Montane Minimus 777 Jacket Review
Oct 24, 2016 at 7:04 am #3432613Jeff McWilliamsBPL Member
To be fair to BPL, I don’t think they’re the only ones who are employing separate writers and testers. I think Backpacker magazine is doing this too. (But, really, Backpacker has been setting the bar pretty low for years, haven’t they?)
For example, this review of a Marmot Quark sleeping bag includes the quote:
“After our tester had his entire kit soaked while crossing a rainy pass on the PCT, he was surprised to find the inside of his bag still dry.”
And if you follow the link to that review? Holy cow. 7 sentences is a product review these days?
I think the constructive criticisms discussed here are valid. But not everyone that is out using and testing gear has the skill to publish a well written review.Oct 24, 2016 at 12:51 pm #3432637Allen CBPL Member
Things which would make this and future product reviews much more useful:
- More info about the actual tester(s) and the author(s).
- More info about which other jackets the tester has used and how it compares in various attributes.
- Make it more like the reviews at outdoorgearlab.com, where multiple reviewers use and compare a number of the best available products head-to-head for months at a time, and rate them on a scale of 1-10 for each important attribute. One person reviewing one jacket in isolation isn’t really that useful. Comparing products and compiling aggregate opinions from multiple reviewers are. The OGL gear review method seems to be the best out there so far, maybe you could improve on it and make it more specific to lightweight backpacking.
- Have the person who writes the review be one of the actual testers, and have the others contribute/edit etc. Be clear and transparent about who the reviewers and authors are and factors that drive their opinions/biases. A name and short Bio for each would help a lot.
- Include information about long term durability as well as performance.
Here is a link to the Outdoor Gear Lab rain Jacket review. They compared 13 different rain jackets and rated them using 6 different metrics, created a nice table with specs for all of them etc: Rain Jacket ReviewOct 24, 2016 at 9:53 pm #3432713
like dan says above … if you want something thats guaranteed to last or at the very least be replaced with minimal hassle you need to …
- get goretex … it last the longest … period … they also have an additional guarantee on the fabric being waterprood
- get from a retailer with an excellent return policy like LL Bean, MEC, REI (1st year), etc …
- get it from a manufacturer with an excellent warranty such as OR, LL Bean, etc …
if you get all of the above (OR Foray Paclite) from MEC for example) yr laughing yr head off as thats probably the last rain jacket youll ever need to buy, as when it goes kaput OR will just send you a new one if MEC and GORE dont cover it first
also when the DWR eventually wears down … OR has the best ventilation zip system in jackets with their Torsion-Flo pit zips short of a poncho …
right now in the coastal BC were basically having rain for weeks at a time without little let up, … even walking around the city and waiting for buses at this time of the year will show you very quickly which rain jackets fail miserably ….
best time ti test the gear …
;)Oct 24, 2016 at 9:57 pm #3432714
Does OR really just replace jackets for any reason? Like if my 2 layer jacket is peeling after 10 years of if I thrashed my lightweight rain jacket bushwacking?Oct 24, 2016 at 10:01 pm #3432715
dog eats down jacket … OR covers it …
ive never heard of anyone NOT being covered as long as they werent serially abusing it
;)Oct 25, 2016 at 2:21 pm #3432797
You have to weigh the cost of a few replacements against the value of the reputation gained.
CheersOct 25, 2016 at 9:38 pm #3432872Monty MontanaBPL Member
@tarasbulbaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Interesting read…lots of different perspectives. I for one garnered quite a bit from Emylene’s review, as I was anticipating it from Ryan’s reference to it in his Beartooths article. That Emylene authored this only added to the anticipation since she has proven her able writing skills and acute mind in previous articles. If those articles had been closely read by some of those above, they would have discovered a darn interesting bio and, most noteworthy, that she is petite… 5′ tall if I remember correctly. And, if some of those had read this article closely instead of much beating of brow and gnashing of teeth, they would have noted that she concludes by placing this jacket on her wish list. Size 4, purple. The jacket sent for testing was way, way too big for Emylene to personally test. So, having an experienced friend put it through its paces, while observing and questioning was a sterling resolution to a dilemma. Good work!
