Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review

A very lightweight hoodless windshirt utilizing Pertex’s newest lightest fabric – Quantum GL. In addition to his thorough evaluation, Will includes a discussion of the versatility of a windshirt.

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The Slipstream performs flawlessly, but Montane’s small sizing is an inconvenience; the jacket runs small*, and many buyers will need to size up. Why not use standard US sizing to avoid that problem? * 3/7/12 Note from Addie: please see the forum commentary for further discussion on the sizing matter.

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by Will Rietveld |

Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review - 1
The hoodless Montane Slipstream GL Jacket is made of the new Pertex Quantum GL fabric and weighs just 2.3 ounces (65 g) in size men’s Medium (photo by Glen Van Peski).

Introduction

Is an ultralight windshirt an essential piece of gear in an ultralight gear kit? There are good arguments pro and con, and during my testing of the new Montane Slipstream GL Windshirt, I kept that key question in mind.

Description

The Montane Slipstream is an ultralight no frills windshirt; its only real feature is a full-height #3 front zipper. It does have a tape stiffener behind the zipper that doubles as a storm flap, raglan sleeves, standup collar, dropped tail, and the cuffs and hem are elasticized. No hood, no pockets.

The fabric is Pertex Quantum GL (GL means “Good and Light”) which is 10 denier and weighs 0.8 oz/yd2 (25 g/m2), compared to 15-20 denier 0.9 oz/yd2 (27 g/m2) for standard Quantum. Actually, each one is a family of fabrics, but GL is finer and lighter. The shiny surface comes from calendaring to make the fabric stronger.

Specifications and Features

Manufacturer Montane
Year/Model 2011 Slipstream GL Jacket
Sizes Available Men’s XS to XXL (runs about a half size small)
Style Hoodless jacket with full-height front zipper
Fabrics Pertex Quantum GL 10 denier 0.8 oz/yd2 (25g/m2), 100% nylon ripstop, air permeability 1.0 cc max (JIS L 1096/ASTM D737), spray rating 80/20 (JIS L 1092), abrasion resistance 10,000+ at 12.5 kPA (BS EN ISO 12947-2), DWR finish
Features Full-height front YKK #3 zipper, stand up collar, raglan sleeves, articulated arms, elastic cuffs and hem, dropped tail, stuff sack included
Weight Size men’s Large tested.
Measured weight: 2.43 oz (69 g)
Manufacturer weight: 2.3 oz (65 g) size Medium
MSRP US$104

Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review - 2
Front and rear views of the Montane Slipstream Jacket.

Performance

I took the Slipstream windshirt on seven backpacking trips and several day hikes during spring and summer 2011, where I encountered cold winds, chilly evenings and nights, rain showers, and snow showers.

The first thing you should know about the Slipstream is that it runs small. My sample is a size Large and it fits like a Medium, which I found to be okay for a windshirt since I frequently wore it over just a baselayer. I have fairly long arms and torso and found the sleeves and body to be long enough. The resulting fit is trim and has the advantage of less flapping in the wind.

Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review - 3
The Montane Slipstream Windshirt in size Large can be worn over a thin midlayer, such as the Patagonia Ultralight Down Sweater shown. If you want the windshirt to layer over more than that, you should size up.

Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review - 4
The Slipstream does its primary job well. I wore it over a baselayer while hiking several high altitude windy ridges and 13,000- to 14,000-foot (3963- to 4267-m) peaks, such as the ones shown, and it made the difference between chilly versus warm while hiking.

A dynamite combination for hiking in changeable weather is a thin windshirt over a baselayer. A windshirt provides an amazing amount of warmth and comfort for its miniscule weight. The main issue (for me) while summer hiking in such conditions is getting too warm, rather than cold, so I prefer a very thin windshirt. And the Slipstream, like other windshirts, is comfortable when it is cool, overcast, and breezy or windy. When the sun comes out, or the wind stops, the windshirt is too warm and has to come off.

