Construction and Performance
The Pac Plus XT is actually an evolution of the Montane Pac Plus jacket, which was released in 2020. The main changes are that the face fabric has been beefed up from 30-denier to 40-denier and it is now made from fully recycled nylon. That’s a tick for sustainability and for lifetime durability too.
In addition, the XT is now fitted with two-way YKK Aquaguard pit zips, which the previous jacket lacked. You still get a helmet-compatible hood with three-way adjustment and a stiffened peak, 3 useful external pockets (including two map-sized, mesh-lined hand pockets with YKK Aquaguard zips), adjustable cuffs and hem, and a full-length two-way YKK Aquaguard front zip with internal storm flap. That’s a great array of features, particularly for a jacket that still weighs under 400g. Admittedly, it’s 25g or so heavier than the original Pac Plus, but we think the tougher fabric and the addition of pit zips are well worth the slight weight increase.
“Montane tend to cater for a specific user as opposed to creating garments that do everything for everyone.”
The cut is great, with a slim fit and excellent patterning that includes articulated arms for high reach movement – ideal for strenuous climbing or scrambling moves.
In terms of waterproof-breathable performance, Gore-Tex Paclite Plus is just as waterproof as other types of Gore-Tex, with a Hydrostatic Head in excess of 28,000mm. It isn’t quite as breathable as standard Gore-Tex, Gore-Tex Active or Gore-Tex Pro, but as the name suggests, it is lighter and more packable than any of those other constructions. Third-party testing suggests a MVTR of around 10-15,000g/m2/24hrs. That’s certainly as good as many PU-based membranes too.
As the latest evolution of Paclite, Paclite Plus also has a special dry-touch backer rather than the raised print used to line most 2.5-layer shells. This makes it more comfortable and less clammy than many competitors, although it does sometimes feel a bit slick compared to a 3-layer shell.
With an array of features, this jacket ought to satisfy even the most demanding hillwalker, as well as most climbers given its excellent cut and great hood design. The low weight and impressive packability make it a superb ‘grab and go’ option for a range of activities from spring through to autumn. Only in deep winter might you need to transition to a more rugged and protective shell – though many so-called ‘winter jackets’ also use 40-denier face fabrics, the same as employed here. All in all, this is a rain shell that punches well above its weight.
Sarah Leighton, outdoor Youtuber (@fitforadventure)
“First of all, I really like the teal colour of this version I’ve been testing. I’ve been impressed by the beading of the Gore-tex Pac Plus fabric in wet weather and it’s breathability too. It’s got a good sized hood on it – it fitted my big head anyway. This one is a medium (UK 10) – my usual size – and it fits nicely. I would say it’s a pretty fitted 10. If I wore this in winter then a thick down jacket would be a bit of a squeeze, but it’s fine over a fleece or a thin layer of insulation.It’s good that it can unzip the main zip from the bottom. It’s a shame the pocket on the chest isn’t that big though – especially the ones on the chest. You have to fold a map if you want to stash it in one of the pockets there.”