Montane Spine Gore-Tex Active Jacket | Review
Montane's new Gore-Tex Active running jacket is a neat mix of top-notch fabric, sleek cut and just enough features to do an all-day job in the hills.
'Named after Britain's toughest race, you'd expect the Spine Jacket to be at home in the hills and it is thanks to a sleek design and highly effective Gore-Tex Active fabric'
Outdoors Magic: Decent, breathable fabric, excellent sleek cut with stealthy underarm pit-zips, neat hood, design and features.
Outdoors Tragic: Hood could maybe use a tab-down option, a little heavy and bulky for bum-bag transport. Breathability can still be overwhelmed when working hard. Not for fatties.
Outdoors Grabbit? Cracking all-day, rainy day, running jacket in a good fabric that doubles as a lightweight but minimal all-rounder. Neat design, cut and features and a surprisingly good hood.
Lightweight waterproof and breathable shell jacket / Gore-Tex Active 30D fabric / trail hood / 12 – 13 stitch count per inch and 3mm seam allowance on all seams / mid-height collar / adjustable cuffs and hem / mini pit-zips / main YKK matte AquaGuard® front zip / ear external MONTANE® hang loop.
Montane Spine Jacket - The Tech
This autumn 2016 is the first time Montane has used Gore-Tex fabrics and for this one - designed for lightweight, fast-moving stuff like mountain running - it's chosen to use a lightweight Gore-Tex Active material.
It's one of the more breathable fabrics out there, so you should stay comfortable for longer. Otherwise it's all about saving weight with minimal features, but not trimming off so much that the jacket isn't practical.
That means just the one chest pocket, a close-fitting 'trail' rather than a full mountain hood and adjustable cuffs and hem. One nice touch are the unobtrusive mini pit-zips which acknowledge the limitations of even quite breathable waterproof materials, by giving you some additional venting potential.
Finally, the construction is really thorough and Montane has used minimal seam allowances and stitching counts to keep seams strong and neat.
Spine Jacket - Performance
We've been using the jacket for over six months now and we really like it. It's a trail-running / all-round lightweight waterproof, but not in the sense that some of the ultra-lightweight 'emergency shells' are.
As you might guess from the name, the jacket's designed for those outings when you expect to be out in the rain all-day. That makes it slightly too weighty (270g) and bulky to stow in a lightweight bum-bag, though it's happy enough in a day-sac, but the pay-off is a design that works really well.
The fit is tailored and athletic for minimal flappage and you can adjust both cuffs and hem for optimum weather-sealing. You don't get multiple pockets because, frankly, you don't need them, but there is a single, handy chest one that's designed to accommodate a smart-phone or GPS on the move.
It's snug enough to hold an iPhone 5S without it bouncing around disconcertingly, though we'd still suggest a waterproof case for peace of mind and personal safety...
The hood turns out to be surprisingly effective given that there's no rear adjuster, just an elasticated section that pulls the hood tight to the back of your head. For it to work properly you need to snug down the front adjusters, but once you've done that, everything holds together nicely and moves with your direction of gaze.
Finally, although the laminated peak doesn't have mantle-piece stiffness, it provides just enough protection and combined with decent lower face fabric makes for a secure, protective feel.
Gore-Tex Active is both subjectively and in lab tests, one of the more breathable fabrics out there, but the nature of running and other high tempo activities, is that unless you run very cool, you'll still overwhelm the fabric with hard use.
Montane has improved things a little with the provision of neat, minimal and easy-to-use pit-zips, but realistically you will sometimes find yourself hot, sweaty and steaming. The same is true of other running shells, it goes with the territory, so don't expect the impossible.
Finally, a minor grump, the sleeves have a neat, sleek cut, but it does make them harder to roll-up for additional fore-arm cooling, something of a personal quirk. Those with beefier climber forearms might fail completely...
Spine Jacket - Verdict
This is the first of Montane's new Gore-Tex jacket range we've used and we're impressed. The cut and construction are both great giving a sleek, non-flapping, athletic fit that's just the right length for running and other fast-moving lightweight stuff.
Hoods are a crucial part of any UK waterproof and the good news is that Montane has got this one right. It's close fitting despite just having the front adjuster and the combination of that and a high-ish collar makes for good facial protection.
What we weren't expecting was that the hood, when down, would - if snugged up - stay unobtrusive. Hats off to Montane too for eschewing useless additional pockets, one is enough on a lightweight shell and the one you get is ideal for a phone and a five. Nice.
Finally, you'll still get warm and sweaty in this despite the fabric being one of the better ones, and while the pit-zips help a little, it's a bullet you're simply not going to dodge.
Overall a cracking lightweight jacket for all-day running use or more general lightweight backpacking and hiking where the 270g weight makes it stowable as well. Steer clear if you like lots of pockets, but if you embrace the minimal, The Spine could well find a place in your loving arms...