Montane Protium XPD Fleece Jacket review: the right fluff

Snug as a bug, the Montane Protium XPD Fleece is a delightfully warm and comfortable, deep-pile, mid-weight jacket made with mostly recycled material

Montane Protium XPD Fleece jacket
(Image: © Pat Kinsella)

Advnture Verdict

The smart use of material, intelligent design, excellent features and fluffy feel of the Montane Protium XPD fleece jacket makes it a very versatile and highly functional mid-weight top for use during all sorts of outdoor adventures, from hiking and biking through to climbing and scrambling. The deep-pile finish and flat seams ensure it is also super comfortable, and you will be loath to take it off when you come inside too.

Pros

  • +

    Excellent warmth for weight

  • +

    High neck

  • +

    Helmet-friendly hood

  • +

    Full zip

  • +

    Zipped pockets

Cons

  • -

    No thumb hoops

  • -

    Hood makes you look like a peahead

  • -

    Limited colors

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Meet the reviewer

best fleece jackets: Artilect Halfmoon Bio Pullover
Pat Kinsella

Pat has hiked all over the world, his adventures taking him to Mont Blanc, the roof of Western Europe; the Norwegian Alps; the highest peaks on Australia; and New Zealand’s Great Walks – among others. He’s an experienced tester of hiking footwear and gives each pair a thorough thrashing before reviewing.

Montane Protium XPD Fleece: first impressions

It’s really quite rare to come across a deep-pile fleece like the Montane Protium XPD these days – which is a shame, because they are incredibly warm and super soft to wear, either as a mid layer or an outer – so I was genuinely excited to test out this one out.

Specifications

• List price: $210 (US) / £160 (UK)
• Fabric: Polartec Thermal Pro Hi-Loft fabric; 93% Polyester (69% recycled) & 7% Elastane
• Gender availability: Men’s and women’s versions available
• Sizes: S-XXL
Weight (men’s large): 470g / 17oz
• Colors: Men’s: Slate / Eclipse Blue / Adrenaline Red; Women’s: Saffron Red / Saskatoon Berry / Eclipse Blue
• Best for: Hiking, walking, trekking, backpacking, camping, climbing, mountaineering, snow sports

This is a highly technical and very versatile garment, for all the reasons I’ll go into in more detail about below, but it’s also so comfortable and comforting to wear (especially in the depths of winter) that I’ve found myself lounging around the house in it too. It might make me look like Grover from Sesame Street, but I feel super snug, and I’ll take that.

The mid-weight Protium XPD fleece jacket is made from a high-loft Polartec Thermal Pro fabric, primarily constructed from polyester, 69% of which is recycled (a relief, after recently reviewing the Montane Fury Fleece Jacket, which was a high-performing top, but had no recycled content). 

There’s also a large amount of elastane used in the construction of the Protium XPD, and the design features two high-stretch expansion panels that run up each side of the top and along the full length of the inside arm. The purpose of these is to facilitate a large degree of free movement, so you can better enjoy dynamic outdoor activities such as rock climbing and scrambling.

Montane Protium XPD Fleece jacket

When zipped to the very top, the neck on this fleece covers a large part of you lower face (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

The Protium XPD has a full-length zip and one of its defining features is the excellent high neck, which actually extends well beyond the wearer’s chin to protect the whole lower face when required. The fleece also has a stretchy hood that easily fits under a bike, ski or climbing helmet. 

Other features on the jacket include two hand pockets and a chest pocket, all with zips and pull cords so they can be operated when you have gloves on, or with freezing cold hands. 

All up, my initial impressions of the Montane Protium XPD was that it looked well designed, seemed well made and felt very comfortable to wear. But to see how it performs next to the best fleece jackets on the market, I had to put it to the test on the trails and in the hills.

Montane Protium XPD Fleece: on the trails

Montane Protium XPD Fleece jacket

Don’t fall in the water when wearing the Montane Protium XPD, because it takes a while to dry and takes on considerable extra weight when wet. And people will laugh at you (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

I’ve been trialing Montane’s new Protium XPD fleece top during day walks, hikes and clambers around the South West of England, during a cold snap that’s seen temperatures properly plummet to well below zero in the last few weeks. It’s been ideal weather for testing a fleece – when leaving the house to hit the frosted hills I just had to hope the new top would be as warm as it looked.

Fortunately, the Protium XPD did not disappoint. Aside from feeling lovely, the deep-pile Polartec Thermal Pro Fabric used in this fleece traps plenty of warm air and keeps it next to your body, and although it’s a only a mid-weight garment that’s relatively thin, I’ve always felt warm while wearing the Protium XPD.

Montane Protium XPD Fleece jacket

The thin hood fits well under a bike, ski or climbing helmet, but if you wear it without something over the top, it looks a bit odd (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

One downside of a fluffy exterior such as the one used on the Montane Protium XPD, is that it obviously has absolutely no water repellency and the deep pile is prone to catching moisture in the air, so it quite quickly starts to feel damp. Fortunately, being made entirely of synthetic materials (polyester and elastane) the garment retains its thermal properties and continues to keep you warm even when it’s wet. 

Ideally, though, it’s best not to expose this top to too much water as it does take a while to dry and takes on considerable extra weight when wet, so you will need to wear a good rain jacket or outer shell over the top during any real downpours. There are no thumb loops on this fleece (an omission in our opinion), but the garment is fairly tight fitting thanks to the elastane content in the arms and flanks, so the sleeves don’t roll up easily.

Montane Protium XPD Fleece jacket

The deep pile may make you look like Grover from Sesame Street, but it works superbly to keep you warm (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

The high-stretch expansion panels on the sides and the arms are a stand-out feature on this fleece. They allow complete freedom of arm movement and make this a perfect top for wearing while rock climbing or scrambling in chilly weather. 

The hood is another useful feature. I’m not always a fan of hoods on mid layers – because they often get in the way when you put on an outer shell, and sometimes stick out and get wet in the rain – but the lid on the Montane Protium XPD fleece is minimalist and serves a distinct purpose by fitting easily under a helmet (whether you’re cycling, skiing or climbing) or the hood of an outer shell jacket. Made from the same stretchy material as the top’s side panels, it’s thin (and makes you look a bit daft if you’re not wearing a helmet to be quite honest – like a peahead), but it does a good job of keeping your ears warm. 

Montane Protium XPD Fleece jacket

It wasn’t until I took this photo that I realized the hood makes you look even more like a peahead from behind (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
Pat Kinsella

Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.