2014 Gear Preview - Montane
The big news from Montane for 2014 is a completely new range of innovative sleeping bags along with their own race vests.
The big news from Montane at this year's OutDoor trades show in Germany was a range of six Montane sleeping bags, the first ever from the NE-based British brand and featuring some typically well thought-out and novel technologies and design touches.
Six Sleeping Bag Range
Just as they did with packs two years ago, Montane has gone into a completely new area and not been afraid to do something a bit different.
The six bags include a lightweight alpine bag using top-notch goose down fill, a super lightweight all-rounder with a goose down fill and a completely waterproof Pertex Shield + outer fabric, a super-warm extreme mountaineering bag with a comfort rating of -12˚C and an extreme limit of -42C and finally, the Prism, which is a ruffty tuffty, knock-about friendly bag with a fill of synthetic PrimaLoft Eco to thrive in damp and dank UK mountain conditions.
Like Montane's packs, the bags use colour schemes with match Montane's clothing range and as with the packs, Montane has had a fresh look at things and incorporated some interesting new features. The most obvious of these is the 'Flipper Foot Box', which gives a pronounced 'L-shape' to the foot of the bag.
The idea is that the design removes dead space above the ankles and makes for greater efficiency and allows for a natural foot position, there's room for tent slippers in there as well. Another neat touch that'll be appreciated by anyone who's slipped off their sleeping mat in a tent or on a bivi is the addition of grippy silicone dots on the underside of the bag to minimise any slipping about.
Other nice touches include split cords to allow differential lower and upper face opening adjustment, glow in the dark zip-pulls and anti-snag zip baffles. There's soft, brushed microfleece next to chin and mouth areas, 3D-shaped neck baffles for full neck, erm, encasement and even a peak visor for those exposed bivvies on the more technical bags.
The Minimus Bag is an interesting one. It uses waterproof Pertex Shield + outer fabric with bonded baffles and taped seams making the outer fully waterproof to a hydrostatic head of 20,000mm. There's a YKK Vislon Aquagard zip with moulded plastic interlocking teeth.
Constructon is box-wall baffle with a fill of 800+ fill-power 90/10 European goose down with a comfort level of 3˚C, limit of comfort -2˚C and extreme rating of -18˚C. The clever bit is that the waterproof outer means in most situations, you won't need a bivi bag saving weight over a more conventional set up.
The Direct Ascent meanwhile is a fast and light alpine bag with a Pertex Quantum shell, YKK Vislon zip and the same 800+ (US rated) down as the Minimus. It weighs a claimed 1031g, comes with a dry bag for safe carriage which doubles as a pillow when stuffed with spare clothing. Comfort rating is 1˚C, extreme down to -22˚C - bear in mind that 'extreme' means you'll just about stay alive...
Finally, the Prism - same name as the jacket - is an interesting-looking UK-friendly bag which uses a moisture-resistant PrimaLoft Eco fill in a really technical format. The bag has the same technical features as the down bags including the Vislon zip, Flipper Foot and sticky dots, but constructed using Pertex Microlight and tailored to work with synthetic fill.
The temperature figures are 5˚, 0˚ and -16˚C and claimed weight is 1156g. Looks like a potentially brilliant bag for anyone anticipating the sort of damp conditions where down feels vulnerable and can crumple in the face of wetness. Interesting stuff...
Dragon 20 Race Vest
And now for something competely different. The Dragon 20 is a so-called 'race vest', basically a lightweight pack with a stretchy, form-fitting body harness. It's not a new idea, several adventure race specialist brands have been there already, but it suits Montane's fast and light ethos.
The idea is that the harness gives more even weight distribution and keeps things stable as you rocket across the mountainscape at race speeds. Or you could just use it for lightpacking. The main body of the sac is completely waterproof thanks to taped seams all round and a roll-top, dry bag-style closure up top.
There are plenty of pockets for those race essentials plus water bottle-holders on each shoulder-strap. It's a specialised sort of thing and we can imagine in hot weather it might well feel a bit, well, hot and sweaty, but if it's as well done as the rest of Montane's pack range, it should work well.
Along with the Dragon 20 there are also 5 and 10-litre versions. Prices will be £75, £85 and £95 - all three are taped and waterproof. Aso new on the pack front is a larger 70-litre version of the original Grand Tour 55.
Two New Jackets
Finally Montane has two new shells on the cards for early next year. The Trailblazer Stretch Jacket as you may have guessed from the name, is a stretch waterproof made from a fabric Montane's calling AQUAPRO Dynamic which has a four-way stretch.
It's clever stuff apparently, Montane says it's a 'bi-component waterproof laminate fabric with a membrane that is both hydrophobic and hydrophilic'. In normal use it's hydrophobic, it says here, and breathes 'normally', but when things get proper wet and sweaty, it apparently goes all hyddrophilic and pulls moisture through from the inside to the outside.
Which sounds nice. Its designed as a fast mountain all-rounder you can use for running or walking or trail running with a claimed weight of 360g - or 359.5g if you're being fussy. It has a full adjustable trail hood and stretches. Price will be £170.
Also new is the Rock Guide Jacket, a year-round mountain climbing shell and based on the Krypton jacket. The outer layer is windproof Pertex Microlight fabric with a DWR for better water resistance and there's a high-wicking 'Honeycomb Flash' burshed mesh lining to wick moisture rapidly away from the body.
There's some clever stuff too. The liner's reversed in the sleeves to prevent snagging, cut is designed for technical mountain stuff with articulated arms and there's a full technical, under-helmet hood that dodges the tiresome chin-fit problem by using two small slots so the helmet straps run inside the chin-guard. Lots more besides and a price of £150. Claimed weight is 542g.
All the above out early in 2014. Current Montane range at www.montane.co.uk.