Montane Minimus 777 Jacket Review
Oct 28, 2016 at 4:12 pm #3433299
Some great info in this thread on Gore-Tex and the SOTM. It was nice to get caught up on the latest Gore offerings and understand them better.
I see the benefit of carrying a very light rain jacket like the Montane Minimus, Montbell Versalite or OR Helium II when you expect occasional rain, but isn’t sustained wet (and garment longevity) a case where it’s worth adding just a few ounces for superior waterproofing and durability?
Anyone know anything about Montbell’s 3-Layer DRY-TEC used in their Peak Shell? I had the previous version of this jacket which weighed in at 11oz with pit zips, and their current Peak Shell comes in at 9oz in a Men’s Medium. Never leaked and the DWR was excellent. Cam Honan (thehikinglife.com) gave the current version a thumbs up after long-term use.
“3-layer DRY-TEC™ Technology
15-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon
(Water resistance: 20,000mm
Breathability: 15,000g/m2/24hrs )”Oct 28, 2016 at 4:21 pm #3433302
In ‘sustained wet’ conditions you might be drier and more comfortable using a poncho.
CheersOct 28, 2016 at 4:33 pm #3433304
Roger I used ponchos in the scouts and in the army. Certainly let a lot of air circulate underneath.
My question on trading a bit of weight for better waterproofing was prompted by the experience of a forum member on his PCT thru who said his UL rain jacket leaked so badly after not much use that hypothermia became a risk. He wound up swapping out for a jacket 3-4 oz heavier which did the job.Oct 28, 2016 at 5:19 pm #3433307
It’s an old argument. ‘My jacket leaks!’ ‘No, you are getting condensation from your own sweat and the cold air/rain outside.’ I can definitely confirm the condensation problem from my own experiences.
Did the jacket quoted leak? I have no idea. Quite possibly if it was really UL. Pack straps do terrible things to membranes. can’t avoid that.
A poncho, going over you and your pack, largely gets rid of most (not all) of those problems. You may still get some condensation of course, but with your arms folded across your body you stay WARM.
CheersOct 29, 2016 at 2:53 pm #3433407
Roger the member is an experienced backpacker and said that the thin jacket material itself failed and that it wasn’t a result of internal moisture buildup. After a particularly cold wet stretch that became dangerous, he came to the conclusion that very thin light shells weren’t going to cut it for dependable use in very wet weather, which PNW members seem to be noting, in addition to the Gore guarantee when the shell fails. I don’t have experience with 5-7 oz rain shells, though some members appear to have used them successfully for long multi-week walks.Oct 29, 2016 at 3:28 pm #3433410
Well, I did say ‘I have no idea’. I don’t even know what the fabric was: PU-coated or silnylon.
On the other hand, our MYOG ponchos weighs 6.7 oz each and they do NOT leak, even after many years. They go with us on our 2-month Euro trips.
CheersOct 30, 2016 at 10:31 pm #3433548
in the nov/dec/jan PNW rains (500-600mm per month) …. Using UL 2.5L rain jacket is a fools game as some have alluded to
yr basically wearing the shell non stop, its getting abraded not just by ur straps but by the terrain
And even if it doesnt break down, going up the local hills can easily sweat it out if you have insufficient ventilation
alot of these UL jackets are meant for trail running or mountain races where folks are willing to suffer and are out for shorter periods …. Also they carry little to no weight …
In the PNW winter rains … Hypothermia is a killer and its quite easy to get there
what will save you other than a good rain jacket is fleece … And a synthetic bag/quilt
some folks use ponchos but the terrain is not ideal for such as you can see on this short walk (wont even call it a hike) rated as easy which kids do all the time
;)Oct 31, 2016 at 11:21 am #3433594
In my view, quite a few major manufacturers are less than ethical with how they communicate with customers about rain jacket failure, particularly with DWRs, so it’s important to understand what a DWR is and isn’t supposed to do. I say this as a former warranty guy for a major manufacturer. This has nothing specifically to do with Montane.
DWR vs Membrane
A DWR is the water repellant coating on the outside of a jacket (“durable water repellant”). It is not the membrane, which is underneath the outer nylon fabric. Why bother with a DWR if the membrane will stop the rain anyways? Because if the outer nylon gets saturated then the air outside the membrane is fully saturated so breathability drops to zero. So a functional DWR is needed to achieve the breathable part of waterproof/breathable, not the waterproof part. A DWR is not the main line of defence against water intrusion.
