My new best friend. Montane Featherlite Smock Review.

Since the Featherlite came in for test a few months back, I haven’t left the hoose without it in my my pack.

It’s dead simple. A smock with a zip, high-ish collar, elastic cuffs and hem and cut from a great fabric. I had one of the original versions with the black lycra cuffs and hem and although the fabric was great, the cut was horrendous, being based around a railway mail-sack from the late 50’s. This version is much slimmer, which means better fabric performance, less wind flappiness and of course less weight for a given size, my large sample coming in at 114g. There’s great range of movement and the slimmer fit limits riding up at your back.
The mix of two different Pertex Microlite Rip-Stop’s makes for a nice tonal variation and takes away the bare look that the orignal suffered from. The fabric is outstanding, soft and comfortable, but tough and warding off wind and a good bit of rain. It dries super-quick and copes with a shed load of sweat as well.
The two-way zip is long, but I’d extend if further to clear a pack’s chest strap better and take better advantage of the two-way zip. And, the only real niggle is the arms could do with another inch on the end.

It’s just a wee thing, it fits in a trouser pocket. But, it’s proven to be vital kit and worth a family size mince pie’s weight in gold.

80 thoughts on “My new best friend. Montane Featherlite Smock Review.”

  1. “the cut was horrendous, being based around a railway mail-sack from the late 50’s. This version is much slimmer, which means better fabric performance, less wind flappiness”

    Hmm maybe, but when some of us eat calorific fish suppers from the Real Food Cafe we put on weight… unless some skinny sods!! Its abou time you got a beer belly so you’d need the same fit as the rest of us ;-)

    Love windproofs but hate smocks, recently got given a free Marmot Ion in exchange for some web advertising and I lurve it, full length zip is so less restrictive and allows me to fully vent, the hood comes in useful too. Only thing missing now is some hand pockets! Never leaves me, I take it walking, football and ork everyday as its tiny and packs into its own pocket. Almost perfect piece of kit.

  2. On reflection I suspect the stuff in Cotswolds must have been brought in when the exchange rate was more like 1:1. The prices on EB/Tammarack seem a touch less crazy in places :)
    (350 vs ~450 for the goretex shell for instance.).

    Lundhags distributor perhaps not doing them many favours with choice of things to send to magazine reviews ;)

    My lightspeed survived thunderstorms and barbed wire but not its arm length. I have since checked all the derivatives (Velo, Marathon etc) I can find just in case…..

  3. “Talking of discount, I see Tiso have withdrawn all discounts but MRT. Bless them.”

    Sign of the times. I was in Brigham’s Manchester the other day & was refused the BMC discount (I now see they no longer feature on the discount list in the BMC manual). In my gear store I still have the ME Redline down jacket I bought from them using (nearly all!) my first wage packet in 1970: I got a “local club” discount on that one & can’t recall ever paying full price on any purchase from them in nearly 40 years – ’til now.

    I’m a great believer in supporting local retailers if they stock what I want (rare these days) at a reasonable price, rather than going on-line. I’d much rather try before I buy, so such retail outlets are essential to me. However, I’m now beginning to feel ripped off. That discount was a small recognition that I’m one of their “bread & butter” customers but I guess I’ll now buy in shops where I do receive recognition or join the on-line-only crew & contribute to the demise of the remaining decent outdoor retail shops.

  4. Jamie, trust me, since Holly waas born my waist has increased in girth dramatically…
    The original Featherlite size large chest was 50″, that’s just not right :o)

    Martin, Lundhags only do one good pack, and that one you’re thinking of wasn’t it…

    Discount in a shop is “bonding” thing like you say thinkgreysky, it does tie folks to a place. The old Scout Shop in Glasgow was subsidised, so everything in there was cheaper anyway, plus it was a great shop (going back a few years here…).
    I wonder how it’ll all pan out when the vastly more expensive winter kit hits the shops in a few weeks.

  5. “Jamie, trust me, since Holly waas born my waist has increased in girth dramatically…”

    Try twins, mate!

    …hence the appeal of the ‘boxy’ PHD windshirt.

    Conforming to Rab or Haglofs ‘cut’ is but a distant aspiration

  6. “Talking of discount, I see Tiso have withdrawn all discounts but MRT. Bless them.”

    Yeah, Brighams used to be the best around Manchester in the 60’s & 70’s. I’ve been on nodding acquaintance with Ellis since the old days in Cathedral St but he’s now got fingers in so many pies that the walking/mountaineering side isn’t what it used to be. Thank God for the quirky independents (Alpenstock locally) and I never, ever thought I’d be grateful for Snow & Rock or Go Outdoors, but its looking that way now!
    Bought an OMM chestpack from Outdoor Warehouse when I was passing through Windermere 2 weeks ago, flashed my card (it’s always worth a try) & got a 10% discount, even though they aren’t in the BMC scheme: “It’s regular callers like you who keep us going”. Nice to be appreciated, even though I’m often just passing time while waiting for a train. But I know where I’ll buy my “big” items in future…..
    While on about service & appreciation, has anyone had dealings with Mountaineering Designs at Grange? I E-mailed them a couple of weeks ago for general advice on some work I needed doing to a sleeping bag, but have had no reply so far. Thought they may be on holiday but have just spotted an old post on UK Climbing forum from someone having trouble getting his sleeping bag back from them, so I’m getting twitchy!

  7. I know Charlie from Outdoor Warehouse, he’s a mountain mentalist and it’s a great shop. The only one close to me up here is Footprints in Glasgow, last of the independants.
    I’m going in to see these guys in the next couple of days Looks like a great wee place.

