The latest version of the SuperFly XT is a proper, full-on UK mountain jacket made from highly breathable eVent fabric and full loaded with everything from a full helmet hood to four spacious pockets and core vents.
It's not stupidly heavy either despite reinforced abrasion areas, generous cut and being the longest shell jacket the brand produces - our medium weighs 560g all in.
We still rate eVent fabric as one of the most breathable out there - it's vapour permeable meaning that it clears internal fugs faster and keeps you cooler and less steamy. The downside of the material is that to continue working at its optimum, it does need more regular cleaning and reproofing than some others.
Montane has used two grades of eVent in the XT - a lightweight one for the bulk of the jacket and a heavier, more abrasion resistant in strategic areas like shoulders, hips, outer arms and elbows. It saves a little weight, but means the jacket is tougher where it matters.
We've used the SuperFly XT through the autumn and early winter now and it's a real mountain workhorse of a jacket. It's cut long for a modern design and also designed to have enough room in it to accommodate a fleece for cold conditions. It's not baggy though, just not over snug.
Sleeves are on the long side which means they don't pull up when reach out or overhead when climbing or scrambling and all openings are easily adjustable. We like the hood too. It's a classic UK mountain design with a bunch of helmet-swallowing volume, lots of adjustment and a wired peak. It shrugged off a particularly brutal Lakes day thanks to plenty of facial coverage and easy adjustment. It turns with your head too.
Finally, the eVent fabric has been as impressively breathable as ever, as good or better than anything else on the market with the possible exception of Polartec NeoShell, though mostly you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference in normal use.
Speaking of breathability, Montane has gone a bit nuts with the pockets. There are four of them, plus two core vents, all fitted with water-resistant zips. We'd have been happy with two pockets - maybe venting ones - and no vents. Apart from anything else, the overlapping pocket 'bags' mean that much of the chest area has three layers of fabric - the outer shell plus one layer for each pocket.
That said, for normal mountain use, we didn't find breathability an issue, but nor do we really need four pockets and we're not sure who does... But the choice is there if you feel you need it. Oh, and while we're talking venting, you can also roll up the sleeves to cool your fore-arms.
A proper, traditional British mountain jacket with modern styling and promisingly durable-feeling construction, a bit like, oh, a longer-cut version of the old ME Changabang. The eVent fabric does a reliable, breathable gig, the hood is one of Montane's best yet and works well with or without a helmet and the cut is spot on for layering up in winter.
It's fully loaded with pockets too. And vents. Whether you need four pockets is up to you. But if you feel you do, here they are. We'd happily make do with just two and no vents and save some grammes, but as ever it's a personal choice.
Overall an excllent general eVent winter mountain and mountaineering shell - ideal for anyone who's always wanted a fully-specced ME jacket but made from eVent.
- Three-layer eVent fabric in bi-zoned construction
- Reinforced shoulders, elbows, hips and seat
- Integral, fully adjustable, roll-away helmet hood with reinforced wired peak
- Single hand operated, elasticated, face aperture draw-cords
- Full length water-resistant two-way front zip with internal storm flap and rain drain
- Core body vents with water-resistant zips and internal storm flap
- Internal waist draw-cord
- Two large hand pockets with water-resistant zips
- Shaped cuffs with hook and loop adjustable rubberised tabs
- Single hand adjustable elasticated draw-cord hem
- Two zipped Napoleon pockets with water-resistant zips
- Special Alpine Red Mountain Rescue edition with additional reflection
- Fully microtaped seams
- Pros: Tough, breathable and well specced shell with a proper UK-developed, helmet-friendly hood too and all at a reasonable weight.
- Cons: Multiple pockets create double areas of fabric in the chest area - how many pockets do you need anyway? Plus eVent needs regular care to keep it performing well.
- Price: £300.00
- Year: 2011
- Weight: 560
- Website: www.montane.co.uk
[score overall='4.0' performance='4.0' reliability='4.5' value='3.5']