Well, I guess that’s summer almost over. Not quite as hot as last year which isn’t always a bad thing, but I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to the long evenings and bright mornings yet! I actually just got back from an amazing long weekend running in the Dolomites where Summer is still in full swing! Beautiful sunny days, rumblie afternoon storms and valleys littered with marmots and wildflowers – it really is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in my life!
But, on to why we’re really here – the Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket from Montane. Straight off the bat it ticks a lot of boxes – lightweight, packable, breathable, and at £165 doesn’t break the bank – but before we go into that in a bit more detail let’s break down the techy bits!
What is it actually made from?
The Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket is made of an incredibly lightweight, waterproof 20 denier Pertex Shield 2.5 layer fabric. At first glance, it feels smooth on the outside and a bit plasticky on the inside. Honestly, at first I was really worried I was going to get really clammy on humid days – but I didn’t. It breathed really well and any sweat build up underneath the jacket didn’t feel ‘sticky’ and uncomfortable – the jacket is still easy to get on and off when you have wet skin.
The second thing that worried me a bit was just how light it is. The jacket weighs about 183g and at 20 denier, it just didn’t fill me with very much confidence. However, on its first proper in-the-rain-for-8-hours run I’d picked a particularly overgrown trail to fight through and bushwhacked my way up 2km of brambles, ferns and nettles. To my surprise, the jacket hadn’t snagged once. No little holes, no rips – nothing! Now, that could have been a bit of luck, but another show for its durability is the fact that I’ve worn it (almost solidly – thanks rain) for the last three months, always with a pack or running vest and the jacket isn’t showing any signs of wear! I was really worried that wearing a tight-fitting running vest with it for long periods of time would eventually wear through the fabric, but so far it’s exceeded my expectations. And added bonus is that because it’s so light, I use it as a windproof layer too, even when it’s not raining. Sweat build-up after a tough climb teamed with stronger winds when you reach a summit often means that you can catch a chill quite quickly – I find this a really handy layer to just chuck on in those situations so I don’t lose too much body heat. It also means I don’t have to carry an additional windproof layer with me.
The Pertex Shield is then given a DWR coating – It does eventually wet out, but if you pop it in the tumble dryer for a bit after that starts to happen then that’ll reactivate the DWR coating and water will bead off it again.
What are the features?
Let’s start with the hood – It really deserves its own little paragraph! Before I had this jacket I used an Arc’tery Norvan jacket – it worked well most of the time until it was windy! It had no adjustment in the hood so as soon as the wind picked up, it would just blow off your head. Nightmare! So it was a blessing to finally use a jacket with such excellent adjustability. The hood is generously sized to be able to easily fit over headwear like caps and chunky beanies. It has a bit of pre-elastication in the rear of the hood that gives you a bit of freedom of movement when you have the hood synched right up and you also get two elasticated drawcords either side of the face. When you have those drawcords synched up, the excess sits on the inside of the hood so they don’t flap around and hit you in the nose in strong winds. The hood also has a wire peak that keeps the wind and rain out of your eyes and is easy to reshape after packing it down for storage. It does, however, sit quite low on my face (as you can see in the very last photo) so I do need to wear a cap too to stop it from impeding my vision.
Moving down then you get two YKK pockets that are mesh-lined and easy to get in and out of even when you’re wearing gloves and a running pack. There is a little media hole in the right-hand pocket which is really handy when you want to plug in your earphones or charge your phone on longer races. On particularly humid days, I emptied the pockets and kept them open as extra ventilation.
The jacket doesn’t have any pit zips, which I honestly didn’t miss, but I would have loved the centre front zip to be two-way – I know that’s uncommon in running jackets, but with the press stud in the bottom I feel like it would have really helped! I do use that press-studs quite often and found them really handy! The YKK centre front zip isn’t waterproof, but the use of the additional storm flap behind it meant that I didn’t have any water ingress through there.
Then to further seal out the elements you get an adjustable, elasticated hem drawcord and partially elasticated cuffs. The cuffs are easy to pull up, even with gloves on and don’t have the added faff or durability issues of velcro.
How does it actually fit?
The Minimus Stretch Ultra fits into Montane’s ‘Mountain Run’ fit block. These garments are designed to be close-fitting for trail running and fast-paced mountain adventures.
I’m 5’1″, weigh around 50kgs and I’m wearing a size 8. The fit in this jacket wasn’t as close as I was expecting which actually suited me really well – it means that on cold winter runs I can easily get an extra layer on underneath it without hindering the manoeuvrability. The body of the jacket is very generous – tapered at the waist but not dramatically. It will still suit you if you have a larger chest and curves (which isn’t always the case in trim-fitting mountain jackets).
The articulated arms mean that the sleeves and hem don’t ride up if you’ve got to do a bit of scrambling.
What did I love the most?
I love the packability- the jacket stuffs down into its own pocket with plenty of room to also squeeze in my tiny waterproof overtrousers – combined, it means that my whole waterproof set takes up less room than a 1-litre bottle. If I was being really strict on pack size I could also squish them down into a drybag and squeeze all the air out, but for most of what I’m doing now, it’s perfect!
I also love the fit and the feel – I have worn this jacket in the torrential rain for 14 hours (thank you Lakeland) and I was comfortable all day – likewise, I have also been in situations where I’ve whipped it on and off in between showers and even with wet skin, it isn’t a battle to get it on.
What would I have changed?
The only real thing is the fit in the hood. I understand it’s been sized large to fit over a large array of headwear, but I still feel it’s oversized. It’s a bit of a pain if you don’t have a cap and you have to synch the cords right down cus the wire peak will pull over your eyes (as shown in the photo below). It’s a bit of an inconvenience to an otherwise near-perfect jacket.
And that’s it guys – that fantastic Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket from Montane. A reliable waterproof jacket that’s been tailored to fast-paced mountain activities. As usual, if you have and comments or questions then pop them in the comments section below!
Have a great weekend, Ferals!
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Running the BBMC – The Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket was on my kit list
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