Named after famous Italian mountaineer Walter Bonatti, the Salomon Bonatti Pro WP JKT is made for going fast in the mountains. It weighs a slight seven ounces, stows into its chest pocket and provides enough protection for a long day in the rain. We wouldn’t recommend relying on the Bonatti for trips with any bushwhacking, but it’s perfect for low abrasion light and fast missions and/or as a back-up jacket.
Backstopping the Salomon Bonatti jacket is a Pertex Shield 2.5 layer fabric. We’ve found this to be a solid membrane and this use of it performed as expected. On a two hour hike in a steady rain we never got wet, even though it’s a very light jacket. The hood is not huge, but provided enough protection to keep rain off the face. The jacket’s cut is a little baggy in the back and we found it can fit right over a small pack or hydration vest. It’s a nice touch that worked pretty well in our testing and has the added benefit of reducing abrasion between pack straps and the jacket, a major source of long term wear.
Impressive is the best way to describe the breathability. The Pertex Shield membrane combined with a light face fabric allowed the heat and moisture to leak out like a sieve. Huffing uphill on a steamy day we were able to stay dry from the inside and out. Pit zips would have made this jacket incredibly breathable but would have compromised packability.
The Salomon Bonatti is designed as a minimalist, fast and light shell. It lacks in the broader function department with just one pocket and a waterproof front zip. The hood works well, but is scuba style, wrapping around the face with little adjustment. The wrists and waist use a similar elastic band style and can’t be adjusted. But they do work well and proved to stay in place. Salomon cut the jacket so it moved smoothly and quietly while we were testing—ideal for running, hiking and climbing. A pleat in the back provides extra room for long reaches without leaving skin exposed and for layering the jacket over a pack. The jacket packs into its own pocket.
At less than seven ounces we don’t expect this jacket to hold up to brambles and bush. But since it’s named for a famous Italian mountaineer it should be able to handle a little chimney action and rock contact. In testing, our team found it to be tough enough to rely on for low abrasion contact trips but not for bushwhacking.
There are lighter waterproof shells out there, but not many we’d trust to keep us dry all day long like this one. At 6.7 ounces this thing is feather light. We started carrying it as a backup and an emergency shell. It packs into its chest pocket, just bigger than a large fist and small enough that it disappeared in a day pack and we almost forgot we had it.
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+.