At 12.7 ounces, the Montane Air Jacket provides the outstanding breathability of eVENT fabric at about the same weight as a conventional polyurethane laminate jacket. It has all the right features, fits very well, and has excellent articulation.
- eVENT fabric
- Fully seam-taped
- Helmet-compatible hood
- Water-resistant zippers
- Dropped tail
What’s Not So Good
- Heavier than manufacturer specification
- Wire brim on hood
|2005 Montane Air|
|Full zip hooded rain jacket|
|Size L tested. 12.8 oz (362 g) measured weight, manufacturer’s specification 10 oz (300 g) size L|
|Main shell is three-layer eVENT, consisting of a 20d nylon mini-ripstop face fabric with DWR, the eVENT membrane, and nylon tricot inner fabric, 2.5 oz/yd2 (85 g/m2); side and underarm panels are Freeflow Stretch Lite, consisting of a polyester/lycra face fabric with DWR on the outside and Gelanots GXPR polyurethane laminate on the inside, 4.8 oz/yd2 (163 g/m2)|
|Taped seams, elastic drawcord hem with 2 adjustors, stow-away hood with dual elastic drawcord front adjustment and Velcro rear adjustment, zippered chest pocket with water-resistant zipper, full height front water-resistant zipper, adjustable elastic/Velcro cuffs, fleece lined collar, dropped tail, reflective dots on cuff and hem|
If you haven’t tried an eVENT jacket yet, you don’t know what you’re missing! This jacket breathes so well I can feel a breeze inside. Sometimes it breathes a little too much, but I will get to that later.
Two years ago, eVENT jackets were heavy, weighing over a pound, so breathability came with a weight penalty. Not so today. The Montane Air Jacket is a full-featured rain shell that provides the outstanding breathability of eVENT at about the same weight as a conventional polyurethane laminate rain jacket. That said, I would like to note that the Air Jacket at 12.8 ounces is 2.8 ounces (28 %) higher than Montane’s claimed weight, and 3.1 ounces heavier than the Integral Designs eVENT Rain Jacket in the same size. (For more information on eVENT and other fabric technologies, see the related article in the sidebar on “Waterproof Breathable Fabric Technologies” by Alan Dixon.)
Usable features include: elastic drawcord hem with two adjustors, stow-away hood with dual elastic drawcord front adjustment and Velcro rear adjustment, zippered chest pocket with water-resistant zipper, full height front water-resistant zipper, adjustable elastic/Velcro cuffs, fleece lined collar, and dropped tail. The front zipper is a little stiff, but operates smoothly in a channel provided by an inside storm flap. The large chest pocket has an 8-inch opening.
The Air Jacket’s hood is helmet-compatible. The front has a wire brim that extends out like a ball cap. I found it an annoyance to straighten out the wire brim every time I pulled the jacket out of a pack, but it can be folded under to eliminate the hood extension. There is an elastic drawcord on the front of the hood with two cordlock adjustors. Once the hood is properly adjusted, it can be kept that way, so it doesn’t have to be adjusted every time. There is a Velcro tab on the back of the hood to adjust hood volume. When the hood is not needed or desired, the jacket has a Velcro-secured pocket in the collar for stowing it. Tip: when packing the jacket, it works well to roll it up into its hood.
I especially like the Air Jacket’s fit. In size large (42-inch chest), the jacket is trim, with enough room to layer over a thin insulating jacket. For layering over a puffy down jacket, I recommend going up one size. The sleeves are extra long, so I can easily retract my hands. The tail is dropped 5 inches, giving plenty of coverage for the butt.
Articulation is excellent. The raglan sleeves don’t pull up at all with arms over head or arms crossed. This is credited to side and underarm stretch panels that improve articulation and keep the fit trim so the eVENT fabric can perform to the best of its ability. The panels (made of a less breathable polyurethane-laminate stretch fabric) have most of their stretch on the diagonal, which accommodates movements like bending the elbows, twisting the torso, or leaning to the side.
I wore the Air Jacket while snowshoeing in spring snow showers and backpacking in monsoon-like mountain rains. It is unquestionably waterproof, wind-resistant, and highly breathable. The jacket is fully seam taped, and maintained its waterproofness through a couple of washings. It should be noted that eVENT requires similar maintenance to Gore-Tex, that means keeping it clean and occasionally restoring the surface DWR coating.
The Montane Air Jacket hood has an extended wire-brimmed bill and two drawcord adjustors (top left) to provide good face protection. The back of the jacket (top right) shows its trim fit and dropped tail. Its large chest pocket (middle left) is very handy and has a lot of room. Sleeves (middle right) are long enough to retract my hands. The jacket’s extended tail provides good coverage over rain chaps in the back (bottom left), but the front (bottom right) doesn’t quite cover the exposed parts.
When you carry an eVENT jacket, there is no need to also carry a windshirt. The Montane Air Jacket works better in the wind than many windshirts on the market. In fact, sometimes it’s too breathable. Under overcast, cool, breezy conditions I often found it necessary to add a layer under the Air Jacket because it was a little too breezy inside. For me, that was good, because I would rather be too cool than too warm. In variable weather conditions, I found that I could comfortably leave the Air Jacket on much longer than other jackets, but when the sun comes out and it gets decidedly warm and calm, the jacket needs to come off (which you would do anyway). It sure beats the jacket on, jacket off, jacket on routine I've found necessary with other rain jackets.
I found the Air Jacket to be the most versatile jacket I have used. It’s much more than a rain jacket. It also doubles as a windshirt and an outer shell layer over an insulating jacket in camp. I have even slept in it to extend the warmth of a 40 °F sleeping bag when the temperature dropped down to freezing.
Montane really gets it right with the Air Jacket. For a lightweight shell jacket, it has the features I want, is sized perfectly, and is very versatile.
Recommendations for Improvement
I would prefer a foam-stiffened brim instead of a wire brim. The current generation of eVENT fabrics is certainly lighter than the original fabric, but I am looking forward to eVENT shells getting even lighter, and more affordable.