Rating: 5 / 5
(well, what do you know, I can't use the word "f*nny pack"!)
I've been using MontBell gear since 1977, two years after they started, when I bought my first rain poncho. I still have it to this day and it still works fine, has no leaks, and even smells okay... though the nylon has become brittle. Since then whenver I head into the outdoor stores here in Japan I inevitably end up buying MontBell because the prices are so much more reasonable than anyone else and I just simply love the designs. I have so much MontBell gear that I can't list them here, but it includes backpacks, WAIST packs, shoulder bags, rain jackets, insulation jackets, fleece shirts and jackets, walking pants, sleeping bags, sawanobori gear, bicycle bags, hats, gloves, sleeping pads, and quite a number of other things. Often I prefer the designs of Patagonia, but in Japan Patagonia is so astronomically expensive I can never justify buying anything from them. For me MontBell is the Patagonia of Japan... indeed, the president Isamu Tatsuno and Yves Chouinard of Patagonia were climbing partners back in the 70's.
I have a few little gripes... I find the zippers on almost all MontBell products to constantly get stuck on the fabric. They've begun changing the old maroon and teale colors to a better slection in the last few years, but there was a period when it seemed everything I got from them came in those two colors. Too often their jackets and shirts don't come with scalloped tails, or are shorter than the insulation layer underneath, so things are constantly pulling out of the back of my pants and exposing my back to the elements (I don't buy many MontBell rain jackets any more for that reason). And occasionally the sizing of things like pants and shirts are so Japanese-centric that though the length may be right, the waist isn't, or the waist right and the length not right. I can't wear any of their shoes because they are always way too wide. As they grow into the international market I hope they address these issues, since not everyone in the world is shaped like the Japanese.
In spite of these little criticisms MontBell is still my favorite outdoor gear company. I just bought their new super wool underwear, including a balaclava, for this coming winter season, and two chameece turtle neck shirts for work. I'm sure I'll continue to buy their gear for years to come.