Montane Winter Kit: Flux, Extreme Smock & Lite-Speed

As a prelude to my long overdue Montane extravaganza I though I’d have a quick shufty at the winter test kit that arrived today. Three pieces of very different kit, all made of top materials, with features for the hill and not the high street. And good grief, two came in orange…

The new Flux above really appealed to me when I saw a prototype last year. It’s very different from the previous version, but it’s not just a bodywork restyling job, it’s all been happening under the hood too.
Firstly it’s warmer, with a heavier Primaloft Eco (recycled) fill, which for me makes it a better piece right away as the other features like the hood and pockets have a winter feel and suit its better rating.
The cut has been tweaked, and for me again it’s better. The arm articulation is better I feel, and the arms are longer. The body is also longer, the tail covers more ass than before and the torso is slimmer too. This closer fit will make it a more efficient insulator and smaller packing, making any weight gains from the thicker insulation less that they might have been.
I like the look and feel of this a lot.

I wanted to test a Lite-Speed as it’s a bit like a Featherlite that’s been at the (Crossfit) gym, and the added features like the pocket and hood seem to fit in with it being an ideal winter wind shirt. The arms are longer that the Featherlite too for tucking in gloves, and it’s still light and small packing. This with a lightweight shell should work well.
Of course, both bits of kit above are burnt orange, a fantastic colour, and indeed a proper mountain colour too.

Below we have the wild card, the Extreme Smock. Testing this was all Montane’s idea, and when you think about it, it’s a good one as it eliminates a midlayer and windshirt, as well as a shell in most cases. So what’s in your pack? Well, extra insulation and your pieces & flask. That’s proper lightweight that is.
The fit on me is brilliant with my regular size large. Slim, long bodied with perfect articlulation. It feels pretective and warm, but the venting is good so I’ve got high hopes for this when the temperature dips and stay there.
A real mix of kit, and I’m dead excited to get it out there. More in a bit.

78 thoughts on “Montane Winter Kit: Flux, Extreme Smock & Lite-Speed”

  1. I’ve thought that the ultimate ultralight winter gear might be ye olde buffalo shirt (based on the write up on the Needle sports site).

    No base layer, no fleece, no shell. Just it, a warm /waterproof hat and an insulated jacket for stops.

  2. Pertex/pile is good stuff in many conditions but, in my experience, cold wet is its nemesis. It’ll keep you warm while you’re moving but without a shell it ends up soaked – with two consequences:
    1. gravity shifts the water down into your undies/trousers/socks/boots – ugh, need to think carefuly what you wear there, and
    2. you chill quite quickly once you stop – not good in winter generally, and especially if you’re staying out.

    So for me p/p is good for dry cold, dry snow or the odd shower but not for prolonged rain or sleet in near-zero temperatures. I found this out in Norway skiing for several hours in the rain! Fortunately we made the hut without mishap, but if something had forced us to stay out we’d have been in trouble. I moved on to Paramo for those trips after that, and 10 years on I’m still using it :)

  3. So they made a few tweaks to my much loved Flux but Rab seem to have made the Photon Hoodie warmer and lighter than the Flux?! Hmmmmm.

    Lite-Speed is hands down my most favourite and versatile garment. Cycling, running, backpacking, hiking, fishing, etc, etc….. love it. I could be tempted to buy another one in a brighter colour for this winter.

  4. Have to agree, it looks like a Buffalo…. I’ve still got one of the originals. Too hot/too cold/too heavy/too bulky/too inflexible. Great for sitting on belays when it’s chilly but anything high energy and I end up soaked.

    Placed my order for one of the Haglofs LIM Barrier pullovers, much more like it….

  5. Ange, that’s some badass Irn Bru!

    Interesting points about the P&P. I’m new to it so I’ll be watching for the points mentioned, I’ll pack a light shell and extra insulation for sure.

    The Flux versus the Photon is a good one. I know where Rab lose the weight, the shell is devoid of structure to the point it’s almost a Pertex bag full of Primaloft. I used one quite happily until I started testing kit. The Flux is a better jacket from a sustained usablity point of view I think as it’s neater (and better) made, but the Photon is warmer.