I also found the Slipstream very useful when worn over a thin insulation layer in camp; it makes a significant difference by reducing convective heat loss and holding heat in. I even wore it in my sleeping bag on several nights for extra warmth, and didn’t have any problems with it feeling clammy.

Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review - 5
In the field, I found the Slipstream will shed brief rain quite well (left), but wets through fairly quickly. The lack of a hood is a disadvantage in rain. My indoor puddle test (right), where I put the backside of the jacket over a funnel and added a cup of water to create a puddle, was quite revealing. The photo was taken at the beginning of the test, but after an hour all but a few drops of the water had passed through the fabric. Conclusion: the jacket’s DWR treatment provides only limited water-repellency; the jacket is far from waterproof.

Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review - 6
Carrying a backpack over the windshirt did not abrade it at all.

Out of curiosity, I performed the same test on the MontBell Tachyon Anorak (discussed below), and found the same result. This reinforces the notion that a windshirt with DWR treatment can shed brief rain, but is not adequate rainwear for significant rains.

Comparisons

So how does the Slipstream compare with using a lightweight rain jacket for windwear, and how does it compare with other lightweight windshirts? For backpackers who insist on minimal pack weight, a windshirt can be left out in favor of using a lightweight rain jacket like The North Face Triumph Anorak (5.85 ounces/166 g for size men’s Large, which is the lightest woven fabric rain jacket currently available) for both windwear and rainwear. I have tested it, and find the Triumph plays the dual role very well.

The main difference is the Slipstream is thinner and lacks a WP/B polyurethane layer, so it has a wider comfort range, meaning it’s more breathable and remains comfortable to wear over a broader range of conditions. I can wear the Slipstream while hiking uphill carrying a backpack and stay comfortable much longer than I can with a lightweight polyurethane laminate rain jacket. The Slipstream blocks the wind and breathes well enough to stay comfortable, much of the time. However, when the breeze stops or the sun comes out, the windshirt gets too warm and I have to take it off.

But in a practical sense, if you don’t need windwear very often, a lightweight rain jacket will suffice. Perhaps the prudent thing to do is pack a windshirt when you expect to encounter conditions where it’s truly needed. And when you get into exactly those conditions, it’s gold.

In areas or seasons where rain is not a big issue, some hikers carry only a windshirt and use it for both wind and rain protection as needed. The Slipstream has a DWR treatment, so it sheds water well and will suffice in short duration showers, but its main disadvantage for such use is the lack of a hood.

How does the Montane Slipstream compare with the MontBell Tachyon Anorak, which received a Highly Recommended rating in a recent Backpacking Light review? The data in the following table tell a lot.

Manufacturer and Model Hood Zipper Length in (cm) Weight (oz/g) Size Men’s M MSRP (US$)
Montane Slipstream Jacket No Full-height 2.3 (65) 104
MontBell Tachyon Anorak Yes 7.5 (19) 2.3 (65) 89
The North Face Triumph Anorak Yes 12 (30) 5.6 (166) 179

Some highlights:

  • The Slipstream and Tachyon weigh the same; the difference is the Slipstream has a full-height zipper but no hood, and the Tachyon has a hood but only a short zipper.
  • The MontBell Tachyon is the least expensive.
  • The North Face Triumph weighs and costs twice as much as the MontBell Tachyon.

Assessment

A windshirt is a very versatile piece of gear, especially when you hike where the weather is highly variable (I suppose that applies most everywhere). The ideal conditions for a windshirt are some combination of cloudy, cool, and windy; and that occurs a lot where I hike.

The Montane Slipstream is equally as nice as the MontBell Tachyon, so the choice gets down to personal preferences and how you will use a windshirt:

  • If you will use the garment only as windwear, the hoodless Montane Slipstream is preferable. I prefer a separate windstopper-type cap, and the full-height front zipper works better for thermoregulation.
  • If you use the garment for both windwear and rainwear for brief showers, the MontBell Tachyon Anorak or TNF Triumph Anorak (or other ultralight jacket) is preferable because it has a hood.
  • If you want a garment that will suffice for windwear and provides reliable protection in significant rains, an ultralight rain jacket like TNF Triumph Anorak or Marmot Essence Jacket is preferable.

