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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > MontBell Convertible Jacket and Pants > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

MONTBELL CONVERTIBLE RAIN JACKET AND PAN
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - May 09, 2016
FIELD REPORT - August 16, 2016
LONG TERM REPORT - October 10, 2016

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
AGE: 65
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)
WAIST: 28 " (71 cm)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: MontBell America, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.montbell.com
MSRP: US $179.00 for Jacket & US $99.00 for Pants
Listed Weight: 9 oz (256 g) for Jacket & 6.1 oz (173 g) for the Pants
Measured Weight: 7.5 oz (213 g) for Jacket & 7 oz (198 g) for the Pants
Sizes Available: Small, Medium, Large & XLarge unisex sizing both Jacket & Pants
Size Tested: Small
Colors Available:Jacket - Cyan Blue, Gunmetal & Hot Red / Pants - Black
Colors Tested: Jacket - Cyan Blue, Pants - Black
Made in: Thailand

Convertible pants
Photo copyright MontBell
convertible jacket
Photo copyright MontBell
PANTSJACKET
Fabric: 3-layer DRY-TEC Technology 15-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon
(Water resistance: 20,000mm / Breathability: 15,000g/m2/24hrs)
Compressed size: 2.6 x 2.6 x 4.9 in. (7 x 7 x 12 cm)
Inseam length /pants: 32.5in. (82.5cm) - Inseam length /shorts: 11.2 in. (28.5 cm)
Knee length zippers: 19.3in. (49cm)
Stuff sack included
3-layer DRY-TEC Technology 15-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon
(Water resistance: 20,000mm / Breathability: 15,000g/m2/24hrs)
Compressed size: 3 x 3 x 5.8 in (8 x 8 x 15 cm)
Center back length: 28.7 in. (73 cm)
Stuff sack included

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My first impression of the MontBell Convertible Rain Pants and Jacket was "wow, this is lightweight"! Viewing the clothing on the MontBell website prepared me for the general look of the pants and jackets but could not convey the weight and feel of the material. I was pleasantly surprised.

Since the pants and jacket are unisex sizing, I ordered size "small" based on the size chart on the website.

The pants initially appear to be like many other pull-on rain pants with nice long side zippers (to the knee) so as to be able to pull on the pants without removing my boots or getting the inside of the pants ridiculously muddy from contact with the muddy boots. The elasticized waistline of the pants has a draw cord for tightening up the pants. The cuffs of the pants have a stretchy pull cord to cinch up the leg opening which will help keep out the wet and (in my case) keep the pants around my ankles, not my heels.

As I indicated above, the pants are very lightweight. They "crinkle" when bunched together. All seams are fully taped.

Where these pants differ from any other pair of rain pants I own is the zipper just above my knees which when unzipped turn these rain pants into rain shorts. Very different!

The jacket shares several features with the pants in that it is lightweight, crinkles, has fully taped seams and is convertible by way of zippers mid-way between my shoulder and elbow so the lower sleeves can be removed if desired. Adjustments can be made at the hem with draw cords, the cuff with hook-and-loop tabs. There is a nice-sized chest pocket, but no other pockets.

Both the pants and the jacket come with their own draw string stuff sack.
Relative Stuff Sack Sizes
Jacket Left. Pants Right.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

While I couldn't find any care instructions on the MontBell website, both the jacket and the pants have in-seam sewn fabric tags with the international care symbols as well as written instructions in English and another oriental script. There are two tags in the jacket with somewhat confusing information. One tag says: Machine wash in cold water on a gentle or delicate cycle. Do not use bleach and iron on low heat with a damp cloth between the iron and the fabric. Do not wring but line dry in the shade. Dry clean with petroleum solvent only is also possible.

The second tag instructs me to: Do not leave wet. Do not iron on Aqua-Tect Zipper. Tumble dry normal on low heat. Do not iron on print. Use a neutral detergent. Not sure whether a dryer is permitted or not and can the jacket be ironed (not that I plan on EVER ironing it) as long as I avoid the zipper?

Guess a call to customer service is in order!

TRYING IT OUT

First off, I'm going to bare all, figuratively speaking, and actually publish my measurements here for the purpose of putting my size comments into context.

