The Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket is made for moving fast in the mountains. It walks a fine line better than most mountain shells: rugged, quality construction, but also light and very packable. It’s adaptable to a variety of temperatures, weather conditions and exertion. It’s a great choice for mountain running, speed hiking, mountain biking and other short duration, high output activities.
The Pertex Shield 2.5 layer membrane in the Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra is a solid performer, blocking hours of rain. Scrunchy style wrists kept drips from running down our arms, even after sticking a hand into a lake to pull out a fish while canoeing. The hood offers ample coverage (though not enough to fit a helmet) and it fits snug, so it rotates with our head for unobstructed visibility. Pockets are sealed with waterproof zips and the front zipper is also waterproof and backed by a strip of fabric to fully seal out any wandering drops.
Without any of the mechanical advantages Montane has added to the Minimus Stretch Ultra breathability is excellent. Crack the two hand pockets, backed by mesh, and it gets even better. It’s possible to bump the A/C up one more level: unzip the front zipper and clip a button near the collarbone and hem. It seals up the front of the jacket just enough but allows almost unlimited dumping of heat and moisture without putting wind stress on the zipper iteslf. On a sweaty hill climb in a steady rain we opened all the vents and were fairly comfortable. More importantly we were fairly dry at the top, while everyone else was soaked.
The Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra is made for moving fast, so it’s tailored for a snug fit. There’s not a lot of room for layering underneath. But with built in stretch the jacket doesn’t feel constrictive. There are plenty of features hidden in this minimalist looking design: clips for venting, hand pockets that double as vents, pull tabs for adjusting the snug hood. The wrists don’t adjust. Tailoring around the arms helps prevent the hem from lifting or the sleeves sliding down when reaching. The logos and zippers are reflective for nighttime vision.
Just reading the fabric description on the Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra it would be easy to assume this jacket isn’t as tough as most. It uses a 20 denier fabric, while most of the jackets in this category use 30d. However, Montane over-stitches seams, laying down 12 to 13 per inch compared to the industry average of closer to eight. Case in point, while testing it to the limits, we found most tears occured in the fabric, not seams, it’s still a sign that Montane’s production quality is higher than most.
Tighter and more stitches per inch than most jackets translates into cleaner, narrower seams. That makes the Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra more packable other jackets in the same weight class. It’s already super light, so add super packable to its list of attributes. Stuffed into one of its hand pockets it packed up to the size of a small grapefruit.
Ryan Stuart is freelance writer and jack of all sports—trail running, mountain biking, whitewater paddling, surfing, climbing, skiing and mountaineering—based on Vancouver Island. Follow his testing on Google+.