Overall, the Montane Slipstream performs well for its intended purpose. However Montane’s small sizing is an issue. It’s irritating to purchase a garment in your normal size, only to find out that it runs small, and have to exchange it for the next larger size. MontBell has overcome this issue for selling in the US, and it’s about time for Montane to do the same.

Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review - 7
A windshirt is really handy to maintain comfort while hiking at high elevations where the weather can be highly variable.

Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.


Citation

"Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/montane_slipstream_jacket_review.html, 2012-03-06 00:10:00-07.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review


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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review on 03/06/2012 15:44:22 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Montane sizing on 03/06/2012 17:50:08 MST Print View

Will and I disagree about Montane sizing. I do not find their stuff undersized, merely fitted (or athletic, if you will). I appreciate being able to have a wind layer which doesn't flap like mad in the wind.

Montane just released a hooded anorak made of the same fabric, which many will find interesting.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: re: Montane sizing on 03/06/2012 18:03:05 MST Print View

Fitted like it was made for biking is what I thought of that jacket.

Damien Tougas
(dtougas) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Gaspé Peninsula
Fitting on 03/07/2012 04:43:41 MST Print View

I think manufacturers should provide more information about the fit of garments. As David says, it could be fitting Will exactly the way it was designed, but Will might not like as slim of a fit as it's intended size is designed for. Patagonia is really good about this, they have a sizing system that states how close to the body you can expect a piece to fit. I think it would be great to see other manufacturers do something similar.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Montane sizing on 03/07/2012 05:28:42 MST Print View

I've said this before I think, but the problem isn't that European garments are undersized. On the contrary, US garments are over-sized to make people think that they aren't as overweight as they really are. It's kind of sad and just serves to further promote our obesity epidemic.

If you want to test it yourself, take your favorite pair of pants and measure around the waist. Take that and compare it to the specified size. Generally, the actual dimension will be 1-2 (or more) inches larger than the size would otherwise indicate.

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Re: Montane Sizing on 03/07/2012 06:41:43 MST Print View

They've always seemed very normal/mainstream to me over here in the UK. Certainly nothing like as far into tall/thin cuts as some of the Scandinavian companies. Not that any company is internally consistent about this! As well as how close the cuts are, the arm lengths can also vary hugely.

I guess that the other thing to remember is that from a UK perspective the major market for this is probably going to be scarily fit people like fell runners, so you'd logically expect an aggressive cut. I'd imagine that their microlight windshirts are rather more generous.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: windshirt fit on 03/07/2012 07:26:19 MST Print View

I should be more specific: I've got a Rab Cirrus, Montane Litespeed, Patagonia Houdini, and Montbell UL wind parka kicking around here at the moment. All mediums. The former two are fitted, the later two more relaxed. All have pretty similar back and sleeve lengths (oddly, the Litespeed has one of the longer torsos, but the shortest arms). I'd say the Litespeed has the best fit overall, they cut their arms and shoulders in a 3D way which makes for a truly remarkable athletic yet roomy fit.

On the other hand, if you want to wear your windshirt over more something like a midweight down jacket, you'll likely be happier with one of the roomier cuts. There are so many truly great windshirts available that selection can come down to preference in fit and features (or the lack of them).

joe newton
(holdfast)

Locale: Bergen, Norway
Re: re: windshirt fit on 03/07/2012 08:35:19 MST Print View

"There are so many truly great windshirts available that selection can come down to preference in fit and features" - and colour! ;)

Another thing I have discovered is that one company's definition of size can change from year to year. My Montane Litespeed is a Medium and is 3 years old (this thing just can't be killed off by conventional means). My Montane Krypton softshell from last winter was originally purchased in a Large (to act as the outer shell in a two soft-shell system) but I found it too small and ended up with an XL. A discussion with the company revealed that the current designer had shifted the sizing parameters slightly.