The peripheral, spin off stuff was well worth it as well, as I’m not all that up to speed on gore-tex and all the rest. I tend to use an umbrella Ray Jardine style in the PNW, so if my jacket’s shoulders wore out, I wouldn’t even notice. Thanks all. Happy trails!Oct 26, 2016 at 3:55 pm #3432966
Colin – I agree – sleeves too short, not long enough to cover rear, could be a bit bigger around too – I make mine with Pertex Shield from thru-hiker which has lasted a year pretty good. I used 2.5 layer and then added a lining on the shoulders and hood.
The Minimus 777 hood brim doesn’t stick out very far, won’t keep the rain out of your eyes very well.
Dan and Eric and … have pretty good advice about buying Gore Tex that will be replaced without charge if it starts leaking.Oct 26, 2016 at 6:53 pm #3432989jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
“The Minimus 777 hood brim doesn’t stick out very far, won’t keep the rain out of your eyes very well.”
Yeah but don’t you wear a stiff long brim under your hood if you know that it’s going to rain? I have a brim with a simple buckle that attaches it to my head, no hat. works great in the rain with a hood.Oct 26, 2016 at 9:55 pm #3433026
I don’t see why a long stiffened brim is important. I always wear a baseball cap with my rain jacket. No rain jacket I’ve seen has a long enough brim to keep water out of my face. I would prefer a basic, unstiffened brim to save weight.
Dan, do you know why goretex would make their paclite membranes out of PU instead of PTFE? Cost? Weight?Oct 26, 2016 at 10:26 pm #3433034
It’s a long and amusing story which i have told several times. Old man Gore and his son were trying to make expanded PTFE film in their basement lab. No joy despite a huge range of parameters being tried. Elder Gore went upstairs to make coffee while younger Gore set up another test run with this PTFE film. Elder Gore called to younger Gore that coffee was ready; younger Gore gave up and yanked the film sample out of the holder rather savagely. And then found that he had made expanded PTFE film! SPEED of expansion was the key!
So they made Goretex v1. Lab tests were great, so they sold the fabric and mfrs made jackets. Then the Returns started rolling in: LOTs of them. The jackets leaked badly. What had gone wrong???
Testing showed that body oils destroyed the water-repellent properties of the PTFE film. The Teflon wet out and leaked. All V1 stuff was recalled.
Ah, but PU coating works. So the Gores coated their nice smooth PTFE film, once it was welded to the fabric, with a very thin coating of PU. PU rejects body oils, so this worked. But the PU layer is fragile, so they put a 3rd layer, of very light knitted fabric, on the PU. But Gore do NOT tell the world that their fabled Goretex fabric is PU-coated, for obvious reasons. It is not even clear whether all Goretex licensees know this. (A few small simplifications apply.)
The original patents have now expired. eVent is basically 2-layer Goretex v1 – without the PU film. I think ToddTex may be the same.
So Paclite is Goretex fabric, just very light, with no inner knit layer.
CheersOct 27, 2016 at 12:44 am #3433050
Roger, informative story about Goretex, thanks. That explains why some people have had issues with event leaking. I wonder if neoshell has that issue as well?
But Dan is claiming that the goretex paclite membrane is made from PU, not just coated with PU. I’m wondering why they would choose to make the goretex paclite membrane from PU rather than PTFE.Oct 27, 2016 at 1:30 am #3433052
We have some Paclite jackets – some of the first into Australia in fact. But I have never heard that they use a straight PU coating, and I am sure they came with the standard Goretex (ie Teflon) swing labels. I think he is misinformed.
CheersOct 27, 2016 at 3:09 am #3433053
the folks at UKclimbing.com have had issues with event and neoshell failures …
and lets be honest here there arent many folks who use their rain gear in the actual rain and wind than the brits in the shoulder/winter seasons …
as to hoods .. unless the rain is truly heavy or windy i dont wear one when active … i just wear a thicker fleece beanie and wring it out every now and then … if it gets cold/windy or i stop then i put on the hood
some other folks use OR rain hats (looks like a fishing/cowboy style hat) with good success
a hood substantially reduces the “breathability” as yr neck is now enclosed
;)Oct 27, 2016 at 3:18 am #3433055
a hood substantially reduces the “breathability” as yr neck is now enclosed
Yeah – that’s what I LOVE about hoods!
