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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > MontBell Convertible Jacket and Pants > Test Report by Gail Staisil

MontBell Convertible Rain Jacket and Pants
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan


Initial Report - May 10, 2016
Initial Report:
May 10, 2016

Tester Information

Name: Gail Staisil
Age: 63
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 160 lb (73 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
Email: woodswoman 2001 AT yahoo DOT com

For the last 20 years, backpacking has become a passion. I am a four-season backpacker and an off-trail navigator. Although I do take yearly trips to the American West or Southwest, the majority of my trips are in Michigan. My pack weight varies considerably but my base weight is below 18 lb (8 kg). I am primarily a tarp camper who averages more than 50 nights a year backpacking in a huge variety of weather conditions including relentless rain, wet snow and sub-zero temps.

Product Information

Manufacturer
MontBell Co., Ltd
Website http://www.montbell.us
Model Convertible Rain Jacket and Pants
Colors and Sizes
Jacket: Cyan, Gunmetal, Hot Red
Pants: Black
Unisex Sizes: S-XL
Manufacturer  Weight  Jacket: 9 oz (255 g)
Pants: 6.1 oz (173 g)
Tested Weight  Jacket 9.5 oz (269 g)
Pants: 8.1 oz (230 g) 
MSRP Jacket $179. US
Pants: $99. US
Origin
Thailand

Initial Impressions and Product Description 


The MontBell Convertible Rain Jacket and Pants arrived in great condition. The jacket was received in the color of Gunmetal and the pants in Black, both in size Large. Since the apparel is only in Unisex sizing I was a bit concerned with the fit. Usually I have no problem MontBell Convertible Jacketwith the length of Unisex garments and this was exactly the case. The pants have adequate length and width. The jacket certainly fits with both a baselayer and a vest, which I had on at the time of arrival. I am more concerned with fit if I had to layer with a light down jacket. Unisex garments usually don't allow for the width of women's hip size so although it fits, it could be larger. Both pieces of rain gear are advertised as having a semi-athletic fit. Sometimes I wonder why that is appropriate in rain gear.

Stuff sacksEach component had a stuff sack included. The stuff sacks have a dual closure system just like ones that come with MontBell sleeping bags (and maybe others). By closing the top draw first and then stuffing the top downwards, I can then close the lower draw and make it more compact. Both stuff sacks pack down to about 3 in by 3 in by 6 in (7.6 cm by 7.6 cm by 15.2 cm). The jacket however is a bit harder to stuff as there is more body to it. It is easy to get the contents out of the stuff sacks though, as there is a handy loop on the bottom of each sack to hold onto.

Both the jacket and pants are fabricated with Ballistic Airlight 15-denier ripstop and DRYTEC. The former is an ultralight and thin nylon with reportedly high wind resistance. The soft fabric is tested to be 1.5 times more abrasion resistant and 3 times stronger than nylons that are actually heavier. The fibers have been heated and stretched. DRYTEC is a 2-ply waterproof and breathable fabric that is supposed to be not only soft, but comfortable as well. Fabric is laminated to a a microporous membrane that is only 25 microns thick. It allows water vapor to escape. Next a polyurethane coating is applied and it is finished with a hydrophilic coating to wick moisture. The high water resistance is suggested to not change even after 20 washings.

One of the outstanding features of the set is the weight savings over many types of rain gear. The jacket and pants together only weigh about 17.6 oz (499 g) together plus the weight of the stuff sacks (0.4 oz/11 g each or 0.8 oz/22 g for both).  
 

Jacket Features

 
The rain jacket is the first of its kind that I have ever seen to feature convertible sleeves. Each lower arm section can be removed by the means of a zipper. The zipper is covered by a flap given that the zippers are not waterproof. The lower edge of the sleeves are elasticized half way around and the other half features a hook-and-loop closure. The convertible sleeves will likely allow flexibility in layering depending on temps and precipitation.tester

All seams are taped in the body of the jacket. There is a hang loop located in the interior back of the jacket as well as the MontBell symbol on the sleeve and the MontBell logo on the front chest. The bottom edge of jacket has two toggles that allow adjustment of the the elasticized cord that runs through the hem.

