The Montane Spine jacket takes its name from one of the world’s toughest ultra running races, so it has a lot to live up to. Fortunately, the jacket is a winner in terms of lightweight waterproofing and breathability. The only major drawback is the price.
Waterproof & breathable
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Montane Spine Gore-Tex trail running jacket: first impressions
The sizing of this running jacket (the author's top piece of kit from 2022) is accurate and fits like a glove with enough space for a couple of layers underneath, including a lightweight insulated jacket. If you know you’ll need to wear more layers – in winter, for example – choose a larger size.
Torso length and arm length are great and the hood can be neatly adjusted with two draw-cords to stay up, even in high wind. It also has a wired peak to stop some rain getting in your eyes. There are also semi-elasticated cuffs and a fully adjustable lower hem to ensure you keep out the wind when you need to.
The 13-denier Gore-Tex Active shell fabric is lightweight and pleasant to wear, even against the skin. The fully micro-seam taped construction means it’s a jacket that race organisers will accept. The full-length YKK Aquaguard front zip has an internal storm flap and there are two mesh-lined hand pockets, also with YKK Aquaguard zips.
It’s a very packable jacket when not in use and the women's UK10 size weighs just 213g, which is very lightweight. The color choice is limited, however, with only two each for women and men, but they are both bright and that makes them good for wearing – and being seen when needed – on the hills and mountains.
• List price: £250 (UK)/$339 (US)
• Weight: 213g (women's UK10)
• Sizes: UK8 to UK16 (women); XS to XL (men)
• Waterproofing: 28,000mm HH
• Breathability: RET 3.5
• Fabric: 13-denier Gore-Tex Active Shell
• Colors: Cerulean blue, paprika (women) ; Flag red, Narwhal blue (women)
Montane Spine Gore-Tex trail running jacket: on the trail
The mark of a good outdoors product, whether for running, walking or skiing, is one that I test and then choose to wear ahead of others in my cupboard (and I have lots of items choose from!). This is what has happened with the Montane Spine running jacket. This is now my go-to running jacket for wet, windy or cold conditions. I also add it to my pack even when the weather looks more promising but I know it might change when heading to higher altitudes.
It’s a great fit – not too baggy and flappy but also not so close I can’t fit a couple of layers underneath. The hood is really good and is easy to adjust for a neat and comfortable fit that doesn’t then fall down in the wind when I am running.
When fully zipped up, there is a softer chin guard fabric to stop the jacket rubbing face skin. However, I do find the collar is very high when fully zipped up. I know that runners need to have good protection from the weather and that a decent hood is important, but the collar is just a bit tall for my liking.
The jacket is minimalist in design with semi-elasticated arm cuffs rather than a velcro fastening. There are just two hand pockets, rather than an extra chest pocket. I know some long-distance runners prefer two chest pockets for stashing bits of kit and snacks but I am fine with the two hand pockets. The pockets of this jacket fit nicely below my running vest pack.
I’ve worn the jacket in all weather conditions and in all seasons. It is brilliant at keeping out the rain, while also allowing sweat to escape. I often find I need to remove other running jackets because I get too hot but I often wear the Spine jacket for an entire run.
Another handy feature is a press stud button near the top of the zip that allows you to wear the jacket like a cape, with the zip undone. This is useful for venting.
The fabric is not the “quietest” – you’ll need to check out fabrics in running jackets made by, for example, OMM or Alpkit, for fabrics that are non-rustling – but the Montane Spine jacket is certainly not as noisy as other jackets I’ve tested. This might sound strange but when you are tired and running, a jacket fabric that rustles can be very annoying.
Gore-Tex is not the most environmentally friendly fabric membrane and there are alternatives, such as Páramo and Alpkit that are claimed to be more eco friendly. However, Gore-Tex reports it is working hard as a company to reduce its impact on climate change, by making durable water repellent treatments free of toxic Perfluorochemicals (PFCs).
But, ouch, the price! I think that £250 (UK)/$339 (US) is a lot of money for a lightweight, minimalist jacket. This will make many people think about alternatives.
Conclusion: Montane Spine Gore-Tex running jacket
A very lightweight running jacket that is brilliantly waterproof and breathable. The fit is great and so are the colors. The price is high but Montane is a trusted brand and their products are usually long lasting. It is ideal for winter running and could be stuffed into your pack for spring and summer running, too, though Gore-Tex is not the most environmentally friendly choice you can make.
Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.
By Julia Clarke
By Julia Clarke
By Julia Clarke
By Julia Clarke