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. My best mate is your best mate’s big brother, the Lite-speed. Never leave home without it. Ever.

  2. Ah yes, and I have the wummins ribena berry purple version litespeed jacket which never leaves my pack either :-)

  3. Hmmm, mine lives on a hanger in the gear cupboard….

    I discovered windproofs as essential kit many years ago ( a Sprayway model in black ripstop iirc), and the Featherlite when it first appeared was a revelation in performance and compactness. But now I find myself reaching for something slightly less minimalist – either the Haglofs Kaza for lightweight with handy features, or the trusty but heavier Paramo Fuera if I expect to give it serious abuse!!

  4. Interesting to see youse going for the LiteSpeed and the Kaza.
    The Featherlite displaced the Kaza in my pack, but I think it’ll be a seasonal thing, come autumn I’ll be wanting those thumbloops again.

    I was rummaging as I do and found some old windshirts, and it’s frightening to discover just how heavy a smock in old Pertex 5 is compared to the new stuff.
    Ah, and we’ve still the see the newest Pertex on the racks. Happy days!

  5. Windshirts are surprisingly easy to get wrong.

    I used to have a Buffalo: too short, too purple

    I still have a Lightspeed mark 1: had to remove the elasticated hem (looked poor but worked perfectly fine under a hipbelt)

    Cioch direct – doesn’t get out much (a bit heavy and too much performance overlap with the Glamaig)

    PHD windshirt: current favourite and almost on the money, but a little bit loose and flappy and durability unlikely to win it a long service award.

    I always reckon that the Litespeed Mk II was spot on and that Montane should have left it well alone.

  6. the only real niggle is the arms could do with another inch on the end

    That’s it off my wish-list then. I had to go up to XL on the original Featherlite to get the right sleeve length so you can imagine what the “fit” is like.

    The Rab Quantum’s my current favourite and I use a Feura almost daily.

    I had the PHD one but it was a baggy horror. Great idea, poorly executed.

  7. David, the original Litespeed had the permanent hood rather than a rollaway collar affair I think?
    I always wanted a Buffalo winshirt for that purple, but the fit was horrendous on me, short body, sleeves I could get a leg into, terrible armlift etc

    Kev, the arms are just enough, but my watch pops out when I reach up if you know what I mean? Certainly nothing on the scale of the travesty of bad fittedness upon my person that the original provided.
    I liked the Rab Quantum, very good arm length and of course canned because the Featherlite killed it stone dead in the shops.
    I looked at the PHD version (nice new website by the way), I can see the boxy looks of it right enough. Maybe a size medium with longer arms would be an option. In gold.

  8. PhD – I had client meetings in Warrington last week and had time to burn before my fell race in Barnoldswick, so decided to make my way to PhD’s place. Got a Minimus Dryshell jacket with hood in the lovely red (rather than that horror of a Teal) for £130 cash!

  9. They also said that they would be having another sale starting shortly! They apparently have lots of that Teal Dryshell material that they have had for years and are trying to get rid of!

  10. I think the Litespeed MK I has a tie back loop for the hood, but I’ve never bothered using it.

    I’m quite a boxy shape (!!) so the PHD shape is less of an issue. it is a bit loose around the shoulder so I’m probably a large-and-a-half rather than an XL. I do like the design though, but I’m not sure how durable it is.

    The new PHd website is very nice, and it has magical qualilities. The operating temperature of my Diamir 500 was -8 on the old website, and on the new one it is -11!!

  11. When I was looking a year or so ago the Featherlite was a rubbish fit on me, and the sleeves were hilariously short unless I went to their biggest size, and then I could fit about 3 other people in their with me. Sounds like things are better with the new one, which is very tempting

    Have to say I love the Kaza to bits though, fit on me is near perfect. It’s possibly my favourite bit of gear, I have a charcoal one which as an understated cool about it. I should get another really before it’s replaced, perhaps in Budgie though as a last hurrah.

    Interested to see if the replacement with the stretch panels will best it or not.

  12. andybd, aye, it’s been about ten years since that teal was in vogue, it was everywhere at one point.
    It does stand out in a crowd in 2009…

    I like that, my bags will have got warmer sitting in the cupoboard as well then!
    It’s a good point about fit, how many reviews are negative simply because of fit rather than what’s actually relevant to a reader who is physically completely different to the writer?

    Benjamin, again good point about fit. The Kaza feels bespoke-made for me (I really am Haglofs-shaped). The stretch panels on the update will still vent better than the shell fabric, but definitely no more icy blast in your pits when you lift up your arms!

  13. “It’s a good point about fit, how many reviews are negative simply because of fit rather than what’s actually relevant to a reader who is physically completely different to the writer?”

    I must admit, the points about fit are the only thing that sometimes bug me about yours!! ;p)

  14. You have to point out things and how thay work in relation to your own body shape, and I will always do that. But I’ll never condemn anything for just not fitting me, and that includes footwear.
    It really is a big issue ou there in the “real world”, and when I do stuff for Trail I have to dial out personal stuff quite a lot, whereas here I’ll have a bit of fun with it.

    But there are some things that are fit related that aren’t there to help something adhere to a nominal person shape, it’s corner cutting for weight of simplification of manufacture. It’s can be hard to spot that at times.

    Here, did you just make me explain myself :o)

  15. The short arms are why I dont like my litespeed, and my (old)featherlite is great but it hurts your eyes. Currently I’m feeling exactly the same as Benjamin with the Kaza in medium.