The front of the jacket features a lengthy waterproof (Aqua-Tect) zipper. The zipper is mostly black but has silver reflective accents throughout the middle portion. I found the zipper easy to use with no resistance. The front also features raglan sleeves whereas the back of the jacket is cut in one piece to the edges of the top part of the convertible sleeves. The sleeves are slightly articulated. The back length of jacket is almost 30 in (76 cm). It is nice and long to cover my back end.

There is a 7 in (17.8 cm) long chest pocket. The access or orientation of the pocket zipper (5 in/12.7 cm) is vertical. 

The featured hood has a minimalistic visor shape. The hood can be shaped with the means of a three-way adjustment in the back. A toggle is used to secure the desired measurement horizontally while the vertical measurement can be adjusted with a hook- and-loop closure. The perimeter of the hood can also be adjusted with two elastic draw cords, one on each side. They are encased in the edge binding.  


Pant Features

MontBell Convertible PantsThere are a number of outstanding features to the pants. First are the convertible legs. The inseam for the top part is over 11 in (28 cm) meaning that they come to about my knees. The entire inseam for size large is 32.5 in (83 cm). The removable lower legs also feature 19 + in (48 cm) zippers on the outer seams. The waterproof zippers are faced with a stiff material to make this process less fussy. This will surely be handy for taking the pants off without having to take off my boots!

The lower edge of the pants also have a drawcord on the interior edge to pull any excess fabric closer to my legs. There aren't toggles on these closures as the legs are supposed to be closed with the traditional Japanese "Samue Leg Closure System". From what I can understand the loop of cord is drawn out, then placed under the front of shoe, then it is brought around the ankle. I tried it but not sure if I like it ...maybe a simple overhand knot in the cord will do!

The waistline of the pants is elasticized and features an additional drawcord to secure the fit further. There is a hang loop sewn into the back interior of the pants as well. The seams are fully taped for waterproofness.

"Montbell" is screened onto the right side (while wearing) of the pants and the MontBell symbol is also screened on the area above the left knee.

Washing instructions inside the pants and jacket indicate to machine wash cold on gentle and line dry in the shade. MontBell has an area on their website that informs how to take care of waterproof and breathable clothing such as these. They suggest using powdered detergents in warm water and using a dryer to keep the finish. Since I normally do the latter with such garments I will follow those suggestions.


Summary

I am looking forward to taking the lightweight rain gear out in the field. It should be an interesting test especially to see how the convertible feature works while hiking/backpacking.


  Photo of Convertible Pants and Jacket - Courtesy of Manufacturer

 
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Field Report:
July 26, 2016

USA Locations and Conditions

During the testing period I have spent twelve days backpacking on four different trips. I have also traveled to the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin where there was much rain. Trip locations included lakeshore to boreal forest.  Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2,000 ft (610 m).

Location of Trip #1: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Length of Trip: 2 days, 1 night (May 27-28)
Pack Weight: 23 lb (10.4 kg) 
Distance: 22 mi (35.4 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, rain
Precipitation: Approx: 1 in (2.5 cm)
Temperature Range: 56 F to 76 F (13 C to 24 C)

Location of Trip #2: Isle Royale National Park, MichiganIsle Royale National Park
Length of Solo Trip: 4 days, 4 nights (June 7-11)
Pack Weight: Approx 28 lb (12.7 kg)
Distance: 35 mi (56 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Cloudy, sunny and rain
Precipitation: Rain, approx 0.25 in (0.64 cm)
Temperature Range: 43 F to 67 F (6 to 19 C)
   
Location of Trip #3: Grand Island National Recreation Area
Length of Solo Trip: 3 days, 2 nights (July 10-12) 
Pack Weight: 23 lb (10.4 kg)
Distances: 10 mi (16 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds and rain
Precipitation: Approx 0.5 in (1.27 cm) 
Temperature Range: 50 F to 82 F (10 C to 28 C)
     
Location of Trip #4: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park 
Length of Solo Trip: 3 days, 2 nights (July 20-22) 
Pack Weight: 26 lb (11.8 kg)
Distance: 11 mi (17.7 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds and rainstorms
Precipitation: approx 2+ in (5 cm)
Temperature Range: 62 F to 90 F (17 C to 32 C) 
 
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Trip Talk
 

During the first two months of testing the MontBell rain gear was worn more than I would have liked, just meaning that we have had a lot of rain! On my group trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore the first day ended with a whole evening of rain just after we ate dinner. Most of my camp mates headed to their tents to spend the evening while I donned my rain gear and headed down to the lakeshore. I stayed down there for several hours until dark so that I could enjoy the changes in landscape.