  6. If Montane would put adjustable cuffs on the Lite Speed it would be perfect. It would add (a little) weight, but the ability to roll up the sleeves rather than pull them up and cut off the blood to my forearms would be much appreciated…

  7. Sensible comments Matt and another ultralight theory crashes and burns…

    I concur about Paramo and Cioch, which I’m able and happy to wear all year round (aren’t I the smart arse).

    Regarding pile/pertex, I have just taken charge of a pair of pile/pertex booties (custom made for x-large feet), which are rather splendid. Should dry out wet socks too.

    In terms of synthetic insulation, I’ve got a Montane Verso, which Montane binned after only a year or so. Don’t know why as it is very warm and fits/layers well. Not ‘technical’ enough? No hood? Average review in tgo so the masses avoided it? Who knows?

  8. More-On, did the Lite-Speed used to have velcro cuffs when it had the fixed hood? I cannae mind.
    I’ll see how I get on rolling up the elastic on these, the Featherlite was fine, much better than the old lycra hair plucker version…

    David, I had a Verso, nice bit of kit. Went on ebay like so much kit in the last couple of years.
    Montane have changed head designers a couple of times in the past few years, and the range changes with that. Models get dropped or developed in different ways when the new thinking takes over. There’s been a big change at Montane this year with a new designer moving from another UK brand, and it’ll be the end of 2010/2011 before we see the results. It should be exciting stuff.

    sbrt, dunno. I haven’t spoken to Salomon for a while, so I haven’t had any work books through for this season.
    In general I think the fit is good, just a little short for me at times. Worth a look I’d say.

  9. You’ve got me there! As a Rab windshirt owner until recently I didn’t even know the Lite Speed had a fixed hood at one point…

    …maybe I’m not the total gear geek my wife thinks!

  10. The Litespeed that I have (2005?) has a fixed, roll-down hood. Great piece of kit but, for me, there’s the perennial sleeve length issue: a smidge too short to be perfect.

    While I’m here, how does the Flux compare to the Haglofs Barrier Hood? Worth an upgrade or much of a muchness?

  11. Ah, the cuff issue is resolved. Good lad!
    I’ll do a pit to cuff measurement of this new version and see if it’s any different as well.

    The Flux is kinda different to the Barrier Hood. The Barrier feels more like a belay jacket, a throw it on over everything affair, the Flux is much neater, more low profile, which in theory makes it something that should work as a winter on-the-move piece.
    But I’ve worn both the Barrier Hood and the Flux on the move in winter and they both work well, the barrier being warmer though.
    The Flux with a down vest will be the combination of justice, I mostly use the Barrier Hood on its own.
    This is the thing, it’s how many degrees of difference there is between similar kit, everything is slightly better somewhere on the scale of use, and it’s all good in its own right.
    Its a choice nightmare.

  12. And you haven’t even mentioned the Prism when discussing on-the-move wear from Montane!

    You’re right though, choice is a killer. My search for a waterproof is getting beyond a joke. Talking of which any thoughts on the Atomic 2.0?

  13. Atomic 2.0 is good, it’s coming soon.. Honest!

    The Prism is a great bit of kit right enough, I’ve worn mine plenty. Is the new Flux better? Hmmm.

  14. Here you go. It’s a thinner fabric, but still fully featured. I’d be happy in it, in winter I’d be prepared to wear a warmer midlayer on the worst days maybe?

  15. Thank you kindly sir. Your time is appreciated.

    I won’t mention that looks like the Meteor ;-)

    Could I just ask what the sizing is like? I have a large Lite Speed, but needed a XL Prism to get the hood and arms to fit. I’m not sure whether that was due to the Prism being sized to layer under stuff or me having long arms…

    Thanks again!

  16. That’s easy, the LIM barrier pullover is the lightest in it’s catagory, same quality of abric, same weight of Primaloft as the competition.
    It’s the best bit of kit I own from a warmth/weight/protection point of view.
    It gets packed a lot.

  17. Has anybody else noticed the poor stitching on the latest Lim Barrier Pullovers? I visited most of the shops in the Lakes today and they all had something wrong. Not the high quality I’ve come to expect from Haglofs. I have most of their other jackets and trust me the stitching looks really bad.