Chest: 37 in (94 cm)
Shoulder to Wrist: 20.5 in (52 cm)
Waist: 28 in (71 cm)
Hips: 38 in (97 cm)
Thighs: 20 in (51 cm)
Inseam: 28 in (71 cm)

It's usually not a good thing for me to hold up a pair of pants and say "these are HUGE"! The disappointment when I pull them on and find out the pants are NOT "huge" is quite a good-mood buster! So when I held up the rain pants for the first time, I stifled the impulse to blurt out my initial thoughts on the volume of fabric and meekly pulled them over my jeans instead. Okay, so they are not huge, but they are definitely "roomy" through the tummy and thighs. Thankfully, there is a nice shoelace-sized draw string at the waist to hold them up and a stretchy draw cord at the hem to cinch it up so I'm not stepping on the couple inches (5 cm) too-long pant legs and ending up on my face!

Despite the loose (and long) fit of the pants, I am happy with the fit as it made the pants very easy to pull on and off even with my clunkiest boots on and without causing my jeans to bunch up. (The hem-to-knee-length long zippers were a big help there, too!).
Jacket Sleeves
Jacket Sleeves Natural & Adjusted
Pant Cuffs
Pant Cuff Natural & Adjusted

The jacket is "athletically" cut, very trim and close to my body. I certainly can wear a base layer and maybe even a thin vest, but that's about it. I almost wish I had ordered a medium, though the sleeve-length is very long on me now, so a medium would be ridiculous. I am able to solve that issue by using the hook and loop tab on the cuff to tighten the hem and just push it up my arm a bit. All good, as my granddaughter says!

I checked out the zippers and all work smoothly. I found it easy to remove the pant legs and to put them back on even with boots on. But while I can take off the lower jacket sleeves by myself, putting/zipping them back up is a skill I will have to master. But that's what trail mates are for, eh?

Trying out the included stuff sacks, I quickly rolled up the jacket and the pants and jammed them without strain into their respective pouches. I'm not sure why there are two sets of draw cords but I should figure that out, I suppose. I've got four months to do so!

SUMMARY

MontBell Rain Gear
No Rain in Sight, but I'm READY!
The concept of convertible rain gear is a novel one, I think and I am anxious to see just how useful the "convertible" feature will be this summer. Right now, there is absolutely no rain in sight for the foreseeable future, but I know the inevitable afternoon mountain storms will be starting up soon, so I'm sure to be given lots of chances to wear the gear. I am headed to California in two days and have packed the jacket for possible showers there because we all know -

"It never rains in California, but girl, don't they warn ya? It pours, man, it pours."

(by Albert Hammond)


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Since I received the Montbell Convertible Rain Jacket and Pants for my field evaluation - approximately two months ago - I have packed and used it in various locations and conditions, including:

1.) Fremont County, Colorado (my home "range") - this area is in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with elevations ranging from 5500 ft (1700 m) to 9900 ft (3000 m). The terrain is mostly rather rough with lots of mud, loose rock and huge slabs of granite rock. Vegetation is scrubby Pinon Pine, Gamble Oak, Juniper, cactus and prairie grasses (or weeds, depending on who is talking!).

2.) Over Memorial Day weekend, my husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter explored and camped near the Blue Mesa Reservoir in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado. The terrain there is very rough with lots of trees, but also lots of rocky moderate-to-steep trails.

3.) At Outdoor PressCamp in Park City, Utah, I spent three great afternoons, day hiking around the Deer Valley Ski Resort. As the name implies, lots of treed, very steep trails that are mainly used in the summer for mountain bikers, so narrow and bumpy, but dirt.

4.) Lastly, my husband and I had three great days of exploring Yosemite National Park, dayhiking and scoping out trails for a possible week-long backpack next spring (before the tourist season)!

Weather conditions were pretty much the same through all locations and throughout the entire season. Hot, Hot and more Hot! Dry, Dry and more Dry! Except for one day in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, we did not have any rain at all. And for most of this summer, temperatures have been above 90 F (32 C) with several days in Gunnison over 100 F (38 C)! Can't wait for autumn weather to kick in!

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

In spite of my best efforts, to put it bluntly, in the past months I hardly used the Montbell Convertible Rain Jacket and Pants at all. Actually, I used them exactly once! Not really much of a test, eh? It has been one of the hottest driest summers I can remember - and weather statistics will back me up on that. No matter where I went, the forecast was "sunny, hot and dry". I'm sort of fearful I might be blamed for global warning as a result of finally having and carrying proper rain gear!

With that in mind, I will try to provide some good data anyway with regards to the jacket and pants.

