Rating: 5 / 5
I replaced a worn out, hydrophilic, early 1970s vintage Puma windbreaker with a Montane Featherlite Marathon jacket and, with one caveat, I couldn't be happier. The Montane is made out of Pertex Microlight mini-ripstop (my medium is 4 ounces, the mesh stuff sack adds another ounce. I'm 6'3" and weigh between 160 and 170 depending on how much time I spend weightlifting.), trimmed with a strip of 3M Scotchlite down the front zipper, two more under the arms, and one on each of the cuffs.
There's a one-way, full length front zipper (puller on the left), a shockcord drawstring waist with a spring lock operable only on the right side, and elastic cuffs. The zipper is backed with a nylon tape (printed with the Montane logo) which will block wind but will quickly absorb moisture. Clearly a choice had to be made between durability and weather resistance, and durability was chosen because of the risk of snagging the zipper in any backing material.
Most of the body (two front panels, one back panel, two sleeve panels) is Pertex Microlight, treated with DWR to repel moisture. The exception is a pair of side vents about sternum level, which are backed with the same lightweight mesh as used for the stuff sack. Think of them as horizontal pit zips but without the zip.
The Mandarin collar is lined with something, which makes it the heaviest part of the jacket. At first I thought there might be a hood tucked away here, but no. I opened one of the seams and looked inside: there's some kind of dense black fabric (not water resistant, but quick-drying) stay stitched in. I had thought to remove this and refinish the seam, creating a "pocket" to replace the stuff sack, but that seems to mean taking the entire collar assembly apart and is more trouble to me than it's worth. Anyway, the collar's about two inches tall and has a Scotchlite Montane logo on the back center.
So that's the design and construction. But how does it work?
It works very well for running and walking, just like I'd expected. Light precipitation is a non-issue thanks to the Pertex/DWR fabric. Breathability is fair, though I run hot and am grateful for the full-length zipper when venting is necessary. The cut is athletic and slim, but I've had no problems wearing it over an R2 fleece and under an 18 pound load.
I've used the stuff sack on day hikes because it has a velcro loop which makes it easy to attach to my pack, but when backpacking I've laid it out over my gear in the pack as a top layer of water resistance. Happily, because the stuff sack is made of the same mesh (on the sides) and a double layer of Pertex, I plan to cannibalize it for patching material when the need arises. The shock cord lock is slightly larger than the one on the jacket's waist, but it can also work as a replacement.
My caveat is the weight of the lined collar, which could as easily be open on the inside, eliminating the need for a stuff sack but necessitating duct tape repairs. Not bad enough for me to knock a point off the rating.
That aside, however, I'm very happy with the jacket's performance and I expect a long service life.