Montane Minimus - Ultralight Rain Shell
Every once and a while you come across a piece of gear that screams quality and functionality. When I find such items I share them here, on my blog, with you. Trust me when I tell you that there are hundreds of products that I get asked to review that do not make it onto my blog. Simply put, if I wouldn't use it myself, then I wouldn't expect you to either.
Time for a Replacement I've been on somewhat of a grail search of late for a new ultralight wet weather jacket that can replace my trusty old Dri-Duck. There's nothing wrong with my DD other than it's seen too many years of use and I'm tired of patching it up with duct tape to keep it going - it's simply time to let go. I wanted a new jacket that was simple, lightweight, and as compact as possible - the latter being something my DD was not so good for.
I've had my eye on several cool items of Montane apparel for a little while now, since getting my hands on their product line up being displayed by Sport-Hansa at last year's Summer Outdoor Retailer show to be exact. I was particularly impressed with the quality and feel of the Montane Minimus Jacket which has won several awards including "Editor's Top Pick" award from OutdoorGearLab.
Maximum Tech with Minimum Weight The Montane Minimus jacket most definitely fits in the ultralight category weighing in at 8.075 ounces on my digital scale (8.45 ounces with the stuff sack that is provided). Unlike some other UL jackets, the Minimus has not sacrificed functionality for weight. Features include a huge chest pocket ideal for storing a map, a roll-away hood with wire reinforced brim, high-viz reflective markings on the hood, shoulders, and on the sleeves which are asymmetrically tailored for a more natural fit.
In addition to the clever design features, the Minimus has a water-proof main zipper, fully taped seams and is made using an ultralight Pertex Shield 2.5-layer fabric that features a waterproof breathable PU membrane and DWR coating for great wet weather protection.
In the four months I've been wearing and testing the Minimus, the 2.5 layer fabric has proven itself to be highly breathable. If you're not familiar with the term 2.5 layer, check out REI's detailed explanation of rain wear and fabrics.
Fit and Performance I've worn the Minimus on several long runs in the rain, with the jacket fully zippered up and it performed great. I didn't overheat or get soaked from any build up of condensation on the inside, but I was most definitely sweaty from the effort.
There are no pit zips or other forms of ventilation on the Minimus, so you have to adjust the main zipper to regulate your temperature. I've heard others say that they were clammy after wearing the Minimus for extended periods of time, I haven't experienced that myself.
The fit was definitely on the more athletic side. I am 152lbs and 5' 8" with an athletic build and the large size fits me almost perfectly with room for a base layer and not much more. Typically I would buy a medium or small size jacket, so be aware that you will most likely need to order at least one full size larger on the Minimus than you would normally.
I like that the sleeves are cut long so that they provide just a little extra length if you need to cover a bit more of your hands in icy rain. The velcro cuffs are about perfect too, clamping down tight around my wrists - unlike other, more expensive, jackets I've tested. It's a small detail, but one that makes a huge difference when you raise your arms and have water pour down inside the sleeves.
To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what to make of the wire reinforced brim of the hood. I like that it keeps it off of my face even in strong wind and even seems to keep the hood more taught, but it throws me each and every time I bundle the jacket up and store it into the small mesh stuff sack that it comes with - I think I'm worried that I'm going to put a permanent kink in the wire.
The reflective markings may not be a huge advantage in a backpacking situation, but they are extremely useful for sports activities such as running and cycling which I see this jacket being absolutely ideal for.
One of the key reasons why I love the Minimus is how compact it is. When stuffed into the tiny mesh stuff sack that comes with the jacket, the Minimus is about the size of a can of soda. This makes it easy to be carried in whatever pack I am using at the time, whether that is my backpack, sports duffel, or day-to-day rucksack there's really no reason not to carry the Minimus with me in case I need it.
- Fit: Athletic/European (order one size larger)
- Weight: 8.075 oz (mine is a size large)
- Material: Pertex Shield (nylon with PU membrane), DWR coating
- Waterproof rating 20,000 mm, breathability rating 25,000 g/m²
- Pockets: Just one large chest zippered 'map' pocket
- Hood: Yes, rolls away for storage, wire reinforced brim
- Safety: High-viz reflective markings on hood, shoulders, and arms
- Length: Just below the waist with drop tail to cover your butt
- Recommended for: Ultralight backpacking, cycling, or endurance activities in wet weather
- Stuff sack: Mesh drawstring stuff sack included (xxx oz)
- Warranty: Lifetime
Conclusion I'd say that for the money to weight ratio alone you simply can't go wrong with the Montane Minimus jacket. It has performed great for me in all manner of situations and does its job exactly as needed.
Pros: Lightweight Compact Highly water-proof Breathable High visibility Includes stuff sack
Cons: Only has one pocket Wire reinforced brim (still undecided on this)
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Disclosure: Sport-Hansa provided Brian's Backpacking Blog with a complementary Montane Minimus jacket for testing and feedback.