Plain and simple, the function of a shell is to keep you from getting wet. But because we sweat, it’s not all that simple. A good shell’s gotta keep you dry from the storm outside … and inside. Because 90% of the time my shell remains shoved in the bowels of my pack, I look for the lightest I can find that can do the job.
Montane, a British company dedicated to outfitting fast and light pursuits, released its 7.6 oz. (mens M) Minimus Jacket with the active mountain athlete in mind. It exemplifies waterproof, breathable and functional.
The Gear: Montane Minimus Jacket
Where To Test It: Alpine, cycling, hiking and backpacking
Who’s It For: Fast packers and ultralight enthusiasts
Boring But Important: The Minimus uses PERTEX Shield +, a 53g/m2 2.5 layer denier bonded to a 40 denier rip stop nylon. It has a microporous coating with a fine ‘mesh’ print that facilitates moisture transfer.
Hydrostatic head: 20,000mm. (It’s waterproof under pressure of a 20,000 mm column of water, which is the gold standard of waterproof jackets).
MVTR: 25,000g/m2. (25,000 grams of water pass through the shell in 24 hours, which is very breathable).
All this adds up to an exceptionally waterproof, but very breathability jacket.
Important Specs: The Minimus is a bare-essentials jacket: anatomical fit with minimal extras. But Montane paid particular attention to the details.
Zipper: A full-length aqua guard, water resistant zipper is appropriately matched to the material – it’s not too light, not t0o heavy. An internal storm flap blocks any wind or water from slipping through the zipper to your core. Capping it off, a brushed chin guard folds over the top of the zipper and forms a zipper garage.
Hood: An important part of any jacket is how it fits over the noggin. A poorly designed hood can funnel water into the jacket. The Minimus is helmet-compatible and has three points of contact (one in back, two in front), wrapping it snug around the face. The two front draw cords have micro cord locks tethered next to the face opening. The elastic pull cords exit externally about 4 inches below. This prevents getting wind-whipped by the cords. Functionally, the hood turns with you, instead of you turning into it.
The hood brim has a thin wire running across its brow that stands up to heavy rain and wind. When the weather is good, the hood rolls up into a collar and is secured by a Velcro tab.
Body: It’s got a slim fit, which follows the contours of your body, which might not be a great thing if you have more body contours (if so, size up). Two additional tethered micro cord locks sit at the bottom hem. Functionally, they close with one hand better than the hood, which in my experience was a two-handed operation.
Arms Articulated arms allow you to reach without compromising protection. The cuffs have a simple hook and loop closure.
Pocket: A large mesh chest pocket has room for a map or gloves and has an internal D-ring to keep your keys. The mesh liner can function as a vent if things heat up (though at that point, ditch the jacket and swap for a wind jacket).
The jacket is sewn and micro-taped, reducing the bulk while increasing the breathability.
A small mesh ditty bag is provided to store the jacket, which packs up to the size of an apple.
Made In: Designed in the UK, made in China
Killer! There are a lot of jackets that use Pertext Shield +. But not many marry the material with such an elegant and simplistic design. The jacket is all you need and nothing more.
Flaw: No pit zips, no hand pockets, no superfluous materials. But that’s why they call it the Minimus.
You probably won’t find this jacket in your local shop, so you are left to gamble on sizing and buy online to try it out.
First Impressions: I tested the jacket on a trip on the Oregon Coast, winter fat-biking, and on an adventure run across Hells Canyon in Idaho. During an unplanned bivy in Hells we experienced a midnight thunderstorm. The rain beaded right off the jacket (which I’d chalk up to a fresh DWR, but it was inspiring).
The material is so light it feels freakishly fragile—almost like crepe paper. Because of that, I only wear it on open trails where there’s little risk of snagging the delicate material. If your idea of a good time is bushwhacking in the North Cascades, you’ll want to look for a more durable fabric.
Be forewarned, it’s a British company, so the zipper sits on the left side—backwards to a standard North American men’s jackets.
The sizing is slimmer than the familiar brands, but matches its intended use (forward motion sports). I’m a solid medium. The medium Minimus fits me better than most and is ideal when paired with a light, long sleeve wool shirt underneath. You will need to size up if you want to layer it over any significant insulation.
Who Should Buy It: Rabid gram carnivores looking for a no-frills jacket to cut weight from their kit.
Contact Brand/More Beta: Montane Minimus Jacket
—Steve Graepel is a contributor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at GearJunkie.com. Photos © Monopoint Media LLC