A brilliant warmth-to-weight-ratio makes this top the perfect base layer for cold days, but light enough to wear on its own for summer summits
Soft fleece on the inside
No thumb holes
Doesn’t pack down as small as other base layers
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Montane Protium Lite Pull On: first impressions
In this top, Montane have merged all the best qualities of a fleece with a base layer. It has the exceptional warmth and softness you expect from a fleece when worn on a cold hike, but the super light weight and active fit mean that you can easily wear it for fast adventures. It’s breathable when you’re moving fast and super stretchy for scrambling and rock climbing.
• List price: $99 / £65
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s available
• Sizes: Men’s XS - XXXL / Women’s XS - XL
• Weight: 170g/ 5.9oz (women’s small)
• Materials: 92% Polyester, 8% Elastane
• Colors: Black, alder green, acer red, slate, allium, eclipse blue, Saffron red
• Best use: Hiking, rock climbing, winter running
The outside of this high-neck, half zip top appears like a smooth synthetic base layer, but on the inside you’ll find brushed grid fleece which is warm, soft and moisture-wicking. This also means your favorite top doesn’t end up with annoying pilling where your backpack straps rub. Flatlock seams mean you can happily wear this with nothing underneath, but it has a snug enough fit to layer a jacket on top. It lacks thumb holes, if you like those for added warmth, but other than that we really can’t find anything to complain about.
Montane Protium Lite Pull On: in the field
Montane calls this a fleece, which to me conjures up a substantially bulkier, cozier mid layer, so I was surprised to receive this and discover it’s really a base layer, in my opinion, made using fleece. I’ve been wearing it on some chilly spring hikes in Scotland over the last month and really like the innovative approach. The only hair I can find to split is that it doesn't have thumb holes, which isn't really a problem for me anyway.
Here’s how it performed:
Sizing and fit
This fits true-to-size (I tested a small, as usual) and has a slim, but not skin tight fit, which is why I’m classifying it as a base layer. I easily could wear a tank top underneath it on a warm summer day, though I haven’t yet. All this means I can wear it on its own when it’s mild and layer over it when it’s cold.
This base layer has a barely there feel, which I really enjoy. Basically, each time I’ve worn it, I haven’t noticed I’m wearing it, which is just what I want. The brushed fleece is soft against my skin and there’s no rubbing.
Temperature regulation and breathability
I’ve worn this on a few quite cold days and been glad for the extra warmth the fleece provides. That said, the breathability has proven to be quite good for milder days, too.
Weight and packability
It’s as light as any base layer I own, though doesn’t roll up quite as small as my typical merino wool layers because, being fleece, it is a little thicker (you just don’t notice because it’s so light).
Odor control and durability
Like all synthetic fabrics, the armpits do get a bit smelly but only after a couple of hikes, which feels like progress. No signs of wear and tear after a couple of washes and wearing it with my backpack.
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.