What Failure Looks Like
When the DWR “fails” then water starts soaking into the outer nylon, which is easy to spot as “wetting out”. Many people see this “wetting out” and jump to the incorrect conclusion that their membrane has failed, which is wrong, so I understand why telling customers to reapply DWR has become a knee-jerk reaction, but it’s still an inappropriate response if rain is really coming right through. DWR failure should not result in rain soaking through the jacket because the membrane should still be there to stop it.
If rain is coming right through the jacket, both the DWR and membrane aren’t doing their job. The challenge here is being sure rain is coming through, as opposed to accumulating water from condensation, sweat or soaking in through neck/wrist openings. The easiest way to tell the difference is that membrane failure typically happens in a defined area (e.g. around the shoulders) whereas with sweat and condensation you end up damp all over. Also once membrane failure gets really bad, then the water ingress is so rapid and substantial that it’s obviously not sweat or condensation. Once my Montane Minimus pants had 20+ days on them, I could put them on and in less than 30 seconds of walking through heavily dew covered grass my inside hiking pants would be drenched. Obviously not sweat or condensation.
How Manufacturers Mislead Customers
If you go into a store or contact a manufacturer and tell them your rain jacket is leaking, the first thing they’ll tell you to do is re-apply the DWR. I understand why dispensing this advice started – because a lot of customers see the face fabric (nylon) wetting out and incorrectly conclude the jacket is leaking when the membrane is still holding the rain at bay – but over the last 5 years or so this advice has become rampantly misused. It is being dispensed to people who are claiming real water penetration, which is a trick, because if your rain jacket is really leaking from membrane failure but you re-apply DWR, then the DWR will temporarily cover up for the failed membrane. Thus, the vendor can claim no issue, or more often, the customer really thinks the problem is solved and won’t notice it’s reoccurrence for a while – perhaps a couple more years if they use their gear rarely like most – at which point they don’t care about the jacket anymore and the vendor gets off. The simple truth is that if water is coming right through your jacket, then the membrane is not working. Whether or not the DWR is functional is a mute point.
I was in a Patagonia store recently asking about the warranty on their H2NO because I was considering an M10, and the sales guy was trying to convince me that warranty was irrelevant because water intrusion only indicates a need to reapply the DWR, and the customer is responsible for that. Per his explanation, there was no possible scenario where the membrane was at fault. The implication of this is that the DWR is everything and the membrane isn’t doing anything, which of course isn’t true. They’re basically trying to mislead the customer by placing all the onus on the DWR so the membrane goes unscrutinized. I actually quite like Patagonia and saw this more as an example of a less than ethical and poorly educated salesperson.
Manufacturers have been so successful with their campaign to advocate for DWR reapplication to cover membrane failure that is now widely dispensed advice even within the outdoor community.
When to Re-Apply DWR
DWR should only be re-applied if your face fabric is wetting out, but the jacket itself is not leaking. Re-applying DWR here will restore breathability, which is the main responsibility DWR has. It also keeps the jacket lighter in your pack if the face fabric stays unsaturated. If your jacket is leaking right through, and it’s definitely not sweat or condensation, then the membrane is to blame, so correctly claim a warranty issue and don’t be mislead into re-applying DWR
All of what I’ve just said is general to the outdoor industry and not targeted at Montane in any way. I actually didn’t try to warranty any of my Minimus stuff because soon after it started leaking pretty bad the membrane started bubbling off heavily, so I figured they’d just say it was beyond it’s useful life even though it was pretty new.
Membranes in general don’t do well under strain, such as from shoulder straps of a heavy pack. Even heavy weight membranes eventually fail here. I’d like to see manufacturers use a non-breathable, more durable solution in high strain areas like the shoulders. Not heavier nylon which is used but does little, but rather replace the PU membrane with a more durable form of water protection – perhaps silicon coated fabric. Use the PU stuff for the rest of the jacket.Oct 31, 2016 at 2:11 pm #3433621
CheersOct 31, 2016 at 4:33 pm #3433641Danny MilksBPL Member
@dannymilksLocale: SF Bay Area
Dan – thanks for the helpful insight!Nov 1, 2016 at 10:51 am #3433735BlackHatGuySpectator
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
If you’re going to put someone’s posts in some purgatory pending approval, it seems to me the professional and decent thing to do is have an approval/disapproval process that happens quickly, not 18+ hours and counting…Nov 1, 2016 at 8:33 pm #3433826James GravenSpectator
Re: durability of 2.5 layer Minimus vs 3L Minimus 777
The regular Minimus fabric is 2.5 Layer, so the print is the only element protecting the membrane from damage. That’s why we don’t encourage the use of our regular Minimus range with big heavy back packs- this fabric is for fast and light activities. With the 3L 777 fabric, the 7 denier tricot is more protective than you’d expect. The tricot backer gives more protection from internal rub on the membrane. We need to bear in mind, however, that any fabric with this level of waterproof breathability needs to be taken care of and looked after. With the levels of breathability that the 777 can offer, the thinner membrane is more vulnerable than a traditional 3L fabric.