I'll echo the sentiments here that the 'Euro' brands appear to have a different cut on the whole. Rab, Montane, Haglofs, Norrøna and others all combine good fabrics with great tailoring. Long arms, long torsos and no excess flappage FTW.

Paramo on the other hand. Wonderful fabric, shocking cut...

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Montane Slipstream GL Jacket Review on 03/07/2012 09:20:52 MST Print View

Maybe the new Litespeed is fitted but neither of the two that I own seem to be. I did size up to a large, but it fits well over insulation. Try that with a slipstream and it won't work. The slipstream to me is a biking jacket and those are all fitted.

James Connolly
(jamespjc) - MLife

Locale: TX
Sizing on 03/07/2012 09:36:58 MST Print View

I'm pretty perplexed about the overall rating statement: "Montane’s small sizing is an inconvenience; the jacket runs small, and many buyers will need to size up. Why not use standard US sizing to avoid that problem?

Why should a non-US company have to use "standard" US sizing. Why then does the US not use the "correct" British measurement of a pint for example?

I agree with Chris that its the US sizes that are large, rather than British or European sizes being small.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Sizing on 03/07/2012 09:40:17 MST Print View

"Why should a non-US company have to use "standard" US sizing. Why then does the US not use the "correct" British measurement of a pint for example?"

Because if you want to sell in the largest market in the world, you would probably want to provide sizes that adhere to most of the population.

Montane does run small. I am 6'1" and 210 lbs. An XL is fine for me except around the chest / back. Compared to say, Marmot, of which I don't have the same issue. Last time I checked Marmot sells Globally.

James Connolly
(jamespjc) - MLife

Locale: TX
Sizing on 03/07/2012 10:04:35 MST Print View

-

Edited by jamespjc on 03/07/2012 10:26:18 MST.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Fit description on 03/07/2012 10:05:06 MST Print View

Will writes:
"The first thing you should know about the Slipstream is that it runs small. My sample is a size Large and it fits like a Medium, which I found to be okay for a windshirt since I frequently wore it over just a baselayer. I have fairly long arms and torso and found the sleeves and body to be long enough. The resulting fit is trim."

That sounds like it is not small, if it is long enough for a long armed person in the sleeves it is TRIM, not SMALL. Small means ALL dimensions are reduced!



So for Will and other reviewers:
'
When discussing fit, please don't use blanket statements like: "small".
Please explain whether sleeve length, body length, chest girth and sleeve girth are shorter or longer than usual for that size, and what you are comparing it too. Also a description of your body and fit preferences is nice.

For example if small means short in sleeve or body, I can't wear it (6'5"). But if it means tight in waist or chest, I'd probably love it! (32": waist and skinny arms)


It is great to note the style of fit: ie trim, mid-cut or roomy as many manufacturers do.

Thanks!

Edited by Tjaard on 03/07/2012 10:10:01 MST.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
RE Paramo on 03/07/2012 10:20:00 MST Print View

Hey Joe,

If you find you don't like Paramo fit,try Cioch Direct, they use Paramo fabric to make their garments, and do custom sizing too.

You could also try Furtech, which works similar(haven't tried it).

joe newton
(holdfast)

Locale: Bergen, Norway
Re: RE Paramo on 03/07/2012 10:23:32 MST Print View

Tjaard,

Yup, Cioch will be my next call when replacing the Vista.

Nigel Healy
(nigelhealy) - F

Locale: San Francisco bay area
Re: Fit description on 03/07/2012 11:58:28 MST Print View

I own plenty of Montane. Litespeed, Slipstream Gilet, Velo, Prism, Krypton. My Montane kit gets used more than others as often a windshirt is all I need over a base, or to add a bit more to an insulation layer. I owned 2 Litespeeds bought 3 years apart, the Litespeed's sizing has not changed but the fabric has changed, more shiny, less matt.

