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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Montane Minimus Grand Tour Jacket > Test Report by Larry Kirschner

Montane Minimus Grand Tour Jacket

TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER

Montane Minimus Grand Tour


INITIAL REPORT - May 23, 2015
FIELD REPORT - August 16, 2015
LONG-TERM REPORT - October 29, 2015



TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 51
LOCATION: Columbus, Ohio
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 210 lb (95 kg)

I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but when my kids were avid Boy Scouts, I caught the backpacking bug. Now that they have grown up, my wife and I plan to continue our adventures on the trail. I consider myself a mid-weight backpacker because I like comfort, but I can always learn to go lighter and longer.


INITIAL REPORT
April 25, 2015

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Montane
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Country of Manufacture: China
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.montane.co.uk/
MSRP: £ 170.00 (USD $259.70 on June 6 2015)

Color: Electric blue / Burnt orange zips (which I am testing) and Black / Aurora green zips
Weight:
       Per manufacturer: 215.9 g / 7.6 oz (for size M)
       Measured: 230 g / 8.1 oz on non-digital scale (size XL or Eur 56) (weight is 235 g / 8.3 oz inside stuff bag)


ITEM DESCRIPTION

Montane is a UK-based company that is focused around the design and production of "Lightweight and breathable clothing for mountain climbing, running and biking." For this test, I will be evaluating the Minimus Grand Tour Jacket, which, is described as follows on the manufacturer's website: "Designed for ultra long distance trekking, the Minimus Grand Tour Jacket has been shaped and tailored to work with a 50 litre plus backpack, providing the coverage and protection needed during spring summer showers."

The Grand Tour Jacket (or simply, "the jacket") is a single layer waterproof shell, designed to be worn under a backpack. The jacket is made out of a 100% ripstop nylon called Pertex, which is designed as a sophisticated wicking, breathable fabric. Pertex is a 55 g/m2 2.5 layer 15 x 40 D nylon rated waterproof with a minimum MVTR rating of 7000 g/m2/24 hr at a minimum of 10,000 mm hydrostatic head. The body of the jacket is made from Pertex Shield + laminate, which provides high breathability while remaining waterproof. The numbers on the Pertex Shield + show that it is a 53 g/m2 12.5 layer fabric rated waterproof to 25,000g/m2/day mm MVTR with a 20,000 mm hydrostatic head. Having no idea what these numbers mean, I found that MVTR is the "moisture vapor transmission rate," which I take to mean its breathability. (Incidentally, I found out that human skin has an MVTR of 200-400). The spray rating (measure of waterproof-ness) is 80/20 for both fabrics, which is better than a typical umbrella.

The shoulders, hips, and rear are made of a slightly different version of Pertex, the Pertex Shield Lite, which is supposed to provide more durability for wear and tear. The design is intended to place the more durable fabric where it would get worn by pack straps.

Minimus inside

In order to enhance waterproof-ness, the jacket has microtaped seams throughout, and the seams are placed where they are unlikely to come into contact with the pack.

Mminimus seams

The jacket has fully articulated arms to allow free movement of the arms, such as might be needed when using trekking poles. The jacket has pit zips, each zipper measuring 9 in/22.9 cm. The sleeves also have an elastic ring at the bottom to minimize slipping and prevent rain from getting inside the sleeve.

Pit zips

There is a large and fully adjustable hood which should be able to fit over a cap. The hood itself also has a semi-rigid front, making it form a short brim over the wearer's eyes. The hood has two elastic drawstrings that can be tightened to keep the hood close. One has tabs on the front lapels, and these draw the opening of the hood closed. The other is pulled from a catch on the back of the hood, and tightens the circumference of the hood, shrinking the effective hat size and making the brim tighter.

Minimus hood

There is a large zipper pocket on the left chest, which is designed to be used to stash a map, a GPS, or an electronic device (e.g., phone or mp3 player). On the size XL, the zipper is 8.5 in / 21.6 cm, and the slight asymmetric pocket inside is 7 in / 17.8 cm wide and 11.25-13 in / 28.6-33.0 cm high.