    I don’t know Mountaineering Designs, but that’s a nightmare if they’ve gone bust with someone’s gear in for repair.

  8. Whoa there, PTC! I wasn’t suggesting that Mountaineering Designs have gone bust, just trying to establish whether they have “communication issues”. Most of the gear companies I deal with are great, replying by return, so I’m becoming a little uneasy about the kind of service I’d get from this one, particularly after I spotted the old forum post mentioning difficulty contacting the company over return of a bag.
    I’ve some ratty old sleeping bags which are too good to chuck away & several quality bags in need of (ahem) freshening up. MD’s website says they remove the down from the cover before washing the bag, which I like (I don’t think the Rab or PHD recommendations do that?) They can also analyse/replace damaged down, upgrade bags by adding quality down (my Rab 200 may be a candidate) and repair or replace covers/zips.
    If they’re as good as their site suggests I could put a fair bit of work their way but I understand it’s very much a family cottage business & the ongoing lack of a response isn’t encouraging. I will be phoning them shortly but just wondered if anyone has anything to contribute.

  9. Jamie I also have the Ion and love it; not got the Feathlite smock, but bought the Ion instead as it had the hood and full length zip. Not quite perfect though in my opinion, they could really do with properly sorting out the hood stowage so that it works! Find when running it sort of flaps about annoyingly, otherwise its great.

  10. I’ve used Mountaineering Designs to revive an ole ME Lightline. Came back like new (it’s 20+ years old).

    I tried the emails route and ended up phoning them, the bloke/owner (can’t remember his name) seemed pretty genuine.

    As for removing the down….hmmmm. Not so sure they actually do that, dint on my bag anyway.


  11. As a cottage industry myself, I have a certain sympathy for such folk who just can’t keep on top of stuff.
    I hope all will be well.

    Hoods on windshirts is a thing I’m turning over in my head now. I used to say yes, now I’m not so sure.

  12. re Montane’s new stuff – have they given any indication of being prepared to produce some of their stuff in women’s size / cuts? Like Terra Converts, Terra Lites, Halo Stretch? It’s really frustrating there being lovely kit for blokes that’s completely beyond females who can’t wear ‘unisex’ gear, especially blokes’ trousers (think hips)!

  13. Not in the immediate future Kate, the reason being shops won’t order it.
    But there’s huge Montane news coming which I’ll spill the beans on when I’m allowed which might mean some changes, and I’ll have their winter stuff up in a couple of weeks after I go down and see them. I shall press them with the wummins dimension.
    There’s a real shocker coming in the winter collection…

  14. Hoods on windshirts is a thing I’m turning over in my head now. I used to say yes, now I’m not so sure.

    I dont like them at all, the light speed ‘s hood made the collar too tight whe it was stuffed away, on the head it was just pish i.e. doesnt turn with head etc.

    If it so bitter and windy that I ffeel I want a hood or my face covered I will deploy a buff. If its wet enough to warrant a hood I’lll be changing into my waterproof jacket.

  15. Oh the review seemed quite fair. Not clear why they felt oblidged to even send something so out of spec :) Like a recent combined mid/base layer review in TGO. They sent a straight fleece. Meanwhile numerous midweight merino tops being raved over ;)

    The AR 45 looks like nothing else I’ve ever seen. An air compression valve on a rucksack?!!?

    Don’t remember ever using the hood on my lightspeed. I do use the one on my micro pile lined Montane smock a lot mind.

  16. Aye, I think that’s about where I’m at right now.

    It’ll be the lighter waterproofs making me cut back on the windshirt so there’s less overlap of function probably.
    You can tell I really don’t analyze this stuff until prompted.

  17. Martin, that’s the very pack I was meaning. It’s a floation aid for racers, you can inflate it and use it for river crossings. I’ve had a quick shot of one, Mental stuff.

  18. I use the hood on my Mont Bell windshirt, but depending what I’m doing and conditions I may grab another either the old Rab or the Arcteryx Celeris, which is definently my favourite nowadays. Windshirts are used way more than any waterproof I own.

  19. Aye, me too.
    I find myself keeping a windshirt on as long as I can before switching to a waterproof. Usually accompanied by an “Ach”.

  20. Any thoughts on how windshirts compare to their membrane free, stretch soft shell cousins?

    Seemingly not so popular in the UK but the Scandinavians seem to be making some nice, lightish things along these lines.
    (That lizard pull mentioned earlier is liable to break my heart by not fitting :))

  21. Chalk and cheese for me. A softshell is a wear-all-day thing because of the features, weight and packed bulk, all the softshells I have are heavier than my waterproofs.
    But, I’ve taken to them after using some last winter, and I’ll be wearing them again when it gets cooler (please hurry).
    A windshirt is a tiny miracle waiting in your pack. I had an old Rab Quantum on last night and today, still a great bit of kit.

  22. Fair enough :) Better in trousers I guess.

    Mind you Pertex seem to have got equilibrium down to ~75g/m2 (used on the VR Lite/Scarab). A sub 200g smock in that would really start to get interesting.

  23. Two reasons really, the Featherlite is a huge seller and I liked the look of the new version so I was keen to get one to test, and second, I don’t understand putting a full length zip and the lightest fabric together on the Slipstream. It should be a smock, and then maybe the Featherlite should have a pocket, then the Lite-Speeed two pockets and a proper hood. Better weight and function progression there?

    But hey, what the hell do I know :o)

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