Old Favourite: Montane Slipstream GL Jacket

, May 25, 2011

 

Montane Slipstream GL JacketThis review is the second of a short series of blogs covering ‘old favourites,’ the sort of gear that not only works superbly, but is durable and reliable for any adventure. These reviews aim to select non-specialist, but in my opinion, superb pieces of equipment that will work for most people, in most conditions.

The Montane Slipstream GL Jacket shares a common thread with the first ‘old favourite’ review in that this too is a pertex garment. As you may have gathered in the previous blog I’m quite a fan of this brilliant windproof material. Essentially the Slipstream jacket is an ultra-light, single-layer windshirt made with the very lightest pertex available: Pertex Quantum Gossamer-Light. Montane, like Rab, are a British company which designs in the UK but manufacturers abroad. They have an established reputation with outdoor professionals and their products are deservingly popular with mountain rescue teams, the emergency services and the military. Montane specialises in windshells, softshells, hard-shells and pertex and pile garments.

As mentioned in the first ‘old-favourites’ blog, I’m an ex-paratrooper and my first experience of windproofs was of home-made ‘zoot suits’. These were quite loose fitting sets of smocks and trousers made from discarded parachute nylon. A paratroopers life can involve a fair bit of aerobic exercise and sweat, examples include ‘tabbing’ (marching cross country with huge loads), or digging, always digging.  Zoot suits were used during the lulls in activity to prevent sweat ‘flash-off’. Essentially, evaporative cooling can chill you to the core very quickly after you stop exercising and this is dubbed ‘flash-off’. Many of you will have taken off your pack and stood and admired the view from the summit and before the familiar cold, wet back feeling and crippling chill ensues.  We used zoot suits to stop this chill, so in the 15 minute rest stops when marching all night across some hellish British moorland, everyone would scramble into their windproof zoot suits to slow the evaporative cooling. This allowed you to start warmer and happier even if you did look as if you were wearing enormous see-through pyjamas.

The silk weight nylon material that modern parachutes are made from was the inspiration behind Pertex and is created by ‘calendaring’ – a process by which the material is rolled under immense pressure causing it to become extremely thin and glossy. Pertex add some rip-stop grids, silicone water-proofing and other magic to make this a versatile material for clothing and equipment.  Quantum is their premium lightweight product and Quantum GL is wel, even lighter.

The Montane Slipstream GL is not a zoot suit jacket. For a start it is perfectly tailored to the ‘athletic body’. Look elsewhere (or get a much bigger size) if you want to get this over lots of layers. It is also about a quarter of the weight of the parachute-derived zoot suit. It weighs 65g, yes really! To get perspective on just how light this is, it weighs a tiny bit more than a regular mars bar and can be packed down into a similar space.

I got my Slipstream Jacket as a prototype whilst running as a sponsored athlete for Craigdon Mountain Sports in international mountain marathons such as the LAMM, and instantly loved its versatility and phenomenal pack-size. Previously I’d had a Montane Featherlight jacket which itself isn’t heavy or big at 115g and is essentially a very similar product, albeit much less snug and bit more durable.

My Slipstream or Featherlight come with me on virtually every outdoor adventure I undertake whether that is instructing on the sea-cliffs of North-East Scotland with Adventure Aberdeen or blasting round the hills of Deeside with Magnetic Junction’s very own XC mountain bike whippet Jack Richards. I got a puncture while cycling to work last Friday and on went the Slipstream whilst I fixed it, off it came when I set off. To me these jackets are as essential as first aid kits or bike repair kits. They provide protection from the wind and all but the most severe of downpours.

In a nutshell I know that if I’m moving I can always stay warm in a long sleeve baselayer and one of these tops.

Montane Slipstream GL Jacket
Pushing the boundaries of Montane windshirt technology - Winter Fellrunning

The Slipstream has provided me with instant protection for sandwich stops, pee breaks, running along blustery sea-fronts, being caught out walking home from the pub, post-exercise chills and bizarrely to stop sunburn. People may laugh at my ‘shiny’ black shell suit and say ‘isn’t it sweaty it looks like a bin bag?’, but the answer is no – I rate this simple windproof top above every other outdoor piece of kit I own – it’s my desert island disc luxury item. It is not cheap at £85 but try to look at it as a very reasonable shell garment that you’ll enjoy wearing and carry far more often than your £300 gore-tex jacket. At 65g can you afford not to carry one just in case?

Useful Information

Check out Montane’s environmental and manufacturing statements.