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Montane Superfly Jacket REVIEW (2004)

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by the Product Review Staff | 2004-03-05 03:00:00-07

Montane Superfly Jacket REVIEW (2004)

Overview

The Montane Superfly Jacket uses a two-layer polyurethane-coated ripstop nylon (30 denier) face fabric in what is one of the lightest fully waterproof rain shells on the market: our sample (size L) was 8.6 oz (243 g). The hood fits well over a small volume climbing helmet like the Kong Scarab or Every Sky Helmet, but the fit will be tight with standard helmets like the Petzl Elderid. The brim is not stiffened and the hood has no rear “volume adjustment drawcord” but it fits well and remains “moldable” around the face when cinched tight, providing excellent protection in heavy rain. Torso articulation is sufficient for climbing, and the cut is suitable for layering over a reasonable amount of insulation, making it an ideal backpacking jacket. A mid-length hem covers the waistline and provides partial-to-total butt protection. Large torso pockets ride above the hip belt and are backed with waterproof fabric. Lack of pit zips or pocket ventilation mean that the jacket is best suited for storm protection rather than sustained active use. However, remarkably light weight, good breathability, room for layering, and outstanding storm protection make the Montane Superfly Jacket a terrific choice for stuffing in your pack and forgetting about it until a squall comes along – and then – its performance is superb.

Specifications

  • Garment Style: Jacket – Hooded rain jacket
  • Fabric Class – Waterproof, breathable (polyurethane coated nylon)
  • Fabric Description – 30D Freeflow Micro DWR+ PU-coated nylon. Finished weight: 1.6 oz/yd2 (45 g/m2)
  • Weight – 8.6oz (243g) (measured); Size Large
  • MSRP – $179.00
  • Features

    Graded subjectively on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).

    Ventilation (4.0)

    The Montane Superfly Jacket has a full zipper, Velcro cuffs, a medium-sized hood, and a drawcord hem. Mesh-backed torso pockets would have added no weight, and would have improved ventilation some. Pit zips using small zippers would have made the Montane Superfly Jacket the lightest full-featured backpacking parka on the market.

    Usability (4.5)

    The Montane Superfly jacket features an adjustable hood that fits over low-volume climbing helmets, dual single-hand adjustable draw cords for both the hood and hem, harness- and hip-belt compatible torso pockets (with polyurethane-coated water-resistant zippers), and a front zipper flap. Tiny zippers are only a minor downside – don’t cut off the pull tabs!

    Sizing (5.0)

    The Montane Superfly is generously cut in both body volume and length. It layers easily over base layer and/or a mid-weight fleece (or thinner high-loft insulating layer) without restricting mobility. Unsuitable for the climber looking for a trim climbing layer, the sizing is ideal for general backpacking.

    Fit (4.0)

    The Montane Superfly Jacket offers head-turning mobility enabling free movement without binding both with the hood on and off and with or without a pack – however, lack of a stiffened brim makes it a little floppy, requiring some fiddling to get it right. The jacket could benefit from one more inch of sleeve length, as most of us can’t quite withdraw our hands into the sleeves to preserve ventilation while keeping our gloves dry.

    Field Performance

    Graded subjectively on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).

    Storm Resistance (4.0)

    The Montane Superfly jacket provides total storm resistance with fully taped seams and a front storm flap, with some wind and overhead downpour resistance sacrificed in its unstiffened hood brim.

    Breathability (3.5)

    The Montane Superfly jacket did not seem as breathable as eVENT, Gore-Tex XCR, or Gore-Tex Pac-Lite III, but it’s a far cry better than two-layer PU-coated nylons of only a few years ago.

    Ventilation (3.0)

    Lack of ventilation – pit zips and torso-backed pockets – combined with an unstiffened hood brim – make the Montane Superfly jacket somewhat ‘thin’ in its ability to ventilation during stormy conditions. However, leaving the zipper unzipped and the storm flap closed (Velcro) worked well enough to spill excess heat while moving fast.

    Durability Field Observations (4.0)

    The ultralight fabric used in the Montane Superfly jacket is surprisingly durable. We bushwacked through willows and climbed granite peaks where the jacket was subjected to a fair bit of abrasion. And while the fabric is suffering its abrasion marks from the granite, we didn’t notice any sacrifices in waterproofness as a result. As is common with any two-layer coated nylon, we were concerned about the ability of the PU coating to withstand abrasion from pack straps while still preserving its waterproofness. Our jacket shoulders remain waterproof after quite a lot of pack use, and we have not yet noticed any damage to the interior (PU) face of the fabric. We expect the Montane Superfly jacket to be plenty durable enough for any lightweight backpacker accustomed to carefully caring for their gear.

    Value (4.0)

    At $179, the Montane Superfly Jacket hits the right price point between performance and cost. Cheaper than most Gore- and eVENT-branded products, while more expensive than lower-quality goods, the Montane Superfly Jacket offers a features-to-weight ratio that cannot be found at this price elsewhere. So, considering that it weighs only half a pound, it’s a great value.

    Recommendations for Improvement

    Add pit zips and mesh-backed torso pockets. This will keep the jacket weight under 10 ounces and still offer the lightest fully-featured jacket on the market.


    Citation

    "Montane Superfly Jacket REVIEW (2004)," by the Product Review Staff. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
    http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00333.html, 2004-03-05 03:00:00-07.

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