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Montane 180 Rain Shell REVIEW

This waterproof/breathable polyurethane laminate pullover is light, but could lose more weight by eliminating extra features.

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by Will Rietveld | 2005-11-01 03:00:00-07

Montane 180 Rain Shell REVIEW

Introduction

Montane calls the 180 “the world's lightest weight fully waterproof and breathable outdoor shirt.” Well, almost, and it’s a pullover by our terminology. It’s very light, but not spartan, and perhaps it has a few too many weighty features for a minimalist pullover. I found it to be waterproof, and surprisingly breathable and dry inside for a polyurethane laminate shell.

What’s Good

  • Very lightweight
  • Fully seam-taped
  • Good fitting hood
  • Half-height front opening
  • Water-resistant zippers
  • Dropped tail

What’s Not So Good

  • Heavier than manufacturer specification
  • Wire brim on hood
  • Too many weighty features for a minimalist pullover

Specifications

  Year, Model

2005 Montane 180

  Style

Half-zip pullover rain shell

  Weight

Size L tested. 7.1 oz (201 g) measured weight, manufacturer’s specification 6 oz (180 g) size L

  Shell Fabric

Freeflow Lite, consisting of a 20d nylon ripstop face fabric with Teflon DWR on the outside and Gelanots GXPR polyurethane laminate on the inside, 1.7 oz/yd2 (57 g/m2)

  Features

Taped seams, elastic drawcord hem with 1 adjustor, stow-away hood with dual elastic drawcord front adjustment and Velcro rear adjustment, zippered chest pocket with water-resistant zipper, half height front opening with water-resistant zipper, elastic cuffs, fleece-lined collar, dropped tail, reflective dots on cuffs

  MSRP

$166.50

Performance

Montane calls the 180 a “waterproof/breathable outdoor shirt.” By our terminology, it’s a pullover. At 7.1 ounces in size large, the Montane 180 is very lightweight, but it’s not spartan. Features include a stow-away hood with two drawcord adjustors and wire brim, fleece collar, elastic drawcord hem, a chest pocket, water-resistant zippers, and a dropped tail.

In the world of minimum weight rainwear, there are marketing advantages to holding the title for the lightest rain shell available. Montane lists the weight of the 180 as 6 ounces in size large, but its actual weight is 7.1 ounces (18% above the specification). So, who holds the lightweight crown for the lightest woven nylon waterproof/breathable rain shell available? The 180’s closest competition, the Patagonia Specter Pullover, weighs 6.9 ounces. Patagonia wins by a fraction of an ounce.

It’s essentially a tie for all practical purposes, and Montane could have won if they held back a little on extra features (read on below). The honor will be short-lived because Sierra Designs will be introducing shells made of their new Nanolite super lightweight fabric in 2006. Their Isotope Jacket reportedly will weigh 4.3 ounces in size large (see related Outdoor Retailer dispatch in the sidebar).

The 180 is a bit of a contradiction. On the one hand Montane pushes the lightweight threshold with the pullover, but on the other hand they load it with weight-adding features. A pullover is normally a minimalist rain shell. From our perspective, the market for this shell is pragmatic outdoor enthusiasts who prefer to keep it simple, functional, and light. That would mean a pullover with the basic “essentials” like a hood, chest pocket, and water-resistant zippers. The extra features, like the dual drawcord adjustors and wire brim on the hood, stow-away hood flap, and fleece collar could all be eliminated to reduce weight, or traded for a full-height zipper.

One feature I can easily live without is the hood’s wire brim. It was an annoyance to straighten it every time I pulled the shell out of a pack. The hood drawcord adjustors could be replaced by a simple elasticized hem. The Velcro tab on the back of the hood is very light and effective for adjusting hood volume.

Montane Freeflow Lite fabric is a 20-denier nylon face fabric with Teflon DWR on the outside and a Gelanots GXPR polyurethane laminate on the inside. The laminate has a thin silk protein coating which is hydrophilic, and claimed to absorb excess condensation during strenuous activity, making the jacket effectively dryer inside. Gelanots GXPR is one of the latest iterations of polyurethane-only technology. It is waterproof, but breathability is limited by the fabric technology (see Alan Dixon’s technical article in the sidebar on “Waterproof Breathable Fabric Technologies”).

The only ventilation options on the 180 are the half-height front opening and bottom hem. The latter is sealed off by a pack hipbelt, so ventilation is limited to the front opening and the fabric itself. There are no pit zips or core vents to provide supplementary ventilation.

I wore the Montane 180 while backpacking in numerous mountain showers, and found it surprisingly comfortable to wear under moderate exertion levels in rainy, overcast, windy, or cool conditions. The hydrophilic silk protein coating on the laminate really works to absorb moisture inside the shell, up to a point. On one occasion I wore the 180 on an 800-foot climb up a mountainside in rainy 50 °F conditions, leaving the front unzipped for maximum ventilation. It stayed dry and comfortable for most of the ascent, but my shirt was damp at the top.

The 180 also works well as a windshirt. In the wind, I can actually feel some air circulation inside the shell. However, in variable weather when the sun comes out or the wind stops, the jacket has to come off. The 180 works well for its intended purpose (rain, wind), but it is still polyurethane laminate technology with limited breathability, and the pullover has minimal ventilation options. It does not have the breathability and extended comfort range of an eVENT jacket.

For a size large (42 inch chest), the 180 fits trim. The raglan sleeves are long enough for my 34-inch arms, but don’t allow me to completely withdraw my hands. Articulation is good, with only a small amount of sleeve pull with crossed arms or arms over the head. The 5-inch dropped tail provides good coverage for my butt, and the hem drawcord actually lets it wrap around my butt. Its 14-inch front opening is half-height, making it easy to put on. The hood is roomy and covers the head and sides of the face well.

Montane 180 Rain Shirt REVIEW - 1
The Montane 180’s hood provides good head coverage (top left). Its wire brim extends the hood like the bill on a cap, but is an annoyance to straighten out every time I pull the shell out of a pack. The hood’s front elastic drawcord has an adjustor on each side (top right). The tail is dropped 5 inches, which covers the tops of rain chaps (bottom left). The chest pocket (bottom right) is roomy and will hold a folded topo map, and more.

I found that the Montane 180 will layer over a thin synthetic insulating jacket without being too tight, but it is snug over a puffy down jacket. For layering over heavier insulation, it would be better to go up one size.

Because of its 5-inch dropped tail, the Montane 180 rain shell can be used with weight saving rain chaps rather than rain pants. The shell covers the tops of the chaps in back, and although it does not quite cover them in front, it does a good job of deflecting most of the water away.

The 180’s water-resistant zippers glide easily, but the unstiffened storm flap behind the front zipper frequently gets caught in the zipper. It helps a lot to hold the zipper straight with one hand and pull the slider with the other. The chest pocket has a 6-inch zipper, and is big enough to hold a folded topo map and more.

What’s Unique

The Montane 180 extends the limits of polyurethane-laminate rainwear, both in light weight and functionality.

Recommendations for Improvement

Make the 180 a truly lightweight minimalist shell, by eliminating “nice to have” features like the stow-away hood feature, wire brim, and front drawcord adjustors.


Citation

"Montane 180 Rain Shell REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/montane_180_rainshell_review.html, 2005-11-01 03:00:00-07.

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