This is a superb, lightweight waterproof jacket ideally suited for hiking that delivers high performance in a simple, classic package
Lightweight and packable
Comfortable with plenty of room for layers
2.5 layer waterproof and windproof protection
Two map sized hand pockets
Fully adjustable hood with stiffened peak
Adjustable hem and cuffs
No recycled materials used
No chest pocket
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Meet the reviewer
Julia is a seasoned backcountry enthusiast. Growing up, the Munros of the Southern Highlands were her stomping ground, before she headed across the Pond to the US for university. Here, she developed a love for the great American outdoors. She revelled in testing her mountain craft against Colorado's famous 14ers. Now in Scotland, she's got the perfect testing ground for hiking clothing and equipment, especially when it comes to waterproofs...
Montane Spirit waterproof jacket: first impressions
Montane’s Spirit waterproof jacket offers reliable rain and wind protection in a classic cut that’s more technical than meets the eye. A 2.5 layer construction using Gore-Tex PacLite makes for an extremely lightweight jacket that you’ll have no problem packing away for any hike or camping trip. The sturdy construction is only a few grams heavier than their ultralight Phase Lite jacket, and the Spirit comes in a similar classic cut but at a better price.
• List price: $259 / £190
• Gender specification: Men’s and women’s available
• Sizes: Men’s S - XXL / Women’s XS - XXL
• Weight: 330g / 11.6oz (women’s small)
• Materials: 100% Polyester
• Colors: Black, Eucalyptus, Saffron red, Saskatoon Berry, Oak green, Flame orange, Electric blue
• Best use: Hiking
To help fend off the rain, the jacket's got adjustable cuffs, hem and hood with a stiffened peak, as well as the taped seams and waterproof membrane you’d expect from a quality hard shell. I found that the two zipped hand pockets were big enough to carry a map but beyond that, they’re focused on serious wet weather protection rather than technical bells and whistles, and this jacket kept me dry in Scottish drizzle and a deluge. It’s cut so that you can easily wear it over several layers and, though it might not be as breathable as some jackets intended for running, it’s certainly adequate for hiking. Other than the lack of recycled materials used in construction, I really can’t find anything to gripe about in this jacket.
Montane Spirit waterproof jacket: in the field
I’ve been wearing, and really loving, the Montane Phase Lite waterproof jacket for the last six months or so, and in the Spirit, which I’ve been testing out for a few weeks, I’ve found a similar jacket in terms of looks and quality, at a better price. Living in Scotland, I’ve already had ample opportunity to test it out against the rain, and worn it over my fleece as an outer layer on some milder spring hikes, too.
Here’s how it performed:
Sizing and fit
This jacket fits true to size – I’m a small and that’s what I tested – and is built for layering. It’s not snug or baggy, and certainly not flappy in the wind, but streamlined and I can easily and comfortably wear it over a fleece or even a down jacket. With all the adjustable features, you should easily be able to tailor yours to fit.
Waterproofing and breathability
I’ve tested this out in a good, drenching Scottish downpour (or three) and needless to say, it’s watertight. Between the material, construction, adjustability and a hood that stays up on me without needing adjusted, it keeps even a sideways rain out. If I have it zipped all the way up, the collar comes up to my nose and between that and the stiffened peak, I don’t get the cold wind headaches I sometimes do if my face is exposed. The only think i can think of to mention is that you can’t get the hood up if it’s zipped all the way up, so I suppose it’s conceivable that you could get a little damp in the seconds it takes to unzip the collar and lift the hood, plus the adjustments cords for the hood are hidden inside the collar, meaning you need to unzip to get at them, but I’ve found the hood stays up anyway so I haven’t needed them.
As for breathability, I think this is adequate for cool and cold hiking. I am aware that the PacLite membrane isn’t as breathable as the Active membrane used in the Phase Lite, but for me, this is a hiking jacket so I wouldn’t be necessarily moving super fast in it, though I can see it getting a little warm in hot weather.
It’s a really comfortable jacket thanks to the fit and small details like a soft chin guard, reinforced cuffs and concealed drawcords that don’t slap me in the face on a windy day.
Weight and packability
At 330 grams, this jacket is heavier than the Phase Lite, but only barely (by 30 grams). It’s still impressively light for a jacket that isn’t fragile at all. The fabric is ever so slightly stiffer than the Phase Lite, but this still easily squashes down to about the size of a soft ball.
Pockets and storage
Honestly, two zipped hand pockets big enough for a map are usually enough for me, since I always have more pockets in my other layers. If you’re considering this for winter sports and really like having a chest pocket for your ski pass, you could argue that is a drawback, but for hiking I think it offers plenty of easy-access storage.
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.