Rain jackets and I have an interesting relationship. In a perfect world, they would be completely unnecessary, but the reality on the Continental Divide Trail is far from perfect and so I brought along the Montbell Torrent Flier Jacket to protect me from all the water (frozen or otherwise) I expected to be falling from the sky (and hopefully from lightning as well, though I’m less confident about this).
I used this jacket through snow, hail, sleet, rain, and everything in between. I even used it as armor against mosquitoes in Wyoming’s Wind River Range (can confirm, mosquitoes cannot bite through this jacket).
- Weight: 8.6 oz (243 g)
- Fabric: 2.5-layer Gore-Tex / 12-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon
- Compressed size: 3 x 3 x 5.8 in (8 x 8 x 15 cm)
- Center back length: 28.1 in (71.5 cm)
- Pockets: One chest
- Hooded: Yes
- Other: Front zipper: Left-hand insert (Right side slider)
- Available colors: Red, Green, Blue
- Available sizes: S, M, L, XL
- Country of origin: China
- MSRP: $269
- Smart Sewing Technology for weight savings
- Fully seam taped
- Single 7in.(16cm) zippered chest pocket
- 16in. (42cm) pit zips
- 2-way adjustable hood
- Draw cord hem adjustment
- Adjustable alpine cuff
- Weather resistant Aqua-Tect zipper
- Slightly articulated arms
- Stuff sack included
THE STORM-WORTHINESS | Before you get into any other features, gripes, or accolades for a rain jacket, it has to do the one thing you probably bought it to do – keep you dry. This jacket kept me dry. From New Mexico snow to Montana thunderstorms, the Torrent Flier performed exactly as I hoped it would (and its pocket kept my phone dry as well).
THE WEIGHT | At 8.6 oz / 243 g, this is the lightest Gore-Text rain jacket I have been able to find (if you know of a lighter one, let me know). There are lighter rain jackets out there, but I am usually only wearing my rain jacket if I really need it (aka it’s pouring); some of the lighter rain jackets are designed for light to moderate rain, not a downpour. This jacket is still the heaviest piece of gear I carry in my pack (my Montbell Plasma 1000 Down Parka comes in slightly lighter), but it’s definitely on the lighter side by rain jacket standards.
THE MATERIAL | As I said above, this jacket uses 2.5-layer Gore-Tex PacLite which uses an oleophobic (aka oil-hating) carbon layer. It’s 15% lighter than the 3-ply Gore-Tex and packs down much smaller. That being said, it isn’t as rugged as the 3-ply, but it’s certainly no wimp; I’ve had no problems with wear on the jacket (even post-CDT). I’m skeptical of companies’ propriety waterproof fabrics (at least when I’m making an investment), so it was nice to know what I was getting with the Torrent Flier.
THE VENTILATION | The thing I hate most about all rain jackets (at least all that I’ve tried until today) is that if it’s above freezing and I’m hiking uphill, I will ultimately end up sweating my ass off. To help with this, the Torrent Flier has two 16 in / 42 cm pit zips. They use the same weather-resistant zippers as the pocket and front pocket and they aren’t too difficult to reach with my pack on (note: I can open them one-handed, but I need two hands to close them). However, I found that when I had them all the way open in a downpour I would get a little leakage into the jacket.
THE BREATHABILITY | The “breathable rain jacket” is a bit of an oxymoron, and despite outdoor gear companies constantly claiming that they have one and for all devised the ultimate compromise between breathability and performance, things could always be more breathable. The Torrent Flier did alright in the breathability department (helped by the large pit zips), and despite breaking into the occasional sweat, I never felt like I was wearing a trash bag.
THE POCKET | The Torrent Flier has a single chest pocket. Some people may take issue with this and want two hand warmer pockets instead (or in addition), but since I usually use a backpack with a hip belt, hand warmer pockets aren’t useful. A chest pocket, on the other hand, is functional with a backpack on. That being said, the pocket is a little small. It’s not large enough to accommodate my current phone (6.27 in / 15.9 cm long) horizontally with headphones plugged in (guess I should go wireless). The opening of the pocket is 5.5 in / 14 cm and the depth of the pocket is 6 in / 15.2 cm.
THE WARRANTY | On their website, Montbell states they cover “all defects in materials and workmanship to the original owner for the lifetime of the product.” What’s not covered? “Damage(s) caused by accident, improper care, negligence, alterations, or normal wear and tear.” I would say that’s reasonable. And if your jacket is damaged and not covered, Montbell will repair it at “a reasonable rate” (3-5 week turnaround). How much “a reasonable rate” remains to be seen, but I like that they stand behind their products.
Honestly, Torrent Flier is a pretty bitchin’ jacket. There are a couple of gripes I have (for example, I should have gotten a medium instead of a large), the pocket could be a little larger, and there’s always room to improve a rain jacket’s breathability (although at a certain point, it ceases to keep you dry, so that’s an issue), but overall this jacket is a solid shell that I feel comfortable having in my pack.
After surviving the rigors of a Continental Divide Trail thru-hike, the Montbell Torrent Flier has certainly proven its worth as a rain jacket. At 8.6 oz / 243 g, it’s the lightest rain jacket I’ve ever used, and with 2.5-layer Gore-Tex it definitely isn’t sacrificing anything to make weight (unless you’re really a fan of the twohand warmer pocket construction).
If you’re looking for something a bit more rugged (and with handwarmer pockets), Montbell also has the Storm Cruiser Jacket (10 oz / 284 g). Alternatively, for something lighter (without Gore-Tex) you can check out the Montbell Versalite Jacket (6.7 oz / 189 g).
Check out Montbell Torrent Flier Rain Jacket here.
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