Unlike some of my other rain jackets, the Storm Cruiser doesn't much resemble a trash bag and it does more than simply serve as a physical barrier between your skin and the weather – it actually keeps you dry. There are two versions of this jacket, the Japanese version and the US version (this is discussed multiple times below) and it comes in a range of colors (but no pink) – if you want to pop in your pictures, get yourself something bright.
I used the Montbell Storm Cruiser for my traverse of the Japanese Alps (more on that trip here). It was a a very wet hike full of rain, wind, and ramen – this jacket got used frequently and I relied heavily on it as it was my only piece of rain gear (other than my rain shorts – yes, shorts).
- Weight: 10 oz / 284 g (US) | 9.07 oz / 257 g (JP)
- Fabric: 3-layer GORE C-KNIT Backer Technology / 20-denier Ballistic rip stop nylon
- Packed Dimensions: 3.1 × 3.1 × 6 in / 8 × 8 × 15 cm
- DWR: Standard DWR treatment
- Water Pressure Resistance: 50,000+ mm
- Breathability: 35,000g/㎡ ·24 hrs (JIS L-1099 B-1 method)
- Hood: Yes
- Pockets: Two chest
- Pit Zips: Yes (US) | No (Japan)
- Adjustable Hem: Yes
- Adjustable Hood: Yes
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL
- Available Colors: Blue, Black, Yellow, Green, Red
- Country of origin: China
- MSRP: $289
NOTE: There are two versions of the Montbell Storm Cruiser, the Japanese version and the US version. From what I can tell, the only difference is that the US version has pit zips and weighs 0.93 oz / 26 g more. I have the Japanese version (despite my love of pit zippers).
- Fully seam taped
- 2 zippered hand pockets (8.7 in / 22 cm opening)
- Weather resistant Aqua-Tect main zip
- 16.5 in / 42 cm pit zips
- Draw cords for hem adjustment hidden in pockets
- 3-way adjustable hood
- Slightly articulated arms with adjustable alpine cuff
- Stuff sack included
WHAT WE LIKE
THE WEATHERPROOF-NESS | I tend to neglect my rain jacket choices because bringing a rain jacket means acknowledging that it might rain. However, when preparing my Japanese Alps Traverse gear list, I am glad the Storm Cruiser made it on. The trip started with a week of nearly nonstop rain and the Storm Cruiser kept me dry. I typically only wear my rain jacket if it's really raining, so I was happy that this jacket did what it promised to.
THE POCKETS | The pockets on this jacket are huge. Two zippered hand pockets with 8.7 in / 22 cm openings. If you're wearing this jacket while backpacking, the pockets are still accessible even with a hip belt buckled. Inside of the pockets you will find the adjustments for the hem (simply grab the elastic and pull). I didn't have any issues with things inside of the pockets getting wet during periods of extended rain.
THE ZIPPERS | You know when you get something and you can turn it over in your hands, look at it closely, and say, “damn, this looks very well built”? Well, that's the feeling I get looking at the zipper construction on the Montbell Storm Cruiser (and if you have no idea what I mean by the first sentence, then just know this is a good thing). There is no leakage through the zippers during rain and I never had any problems with the zippers breaking or not catching.
WHAT'S JUST OKAY
THE PIT ZIPS | As noted above (have you been paying attention?), there are two versions of this jacket, the Japanese version and the US version; the US version has pit zips and weighs 0.93 oz / 26 g more. The Japanese version does not have pit zips. I have the Japanese version. I am a big fan of pit zippers. Should have probably gotten the version with them and this point could be moved to under the “What We Like” heading.
THE HOOD | I liked the Storm Cruiser's hood, but I found it a tricky to adjust. There are three drawstring for the hood, two on either side of the front zipper where it meets the hood, and one on the outside of the hood in the back just above the velcro tab (which is for attaching an eyewear strap, I presume). While wearing a hat in heavy rain, it was difficult for me to keep the hood both cinched and extended beyond the brim of my hat (if that makes sense).
WHAT WE NO LIKE
THE TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS | Montbell, why is the Japanese version different from the US version of this jacket? I guess this isn't a problem most people would run into, but since I spend a lot of time split between (and backpacking in) both countries, this bothers me. What? Do Japanese people not like pit zips or something?
THE AVAILABILITY | Montbell products can typically only be bought from Montbell directly as they do not distribute widely via third-party retailers. They have two US-based retail locations in Denver and Boulder, Colorado (they used to have one in Portland, but that location has closed). To see if there's a Montbell dealer near you, you can check the (US-based) list here. That said, all their gear is available via their website.
WHO IS IT FOR?
BEGINNER BACKPACKERS | Just getting into backpacking and being outdoors? Unless you live somewhere where you expect to be doing nearly all of your outdoor activity in the rain, this jacket is probably overkill. That said, if you want an awesome jacket that you never want to (have to) replace, then the Montbell Storm Cruiser may be worth a look (if you've got the money to burn).
CASUAL BACKPACKERS | Again, unless you expect to be in wet conditions on a regular basis, this jacket might be overdoing it. But if you've got the money, then the Montbell Storm Cruiser is a great option.
WEEKEND WARRIORS | This might be the best category for the Storm Cruiser since it might be a bit heavy for the thru-hikers trying to shave every bit of weight, but despite it not being the lightest option available (it's still very light relative to the entire rain jacket market – especially for a GORE-TEX jacket) the Montbell Storm Cruiser is a high-performing shell that will handle whatever conditions are thrown at it.
THRU-HIKERS | The Montbell Storm Cruiser may not be the lightest option when compared to all the rest of the ultralight shells out there, but if you want something that will make more of a difference when you're wearing it than it will while it's sitting in your pack, then definitely consider this jacket (I mean to say, the benefit of the extra weight when you actually need it is worth carrying it in your pack).
If you're looking for a new rain jacket and want something that's going to keep you dry and keep you out, then the Montbell Storm Cruiser is a great option. If you want something that's just a bit lighter (and you don't care about pockets), then the Torrent Flier might be a better option for you.
Check out the Storm Cruiser here.
Disclosure: I received a Montbell Storm Cruiser free of charge in exchange for my evaluation of the product in the field. I was under no obligation to write a review for, endorse, or recommend this product.