Thanks for your patience! Hope this answers Dan’s questions – please let me know if you have any other questions.
JamesNov 1, 2016 at 11:38 pm #3433853
With the levels of breathability that the 777 can offer, the thinner membrane is more vulnerable than a traditional 3L fabric.
Thanks James. This basically what I was arguing – that breathability and durable trade-off because they’re both determined by the membrane thickness. I think many buyers don’t consider this.Nov 2, 2016 at 1:07 am #3433859Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Dan, when you worked in a warranty department and had rain jackets sent in, was there any way for you to determine if the membrane was actually leaking?Nov 2, 2016 at 10:52 am #3433895
I worked at a large store (Helly Hansen Whistler) as the front line warranty guy – so if a customer came in with an item I’d talk to them and then send out the item, keep track of everything and eventually resolve things with the customer. If the issue was non-membrane related (e.g. zippers, seams) we’d send it out a repair guy. If it was a potential membrane issue the customer was encouraged to reapply DWR – sometimes quite strongly as a prerequisite for anything further – but if they were persistent we’d accept the jacket and “send it in for testing”. I put that in quotes because I’d just mail the jacket back to headquarters and I didn’t know what they did. I wouldn’t be surprised if they just sat on it for a month and then offered credit. I’m not aware of a nice condition jacket ever being denied.
Perhaps Gore-Tex actually tests the jackets but I’m skeptical that other manufacturers do. I bet a lot of the time if the garment is in good shape and you claim it’s leaking then its cheaper just to believe you but after drawing out the process so not everyone does it.
I’m going through the warranty process with Gore-Tex right now. It’s my first time doing this and its a legit case where a pretty new Arcteryx jacket in great shape just leaks big time in the rain. I think wearing a light pack (it’s my wife’s jacket and she never carries over 20 lbs) has degraded the membrane in the shoulder area even while the outer layers are fine. This indicates that strain/stretching/pressure/torsion can degrade membranes without harming the outer fabrics. I suspect nylon handles stretching better than PU, so overtime the inner PU ends up with micro cracks/wrinkles etc. With a pack, only wearing your rain coat when you need to is a good strategy. If it’s just cold wear a windshirt. This is something to watch with any membrane but especially light ones. This particular jacket isn’t even that light (Tecto FL with GoreTex Active).
On Monday they told me to mail the jacket to a “testing facility” called Gear Re-Store in Calgary, AB for “testing and evaluation”. A quick bit of googling shows it’s this place: http://gearrestore.com
That website has a lot of information about the company and what they do, and nowhere does it indicate they can actually test membranes. They mostly do sewing/zippers/patches repair. So my guess is they just issue a quick report to GoreTex about it’s condition, who sits on that for a while and then hopefully offers credit.
In their email to me GT explains 4 possible outcomes:
- Material Failure = Covered
- Garment is worn out = Rejected
- Leak is from damage = I can pay for repairs
- Material is wetting out = Rejected, reapply DWR
If they don’t actually test the jacket they couldn’t separate outcomes # 1 and #4. Hopefully they don’t just sprinkle some water on to test the DWR and then tell me to re-apply when the membrane is also non-functional. I have no interest in propping up the non-functional membrane for a few more trips.
With that said, a HH tester isn’t that expensive or hard to use – see some of Ron Bell’s (from MLDs) Facebook posts on using his. So they could put the area of the garment where I claim leakage into one of these and crank up the pressure to see if it leaks early. Hopefully this is what they do.Nov 2, 2016 at 12:00 pm #3433906
run the jacket under the tap or shower over where you suspect the leak is … be aggressive with the flow
if theres an actual crack in the membrane the water should seep through fairly fast … you can also press down or keep it taught to make sure
if its a dead bird just drop it off at their factory at dollarton highway … dead bird is usually pretty good with their warranty, if not exactly fast
;)Nov 2, 2016 at 12:09 pm #3433911
Thanks Eric. If GT sends it back I’ll drop it off with Arcteryx. I’m on the island so getting to the mainland is tough until May when I’ll be climbing Squamish for the month.Nov 2, 2016 at 12:19 pm #3433914
just mail it to dead bird …
for a newer jacket thats seen little wear … chances are theyll just give you a new one or the equivalent
OR has the best warranty of course, but dead bird aint too shaby for rain jackets anyways … especially if you live in HONGCOUVAH
just goes to show that even the “best brands” can fail … so in the end with rain jackets the warranty quite important
;)Nov 2, 2016 at 11:17 pm #3433993Justin BakerBPL Member
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
OR may have a good warranty but they don’t make any lightweight rain jackets other than the Helium.Nov 3, 2016 at 12:16 am #3434000
perhaps theres a reason for that … maybe they dont think they can produce too many jackets that is UL without compromises and folks wont send back in droves (for QC or any other issues since their warranty is for ANY reason at ANY time) … at a reasonable price?
