Hands-on Gear Review
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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, asymmetrically tailored sleeves, and reflective markings. All these make it more appealing for longer term use.
We weighed the 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.
With fully taped seams, a waterproof main zipper, and Pertex Shield fabric, the jacket keeps out the elements very well. 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 has many positive features, the absence of pit zips or any other form of increased ventilation does not allow the jacket to breathe well and it is not an ideal choice for extended 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 for its light weight and good design. If you are looking for a jacket better suited for backpacking or hiking long distances in rainy conditions, we recommend the Marmot Oracle or the REI Kimtah Jacket. For another slightly less featured but even lighter lightweight rain jacket, take a look at Outdoor Research Helium 2.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Comfort and Mobility
Montane’s Minimus Jacket is a minimalist-style rain jacket for light and fast adventures that still offers good protection from the wind and rain.
While the jacket is generally a minimalist design, it does fit rather comfortably and offers some features that increase its comfort in wet conditions, increasing its appeal in the event of extended exposure. The sleeves are tailored asymmetrically, which offers your hands a little increased coverage from the elements, and there is small patch of micro-fleece on the collar to prevent all-out chin chafe.
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.
This jacket is not that breathable. It has no pit zips or other means for increased ventilation and the fabric does not breathe as well as one might be led to believe. During moderate exertion our testers quickly felt somewhat clammy. It's not recommended for extended periods of high output activity.
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 fabric itself is waterproof to 20,000mm. Testers did experience a little seepage along the zipper in our shower test, but very rarely is it raining as hard as the water comes down in the shower and 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 to keep 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.
Weight and Bulk
This jacket is the second lightest that we tested, making it ideal for lightweight backpacking or climbing trips. It can pack down nice and small into a ball or into its provided stuff sack.
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 pack. When packed into its stuff sack it is just slightly larger than a big apple.
Though this is generally a minimalist jacket, there are some design features that we thought were really thoughtful and added a lot of value. First, there is a chest pocket for a map, topo, iPhone, etc. The pocket with simple mesh lining has a small D-ring to clip some keys. While having a pocket is not critical on a super lightweight jacket, testers of other models found that it was super 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 pack. The asymmetrical design of the cuffs provided a small amount of additional coverage of the tops of the hands.
Lastly, the jacket has several patches of reflective markings on the sleeves and the back. We thought 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 well as does the chest pocket zipper, which is covered with a storm flap.
This should be considered an escape jacket to be worn for short periods while escaping the wet weather and getting into some shelter.
It is also good for lightweight backpacking, alpine climbing, lightweight rain gear for cycling.
— Rob Beno
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: February 15, 2013
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