New this autumn 2013, the Montane Further Faster Neo Jacket is the British brand’s first NeoShell waterproof along with the Fast Alpine Stretch Neo. The jacket, says Montane is for ‘ultra mountain treks, trail runs and mountain marathons’, it’s all about ‘optimum speed over long distances’.
It’s not intended as ultra-lightweight shell for short trail runs, but as a more serious, longer distance sort of fella that should cope with the sort of abuse you’d expect from long trail ultras of the sort Montane sponsors in fact.
Polartec’s NeoShell waterproof fabric kicks butt when it comes to breathabilty even at a time when waterproof fabrics are improving generally. It does it by using a PU membrane with very tightly controlled pore size.
The big picture is that on paper it’s less waterproof than say Gore-Tex or eVent, but with a hydrostatic head of over 10,000mm – about half the rating of the others – it should still be up to outdoor use, but with better breathability.
The other, invisible, improvement Montane has made to its shell garments this winter is on the production front, where it’s focussed on the details to produce a better overall garment. That means stuff like skinny 13mm tape on seams to reduce weight and bulk, a stitch count of 12-13 stitches per inch on all seams for optimum strength, 3mm seam overlap to reduce bulk and zips that are both stiched and bonded in place.
Performance So Far
If you’re expecting an ultra-lightweight, minimalist trail-running shell, you’ll have to look elsewhere, the Further Faster isn’t even the lightest NeoShell jacket we’ve used, but at 420 grammes it’s hardly a porker either and the whole jacket has a solid, reliable, well-made sort of vibe to it, which is partly down to all those fine construction details.
All those little touches do pile on the grammes though We’re talking stuff like big, non-venting pockets, chunky storm flaps, fleece-lined collar areas and so on – each adds just a few extra grammes, but they all add up. It’d be interesting to see what a stripped-down version would weigh in at.
The other surprise for us was the cut. We were expecting a closely-fitting, tapered sort of jacket with a pronounced drop-tail, but the FF, while cut quite short, is actually a little boxy for us with quite a loose fit around the torso area.
We’d definitely suggest trying it for size before buying as it simply won’t suit some users. We also found it a little short for general hill-walking use, though fine for running and even cycling.
Where it did score for us was in the fabric department. We really rate NeoShell for breathability and we put it right at the top of the pile when it comes to dealing with lots of hot, steaming trail runner or walker. You get less claminess, stay drier underneath and dry out faster if you do sweat out a bit.
Yes, you can still overwhelm it, but you’ll have to work that bit harder to manage it. It’s also, in our experience so far, kept us reliably dry. Our number one choice of waterproof fabric if ultimate breathability is your criteria.
As well as the cut though, we also had reservations about the hood and we’d suggest you try before buying to make sure it works for you. The basic spec is excellent, there’s a wired peak, multiple adjustability and a handy roll-down facility using an elastic loop bonded into the collar area.
For us though, the hood seemed cut too short at the back and with too much fabric in the neck area at the front, which meant if we, say, looked down, it tended to pull upwards on the whole back of the jacket. If you have a shorter neck that may not be an issue and the adjustment and wired hood peak are both good.
As is most of the general detailing. For want of a better word, the FF exudes, erm, ‘niceness’. We like the little details like the storm flap with extra ‘rain groove’ to help water run down rather than out of the jacket, the neat reflective trims, the elasticated lower back section, the chunky press stud at the bottom of the top-spec YKK Vislon main zip and the bonded hem-cord channel.
One other point, the face fabric is Polyester and we wouldn’t expect it to be as durable in the longterm as a Nylon/polyamide material, the pay-off is that it does have a nice, almost soft shell feel to it.
We were in two minds about the Montane Further Faster. On the one hand we love the feel and breathability of Polartec’s excellent NeoShell fabric and it would our number one choice for anyone who prioritises breathability in a waterproof jacket.
We also really rate the build quality and attention to detail on Montane’s latest shells, they have a very high ‘niceness’ quotient.
On the other hand though, we found the cut a little short and a little too generous for us, plus the hood seemed to have too much fabric in the wrong places and not enough where we needed it and we found it a little too short in the body for general hill use, while not close-fitting and light enough for faster, lighter use.
Overall then, we suspect the Further Faster would do a cracking job if it fits you and we’re looking to find a tester who might suit its proportions for a full review.
- Polartec NeoShell Light fabric
- 13mm micro-taped seams
- 12 – 13 stitch count on all seams versus a typical industry average of 8
- 3mm seam allowance on all seams, reducing weight and bulk
- Athletic body cut
- Articulated arms with engineered tailoring
- ‘Trinity’ reflectivity on sleeves and rear hem
- Fully adjustable ‘trail hood’ with three points of adjustment
- Hood visor stiffened with a wire
- Rollable, stowable hood
- Bonded and stitched hood channels
- Single hand adjustable elasticated face aperture
- Two deep A-line pockets with YKK matte Aqua Guard® zips
- YKK zips are both stitched and bonded into the seams
- Full length YKK Aqua Guard® VISLON® front zip with internal storm flap
- Roll over beardguard
- Adjustable cuffs with grab tabs
- Pre-elasticated rear waist with low profile flat elastic tape
- Bonded lower adjustable hem to prevent spindrift entry and heat loss
- MONTANE® single pull ‘penny cordlocks’ on right hand side lower hem