I often get approached by outdoor gear companies, as I know many of my blogging friends do too, with a view to writing something about an item on their website. I ignore most of the requests, they are often not something I would use outdoors and so the relevance of a review is meaningless – why would I recommend something I’m never going to use myself? I did respond to the communication from The Hut however, which asked if I would review an item from their new Montane range. I don’t really have a lot of experience with Montane equipment; I love my Terra Pants (despite how much they cost!) and I have a long-sleeve winter baselayer that I use sometimes, but that’s about it.
I chose a Montane Air Jacket, which is a Pertex Shield AP waterproof shell, retailing for around £200. I’ve been looking for a summer jacket for a couple of years, something to replace my trusty Paramo Velez smock – I have no complaints about that jacket’s performance, but it’s quite heavy and it’s just too warm for the summer. I really need something light, waterproof and to avoid that “boil in the bag” effect. I’m hoping the Air Jacket lives up to its name.
I chose a lovely blue one and an XXL, which is the biggest size they do. My item weighs in at 392g (which is a bit more than the 350g published weight). A jacket has to meet certain criteria for me to even consider buying it:
- It has to have a chest pocket – you’ll be wearing a backpack all day, which will block your traditional jacket pockets and make them useless. Handwarmer pockets would be nice, but not essential in a summer jacket. The Air has a chest pocket, so it ticked that box. It’s side pockets are also cut quite high so they aren’t completely blocked by the hip belt on my pack.
- The hood has to have a wired peak and a volume adjuster – I cannot be doing with hoods that flop over your face or blow around in the wind. The Air meets both these requirements too – the hood is excellent
- It has to cover my arse. One way companies save weigh in a jacket is to make it short, so now you’re constantly pulling it down as it rides up under your backpack. The Air is just about as long as I need it to be – another inch would be nice (no sniggering!), but it’s fine as it is.
- I have monkey arms, so the sleeves need to be long enough too and the cuffs need to be adjustable – both boxes ticked!
Perhaps now you can see why I’ve been looking for so long for a suitable summer jacket!
I was unsure about the Pertex Shield waterproofing system, I’ve used two different Paramo jackets for the last 5 years and I love the Analogy system, it just works! Pertex Shield looks a lot like Gore-Tex, which I’ve come to loathe and distrust – but it turns out to be not too bad. I’ve only used the jacket once so far, but it kept me dry, with only minor internal moisture generation. I would have liked a couple of pit zips, or some side venting options, especially in a three season jacket.
So that’s all the good stuff – now here’s what I didn’t like. This jacket is too small. I’m a big guy, hence the reason for picking XXL. I have several other jackets, all of which are XXL, I can wear all those comfortably. My Paramo Alta II is almost loose on me, even with two layers underneath, so is the Velez Smock. I have a cheap showerproof Berghaus XXL – that fits me just fine with a fleece underneath. I found the Montane to be quite tight, even with just a summer baselayer beneath!
Here’s some context to that statement. Ignore the published “size guides” – I measured the Air, flat on a table, across the chest, under the sleeves and it measures 63cm across (double that to give 126cm around). The same measurement on the Berghaus produced 68cm (136cm around) and the Paramo Velez was 138cm – all XXL jackets.
The difference may seem marginal, but it means one jacket fits fine and the other is tight. I would suggest buying a size bigger than you normally would – as XXL is the largest size they do, you may not have that option if you’re a bit on the chunky size like me! If it fits you, this is an excellent summer jacket, a good weight for backpacking, pretty breathable and good waterproofing.