm layer when I am inactive or at least not very active I really love it. It is very warm for its weight and bulk and it is extremely comfortable. As an example of its comfort I realize that normally when I anticipate a long drive I will remove my outer layer and rely on the vehicle heater, but I noticed one day about an hour into a long drive that I was still wearing the jacket and had no reason to remove it. When I am active it is a different story, the jacket is just too warm for any sort of activity in the conditions I normally encounter.  However since it is light and packs small I have no problem with packing it for use when I stop. As mentioned previously the jacket has no venting options. What would move this jacket from great to just about perfect for me would be the addition of venting options such as pit zips and to have mesh on the inside of one of the Napoleon pockets.

As the spring arrives and temperatures warm up I am finding I am wearing this jacket less and less. However I do not intend to put it away with my other winter clothing as I fully intend to get more use out of it during the spring and even summer for trips into the higher elevations, for cool evenings during family camping trips, and look forward to wearing it on the summit of Mt Adams in a few months.

Likes:
  • Many features and attention to detail
  • Water resistant / Windproof
  • Good warmth to weigh ratio
  • Hood visor with wire stiffener
Dislikes:
  • No ventilation options

This concludes my field report, I will be posting the long term report in about 2 months. I would like to thank the folks at Montane and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

 



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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Montane Flux Mens Jacket > Test Report by David Wilkes



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