I usually wear the hood over the top of my Australian bush hat. The wide rim at the back comes down to the fabric at the back of my neck and does a good job as a spacer and insulator. That’s in the cold. In the much warmer months we skip the rain jacket – too hot.
CheersOct 27, 2016 at 9:12 am #3433086
if you wear a cap or hat, it is tight to the skin so causes more sweating
better to have the hood as loose as possible
with a wide brim
I made my hood with the WPB shell fabric a couple inches bigger around, so there’s an air space between it and the liner fabric. Same with the shoulders. Helps a little. Maybe it protects the WPB membrane more than anything.
When the rain stops for a bit, I lower the hood. It also causes noises so I can hear better with the hood down. This would be harder with a separate hat.Oct 27, 2016 at 9:32 am #3433088
funny … i sweat MUCH less with a fleece beanie in in the cold rain than with the hood up
and my hood is made to fit over climbing helmets so it is quite loose
;)Oct 27, 2016 at 9:47 am #3433091
I sweat more with fleece beenie and hood, than just hood : )Oct 27, 2016 at 10:02 am #3433092Paul S.BPL Member
A hood is much less breathable than a hat. I use a wide brimmed waterproof hat for sustained rain. For quick showers or warm weather I use a breathable mesh wide brimmed hat. Only need a hood in cold windy weather.Oct 27, 2016 at 10:32 am #3433094James GravenSpectator
I work with Montane in the US. Thank you all for taking the time to check out the new Minimus 777 Jacket and to BPL for the diligent review. I want to add a response to some of the questions and concerns raised in the review and by the BPL member’s comments.
The general fit of this jacket has been designed with fast and lightweight activities in mind. Therefore from a layering point of view it is designed to be compatible with lightweight mid layers, on the assumption that the user will mostly be very active and moving for 90% of the time while wearing the jacket. Having said that, we have not compromised on the body length or the sleeve length of the Minimus 777. These measurements are specified the same as other waterproof trekking jackets in our range.
In the interests of improving packability, we decided to eliminate a standard ‘wired’ hood peak for this design. We wanted the jacket to pack into its own pocket as cleanly and neatly as possible so it could be stowed in a backpack. However we have taken feedback about the soft peak on board and will look at using a slightly stiffer lamination inside the brim to create more stability in the peak and improve rain protection around the face. We will also look into the issues that the tester experienced with the collar.
We do not think the single chest pocket on the Minimus 777 is a compromising feature. It is designed to be worn by users who are moving quickly and who will likely be carrying a pack where they can store their kit.
Fabric Performance and Durability
The lightweight nature of this fabric requires that it is used with a little extra care, more so than, for example, a 3L Gore Tex Jacket. However, the nylon rip-stop face, combined with the protective tricot backer gives this fabric an advantage over standard 2.5 layer fabrics, which are only protected by a light print on the film. The great thing about this fabric is that although it has a stronger 3 Layer construction, it is still lighter in weight than most 2.5 layer fabrics on the market, and offers a lighter and more durable package all round.
Hope this helps add some additional insight. Please let me know if anyone has any further questions or ideas. We appreciate the feedback as we continue to evolve our products based on user’s needs and wants.
JamesOct 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm #3433106Dan @ Durston GearBPL Member
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
Dan, do you know why goretex would make their paclite membranes out of PU instead of PTFE? Cost? Weight?
As Roger described, GoreTex arrived at a useful product with their PU/PTFE/PU sandwich (or maybe it’s just PU/PTFE/Nylon). However, this product is hardly better than regular PU in terms of breathability (it’s only advantage) and if offers a lot of disadvantages because it’s more complex, harder to make and expensive.
If you have a sandwich that is 5 microns PU + 20 microns PTFE + 5 microns PU then it’s 30 microns thick and 2/3 PTFE and 1/3 PU. Since the breathability always declines with thickness but about twice as fast for PU, this 20 microns of PTFE hurts breathability about as much as 10 microns of PU. So this 30 micron sandwich is roughly equal in breathability to a 20 micron layer of just PU. Don’t put much weight in those specific numbers, but just realize that a competitor can offer that same thickness in a PU product that is simpler and cheaper but marginally less breathable, or offer a bit thinner PU competitor that breathes just as well, but not quite as durable – the latter of which most people don’t even realize because most outdoor gear is hardly used.