These garments are all designed for different purposes. The Litespeed is an overlayer to fit over a fleece to turn a fleece into a coat. The Slipstream gilet is to fit over a tight baselayer for joggers.
The Prism is an over-layer, baggier than the Krypton which a next-to-skin type.

The Velo is for cyclists who hate flap, its tight across the upper-chest.

I don't think Montane are not assuming different body shapes, but assuming different levels of garments under.

In order of tightest first
Slipstream medium
Velo medium
Krypton large
Prism medium
Litespeed medium.

Now the Litespeed's bagginess has its uses, I can for example put a Patagonia Down Sweater under the Litespeed and gain net insulation, as well as add a degree of water resistance. The Slipstream if I don't mind it riding up as my wider chest pulls the bagginess up from the belly, can fit over the Prism. I wore that yesterday on a bike's ride descent, the Slipstream cinching down all the flap from the Prism on the torso, making it warmer.

What makes the Slipstream differently useful, its a small packed size which makes it more useful as an emergency little-used windproof, but it can't so easily fit over thicker layers. The GL... I never understood who'd buy it, more fragile and a fraction lighter and a lot more expensive. I'd buy it for a little $ more. If you're going to layer over mid-layers go up a size but really its more for layering over a baselayer for high-activity uses.

I fully agree that US sizing differences is about politely avoiding the issue the average USA person is larger. It would be more healthy reminders if they kept sizes smaller.

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Re: re: Montane sizing on 03/07/2012 12:18:42 MST Print View

Your point is well taken and I stand corrected. The Montane Slipstream jacket has a trim fit and does not "run small" as stated. The sleeve and body lengths are as expected for a size Large, but the body girth is trim. A trim fit is good if you don't want the jacket to flap in the wind, but it limits layering to a thin insulation layer.

I said the same for the Montane Spektr Smock a while back. It also has a trim fit. I sized up to an XL in that jacket because I wanted enough girth to wear it over an UL down jacket in camp.

Jonathan Pratt
(Tyke)
Update the review please on 03/07/2012 13:29:42 MST Print View

Thanks for clarifying the trim fit Will.

I think it is time to update your opening statement on the review for those who do not read the thread.

Edited by Tyke on 03/07/2012 22:03:52 MST.

Aaron Croft
(aaronufl) - M

Locale: Alaska
Color on 03/07/2012 13:44:40 MST Print View

Is it just me, or does anyone else think this jacket is hideous?

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
How does this compare to the Patagonia Houdini Wind shirt? on 03/07/2012 14:38:18 MST Print View

I have two variations of the Houdini, from 2010 & 2011. They both work well ih Hawaii weather, where it can be cool with sporadic showers. However, I would not wear them as rain gear in sustained downpours or prolonged temperature drops.

As stated elsewhere in this thread, Patagonia does a god job of stating the type of fit, ie slim, fitted or roomy for their clothing. That said, I still range between XS to M for their gear. Also, the Houdini, and most other manufacters' gear I've tried or studied will be sized to accommodate garments underneath or not and the sizing will depend upon this design element. So it's important to note this when shopping, especially online.

As far as standard sizing, most products sold internationally will state the size under each system. Usually, manufacturers who sell in multiple markets will size and advertise accordingly, even though sometimes sizing can still be a bit "off" if it is not what one is used to, so it's not a matter of right or wrong, much less demanding one worldwide standard.

As far as being annoying to order something and have to return it because the fit per size is not what we're used to, yes, it is! Unfortunately, this is just a necessary evil of not being able try things on in advance. How many of us bypass our local gear store to shop online, causing the local store to close? Not to mention what women routinely encounter when garments and gear are sold as the ubiquitous unisex! where the garment dimensions really don't fit anyone very well, or it's really just a man's fitted garment that is re-labelled to lure women into buying it. Sometimes I think the shipping charges make up the online savings as compared to shopping local.

Alas, the global marketplace! However, on balance, things usually work out, after all, we all get to come here and talk story.

Edited by veganaloha on 03/07/2012 14:45:11 MST.