Tuesday, 22 November 2016 09:52

Montane Spine Jacket Tested and Reviewed

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Named after Britain's "most brutal ultra race" Montane's Spine Jacket is a minimalist shell aimed squarely at the fast and light market where Montane have made their reputation.

Montane Spine Jacket 2

What the manufacturers say:

Combining a highly waterproof, breathable and lightweight GORE-TEX® Active shell with a minimalist run feature set for reduced weight and enhanced packability, the Montane Spine Jacket offers exceptional performance and comfort without compromise.The Spine Jacket follows the key principles of Montane’s VIA Trail Series®, which ensures minimalist design with run-specific tailoring, keeping weight to an absolute minimum without compromising the safety of the user in mountainous environments. The no-nonsense feature set includes: adjustable trail hood with laminated peak, water resistant zipped chest pocket, subtle logo reflective detailing and easy access ventilation pit zips combined with highly waterproof (fully taped), breathable, lightweight GORE-TEX® Active fabric. The Montane Spine Jacket is race ready and ideal as mandatory kit for when every gram counts.

Montane Spine Jacket 16


Constructed from very lightweight and breathable 30 Denier GORE-TEX® ACTIVE SHELL fabric

  • 12 – 13 stitch count per inch on all seams versus a typical industry average of 8, creating a tight, clean and strong seam
  • 3mm seam allowance on all seams, reducing weight and bulk under the micro-tape and creating a smooth, strong seam
  • Engineered with minimal placement of seams, using darts instead to tailor shape and articulation to reduce weight and bulk
  • Tailored specifically to be worn over lightweight and low bulk baselayer or mid-layer
  • Fitted trail hood designed to fit closely over trail headwear
  • Adjustable face aperture with internal cord exits
  • Rear pre-elasticated volume reduction which expands to fit
  • Laminated hood peak for a stable yet supple fit
  • Mid-height collar for more protection when needed
  • YKK matte AquaGuard® zipped chest pocket, designed to fit GPS or mobile phone without bounce during movement
  • Ergonomic lightweight zip pullers make use easier when wearing gloves or mitts
  • Full length YKK matte AquaGuard® front zip that is highly water resistant
  • Internal storm flap behind centre front for increased weather protection
  • Roll over beardguard lined with brushed fine microfleece is comfortable next to the mouth and chin
  • Minimalist underarm pit zips with YKK matte AquaGuard® zips are just the right length to offer ventilation without excess bulk
  • Shaped hook and loop tab cuff adjustment combined with pre-elastication allows easy cinching
  • Adjustable hem with cinchable drawcord
  • Rear external MONTANE® hang loop


Montane Spine on Test - By Giles Thurston

As the weather conditions become more severe, Pertex as a fabric can start feel a little flimsy and something more robust, while heavier, can give you more confidence. With some upcoming races taking place in upland areas of the UK during the winter months, I had already started looking at my mountaineering jackets to see if they could be a better option for me in these conditions.

Back in the summer and out of the blue, Montane announced that they had been granted a Gore licence and would be releasing a new range of jackets for mountaineers and mountain runners. I say out of the blue as it had been over a decade since Gore has granted an outdoor manufacturer a licence and the prospect of a Montane designed running jacket using Goretex was pretty exciting. When their autumn range was released the new Montane Spine jacket seemed to tick all the boxes and with the weather starting to take a turn for the worse I couldn't wait to give it a test.

Montane Spine Jacket 1

First impressions were really good. My version of the jacket was a men's medium in bright blue, with full length waterproof zips and looked fabulous. The fit was just right for me, athletic cut but not restrictive, with nice long arms and back to keep the elements out. For reference I'm 185cm tall, with a 100cm chest. In addition to being lovely and long, the sleeves also have a nicely curved cut at the wrists to slightly increase the coverage onto the back of the hand.

Montane Spine Jacket 11

Weight wise, the jacket comes in at around 290 grams. Marginally heavier than its Pertex cousins but not massively so. Conscious of the weight gain from the Goretex Active Shell fabric, Montane have used lightweight materials in other areas of the jacket such as YKK matte AquaGuard zips and ergonomic adjustment tabs but more on those later.

The hood, as with all running jackets, is not going to give the same coverage that you would get from a full on mountaineering jacket. That said the fit is really good, with a stiffened peak included, which provides additional shelter from the rain. While there is no manual adjustment for the overall volume, you can adjust it around the face and the elasticated back grips the head nicely and provides freedom of movement as you turn your head left and right. In fact I have to say this has to be one of the best jackets I've ever used in this regard, giving me full range of visibility while running.

Montane Spine Jacket 13

Montane Spine Jacket 14

The Goretex Active Shell fabric while light, feels nice and sturdy, giving you an added sense of protection in the worst weather. While this is not a silent jacket, the rustling is not too bad and you soon get used to it when wearing it. Waterproofness was extremely good in my experience and the jacket was breathable, although not perfect. Have you ever had a perfectly breathable jacket? The inclusion of pit zips was a welcome addition and a feature I found really useful for regulating my temperature, especially in lighter rain.

Montane Spine Jacket 15

In practice I found that water would accumulate in the elbows over time, my cast iron test of a jackets ability to breath while running. That said I generate a lot of heat and there are not many jackets on the market where this doesn't happen for me, so it would be unfair to mark the Spine jacket too harshly in this area. I have experienced far worse that's for sure!

So far, so good. The fit and feel of the jacket is superb, along with the weight and level of weather protection it provides.

As already mentioned, and in common with many running jackets, the zips and adjustments have been kept to the absolute minimum to keep the weight down. This works really well with the pit zips, to the point you are barely aware they are there, a great accomplishment in a running jacket where you get a lot of movement in this area. All zips are waterproof, which removes the need for outer storm flaps and helps to keep the weight down. A reassuring rear storm flap remains to provide an added level of protection from the elements.

Montane Spine Jacket 9

However as the zips are quite narrow I found this can make them slightly harder to use when moving and the minimal zip pulls made this even trickier, especially when wearing gloves. The pit zips especially I found quite tricky to open and close without holding the cuff or hem of the jacket. Hopefully this will be something that eases over time as the zips bed in but was a minor annoyance during my early use.

A single small breast pocket is included, which is big enough to accommodate a iPhone 6s in a waterproof case with minimal bounce when running. A nice touch is the inclusion of a convenient access hole inside the jacket, allowing you to route your headphones should you wish. This is great if this is the way you prefer to carry your phone and/or listen to music as you run.

Montane Spine Jacket 10

Personally I prefer my jackets to have larger pockets into which I can throw a whole host of things, such as gloves and other items I may want readily to hand during my training run or race. These can also be useful for additional venting, although with the pit zips this would have limited additional benefit on this jacket.

I recognise that this is my personal preference and the additional zips would have added to the overall weight and potentially compromised the fit of the jacket when wearing it, so can understand why Montane took this approach. So again it would be unfair of me to level too much criticism here.

Montane Spine Jacket 5

So in conclusion, have I found the perfect running jacket and if asked if it's worth the extra £100 over its Pertex cousins I would have to say yes, pretty much, especially if you are the kind of runner who likes to get out into all weathers and are prepared to take the minor weight gain for the more robust fabric on offer.

Okay the zips are a little fiddly and the pocket is not to my liking but the fit of the jacket is spot on and the inclusion of the Goretex Active Shell fabric gives the added protection I was looking for. The hood is definitely one of the best I have used in any jacket and while not the absolute lightest jacket on the market, when heading out for runs or races in the toughest conditions, this will definitely be the one I reach for first to protect me from the elements.