The next day I returned solo to my car for a distance of 11 mi (17.7 km). It started raining shortly after my departure. Since it was humid and warm I didn't put the rain gear on immediately. After awhile the rain steadily increased and I was getting wet. I descended off trail to take cover under a cliff edge with a small waterfall nearby. I was hot despite the rain so I put on the rain jacket but unzipped to the convertible feature as soon as I got it on (it was easy to detach the sleeves). I was surprised how much more comfortable I was with not having full-length sleeves. Remember I was already wet so I really didn't really care if my arms/shirt got wet. I was wearing a skirt with tights on the lower portion of my body so I didn't wear the rain pants as the temps were just too high (this was one of the first warm days of the season so even though the temps weren't what most people would think were high, the combination of high humidity and temps made me feel too warm.

During my trip to Isle Royale National Park I really only had one day of rain but it was very steady and heavy once it started. I kept dry while donning the full set of rain gear. I also had worn the jacket and pants each evening to serve as a warm layer as the lake and winds made the temps feel very cold. My Grand Island trip of two days also featured quite a bit of rain. There were two very stormy episodes of high winds and heavy rain. Each episode lasted anywhere from 2.5 hrs to 3.5 hrs. Although I was already at camp when the rain occurred, I donned the rain gear so that I could stay outside of my tent. My trip to the Porcupine Mountains State Park did not disappoint in the way of rain and storm conditions (high winds). In fact way more than 2 in (5 cm) of rain fell in one giant rainstorm that resulted in much damage to the park. Luckily I kept dry. The temps were very high (90 F/32 C) but luckily I was not doing much in the way of exertion (at camp) when the big storm occurred.
Taking cover to put the rain jacket on
As noted above I also traveled to Minnesota and Wisconsin during this time period spending more than a week in each location. I spent some of the time walking and again encountered many rainy periods. At home in Michigan the rain has also been persistent at least two days a week during the testing period.

I have been very pleased with the performance of the rain gear so far. It has not wet through and I feel mostly comfortable wearing it. It has layered well over other clothing and I have even worn it over my light down jacket for warmth on several occasions. It layered better than I thought as the Unisex sizing is generally smaller in the hip area. I really like the convertible features as I normally don't do well with the combination of hot weather and rain. It has made being in the rain much more enjoyable! I have been able to wear a ball cap or other hat under the hood without interference.

The only drawback to the jacket is that I find myself reaching for pockets that aren't there. Then I re-discover that the chest pocket is handy for things I need while hiking. No problem there. The fact that the rain pants don't have pockets at all is not a factor for me. I wouldn't use them anyway. The pants are easy to put and remove with their lengthy zippers. I have preferred to just draw the cord along the bottom edges of the pants and tie an overhand knot rather than use the "Samue" method. It just feels too restrictive!

I have found that the stuff sacks are handy but I really don't need to carry them on most trips. I generally just stuff the pants and jacket in the outside pocket of my pack so that they can be deployed quickly when needed. I guess if I were to hike in an area where rain was infrequent, I would be more inclined to keep them in their stuff sacks for storage.

 
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Long Term Report:
September 24, 2016

USA Locations and Conditions

During the long term testing period I have spent an additional eleven days backpacking and hiked into a rustic cabin on another trip for three days. All trips were in Michigan and Minnesota. Trip locations included lakeshore to boreal forest.  Elevation ranged from above 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2,000 ft (610 m).

