Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Core ventilation, big chest pocket, 360 reflectivity, light weight, great cuffs
Cons: No hand pockets, loose stuff sack - don't lose it!
Best Uses: Alpine climbing, running, cycling
The Montane Minimus is an exceptional ultralight rain jacket with the price tag to match. In our previous review, it won a Top Pick for Lightweight design. The Minimus offers more ventilation than the other ultralights we tested and with more reflective markings all around, it is the best ultralight rain shell for bicycling or road running, when being seen in poor visibility is key.
Our Editors' Choice winner, the Marmot Essence, edged out the Minimus in overall scores with better water resistance and breathability. If you're looking for something more affordable, our Best Buy winner, the Marmot PreCip, is a solid, versatile rain shell at half the price.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This jacket is high performance for a ultralight rain shell, with venitlation via a large, mesh-lined chest pocket. The velcro on the cuffs, asymmetrically cut sleeves, and a large moldable hood brim are all features that set it apart from the other two ultralights we tested.
This jacket features a moldable brim along the stiffened section on the hood that really keeps out the rain. It uses a waterproof main zipper with an additional storm flap behind, but the large chest pocket zipper is a traditional one and allowed a bit of water to leak in when we wiggled around in the shower. We did score this jacket higher in water resistance than the similar Outdoor Research Helium 2, primarily due to the Montane's wrist cuffs. Having the ability to tightly close the wrist cuffs is of major benefit when it's pouring down and you're working with your hands. Finally, the DWR treatment on this model beads water like a champ and didn't noticeably change during our months of testing.
The Minimus is built with one of the more breathable 2.5-layer fabrics out there, Pertex Shield+. During some pretty quick trail miles it was doing ok avoiding the steamy feel, but then we zipped open the large mesh-lined chest pocket. When open, it acts as a large core vent and allows air to really flow in, especially when you are running. Loosen the wrist cuffs and this jacket has better ventilation than the other ultralight models.
Comfort and Mobility
Montane managed to include lots of little comfort features while building this ultralight shell. The moldable hood brim and the elastic cinches create a comfortable, easy-to-adjust hood; it also moves easily with the body. A micro fleece patch at the chin, a Velcro tab for rolling away the hood, and a hang loop round out unexpected ultralight features. Montane didn't cut any corners cut in ease of use, the zipper pulls are top notch, and the hem elastic adjusts one-handed one either side. The fit of this jacket is very athletic; it fit the snuggest of all the large jackets we tested. This cut allows for great mobility as the form fitting torso stays put when reaching overhead.
The Minimus weighed in at eight ounces even, about two ounces heavier than the other two ultralight models we evaluated. With these two ounces, this jacket adds ventilation via the large chest pocket and Velcro wrist closures.
While we ere impressed with how this jacket stood up to scuffing when we wore it climbing granite cracks; however, its light nylon ripstop face fabric will wear relatively quickly compared to more burly fabrics, like the polyester face found on the Marmot Minimalist.
This jacket is tiny when stuffed into the separate mesh sack it comes with. It is nearly as small as the Helium 2, and easy to stash in small packs. The great thing about a jacket stuffing into its own pocket is that you can't lose the pocket!
The Montane's hood is impressive for a minimalist jacket. The brim has both a small stiffened section and a moldable brim. Two elastic cinch cords - one around the face and one to the rear of the hood - provide lots of adjustment with exterior cord locks. A Velcro tab and a patch on the back of the hood let you roll it away. The collar has both a micro fleece chin patch and a hang loop at the back. There are no pit zips or hand pockets, but the large chest pocket lined with mesh doubles as a substantial chest vent. The wrist cuffs have no elastic but a simple, effective Velcro tab. The hem elastic cinch has cord locks on both sides. Several reflective patches on the back and upper arms of the jacket provide 360 degree visibility.
Because this jacket packs down so small, it's a great just-in-case layer that takes up next to no space. The large chest pocket, aka core vent, and reflective patches make it a great everyday jacket for running or biking. This was also one of our favorite two jackets for rock climbing and ridge running adventures.
This jacket rings in at twice the cost of a Best Buy award winning Marmot PreCip. While the budget conscious will look elsewhere, this jacket boasts a unique set of comfort features for an ultralight rain shell.
If comfort features and ventilation are what you desire in a ultralight shell, the Montane Mimimus is an exceptionally designed jacket. With its all around reflective patches and core vent pocket, it's perfect for running and bicycling visibility.
The Montane Minimus Jacket - Women's, $238, is the women's version of this rain jacket.
— Brandon Lampley and Robert Beno
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Most recent review: November 12, 2014
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