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…