We were lucky enough to be offered a Montane Spine jacket for review. This jacket was designed for those hardy folk who run the Montane Spine Race
, a 268 mile endurance race, run in winter across the Pennines. So it’s designed to deal with anything you throw at it - snow, rain, hail, high winds and any combination of those.
It’s made of GORE-TEX, so I expected it to be quite a heavy feeling jacket. However, my first impression was how light it was. The material Montane use is GORE-TEX Active Shell, which is designed to be waterproof but also breathable and lightweight. This also means it scrunches up well to go into your backpack. While it won’t quite pack down as small as something like an OMM Kamleika, it’s still very packable and it’s incredibly light (291g).
The design is very simple but it’s got features exactly where you want them. There’s one breast pocket which you can just get a phone in. I’ve also found it useful for keys or anything you need to keep dry and secure. The waist on the women’s version is gathered at the back, which helps with a nice, tailored fit and reduces swishing around. The sleeves are a good length (I’m quite small and I usually find sleeves on jackets quite long) and they have velcro fastenings so you can secure them tightly to keep the rain out. There are zips under the arms, so that you can let a bit of ventilation in if you need it, and an elasticated drawstring at the waist if you want a closer fit.
Hoods are pretty important if you really want to keep the weather out. This hood is elasticated a little at the back to give it a tailored fit, and if you zip the jacket right up it comes just over your chin and creates a snug, secure hood fit. This ensures that, with the hood up, it won’t blow down, even in the strongest winds (see below). It can also be tightened up with a cord round the face part, if you want to reduce the amount of available face for hail to hit.
Now, if you want to test a waterproof jacket in the UK there’s only one place to go. A place that not only guarantees rain, but it guarantees many different types of rain. There’s the straightforward torrential downpour, the freezing cold driving type and the constant drizzle, usually accompanied by their specialist zero visibility clag. Yes, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time in the Lake District in this jacket.
Zero visibility? Check! High winds? Check! Photo by Rupert Bonington (left) of www.mountainfuel.co.uk
I spent a day out on Skiddaw and Blencathra in February and the weather didn’t disappoint. We had driving rain, strong winds and very little visibility. I had the Montane Spine jacket on all day and it kept the elements out really well. I only had a merino base layer on under the jacket but I was warm all day and, as the jacket was quite breathable, I didn’t get too sweaty on the ascents. Up high the wind was really strong but my hood stayed securely on my head and kept the elements out. This day was probably as good a test as you’ll get for a waterproof jacket.
Why does it always rain on me? Because you're in the Lakes! Photos by Rupert Bonington of www.mountainfuel.co.uk
I’ve also spent days out in slightly better conditions in the Lakes - namely constant drizzle, which is their version of ‘good weather’. I’d initially thought I would only use this jacket when the weather was really bad (heavy rain, snow etc), and it does excel in these conditions, but it’s actually great in less extreme weather too. It’s light and breathable enough to wear in drizzle without feeling like you’re being overzealous with your kit. I wore it on a drizzly but warm (10 degrees C) morning out on the Stonehenge Stomp and it kept me comfortable all day. Equally I’ve worn it with a base layer and mid-layer underneath in snowy conditions and it’s kept me warm and dry.
The downside, as you might expect for a jacket of this quality is price. The RRP is £250. But this is a jacket that will last you for many years if you look after it. And if you also do a bit of walking (or even bad weather dog walking) it’s definitely suitable for this too. I think of this jacket as a really high quality GORE-TEX jacket, which is light and breathable enough to use for high intensity activity.
In conclusion, this is just a fantastic jacket I can’t really find fault with. The shell will keep out anything you throw at it, but it’s still perfectly suitable for those times when you just need to grab your jacket from your backpack to keep a bit of rain off. There are lighter, more packable jackets out there, but you wouldn’t necessarily trust them when the weather’s really bad, or you’re up high on a mountain. If you’re planning on spending a fair amount of time out there in those sorts of conditions, this jacket would be an excellent investment.
Find more information on the Montane Spine jacket here
I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners.