Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $199 - $239 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros: Light weight, moldable wire brim in hood, large chest pocket.
Cons: Does not pack Into itself, limited ventilation.
Best Uses: Lightweight backpacking, alpine climbing, lightweight rain gear for cycling.
Montane's Minimus Jacket is a great option when looking for lightweight rain gear, and it wins our Top Pick award for excellence in that category. The fact that the jacket is super lightweight, but still has some thoughtful features beyond that of an ultra-minimalist jacket, made it stand out from the rest of the jackets that we tested.
Unlike other super lightweight jackets, this jacket has some thoughtful design features, including a convenient chest pocket, a moldable wire brim on the hood, asymmetrically tailored sleeves, and reflective markings. With fully taped seams, a waterproof main zipper, and Pertex Shield fabric, the jacket keeps out the elements very well. These features add up to make this jacket a piece worth investing in.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This jacket is very high performance for a lightweight rain shell, though it does lack pit-zips and ventilation features. Velcro on the cuffs, asymmetrically cut sleeves, and a large moldable hood brim all contribute to keeping the water outside where it belongs.
While the jacket is minimalist in design, it does offer solid protection from wet weather. All the seams are fully taped, the zippers and the Pertex Shield fabric itself is waterproof to 20,000mm. Testers did experience a little seepage along the zipper in our shower test, but very rarely does water rain down as hard as it does in the shower. In practical applications, the water stayed outside where it belongs.The sleeves are asymmetrically tailored, offering extra top-of-the-hand coverage, and the cuffs clamp down tight with a Velcro catch in order to prevent water from running down the arms when reaching up.
The hood is large enough to offer good coverage and has a medium sized brim with moldable wire, lending it enough structure to stay put and protect the face well.
While the jacket has many positive features, the absence of pit-zips or any other form of increased ventilation prevents airflow within the jacket. During moderate exertion our testers quickly felt somewhat clammy, causing us to conclude this jacket is not ideal for long periods of high exertion. We cannot recommend this jacket for soggy backpacking or extended hiking in the rain, but as emergency rain gear to escape a surprise storm it can't be beat.
Comfort & Mobility
Montane's Minimus Jacket is a minimalist-style rain jacket for light and fast adventures that still offers excellent protection from the wind and rain. Though minimalist, it does fit rather comfortably and offers some features that increase comfort in wet conditions, such as asymmetrically tailored sleeves to protect the back of your hands and a small patch of micro-fleece on the collar to prevent chin chafe. These features increase the jacket's appeal in the event of extended exposure.
The cut and fit are athletic, allowing for good mobility and full coverage in reachy situations. The hood is large enough to tightly accommodate a helmet, with a moldable wire brim so you can adjust the "peak" of the hood however you'd like.
Though this is generally a minimalist jacket, there are some thoughtful design features that add a lot of value. First, there is a chest pocket for a map, topo, iPhone, etc. The pocket, lined with simple mesh, has a small D-ring to clip keys. While having a pocket is not critical on a super lightweight jacket, testers of other models found that it was annoying to not have at least one pocket for random odds and ends.
Second, the cuffs have Velcro cinches and a asymmetrical cut. While the Velcro cuffs might not seem revolutionary, some other super-light jackets have no mechanism for closing down then cuffs, thus allowing water to dribble down the sleeves when reaching up to adjust the hood or a pack. The asymmetrical design of the cuffs provides a small amount of additional coverage to the tops of the hands.
Lastly, the jacket has several patches of reflective markings on the sleeves and the back. We think the addition of the reflective markings and the jacket's lightweight/minimal bulk might make it especially useful to cyclists who find themselves caught out in the rain.
On a basic level, the elastic drawstrings at the waist and hood function simply and quickly, and the hood offers two points of adjustment (around the front rim and across the back). The main zipper works smoothly, as does the chest pocket zipper, which is covered with a storm flap.
Weight & Bulk
We weighed this jacket at a feathery 8.45 ounces, making it the second lightest jacket that we tested. With its separate stuff sack, the jacket packs down to just bigger than a large apple, making it ideal for lightweight backpacking or climbing trips.
We wish that it had a pocket it could pack into, but the stuff sack provides another option for carrying and packing other than balling it up in a backpack.
This should be considered a back-up jacket to be worn for short periods of time while escaping wet weather and getting into shelter. The Minimus not recommended for extended periods of high output activity due to its lack of breathability.
It also performs well for lightweight backpacking, alpine climbing, and as lightweight rain gear for cycling.
Twice as much as our Best Buy winner, the Marmot PreCip, this minimal jacket still falls in the mid-range of price for rain jackets. If you are looking for a high performance, lightweight rain shell, we think this is worth the investment.
The Minimus Jacket - Women's, $238, is the women's version.
Montane defines the Minimus Smock, $175, as waterproof, exceptionally breathable, and lightweight.
As a lightweight rain shell, we think this piece excels. It skimps on ventilation features to keep the weight off, but includes other important comfort features that improve your experience while wearing the jacket. If you are looking for a jacket better suited for backpacking or hiking long distances in rainy conditions, we recommend the Marmot Oracle, the Marmot Aegis, or the REI Kimtah Jacket. For another slightly less featured but even lighter lightweight rain jacket, take a look at Outdoor Research Helium 2 - Men's.
— Rob Beno and McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: July 13, 2014
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