Pocket

I did note there are no side pockets for stashing my hands. The front zipper goes all the way down and is a "YKK matte Aqua Guard zipper." There is also a drawstring around the waist that can be tightened against rain or wind.

Minimus Bottom

Lastly, the jacket comes with a small mesh stuff sack, which enables me to pack the jacket up into a lumpy cylinder which is 6 in/15.25 cm tall with a diameter of about 5.5 in/14.0 cm, as shown in the photo below.
It's in the bag

INSTRUCTIONS and WARRANTY

There wasn't a whole lot of information accompanying the jacket, although the hangtag states the following: "Montane products are guaranteed against faults in workmanship and materials for the reasonable lifetime." The product can be registered online, which is also where the care information is found, and the website is provided on the garment's hangtag.

    The website reads:
  • The Minimus Grand Tour Jacket uses PERTEX fabric which contains a Durable Water Repellency (DWR) as the first barrier in keeping you dry. Clean your garment in order to maintain this.
  • Machine wash in warm water at 30 C / 86 F with a mild detergent. MONTANE recommends that you use Nikwax Tech Wash.
  • Do not use fabric softeners or bleach.
  • Drip dry.
  • Your jacket may need occasional re-proofing to restore the DWR. MONTANE recommends Nikwax TX Direct.
  • Please see www.nikwax.com for more information.



INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The jacket looks cool, and it appears to be extremely well manufactured, as might be expected for a high quality technical grade shell. I tried it on, and was struck by the fact that the jacket is rather long and narrow. It fits me well across the shoulders, but is much tighter down the torso, so that there is not a lot of room across my chest or stomach. I know many mountaineers are tall and thin, but that is not my shape! I wasn't sure I could comfortably wear a fleece underneath, but that proved to be no issue in my living room. I'll have to see how well it works when wearing a pack.

I wore the Minimus on a car-camping trip to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. It actually rained so much that we cut the trip short by a day. However, I can say that the jacket easily kept me dry in the rain that I experienced. Like other unlined raincoats I have worn, I found myself getting a little hot and sticky, as I was only wearing it over a t-shirt. It was a snap to stuff it into the bag, or pull it out when needed.

EXPECTATIONS for the Montane Minimus Grand Tour Jacket:

I am excited to test this cool-looking shell. Although I never hope for rain on the trail, I'm looking forward to see what this jacket can do. I do like the fact that the jacket is designed so that the fabric on high contact areas (shoulders and lower back) is sturdier than in areas that shouldn't get a lot of abuse.


THE STORY SO FAR
    Impressive
  • Lightweight and waterproof
  • I like the big chest pocket
  • Easy to stuff and pack
    Concerns
  • I wish there were pockets for my hands
  • Need to make sure that I have enough room to move when wearing my backpack in the rain
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FIELD REPORT

August 16, 2015


FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the past few months, I have taken the Minimus Grand Tour raincoat with me on 2 short trips, on which it did not rain:

  • A 3-day/2-night 18 mile (29 km) hike on the Zaleski Backpacking Trail in McCarthur, Ohio. Elevation 750-1000 ft (230-305 m). HOT and humid.
  • A 3-day/2-night 16 mile (26 km) hike on the Adventure Hiking Trail in Corydon, Indiana. Elevation 450-850 ft (135-260 m). HOTTER and humid.
I also took the Grand Tour on 1 long trip:
  • An 11-day/10 night 80 mile (130 km) backpacking trip in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Cimarron, New Mexico. Elevation 6500-11800 ft (1980-3600 m). Temperatures with a low of 40 F / 4 C and high of 80 F / 27 C. We got rain on 4 days, including some extended rain lasting a few hours on 3 of the days.
In addition, I have carried and/or worn the Grand Tour on any day where rain was expected when I was at home. I probably wore it an additional 7 days at work, including a number of days wearing my daypack (which I usually carry to work).