Location of Trip #5: Hiawatha National Forest
Length of Hike/Canoe-In Rustic Cabin Trip: 3 days, 2 nights (July 29-31) 
Pack Weight: 35 lb (15.9 kg) everything but the kitchen sink 
Distance: Unknown, it was a combination of canoeing and hiking (maybe 5-6 mi/8-9.7 km for the latter)
Sky and Air Conditions: Partly sunny and sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 51 F to 76 F (11 C to 24 C)  

Location of Trip #6: Grand Island National Recreation Area
Length of Solo Trip: 4 days, 3 nights (August 21-24)
Pack Weight: Approx 28 lb (12.7 kg)
Distance: 25 mi (40 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Sunny, cloudy and rain
Precipitation: Rain
Temperature Range: 50 F to 81 F (10 C to 27 C)
   
Location of Trip #7: Porcupine Mts Wilderness State Park
Length of Trip: 3 days, 2 nights (August 28-30) 
Pack Weight: 23 lb (10.4 kg) 
Distances: 10 mi (16 km)
Sky and Air Conditions: Warm, sunny and cloudy 
Precipitation: None 
Temperature Range: 46 F to 84 F (8 C to 29 C)
     
Location of Trip #8: Isle Royale National Park 
Length of Trip: 4 days, 3 nights backpacking (Sept 10-13), plus 8 more days of dayhikes and adventures in Minnesota) 
Pack Weight: 26 lb (11.8 kg)
Distance: 31 mi (50 km) 
Sky and Air Conditions: Sun, clouds and rainstorms
Precipitation: Rain (probably 2+ in/5+ cm)
Temperature Range: 42 F to 77 F (6 C to 25 C) 
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Trip Talk
 

During the last two months of testing, the MontBell Convertible jacket and pants were worn on several occasions. The first trip that I went on, was rather warm and sunny so the set was kept in my pack just in case they were needed. During the second trip to Grand Island there were several episodes of rain. Since it was rather warm I decided to unzip both the sleeves and legs and was comfortable like that. I normally wear a skirt over tights so I removed the skirt before putting on the rain shorts. The third trip was again dry but the fourth trip (Isle Royale National Park) provided rain on the first (picture at right was inside the ferry on a very rainy day so I was all set to go after arriving on the island in a rainstorm), third and fourth days. Again it was relatively warm so I wore the jacket and pants in the shortened version except during the torrential rains on the third day (long pants day). I have also been able to wear the rain gear on a number of occasions day hiking and just for everyday wear when it is raining. There has been a lot of rain here this summer and the grass is as green as springtime (no sprinkler system either).
 
The rain gear has continued to perform more than satisfactory. It has never wet through and I am very pleased with its comfort. I like the clean lines with no pockets on the pants (which I would never use anyway) and I am getting used to the one pocket on the raincoat. It has been very handy to stuff things in it while carrying a pack. The jacket has not restrained my movement even with a couple of layers underneath (usually vest and shirt if it is cooler).

I did use the stuff sacks for the rain gear on a couple of these trips when rain wasn't predicted. I thought it would add a bit more protection to the gear as usually I just stuff my rain gear in the external mesh pocket of my pack so that it can be accessed quickly.
 
The pants have been great both in the shortened version and the long version. They are so easy to put on and remove with the long zippers adequate for all kinds of footwear (trail shoes and boots). I love the fit too, as the pants can accommodate layers but they are not excessively roomy like some others I have had. The only thing I would consider changing is the Samue closure as I didn't care for it as aforementioned in the field report. I just put a small overhand knot in the elastic instead. The waist closure works fine for me with no issues.
 
I have been extremely happy with this set of rain gear. It is non-bulky and easy to pack and provides comfort, waterproofness, breath-ability and is also lightweight. I absolutely love the convertible feature during the summer months when it is often both warm and humidity is high. I anticipate wearing the set for a long time to come. So far durability is not in question with no signs of deterioration or problems with zippers.


Pros

  • Very light weight
  • Convertible features
  • Zippers easy to use
  • Breathable
  • Easy to pack
Cons
  • Would prefer a different leg closure system such a hook-and loop-type 
   

   

  Tester Remarks 

Thanks to MontBell and BackpackGearTest.org for this opportunity to test the Convertible rain gear. This concludes my Long Term Report and the test series.

 

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