Just a quick post this morning to share my child-like excitement at having received not one, but TWO jackets from the ‘Montane Test Pool’ to try out over the festive season!
Having requested a Further Faster Neo Jacket and an Alpha Guide Jacket to test a couple of weeks ago, I was pleased to discover both Montane garments in the Webtogs post on Monday morning. Enclosed was a letter from the Montane rep. confirming my right to keep them for two weeks over the Christmas and New Year period, rather than customary one week. Result!
This will hopefully give me ample opportunity to test out two exciting new technologies: Polartec Alpha insulation (the most breathable synthetic insulation yet devised), and Polartec Neoshell (the most breathable waterproof fabric yet devised), in between spells of stuffing my face with seasonal culinary delights. The ensuing activities may even partially offset the monumental rise in calorie intake that usually accompanies a Christmas spent with my family.
Here’s a quick summary of the two pieces, and their intended uses. Designed with maximum breathability and mobility in mind, the Montane Alpha Guide Jacket features the revolutionary Polartec Alpha insulation, with it’s unique open weave permitting excellent air permeability and compressibility without sacrificing insulation. To find out a bit more about it, check out my earlier post on Alpha, as used in the Rab Strata range. This is combined with Pertex Microlight, the lightest and softest of the Pertex family fabrics, which provides a good balance of wind resistance and just enough air permeability to complement the breathability of the Alpha insulation within. The Montane Alpha Guide features articulated joints for natural movement when climbing, along with a DWR (water-repellent finish), just in case you’re caught out by an unexpected cloudburst. The Alpha Guide Jacket works best however, as a mid-layer, which is where my other piece of test clothing comes in.
The Montane Further Faster Neo Jacket is constructed from ultra-breathable and soft Polartec Neoshell, making it the ultimate pairing for the Alpha Guide, on paper at least. It too comes with articulated joints for freedom of movement, and invaluable Alpine features such as A4 map pockets, wired peaked hood and zip chin-guard. The Neo Jacket will act as my outer weatherproof shell, whilst not inhibiting the escape of perspiration through base and mid-layer (i.e. the Alpha Guide Jacket). For base layers I’ll be using either my Lowe Alpine Dryflo 150 Top and 120 Pants, or my Light or Hybrid tops from The North Face. I’m intrigued to see if the Neo Jacket lives up to its billing, and discover which element of my layering system, if any, will prove to be the weak link.
My test ideas include a spot of cold-weather bouldering on Dartmoor to test the climbing-oriented fit of the Alpha Guide Jacket, hikes to test all-round performance, and a bike ride or two to test breathability. I’ll also wear one or the other as much as I can on a day-to-day basis to test their user-friendliness. I will report my findings in the New Year!