FIELD EXPERIENCE

When I first got this jacket, I was worried that I would only have sunny days. Fortunately (?), the jacket got plenty of action during my trip to New Mexico. When not in use, the jacket spent a lot of time balled up in its stuff sack, which I tended to clip with a carabiner onto my belt. It is small enough that this was a convenient way to carry it when rain was threatening, although I did not do this when hiking. On the trail, it was stuffed into a pocket in my backpack, where its small size was not a problem. We got plenty of rain on the trip so I had a chance to use the jacket a number of times in camp, where it did an excellent job of keeping me dry. The fabric is thin, so it would easily dry within an hour. It is also rather wind resistant, so that I felt pleasantly warm on windy evenings in just the Grand Tour and a long-sleeve baselayer shirt.

The Minimus in Camp

However, I would say the jacket really shone when I had the chance to use it while on the trail. It did a terrific job of keeping me dry, even in substantial rain.

The Montane in the Mountains

Even though I mostly wore the Grand Tour over a short-sleeved t-shirt, I did not feel like the jacket was sticking to my skin. Also, I have had the experience with other unlined raincoats that I felt like I was baking myself in a sauna, so that I had rain on the outside, and sweat on the inside. This is definitely NOT the case with the Grand Tour, which kept me feeling dry inside the jacket. I experimented a bit with having the pit zips open or closed. My preference for most of the time was to leave them open to help dissipate more body heat on the trail, but I don't think it made a huge difference.

Usually when I'm on the trail, I leave my broad-brimmed hat on my head, even when it is raining, so I didn't use the hood by itself that much. However, on the times when I did, it worked quite nicely to keep the rain out of my face. Here is me and the fabulous Mrs. K on the trail.

Kirschners in the rain

I did use the pocket on occasion, although it was usually just to store the stuff bag when I was actually wearing the jacket. It was a good size to stick a lighter at times when I was getting ready to cook. I even put my camera in there once, although the weight made it rather uncomfortable.

Lastly, I commented in my IR about the fact that I thought the jacket was rather long and thin. After using it on the trail, I now understand. It is made long so that the bottom of the jacket is far below the hip strap of my backpack. If this were the length of a typical jacket, the bottom would be at about the same level as my hip belt, making for all kinds of problems on the trail. Having those extra few inches/cm on the bottom sure saved me a lot of problems getting wet in the rain. So, I have to complement Montane on having better product design than I initially thought! When the jacket is worn over rain pants (as shown below), I am nice and watertight.

Minimus Montane with full rain gear

When I got off the trail, I stuck the jacket in my washing machine. After letting it air dry, the Grand Tour was once again clean and shiny without any problems.


FIELD IMPRESSIONS

To date, I have been really impressed with the Montane Minimus Grand Tour. It fulfills its main function, which is keeping me dry in the rain. However, unlike other lightweight raincoats I have used, this one doesn't make me wet on the inside from sweat. I don't know how they do it, but it works great.

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LONG-TERM REPORT
October 29, 2015

FIELD CONDITIONS AND EXPERIENCE

Since returning from my big trip to New Mexico, my backpacking opportunities have been very limited. Usage of the Minimus GT jacket has only been for day wear around town, which has been rather disappointing.

On the occasions when I have worn it, it continues to keep me dry and comfortable. No additional significant wear and tear.


SUMMARY

Overall, I would say that the Montane Minimus Grand Tour Jacket is the best rain shell that I have used to date. It keeps me dry on the outside without causing a huge buildup of sweat on the inside. This will be my go-to jacket for backpacking, both for the excellent functionality mentioned and for its low weight and easy packability. I have two small quibbles with the design of the jacket (listed below), perhaps more related to my own 'luxury' tastes, where I am willing to tolerate a little extra weight for the sake of convenience. Still, overall a terrific piece of gear.

Things I liked about the Montane Minimus GT Jacket:
  • Keeps me dry in any type of rainy weather
  • Does not cause excessive sweating when wearing the jacket, even during high exertion such as backpacking
  • Excellent wind stopping ability
  • Packs up small and light
Things I might change about the Montane Minimus GT Jacket:
  • No pockets for hands
  • Would be better if stuff bag was attached or integrated into the jacket

Thanks to Montane for providing this terrific technical rain shell for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for giving me the chance to participate in the evaluation process.

-larry kirschner


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