    PTC, what’s the neatness etc like on your sample or anyone else.

    I would love some feedback. It’s the final part of my Haglofs puzzle and would dearly love it own it.

  18. That’s interesting, I’ll need to have a look at a new one if I get the chance.
    Mine is a pre-production sample and it’s fine. Samples tend to be either dog-rough for testing or super-shiny to entice store buyers to order them in.
    Nothing worse that bringing home a bit of shoddy kit.

  19. Cheers for the advice – any view on the sizing issue?

    I’m even more confused now as I saw a Velez Adventure Light this evening and the fit and hood were good.

    Oh what to do…

  20. I’m going to wait and see if the next batch improves.

    RAB’s pullover is a similar material and the manufacturing is spot on?

    I thought I’d see what you had to say, after all they have you to thank the kit I’ve brought so far. So I hope your on Montane and Haglofs Christmas bottle list.

  21. Oh aye, sizing. The Meteot above is a medium worn over a t-shirt. I’d need a large for layering.
    The sizing is the same as the new Montane sizing like the Halo, long and slim.
    They’re actually pretty similar in fit to Rab these days(more on them soon by the way, just to add to the confusion of choice I was talking about winter kit with them today…).
    I think if your Lite-Speed is a large then a Montane shell would be a large as well.
    It’s a tough call though.

  22. Kiff, the Rab pullpover fabric is Quantum I think which is great but a bit thinner than that Haglofs Performac.
    Rab has a tunnel pocket as well I think?
    If you did get a Rab one, it’s not a second best choice, just different.

    Christmas bottle list? Nah, I just lie low and hope they don’t want the test kit back… :o)

  23. Don’t spoil the magic!

    Anyway, after hounding you all afternoon I’m going to hold fire – the Paramo option needs exploring and I still hanker after a Kongur. Neither of them are that light weight, but hey I have to live up to the online monicker now and again…

  24. Does the new Litespeed have a detachable hood as suggested above – thats very perturbing. I’ve had my old version for nearly 4 years and it is probably my single most used piece of outdoor clothing: even a bit of a slide on the great stone chute on Sgurr Alasdair has done little damage – it gives you real faith in the durability of Pertex. The jacket just works really well as an all rounder, with the pocket (have a Jetstream to save a bit of weight backpacking, but miss the pocket), the (fixed, rollaway) hood and full length zip for plenty of ventilation. Its a good point noted about the cuffs, something that could be fixed (but the full zip means that ventilation is less of an issue), and I’d like the nice finger loops like on the Kaza especially for winter use. Actually, with the finger loops the cuffs could afford to be a bit looser anyway.
    Litespeed for Winter and Haglofs Kaza for Summer – surely the way to go?
    But that detachable hood – hope its not true!

  25. As I understand things Pertex/Pile always meant to have a second layer for warmth if standing around but will happily take total saturation while moving. There are certainly some pretty terrifying stories about jumping/falling in frozen lakes on Buffalo’s website….

    Not that Paramo might well not be more practical. Must also be a real risk of merino withdrawal syndrome with the extreme ;)

    Of course a modern shell over it in horrible rain isn’t likely to hurt either :)

  26. Yep that’s the rub with P&P. You need a base layer for sitting around and a shell for real rain. So you end up wearing a baselayer, pile shirt, pertex shirt and a shell.

    When moving, I’d have to be in seriously cold conditions to wear all that and that’s why I stopped wearing mine for hill bashing. I was usually too cold or too hot unless sitting on a belay.

    I did give mine a good try tho. I wore it for years; Alps, Winter climbing, hill bashing even rock climbing ‘out of season’. I recall one cold November day in North Wales on the Cromlech… standard day out; Left wall and Flying Buttress :-) It worked well for that but maybe abit too niche :-)

  27. rp610, fear not the Lite-Speed’s hood rolls away into the collar.
    I’ll do proper photies later on, and it’ll crop up on trips as well.