So the point here is that much of the advantage of PTFE was lost when Gore realized they needed to coat it with PU, and the vast majority of competitors have realized that it’s simply not worth the hassle/complexity/cost to even bother including PTFE in a sandwich when you could just use PU. That’s why so many other membranes (e.g. North Face HyVent, Patagonia H2NO etc) are all PU. The only differentiating factors are how thick, how well protected and how well it’s all bonded together.
Gore also realized that there is very little upside to this complexity, so for a long time now (decades?) they’ve only used the sandwich approach for their highest end membranes. The rest are just PU like everyone else. So “Gore Tex Pro” is the sandwich and almost everything else (e.g. Gore Tex Active) is PU. My perception is that Gore doesn’t want to gamble with low durability as much as many of their competitors, so their PU membranes are generally a bit thicker and thus less breathable, which is is the right approach IMO, even though high breathability specs do sell jackets. With that said, GT does claim their PU membranes (Gore Tex Active) are quite a bit more breathable than their sandwiches (Gore Tex Pro) per the website, so their PU membranes are much thinner.
As a corollary to this, when you see really high breathability claims for a PU membrane (e.g. Pertex Shield+) that should raise a red flag because the manufacturer is either (1) lying or (2) using a super thin membrane. The only way to get high breathability with PU is to make it super thin. So I’d much rather by a PU membrane claiming 10,000 HH than 30,000 HH because the latter is likely not to last very long and then I’m much worse off with rain soaking through than I am with a less breathable coat. Unfortunately the market is focused on the unattainable goal of breathability, so manufacturers are catering to this.Oct 27, 2016 at 8:15 pm #3433184AnonymousInactive
@ James from Montane.
Would you be willing to address the comments below, by Dan Durston? He is one of our more experienced members, who spends a lot of time in demanding, often very wet, conditions. Based on my relatively limited experience with the original Minimus in the less challenging conditions typically encountered in the Sierra, his comments ring true. I have experienced similar wetting out beneath the shoulder straps and hip belt. Thus durability also seems to me to be a serious concern.
“Pertex Shield+ is extremely thin polyurethane – Montane boasts about how it’s only 7 microns thick. This thin-ness means the breathability is good and that it is light, but the problem is that it doesn’t last (based on my experience several other Pertex Shield+ Minimus products from Montane but not specifically the 777). The membrane is so thin that it quickly develops micro cracks. Mine leak pretty badly after 15+ days of prolonged use – most likely you’ll notice this first under the pack straps.
It’s possible that the 7D inner backing helps this a bit, but normally membranes start degrading and cracking because of stretching/torque/strain, not actual abrasion. That’s why membranes commonly leak under shoulder straps even while the outer fabric layers look good. My Montane Minimus pants didn’t have more than 10 good rainy days on them before they starting leaking substantially. My 20 days they were a joke and I starting using them as wind pants. I’m not talking about the DWR wetting out, but rather lots of water coming right through from a broken down membrane.”Oct 28, 2016 at 10:53 am #3433257James GravenSpectator
I will forward Dan’s questions along to Montane and get right back to you.
JamesOct 28, 2016 at 11:23 am #3433259jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
“if you wear a cap or hat, it is tight to the skin so causes more sweating”
I have a Simm’s long bill or brim that attaches to my head with just a strap around the back. It’s not a cap per se. Then, the hood goes over that. Pretty effective. I wear glasses, so rain is a killer in that regard as well as everything else.
But Roger’s idea seems good, maybe better.Oct 28, 2016 at 3:03 pm #3433284AnonymousInactive
Thank you, James. I’ll look forward to hearing from them. I hope there are ways to minimize this problem, because I have found even my old Minimus to be an excellent jacket for the relatively infrequent foul weather in the Sierra. Durability is my main concern.
Even with the wetting out along the shoulder straps and waist, I was mostly protected from cold external water in a couple of really violent storms up high. Staying dry was another matter, because the jacket could not breathe well enough to get rid of the water I was producing internally. But, then, neither will any other WPB jacket that I am aware of. Warm and wet is about all one can expect in the real world.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.