'Thoroughly engineered from a very nice nice fabric and with a flawless hood, this is one of the best women's-specific waterproof mountain walking jackets we've used'
Outdoors Magic: Nice fabric, decent fit with space for mid-layers, excellent hood, dependable feel without excess weight.
Outdoors Tragic: Not particularly fitted. Not cheap.
Outdoors Grabbit? Yes, if you're after a top quality, , nicely-cut, dedicated hill and mountain walking jacket with ample boob room and space for a warm fleece underneath. The hood works particularly well and the jacket is hard to fault for mountain walking use.
Women's-specific lightweight mountain jacket / 3-layer Gore-Tex fabric with C-KNIT technology / water resistant YKK AquaGuard® zips / twin hand-warmer pockets / internal bonded storage pocket / low profile ‘penny’ cordlock adjustable hem / adjustable cuffs / bonded storage pocket / Rear external MONTANE® hang loop
Full Review Below
Surge Jacket - The Tech
Northumberland-based brand Montane has been making acclaimed outdoor gear for years now, but this winter is the first time it's used market-leading Gore-Tex fabrics for its waterproofs. The challenge is for it to produce something different and better from the many other Gore-Tex brands out there.
'Of all the jackets this had the most spacious sleeves. This means that wearing it over a fleece or mid layer is very much workable'
The basic fabric, Gore-Tex with C-KNIT technology - same as the Arc'teryx Zeta LT - is more breathable than basic Gore-Tex and has a softer feel than the crackly, top-end Gore-Tex Pro and it's been meticulously put together with neat, narrow seam tape and stitching designed for optimum strength - it's all about the stitches per inch count, erm, 12-13 per-inch if you were wondering.
The C-KNIT bit, if you want to get nerdy, is the inside 'backer' fabric and designed to wick and breathe better and to have a soft, pleasant feel against the skin.
Other stuff includes colour-matched, matte-finished YKK AquaGuard® zips and what Montane calls ‘penny’ cord lock hem adjusters which sit nice and flat under the material.
It all adds up to a very nicely made jacket that's light at 310g, but doesn't feel delicate.
Surge Jacket - Performance
The Surge is designed as a dedicated mountain walking jacket with no helmet pretensions or alpine affectations and it's very, very good one. If you want a more mountaineering-orientated Montane jacket, have a look at the Alpine Pro instead.
The understated orange with colour-matched zips went down well as did the 'soft but tough' feel of the Gore-Tex C-KNIT fabric and its pleasant next to skin sensation. And it has a sleek, high quality feel generally that's reassuring.
'The hood on this adjusts at the back and at the sides, uses easily accessible adjusters, and is as beautifully fitted as the best wet-suit or ninja outfit'
The cut is a sort of happy medium: spacious enough to allow a warm mid-layer and with plenty of boob room, but not exaggeratedly tapered to the waist. And it fits fine over wider hips. That makes it slightly less flattering than, say, the Arc'teryx jacket or the Alpkit Balance, but functionally it's not a big issue and it's offers nice balance between having sufficient space for a warm fleece say and looking like a shapeless blob.
What does work really well is the Surge's excellent hood. It has close secure fit, adjusts easily to move with the head, has a wired stiffened peak for overhead protection and, blissfully, allows excellent peripheral vision - you don't, for example, need to pull it down to safely cross a road.
Everyone loved that hood. And everything else just works. No restrictiveness. Easy to use adjusters on hem and cuffs. Handy glove-friendly zip-pulls. And two decent-sized hand-warmer pockets that sat above pack-belt level and are backed up with an internal phone-sized pocket.
If we were being fussy, we'd like to see the smoother-running moulded YKK VISLON zips at this price level, but the water-resistant ones fitted worked fine during the test, so maybe we're just being fussy.
Surge Jacket - Verdict
A very nicely made, no-fuss, high quality mountain walking jacket that uses a cracking waterproof fabric. It scores extra bonus marks for having a really capable hood that mixes great fit, good vision and all-round protection.
All this and at just over 300 grammes for a size 12, it's still light and packable enough to cart around when it's not miserable and wet. The cut is arguably more function than fashion, but that's not necessarily a bad thing and it fitted all our testers' assorted shapes well.
The only downside is that the price-tag of £300 is at the top end of the market as we'd expect with a Gore-Tex jacket. But if that's within your budget, the Montane Women's Surge is an excellent all-round waterproof walking jacket.