    More good points about the Extreme. I’ll have a merino vest under it at first and I’ll be carrying a light shell, the Oz (if it fits over it) or the Lite-Speed H2O.
    I’m waiting for it to get a bit cooler s well!
    Not wearing a full baselayer under tells me that it’ll end up minging and getting washed a lot.

  28. I’ve been using a base layer+Buffalo Mountain Shirt+Paclite shell combination for years now. Works really well although, from memory, the Extreme is warmer than the Mountain Shirt. (I Ebayed the Extreme. Preferred the Buffalo.)

    And aye, defying convention and wearing a base layer with the P+P does actually keep it clean.

    I’ve used the Mountain Shirt from October thru’ to March btw. For folk like me that feel the cold, its’ usable range is surprisingly wide.

  29. I’ll be interested to see what you make of the p+p in what ever combination you end up with. My only exprience of p+p is a Survival Aids sleeping bag from the 80s. Great if wet and warm(ish), but no good for me in the cold. Also weighed a ton and packed down to the size of a small car.

    As an aside you mentioned the Lite Speed H2O, just how waterproof is ‘moderate’ in the real world? Would it be any good for the summer over the Lite Speed say?

  30. The H2O is fine for now and again, or going fast but going home.
    It’s not the most breathable or the most waterproof, but it’s long in the arms and body, so it’s protective enough.
    It’s hard to say what’s condensation and what’s water ingress to be honest.
    I think for the bike it’s great, and for day trips it’s a winner too. But I wouldn’t take it on an overnighter.

  31. Cheers for the info PTC*.

    Managed to grab an hour today to try on a wide selection of waterproofs and I have to say Paramo is out – even with a XL the sleeves were too short! Rab is out as I’m not slim enough. Ditto Haglofs and Montane, which is odd as their non shell kit fits me :-( . So I’m left with Mountain Equipment jackets, which fit like a glove and have hoods that even I like. We shall see. Might still try the H2O for summer though. As you say options v cash.

  32. Sorry, back again.

    Meant to say good luck on Sunday (or hopefully sooner?). I’m sure you’re still far fitter than most of us!

  33. Kiff, my Oz is still in good nick. It’s now very soft and bit buffed looking, but the only real damage is where a metal belt buckle has been scraping away at the inside.
    I’ll be using it for a good while yet.

    More-On, that’s the thing isn’t it, you can want something all you like but if it doesn’t fit you’re buggered!
    ME’s latest kit is good, you won’t be suffering there.

    And, the back is much better, cheers! I might even do some work tomorrow. Oh wait, it’s a holiday…

  34. More -On

    If you are interested in Paramo but have sizing issues there is always the Cioch-Direct made to measure option (good value too)

  35. Ay.

    Or if it’s just a sleeve length issue on the Paramo and you’re happy with the jacket otherwise, I believe they have a service so they can extend or shorten them for something like £45 if you get in touch.

    Still they do seem to base all there clothing on people who bulge lots in the middle and have teeny little t-rex arms.

    I’m a medium fit in the body on a lot of their stuff but the shoulders and arms make me look like Norman Wisdom. And the sizes up (xl’s about right for arms) leave me with a whole sack of material around the middle.

  36. Cheers for the comments folks.

    David – am I right in thinking Cioch don’t have the Light fabric? I’ve tried the standard fabric and it is too hot and heavy for me.

    Benjamin – I’m with you all the way on arm length, body shape etc.

    I just felt the Velez was good, but the fit of hood and body, as well as the very short arms, just wasn’t ‘right’ for me. My experience of the standard fabric prompted me to write them off for now. Who knows in the future – Cioch with Light fabric, Paramo revising their fit, or maybe the Quito – anyone tried that?

  37. I really wanted to test some Cioch, but they don’t like the look of me!

    Mind there’s Furtech, Paramo for folk that folk that are Haglofs shaped.
    I’ll be getting the jacket out again this winter.

  38. Interesting you mentioned Furtech. I looked at their kit at the Outdoors Show and the hood just didn’t work for me. Shame really as the rest of the jacket looked good, although it would probably have been too hot…

    Any chance you could get a Quito to test PTC*? The sleeve length looks good, but the lack of outer pockets might worry me.

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