First, let me say, the jacket and pants look great after hanging in my closet for two months. But that's not entirely true - the hanging in my closet part. Actually, the jacket and pants look great even after hanging in my closet for two months AND being forgotten swished and damp at the bottom of my backpack for two weeks after my one and only outdoor adventure in the rain! Ewww! They did not smell, were not stiff or mildew-y and after a light washing (cold water, gentle cycle per tag 1 and customer service) and line drying (in my laundry room away from sunlight), were unwrinkled and just fine and dandy.

The Day It Rained!

On a day hike in Curecanti National Recreation Area which borders the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado, a quarter mile in (0.4 km) on the Dillon Pinnacle Trail, the black clouds that had been building up to the south west finally caught up to us. At first it was just a light drizzle and we soldiered on through the sagebrush on the sandy trail. That light drizzle soon turned to a more relentless rain and by the time we had dropped our packs and climbed into our rain gear, it was a full-on gulley washer! It was decision time; turn back or forge on. Since we all - my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and me - had on rain gear and it didn't look like the storm would last all day, we kept walking. Dang it, I wanted to see those Pinnacles!

It almost took me longer to get the clothing out of my pack than it did to get it on, thanks to the nice long side zippers on the pants. I had unzipped them before packing them, so I didn't even have to spend an extra couple of seconds doing that before I was able to pull them on. The nice roomy waist also made it a quick pull on as I had plenty of "give" going over my pants. And I really appreciated the extra-long legs that I was able to cinch tightly against my boots so no water rivulets snuck in.

The rain continued all afternoon, off and on and since it was breezy, I kept the rain gear on throughout the rest of the hike. I never got warm enough to take the time to remove the legs or the sleeves which was good as I probably would have had to keep doffing and donning those extra parts. And the fabric never wetted out either. I was very happy with the Montbell Convertible Rain Jacket and Pants on The One Day It Rained!
Dillon Pinnacle Trail in the Rain
In Between Rain Showers

SUMMARY

Alas, as I wrote above, most of the last two months, my Montbell Convertible Rain Jacket and Pants have been languishing in my gear closet or crammed in my backpack, but I still have high hopes for a lot of use in the coming months. Please return to this page in late September to see my thoughts after I've used the MontBell Convertible Rain Jacket and Pants on the rest of my summer/fall backpacking, hiking and fishing trips, especially my upcoming 3-week-long camping/backpacking trek in Montana's Custer-Gallatin National Forest and Banff National Park in British Columbia, Canada at the beginning of September. It's been raining in Banff for the past week, so I suspect the gear will get a workout there!


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the last couple of months, it seems I have been away from home almost constantly for both fun and for work.

Fun, outdoor, out-of-state locations have included: the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Banff and Jasper National Parks (Alberta, Canada), Glacier National Park and Custer-Gallatin National Forest (Montana), and Monongahela National Forest and Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia.

Location and condition details are as follows:

Custer-Gallatin National Forest - Moose Creek Flat
Terrain: we base-camped in a valley besides the Gallatin River, but day-hiked to mountain lakes for fishing as well
Elevation range: 5700' (1700 m) to 7500' (2300 m)
Temperature range: 35 F (2 C) to 65 F (18 C)
Other weather-related conditions: rain every day for varying periods of time from just a periodic drizzle to a downright downpour for hours (mostly at night). Very little sunshine.

Banff/Jasper National Parks
Terrain: ah, mountains. Rocky, heavily treed mountains
Elevation range: 4500' (1400 m) to 10,000' (3000 m)
Temperature range: 22 F (-6 C) to 70 F (21 C)
Other weather-related conditions: rain every day for varying periods of time from just a periodic drizzle to a downright downpour for hours (mostly at night). Very little sunshine. (Yup, same as the previous week in Gallatin!)
Lake Agnes in Banff National Park
Lake Agnes in Banff National Park
Grizzly Lake in Banff National Park
Grizzly Lake in Banff National Park

Glacier National Park
Terrain: high, rocky mountain trails
Elevation range: 4600' (1400 m) to 6600' (2000 m)
Temperature range: 45 F (7 C) to 65 F (18 C)
Other weather-related conditions: Sunshine!

Monongahela National Forest and Blackwater Falls State Park
Terrain: Rocky, heavily treed mountains
Elevation range: 2900' (880 m) to 4800' (1500 m)
Temperature range: 40 F (4 C) to 60 F (15 C)
Other weather-related conditions: rain every day for varying periods of time from just a periodic drizzle to a downright downpour.

