Follow Dom, the Taunton shop manager as he takes on Montane’s lightweight Gore jacket and gives it a proper shake-down along the Affric Kintail way.
The Spirit jacket, from Montane, is a lightweight waterproof featuring Gore-tex paclite®, fully taped seams, and an adjustable hood with a stiffened peak.
Out in the field, the jacket is lightweight and easily packable. It can easily be stored in the front pouch of your rucksack, in the lid, or rolled up into the side bottle pockets for easy accessibility. Technically a waterproof jacket should only be worn when it is raining, sounds obvious I know but some think they can be worn all the time. The Gore-tex paclite® is light enough that it could be worn for extended periods and will be nicely breathable. If you are carrying a heavy pack I wouldn’t recommend this as the paclite® is less durable than some other waterproof membranes. The lesser-known secret to a ‘breathable’ waterproof is a long-sleeved base layer. In order to ‘breathe’ sweat droplets need to be converted to a vapour in order for the air to escape the membrane. As well as being waterproof the jacket is also windproof offering a great deal of comfort in changeable weather conditions.
A recent multi-day hike through the Scottish highlands offered enough weather to fully test the jacket. I stowed my jacket in the front pouch of my rucksack so it was quickly accessible without having to open the bag. The size medium was ample for me to fit over an insulated jacket and close enough to wear with just a base layer. The sleeves were long enough for my orangutan-like arms with an adjustable cuff, for those less endowed, and to prevent wind from blowing up the cuffs. The jacket performed admirably in the wet and windy conditions, keeping me dry and warm throughout. The DWR did seem to wear off quite quickly but the jacket remained fully waterproof. In terms of breathability, it performed as well as I expected. I did get warm, but not sweaty, and unzipped the jacket to allow a greater amount of heat to escape. The hood had all the adjustments I would expect from a higher-specced jacket. Two to pull the hood around my face and one at the back to lock it down around my head. The latter is a very useful feature in that it makes the hood follow your head as you turn it. Hoods without this can stay in place when you look around, completely obscuring your view. Although I have mentioned it is not as durable as some this jacket does have a 75 denier outer fabric which is typically found on higher priced jackets with a more substantial Gore lining. The 75D outer does make it a little heavier than other paclite® jackets but it is still very light (365g) and will last better because of it.
If I was not carrying a heavy rucksack this is the sort of jacket I would feel comfortable wearing for long periods if I feared a constant change in the weather. Because of the 75D outer, I have no concerns over wearing it with a heavy pack but still only whilst it’s raining.