MONTANE MINIMUS GRAND TOUR JACKET
TEST SERIES BY JOHN R. WATERS
INITIAL REPORT - May 21, 2015
FIELD REPORT - August 21, 2015
LONG TERM REPORT - October 24, 2015
John R. Waters
jrw at backpackgeartest dot org
Canon City, Colorado USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
175 lb (79.40 kg)
My backpacking began in 1999. I have hiked rainforests in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, 14ers in Colorado and Death Valley's deserts.
I hike or snowshoe 6-8 miles (10 km-13 km) 2-3 times weekly in the Cooper Mountain range, with other day-long hikes on various other southwest and central Colorado trails. I frequently hike the mountains and deserts of Utah and Arizona as well.
My daypack is 18 lb (8 kg); overnights' weigh over 25 lb (11 kg). I'm aiming to reduce my weight load by 40% or more.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.montane.co.uk
MSRP: £170.00 or US $268.60 on May 15, 2015
Listed Weight: 7.6 oz (215.9 g) for Men's Medium
Measured Weight: 8.5 oz (241 g) for Men's Large
Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Size Tested: L (large)
Colors Available: Electric blue with Burnt orange zippers & Black with Aurora green zippers
Color Tested: Black w/ green zippers
Fabric: PERTEX® Shield and PERTEX® Shield +, a wind and waterproof fabric
MADE IN CHINA.
Warranty: "All MONTANE® products are guaranteed against faults in workmanship and materials for the reasonable lifetime of the product."
|My first impression of the Montane Minimus Grand Tour Jacket can be summed up with one word. "Wow!" Even better looking in person than on the Montane website, the Grand Tour immediately brings to mind a quality, feature loaded and functional jacket. Just, wow!|
Thanks to the bright, contrasting colors, the front zipper opening and the slashed left-sided chest pocket zipper were the first things that caught my attention when checking out the jacket. And those zippers are not just pretty details, either. The front zipper has AquaGuard which is a latex-free impermeable moisture barrier originally engineered to protect surgical incisions and dressings while showering or bathing. (Google is a wonderful thing.) Plus there is a generously-sized internal storm flap. The chest pocket zipper secures a pocket easily big enough for my GPS or a small camera.
The body of the jacket is a very, very thin, almost tissue-like, smooth, nice feeling material. It has a very slim silhouette and sports underarm angled vents also with the AquaGuard YKK zippers, same as the front center zipper though not in a contrasting color. A particularly interesting feature of the jacket body is how Montane placed the seams specifically away from areas of the body which come in contact with a backpack. Across the back of the jacket, Montane uses a yoke construction. The sleeves of the jacket are articulated and flexible.
There is an attached hood with a slightly rounded visor that is fully adjustable via three separate pull and barrel lock adjustments and is certainly roomy enough for my heaviest headwear.
There is a drawcord for the hem and the cuffs are semi-elastic and comfortably snug fitting.
Lastly, Montane thoughtfully included a mesh stuff sack for the Grand Tour jacket for convenient storage when on the trail but not on my back.
|Jacket in Stuff Sack vs. Liter Water Bottle|
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
According to the Montane website care instructions, the PERTEX® fabric from which the Grand Tour Jacket is constructed contains a Durable Water Repellency (DWR) surface. In order to maintain optimum repellency, the jacket must be kept clean. To do this, when needed, it is recommended to machine wash the jacket in warm water (approximately 30°C/86°F) using a mild detergent. MONTANE recommends Nikwax Tech Wash. Fortunately, I use that so no need to purchase a new product.
Neither fabric softeners nor bleach should be used on the jacket, nor should the jacket be machine dried but rather it should be hung up to drip dry.
When the jacket needs (occasionally) re-proofing MONTANE recommends Nikwax TX Direct to restore the DWR. Again, a product I'm very familiar with, thankfully.
Sounds easy enough for my wife to handle. (Ducking!)
TRYING IT OUT
When checking out the general size chart on the Montane website, I found that a men's L (large) would fit a chest size of 42 in (107 cm) and waist size of 34 in (86 cm). The website indicates the jacket is "active" cut. Hmmm. While I fit into the chest size requirement, the waist size is not exactly mine. It's where I'd like to be, but a couple of inches (5 cm) short in reality. The Grand Tour is definitely slim. I can zip it closed but a bulky mid-layer is not possible for me. Guess I'll have to pass on those s'mores.