As can be seen, I spent a lot of time in the rain in the mountains. Different states/countries, but pretty much the same conditions!

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

As I mentioned in my Field Report above, my "big" trip of the season was planned for early September when the weather could be anything from temperatures above 100 F ( 38 C) down to the freezing mark with bright sunshine to rain or even snow. While in Montana and Alberta, Canada, we mostly had the freezing (at night) and rain (all the time!).

So, that means I had plenty of experience wearing the MontBell Convertible Rain Jacket and Rain Pants!

I'm happy to say, the gear was fantastic at keeping me dry and comfortable! On some days, it rained, drizzly and steadily. On other days, it rained intermittently but hard. Most days, due to cooler temperatures, I had at least two layers underneath the rain gear and some days, even three. The MontBell gear kept all of these layers safe from outer wetness. The only dampness I ever experienced was on my back and underarms from sweating under my pack - I can sweat in temperatures well below freezing when backpacking.

Even when it wasn't raining, there were times I wore the rain jacket as a wind shell for extra warmth. The jacket (and the pants as well) work excellently at preventing the strong winds we encountered on a couple of days in Banff National Park from chilling me to the bones. My face would be stiff with the cold, but the wind couldn't penetrate the fabric of the MontBell jacket and pants.

Thanks to all the extra features built into the rain jacket, I could adjust "openings" to suit the conditions. With the hook-n-loop tabs at the cuffs, I cinched the sleeves close to my wrists and no adverse weather was ever able to "sneak" in. The slim cut of the hem was tight enough to keep my waist warm and dry. And the pull-cord adjustments of the hood ensured a tight fit around my head when needed.

Even when the wind wasn't blowing hard enough to take the hood off my head, I would cinch it closed so it wouldn't obstruct my already horrid vision and so the hood would move with me when I turned my head rather than stay front-and-forward! Usually I had a cap on underneath as well.

Along with the very high stand-up collar of the jacket, I found with the hood cinched tight, I could practically cover my entire face if need be. I'm sure I looked like a very weird ninja with sunglasses (I almost always wear sunglasses).

Good thing, my trail mates were more focused on taking pictures of each other (they were on their 10th anniversary celebration) than "mom"!

I love the look of the MontBell rain gear! The cut of the jacket is flattering and the bright zippers add a nice "zing"! The pants are loose enough to be comfortably pulled on over a base layer and hiking pants but don't look like clown pants once they are in place.

And speaking of "pulled on" - thanks to the very generous side leg zippers, I am able to wear my most clunky boots and still put the pants on without getting tangled in the legs of the pants or having a layer of mud deposited in the pants in the process.

At this point of reading my report, it's obvious I haven't discussed the most prominent feature of the MontBell Convertible Rain Jacket and Pants. The "convertible" part!

That's because, try as I might, I just couldn't come up with a scenario where I (personally) had a reason/use for removing the lower portions of the arms and legs. I did practice taking them off and putting them back on for the sake of testing the system, but in the field, I never could figure out why I would do so.

When I needed to wear the rain jacket and/or pants, I did so for the purpose of keeping dry in the rain or blocking a vile wind. In such weather conditions, I wanted ALL of me protected, not have my forearms or lower legs wet or cold.

If it wasn't raining or windy, I didn't have need to wear the gear anyway. At least to my way of thinking and usage.

So, despite the fact that I practiced and can easily remove and replace the "pieces" (the zippers work easily and intuitively), I never once thought to do so when out in the wilds. I still think the concept is unique and valid, but maybe just not for me.

STARRING ATTRACTIONS

1,) Very, very good at repelling precipitation!
2.) Very, very good at repelling wind!
3.) Wonderfully lightweight and comfortable to wear!
4.) Love the convenient storage pouches!

MINOR DISTRACTIONS

1.) No hand-warmer pockets means no place to stick things, including my hands!
2.) The collar can be annoyingly "high" if I am not wearing the hood.
3.) The hood constricts my already-lousy vision unless it is cinched tight.

SUMMARY

I wore this combo a lot over the last couple of months and it is probably the best rain gear I own! My only real quibble is the absence of hand-warmer pockets. Never realized how much I stand around with my hands in my pockets! And since I didn't much find use for the "convertible" feature, I would be first in line for an even lighter weight (absence of all those zippers) non-convertible version of this rain jacket and pants with pockets! Pretty please, MontBell?

Thank you to MontBell America and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to try out this unique gear apparel!

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

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