Montane Atomic Stretch DT Jacket and Pants – a great lightweight hardshell combination.
Value for money *****
RRP Jacket £160.00 Pants £85.00
There are plenty of lightweight hardshells out there these days; all the main manufacturers will have a lightweight shell in their product range so it was great when Montane asked us to review their lightweight offering. For those of you who may not have heard of Montane, they are a British company nestled away in God’s own secret – Northumberland. They were an early adopter of Event and you can often see plenty of climbers, walkers and mountaineers wearing their clothing.
We were asked to review the Atomic DT Stretch Jacket and Pants and I reviewed them in a variety of climbing and mountaineering situations throughout the UK and Europe. They were an ideal set of waterproofs as I don’t wear a hardshell when climbing, preferring to climb in a softshell and then wear a hardshell when the clouds threaten. Lightweight, then is the preferred hardshell system I use so the Atomic range fitted the bill nicely. They are both made using Entrant DT with the jacket being made entirely from Entrant DT Stretch and the pants from a mixture of DT Stretch and Storm fabrics. Entrant DT fabric is made by Toray Industries, a Japanese company that manufactures breathable fabrics.
For the technically minded of you the fabrics have a 10 000mm Hydrostatic head and a breathability of 8000g/m2/24hrs, which is pretty breathable. It’s a 2.5 layer fabric, which has the outer fabric bonded to the membrane and has an enhanced DWR treatment, the membrane then has a printed pattern on the inner, this adds durability and reduces rubbing wear on the inner, it’s more flexible and lighter than a traditional 3 layer scrim. The garments are then manufactured in China to Montane specifications.
The Jacket was athletically cut; nice and snug fitting, I did like the fitting which felt great under a harness, with no rise and no ballooning; it always felt tight fitting when climbing both rock and ice. Another nice feature about the cut was the minimal drop tail this again made it feel nice to climb in and I was very impressed with the athletic style of the jacket and how it performed in climbing situations.
The hood was helmet compatible, but I did find that it was a little restrictive when the zip was fully closed, I had about 40o sideways movement and plenty of upwards movement and there were times, when ice climbing that it did pose a minor irritation. Without a helmet the hood performed very well, it had a wired peak with a Scotchlite reflective logo on it. The volume adjuster and drawcords were easy to reach and use, even with gloves on.
The drawcords were located lower down on the jacket and held in position with oversized end tags; this kept them from whipping around in windy conditions and was a nice, well thought out feature. It had a rollaway feature using hook and tape and although some people like these I found it a little superfluous, but it added little to the overall weight so I remain neutral on that one. The sleeves fitted well and felt good for climbing, there was little rise over the wrists and they fitted well with gloves, they were very easy to adjust with a rubberised tag and plenty of hook and tape.There was a large reflective logo on the arms that was easy to pick out with a headtorch.
The zips were YKK Aquazips with the addition of a storm flap on both the main zip and the pockets. The main zip storm flap was further enhanced by hook and tape, this I felt was an overly technical feature and although it did aid the waterproofness of the jacket, it made it difficult to close the zip in climbing situations where the zip needed to be open and closed regularly – for instance taking gloves on and off and stashing them in the jacket. It was even further enhanced by fastening on the top and bottom, again an overly technical feature that I felt was unnecessary. The storm flaps on the voluminous pockets were also a problem when trying to access them with gloves on; the pockets were otherwise fine and easily held a BMC Mountain Map folded.
The pants were again a great athletic fit and were excellent for climbing in. A combination of two fabrics Entrant DT Storm and stretchy seat and knee panels made from Entrant DT Stretch provided plenty of movement for those high mixed steps; movement was further enhance by the articulated knees. There was a two way ¾ length aqua zip that meant I could walk into a route and then put them on easily with my boots on a good sized storm flap provided that extra bit of waterproof security; on top of that there was good ankle adjustment provided by press studs on the hem.
The waist was elasticated but Montane had cleverly thought to put on a static, lace drawcord that was adjustable each side; this was great and no matter how wet the pants became they never started sliding down my hips. I was a little worried that my crampon points would go through the lightweight materials, but that just made me more aware for keeping tight foot footwork – no bad thing there! There had extra studding on the hem that helped keep them tight against my boots.
Both the jacket and pants were quite breathable with no discernible difference to the other manufacturers on the market. I wore the jacket ice climbing with just a baselayer underneath and never really felt any more sweaty that if I was in a softshell. Obviously when it rained hard and I was walking uphill it couldn’t cope, but then again nothing else has either, once on the level though and in drier conditions it did dry out very quickly. I found both the jacket and pants very waterproof and although I have a few niggles about the storm flaps they actually did a great job a keeping me dry.
So in conclusion, a great all round set of lightweight waterproofs, ideal for those long mountain days where you may not be wearing a set of waterproofs all day but want a set stashed away ready to pull out when the clouds threaten or the wind gets up. The cut was great for both climbing and walking and the Entrant DT fabric was very waterproof and acceptably breathable. Great for winter mountaineering, summer scrambling and alpine adventures.