The sleeves are very long on me. My sleeve length from shoulder seam to wrist is 24 inches (61 cm). The Grand Tour sleeve length is easily 3 inches (7.6 cm) beyond my wrists.
Most notable is the length of the jacket. It's long and even longer in the back with a rounded hem that totally covers my whole backside. I measured the middle of the back of the jacket from collar seam to hem at 34 inches (86 cm).
|Back of Montane Minimus Grand Tour Jacket|| |
|Front of Montane Minimus Grand Tour Jacket|
I will have to get used to the idea of not having any hand warmer pockets and maybe the sleeve length will compensate when it's windy or wet. The chest pocket is spacious but due to the cut of the jacket, putting anything the slightest bit bulky in there is not going to work. I will have to stuff more stuff in the waist belt pocket of my backpacks, I guess.
The zippers all work easily and even the 8 inch (20 cm) long pit zips pull smoothly open and closed.
Close inspection of the jacket supports my initial impression that the Grand Tour is well-made with no loose threads, pulled or puckered material or surface blemishes. Now let's see how it handles my rough treatment in the mountains of Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.
It seems like since the Montane Minimus Grand Tour Jacket has arrived on my door step, it's been fogging, misting or raining. So much so, I haven't been able to get out in the wilderness. Heck, I can barely get down my dirt road. I have been grateful to have the Grand Tour to keep me dry while hiking through the mud to the car, the wood pile, etc. though. Also, really am appreciative of the stuff sack and the small stowing size. Handy to toss in the car, just in case. I'm very excited about this jacket and can't wait to put it through its paces on some backcountry trails and mountain tops this summer.
HOW IT HANDLED RAIN
When field testing a rain jacket one thing that helps with the testing is to have a lot of rain … when out in the field. We've had an unusual amount of rain in Colorado earlier this year and a few afternoon monsoon storms but little of it actually fell when we were hiking or backpacking. The rain didn't find me when it needed to. So, I had to go find it.
I kept the jacket with me almost all the time, waiting for a good downpour. It packs really small, so having it along wherever I went was never a problem. It's been stuffed in my car with my tools, stuffed in my carry-on for out-of-state trips, squished in my daypack, folded in my backpack and tossed around in various places to be ready for a downpour.
It survived plenty of rough treatment. The jacket is light-weight for sure. So taking it along was never a burden. I felt sorta like a storm chaser.
It did kinda rain on a 10 mi (16 km) round-trip fly fishing trek in Rocky Mountain National Park when we were returning from a high-mountain lake full of cutthroat trout.
Hiking down from 9,000 ft (2700 m) it started to pour and because I knew it was eminent, I had put the jacket on in anticipation. It was about 80 F (27 C) so it was warm and we were moving along pretty quickly downhill over rocky terrain and I had a pretty heavy daypack full of gear that weighed probably 25 lb (11 kg) or so. When it started pouring, I was easily able to reach back and pull the hood over my head and I could see the water beading up on all surfaces of the jacket. Of course, the daypack was not covered, so it got wet, but I stayed dry under the jacket.
I noticed condensation though. The inside of the sleeves seemed to be wet but not from rain passing through the fabric. I was warm from the aerobic activity and that allowed me to create a micro-climate that made it rain inside the jacket. That means the fabric didn't breathe as much as was needed to stop that from happening. It wasn't a lot but the surface of my arm was damp.
On another occasion, I was working at home and the forecast was for violent storms and 0.25 in (0.64 cm) of rain. A real downpour was coming. Since we have 71 acres (29 hectares) adjacent to 400 square miles (518 square kilometers) of state and federal land (in other words we are out in the mountains with plenty of hiking space), I put the jacket on and started hiking as the sky darkened above me. Then it came down. I've learned to put the hood on a shell up as soon as I think it will be needed, lest I end up dunking myself with water or snow that gets collected in the hood. Glad I did this time, because it really came down hard. Pounding big drops and small hailstones. The temperature dropped from 90 F to 74 F (32 to 23 C) in minutes.
One very nice feature of this jacket is that it is long enough to cover almost my entire butt.
So far, I've really enjoyed wearing this jacket. It's lightweight, comfortable to wear and easy to pack. It has held up well to rough packing and bushwhacking. No negatives that I can find as of yet.
CONDITIONS AND FIELD PERFORMANCE
I am filing my final report a few weeks late because I REALLY wanted to test this jacket in cooler weather. There was a cool spell forecasted with a lot of rain and I wanted to be out in it with the Minimus.