they probably have a bit of an opinion on the generally durability of these jackets … OR is based out of seattle in the rainy PNW
as a few of us have said … UL 2.5L jackets area fools game in the long run for sustained rain, especially in rugged terrain …
for occasional rain something like a helium will work just fine
more important than the specific type of rain jacket is the proper techniques and other gear to deal with sustained cold rain
;)Nov 5, 2016 at 4:16 pm #3434340AnonymousInactive
“The regular Minimus fabric is 2.5 Layer, so the print is the only element protecting the membrane from damage. That’s why we don’t encourage the use of our regular Minimus range with big heavy back packs- this fabric is for fast and light activities. With the 3L 777 fabric, the 7 denier tricot is more protective than you’d expect. The tricot backer gives more protection from internal rub on the membrane. We need to bear in mind, however, that any fabric with this level of waterproof breathability needs to be taken care of and looked after. With the levels of breathability that the 777 can offer, the thinner membrane is more vulnerable than a traditional 3L fabric.”
Thanks for getting back to me. I’d have replied sooner, but I am no longer able to receive notification of posts to followed threads. But that is issue hopefully to be resolved by BPL management sometime before I pass from the scene. To the meat, then. My field weight is almost always less than 20 pounds for the relatively short trips I do these days; I haven’t carried a “big heavy pack” in many years. What I am understanding from your reply and my/Dan’s experience is that the membrane is very fragile, and not suitable for use when carrying just about any backpacking load on a regular basis. Perhaps more suitable as a running jacket or occasional use, as is the case with me in the Sierra. I certainly would not depend on it up here in the PNW. BTW, I will add another +1 to Dan’s suggestion of a non breathable patch of fabric on the shoulder area. That should add a minimal amount of weight and give Montane a truly
outstanding ultra light jacket.Nov 7, 2016 at 8:05 am #3434527Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right thereDec 17, 2016 at 11:39 pm #3440863Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
-> So is this “Pertex Shield +” laminate as water resistant and breathable as Gore-Tex Pro Shell or standard eVent?
-> Did the Monataine Minimus have a DWR that lasted longer than other factory DWR treatments?
I gotta agree with Dan the shoulder areas and perhaps waist belt areas need a NON breathable waterproof coating that will hold up under long term abrasion. You’re not going to get much “breathability” where a pack strap is blocking it anyway.
I have 2 backpacking “rain suits” (parka and pants.
->The first is a GTX PackLite parka & pants form Cabela’s and it’s “light” but not UL like the Montaine. I use it where I know there sill be brush as the light nylon Taslan finish outer layer is fairly tough.
-> the second is an REI Kimtah eVent parka and pants that weighs a bit more than the PacLite suit due to the 3 layer construction. I usually take backpacking (parks only 90% of the time). But I use the entire suit for alpine skiing and some backcountry skiing.
The GTX PacLite doesn’t breath much better than legacy Gore-Tex but is great for blocking wind.
The eVent is very good for breathability but is sometimes a bit too wind permeable in high winds when it’s cold.
Both suits are tough enough for sustained use and that is exactly why I have them and not a diaphanous parka like the Minimus. As mentioned above, a few ounces more can mean safety form hypothermia.Dec 18, 2016 at 6:27 am #3440873JCHBPL Member
Props to Eric…there are very few instances of someone using the word “diaphanous” on interweb message boards :)Dec 18, 2016 at 7:36 am #3440876Bob MoulderBPL Member
@bobmny10562Locale: Westchester County, NY
What good is possessing erudition if you can’t flash it occasionally?
I’ll see your ‘diaphanous’ and raise you an ‘ethereally wispy’.
All in good fun, of course. ;^)
But something that was not all in good fun was snagging my beloved yet diaphanous MB Versalite on a thorny branch and poking a hole in it. Similar to the feeling of the first door ding on a new car.
Now, how to repair it so that it doesn’t appear to be an ostentatious attempt to garner trail cred by having banged-up, patched gear…. a few whips of grey polyester thread and a minuscule (most often misspelled word on the internet, BTW, other than the confusion between ‘then’ and ‘than’) smear of Seam Grip should do it.
- 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.