When we asked for lightweight waterproof jackets, we weren’t quite expecting something this light. Montane, the British lightweight gear specialists definitely take the award for the lightest lightweight waterproof we’ve tested. The Minimus Mountain Shell barely even moves the scales at a claimed 232g for a men’s medium.
The weight of the thing is more akin to a windproof number than a full-on waterproof with the incredible lightness coming from the Pertex construction. Instead of using a standard membrane construction, Pertex employs a tightly-woven fabric to block water ingress whilst also allowing sweat vapour to pass from the inside out.
What this does mean is that the jacket is slightly less waterproof on paper than anything that uses a full-on waterproof membrane. In reality though, you will struggle to notice. The quoted figures of 20,000mm are certainly up there when you consider that traditional Gore-Tex has been tested at around 28,000mm. The use of fully taped seams not only helps with waterproofing, but also make it suitable for use in Mountain Marathons and other events with strict restrictions on waterproofs permitted.
The face fabric uses a Rip-stop material that provides great strength-to-weight properties. Over the course of using the jacket we’ve yet to see it tear or snag although we’ve not exactly been running through Gorse bushes.
The incredibly lightweight construction used in the Minimus does, of course have some negative aspects too. The thin 2.5 later construction doesn’t have the same durable feel to it as something designed for more year-round mountain use. As is standard with 2.5 layer fabric the inner protection is more of a spray-on sheen than any separate fabric backing and we’re not sure how well it will stand up to wear and tear over long term use. However so far, so good and we’ve not noticed any real problems in use.
Breathability of the jacket really hasn’t been an issue- despite the slightly sticky rubbery feel to the lining. In our experience the jacket manages to keep the moisture build-up to a minimum as well as many more expensive jackets with waterproof membranes. We haven’t had a chance to test in warm conditions though (what with the ‘spring’ we’ve been having) and so we’ll report back when we have. At only one point did we start to notice any dampness on the inside of the jacket. During high intensity cycling on a wet, wintery day the jacket did begin to feel a little damp on the inside. Although with the huge temperature difference between inside and out, (there was heavy, wet snow falling) all but the most clever of layerers would feel the condensation build-up- something which is unrealistic at cycling levels of effort.
Despite being something so light weight, the jacket does have decent mountain credentials with Velcro closures on the cuffs and an adjustable hood with a wired peak. A single chest pocket is big enough for a phone and the two waist pockets will fit over a waist strap on a pack and double up as vents with their mesh backing. There are also a few reflective patches in key areas that boost nighttime effectiveness to boot.
The Montane Minimus mountain jacket then offers a great package for those looking for a an ultralight waterproof jacket that can have confidence in keeping dry in. For those that prefer to use a softshell for most conditions and need something in reserve in case the heavens then it could be the one. More than that though, the jacket breathes very well- certainly better than other lightweight jackets using similar 2.5 layer processes (Gore-Tex Paclite for instance).
↑ The Good
+ Incredibly lightweight
+ Great adjustment in hood, cuffs and waist
+ Very breathable
↓ The (not so) Good
- Almost slightly fragile feel
- Not sure about longevity (although not fully tested)
- Lightweight fabric creases when stuffed away for in a pack.
A great ultralight waterproof jacket with real weather-beating properties and a fair price to match. It’s not likely to be your only jacket for year-round use, but excels at what it was built for- fast and light activities. It’s definitely staying in our pack for the summer at least.
Minimus Mountain Jacket
Weight: 232g / 8.2oz (SIZE M)
Fabric: PERTEX® Shield + Fabric denier: 15D + 40D Rip
Colours: Black / Kiwi zips, Electric blue / Electric blue zips
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Activities: Mountain Walking / High Trekking / Backpacking / Mountain Marathon