    I tried on the Oz again in London at the weekend there and have decided I cannae wait for the Ozo so where can I get it in Budgie?

  16. Quite simply one of the best bits of kit I’ve ever used and probably the biggest bargain I’ve ever found,£20!!!! from the Killin Outdoor Centre shop.

  17. I finally got to wear my Oz in the rain on saturday. Got a bit damp under it, but it was really unpleasant weather and I probably got a bit warm which won’t have helped. I haven’t actually packed a windshirt the last few times I’ve been out, but used the Oz as a windshirt the other week.

  18. Aye Kate, I wear as little under it as possible to avoid the creeping damp. Of all the Paclite jackets I’ve used it fares the best.

    Here you know that Paclite IV fabric is on the way…no condensation…

  19. Ange, windshirts are great, and about 500g lighter than your Mountain Equipment softshell!
    It’s the handiness and versatility that makes them so good. Plus, for outdoor kit they’re quite cheap!

    BBF, aye. Right now we have Paclite III. IV will kick its arse.

  20. I was quite impressed with paclite on the lim til last week in the lakes when there was more condensation on the inside than rain on the outside. Not sure it would have happened on my event jacket

  21. Mine is in blue and been on lots walks with me. Lots more soon as well. Friends should stick together. The arm length is a forgiveable sin made up by its righteous qualities.

  22. Nothing wrong with the Rab Drillium, I’ve abused mine for three years, and it still glows orange!

  23. Martin, spot on!

    DNF, I had a Drilium and loved it until I discovered that its hood (along with the Latok’s) had an untaped seam that eventually sucked water in through the stitching and kindly let it through onto your forehead.
    I know they’ve fixed it all, but it put me off. They offered me a tester last year, I should maybe have taken it before the stopped returning my emails…

    Super Dru BBF? I know a man that keeps delaminating them.

    We need a fully featured eVent jacket under 250g. I know that eVent are taking better control of fabric production, so you never know what they’ll come up with.

  24. what about the new rab momentum jacket or the montane halo stretch – although i guess they are a fair bit heavier than the oz and lim

  25. I thought the Momentum was going to be great, but it gets demoted to okay because they fudged the chest pocket. There’s no internal pocket bags, just flat fabric, stick in your gloves and the jacket twists out of shape.
    The Halo is great, but it’s a winter jacket for me. Talking of which, it’s not long ’til I can spill the beans on Montane’s winter kit :o)

  26. ohh i look forward to hearing about the new kit, not that ill be getting any.

    apart from the paclite’s moistness and poor hood the jacket is ideal for summer backpacking but im sticking to my superfly xt for winter use!

  27. i’ve spent enough cash lately on gear! if i spend any more our lass will chuck me out

    that is unless she gets a new jacket and new rucksack, i think she has her eyes on the rab vidda.

    she might also need a new pair of boots if she cant get away with the ones she won as her scout gtx have rotted away.

  28. It’s funny reading this talk of ‘winter’ shell jackets. I find myself wondering why I’ve never owned an eVent jacket yet or bought any of the newer Goretex Proshell stuff…. and then I remember that winter for me means Paramo! :))

    So for a few years now it’s only been the superlight summer end of membrane waterproofs that have held my interest. But even that might change – I was out this weekend (the summer solstice no less) in my new (tasteful Moss coloured) Velez Adventure Light, and it certainly wasn’t too warm!

  29. actually to be honest i barely wore my waterproof all winter as i manged to get away with mainly wearing my rab baltoro guide, the waterproof only came out when it got really bad.

    i can see the benefints of paramo but i tried a mates jacket once and got way to hot so decided it wasn’t for me.

  30. Moggy, good chance to get the misses into trail shoes :o)

    I must admit I was quiet happy in Paramo/Furtech last winter, but I was also as happy in eVent and Proshell.
    Paclite is the only thing I get sondensation in, and I try and work around that. I had the Oz on for Glen Affric trip #2 in light rain and it was fine over a baselayer. But it’s walking a tightrope with discomfort canyon underneath you all the way.

  31. there is no way she will go in trail shoes, ive already tried that, light boots or possibly mids at a push are all she will wear, one of the reasons for her not wearing the peak gtx she won is that they feel too heavy on her feet even though they are really comfy lol

  32. Aye, a few folk bring in Norrona direct, but there’s no UK distribution.
    There is some lighter stuff, and they do like their smocks!
    I think have a good bit of their kit as do Tamarack in the UK.
    You go first so I can see what the sizing is like :o)

  33. The few bits I found in Keswicks Cotwolds at the weekend seemed to fit a bit like Haglofs with (even) longer arms. Rather surprising for me to put on a fleece and find the thumb loops in precisely the right place :)

    Prices currently varying between slightly and utterly sarcastic. (430 for a proshell jacket?! **** exchange rate.).

    To judge from a query I sent them Lundhags may also do very long arms. I’m clearly in the wrong country! Currently planning an exploratory raid to Tammarack.
    (Their current 20% off offer brings the prices down to merely normally expensive.).

    Haglofs I’ll just have to age into ;)

  34. I have Lundhags pants, I should really write them up at some point…
    They have UK distibution, but nobody seems to have taken the into their shops.

    Norrona are frighteningly expensive. But, next season everyone else will be at their level with the price increases, so where will Norrona be…

    Tamarack have some great kit. I often fill an imaginary basket well into four figures just for the thrill of it :o)

  35. I nearly got a bright orange norrona hooded microflece from cotswold in Keswick in November but even with my 15% discount it was still way too expensive

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