Throughout the last couple of months, I had packed the Minimus with me wherever we went, hoping it would rain. Apparently, this jacket not only repels rain, it keeps it away. Short of having my wife point a hose at me, testing rain gear is sorta like testing a first aid kit.
In early October, we hiked several miles/kilometers in the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, USA where we found some rain. It's a wonderful place where there are no "trails", but 6 ft (1.8 m) high red posts every 0.25 miles (0.4 km) or so that we needed to spot to traverse to the next point. We were doing this under a dark cloudy sky with thunder and lightning not far away. I was hoping it would rain HARD. It didn't much. Here is a picture of me putting the jacket on over my layers. The shell stuffs into the day pack just great and is easily put on.
|Here Comes the Rain!|| |
|White Sands National Monument|
At about 65 F (18 C), I was quite comfortable and, with just a couple of technical base and mid layers on, movement was fine with a day pack on. I did open both pit zips to allow more air to flow and after a few miles/kilometers, I had to zip down the main center zip because I was getting too warm. I left the jacket on for several hours more because it would drizzle on and off and because, as sunset came it started to get cooler, down to around 53 F (12 C). The jacket works just great as a light wind breaker and adds just enough as a layer for extra warmth.
I have noticed that in light rain, the high collar is a little overkill. The collar, which when the zipper is closed all the way up, extends to up under my nose. Because it was a light rain at White Sands, I didn't need face protection up to my nose, but if the main zipper is not zipped up all the way, there are "wings" that flop around and brush against the sides of my face and my chin. If I leave the "wings" flopping out, they also collect rain drops that will enter down the front of my neck. With my wife's help we figured out that I can fold the "wings" inward and down to keep them out of the way and kinda stuff them under my chin.
|High Collar and Hood|| |
This week here in Colorado we had a few days of heavy rain at 45 F (7 C). Now I was able to test this in cooler weather, where I could mitigate any interior wetness from condensation expected in 80 F (27 C) weather. I started off on a 6 mile (9.7 km) trek in pouring rain at 5600 ft (1.7 km) altitude. The forecast was for 0.8 inches (2 cm) in 2 hours. I had 4 interior layers on and a day pack with gear I needed for a tower repair in the rain up on a high ridge. Pack was probably just 20 lb (9 kg). I had to use trekking poles because of the steep slopes and slippery rocks.
The Minimus did just fine comfort-wise. Full motion. No feeling of pulling or tightness. Quite comfortable under the pack. I could easily reach the left breast pocket to get tissues and cell phone. In all that rain, I really appreciated the long length.
I was in constant rain for about 2 hours. At 5600 ft (1.7 km) above sea level and at 45 F (7 C), I was quite comfortable with just those 4 layers on under the Minimus. I stopped to work in a shed full of solar controllers and batteries for 20 minutes and then started the hike back. About half way back I started to feel a little cooler and thought the temperature was dropping, but it was still 45 F (7 C). I didn't think any more of it. I was cooler but still not at all uncomfortable. When I got back and took the shell off, the interior was wet. It wasn't condensation. My outer under base layer was wet also. I hung it out to dry in the laundry room and it dried within an hour or so (our humidity here, even in a thunderstorm, rarely goes over 80%).
So in conclusion:
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
* This is a very comfortable shell. It has a slim fit though. I am 5 ft 7 in. (1.7 m) with a 36 in (91 cm) waist and 22 in (56 cm) arm length. The shell fits tight around my waste. It looks great though. I was able to get it zipped up with 4 base layers and a down vest, but there was a degree of compression going on and not much wiggle room for me, but it did zip up all the way and I doubt if I could have comfortably added another layer. The sleeves go down to the middle of my hands, so when raining I can pull my hands in and they will be covered by the sleeve.
* In light rain and for durations of constant rain under about 30 minutes, the shell seems to not allow water to pass through. However, a few hours of constant rain will permeate the jacket and the interior will be wet.
* This is extremely easy to pack and carry around. Plus, it has been very durable. I have used this jacket bushwhacking through rough terrain, getting caught on bushes and tree limbs, and not a sign of stress.
* This is the 3 season jacket that I will pack all the time because of its compact size and light weight.
Thank you to Montane and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to experience the Grand Tour Minimus Jacket.
John R. Waters
Read more gear reviews by John Waters