Rating: 5 / 5
For $50 you can't go wrong. Some sizes and colors still on sale for ~$36.xx (early jan2006). Montbell lists it under its "Wind shell" category, not its "Rain shell" category.
only 7.4oz nice feel to the fabric, plus some nice features. zipper is a good length to provide both ventilation and "easy-on"/"easy-off".
slightly stiffened visored hood is decent sized with one volume adjustment. elastic drawcord with one-hand adjustable cord locks allows hood to be easily deployed over the head, or a cap without requiring readjustment. since the cord stretches you can leave it adjusted for "on-head" use and easily remove it from off of the head without loosening the hood's drawcord. to my mind this is a nice feature. "Set it and forget it" as someone says.
fabric is treated with Montbell's proprietary "Polkatex" (name must loose something in the translation!!) DWR. based upon my experience with GoLite and Montane windshirts, this is by far the most water resistant DWR finish of any that i've used thus far.
this winter started out cold, but has warmed up a bit, such that we've had a bit of rain recently on a number of occasions. thus, there have been opportunities to test the DWR capabilities of this anorak. after 30 minutes in a moderate (definitely not light) rain, water was still beading up on the jacket. yes, it's new, but the "Polkatex" finish is not like GoLite's or Montane's. While not as durable as Epic fabric's permanent water resistant "finish", this seems to be the next best thing. See the Montbell website for a description of their "Polkatex" DWR treatment - just scroll down a bit and click the "Polkatex" link.
Under the rainy conditions previously described, the GoLite Wisp would have wet through in probably about 10minutes (based upon my experience in similar rain), and the Montane Aero would have wet through in 15-20 minutes under similar conditions. Yet, after 30 minutes there was no sign whatsoever of any "wetting" on the Wind Blast Anorak. Water was still beading up nicely. At this point, i don't know how long it would continue to resist water, but it showed no signs whatsoever of "wetting" through anywhere on the anorak, not even on the back and top of the shoulders. also, after ~30minutes of being outside shoveling wet snow/slush while the precip changed over to rain, i went inside to the kitchen, turned on the cold water, grabbed the rinse nozzle, and sprayed my left sleeve for a couple of seconds. the water impacted the sleeve with some velocity and bounced off. some water was left beaded up on the sleeve. the sleeve's fabric showed no signs of "wetting".
As far as breathability, no issues just taking a stroll in the rain (don't ask). On two occasions brisk shoveling of 2-3 inches of very wet snow/slush while the ongoing precipitation turned to rain, resulted in some sweating. However, given my age and physical condition, I would have expected to sweat even in just a T-shirt. Sorry, I can't be more precise on the important matter of breathability. My impression is that it is more breathable than the GoLite Wisp (which doesn't seem very breathable to me - neither the '04 nor the '05 models - i have both), and not quite as breathable as the Montane Aero.
If i were taking a windshirt/jacket, i'd go with the Aero if i wasn't expecting much rain - just some "sprinkles", but i'd take the Montbell Wind Blast Anorak if moderate rain was in the forecast. Obviously, for more extended periods of heavier rain it would be the Wild Things hooded Epic jacket, or the ID eVENT rain jacket, or a poncho.
It is also available in a full-zip jacket version. Neither version has pit-zips, but remember this is a wind jacket/shell, not a rain jacket, so is hopefully more breathable and pit-zips might not be required by younger, more fit individuals.
I gave it a 5 since decimal values are not available. It's actually more of a 4.75-4.9 since i could wish for more breathablility without loss of any water resistance (yes, i know it's not a perfect world, but i can dream, can't i?).
Note: if i've created more questions than i've answered with this review, Post to Forums and i'll reply to it.
looks like i did create questions related to "sizing". here is a link to a Forum Post which responds to a question about sizing for this garment.