Review: Montbell Peak Shell Rain Jacket

Looking for a lightweight, well designed rain jacket that doesn’t cost the earth? Coming in at 9.1 oz and retailing for $175, the Montbell Peak shell represents a good option. 

Montbell Peak Shell cocuy

Montbell Peak Shell | Sierra Nevada del Cocuy | Colombian Andes, 2015

Before diving into the review, let me state the following…………… no jacket is completely waterproof given extended exposure to continuous rain.

Indeed, throw in driving winds and exposed terrain, and you have as much chance of staying completely dry as you do of spotting a wooly mammoth in downtown Sydney.

Working on the principle that damp is better than soaked and being comfortable rather than dry is the priority, here are the qualities I look for in a rain jacket:

1. A good DWR (durable water repellant) finish.
2. Relatively lightweight.
3. Quick drying.
4. Pit zips for ventilation.
5. Adjustable wrist cuffs.
6. Fully adjustable hood with a stiff brim.

With that out of the way, here’s my review of the Montbell Peak Shell jacket:

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Montbell Peak Shell Jacket (photo courtesy of montbell.us)

Price

  • US$175

Specs

    • Weight:  9.1 oz (259 grams) – men’s medium.
    • 3-layer DRY-TEC™ Technology
    • 15-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon

Features

  • Two way Adjustable hood – Plenty of flexibility to adjust for different sized noggins. The brim could be a little stiffer, however, as with virtually all rainwear, when it’s bucketing down you really need a visor or cap underneath your hood to keep the rain off your face.
  • Pockets – Good size for maps. They are situated a bit higher than on many other rain jackets, which I think is a good thing. When pockets are too low, access can potentially be impeded by the hip belt.
  • Pit zips – Something I always look for in rain jackets. Essential for venting. I usually leave them open unless it’s freezing rain & windy.
  • Adjustable wrist cuffsAnother must for rain jackets.
  • Semi-athletic cut – I like the fit of the Peak shell. A good balance between being roomy enough to layer underneath, but not being too baggy so that you have excess fabric collecting water when it’s pouring down.

Field Experience

I’ve been using the Montbell Peak Shell for close to a year. Testing grounds have included Southwest Tasmania, the Colombian Andes, winter in the Colorado Rockies and Mexico’s Sierra Madre during the rainy season.

Jonno SW tassie 2

Montbell Peak Shell | Arthur Range, Southwest Tasmania | Februrary, 2015

Of all of these environments, undoubtably the sternest examination came in Tasmania’s Arthur Range.

During the course of my time there, approximately 80% of the hiking was done in rain, high winds, fog and temperatures that hovered just above freezing.

I was joined on this trip by my brother-in-law, Jonno, and as I personally wanted to test both the Peak Shell as well as the Montbell Torrent Flier Jacket (see below), we swapped rain shells midway through the journey.

For tips on trekking in inclement weather, see the following article: Hiking in Cold & Wet Conditions.

Performance

The Peak Shell surprised me. In a good way.

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Combo of the Peak Shell & Montbell’s Tachyon Anorak Windshirt | Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, Colombia, 2015.

At the beginning of 2015, the folks at Montbell sent me both the Peak Shell and the Torrent Flier Goretex Jacket to take for a backcountry spin.

I’d assumed that the Torrent Flier, which costs a little more (US$225), weighs a little less (0.5 oz difference) and sports a GORE-TEX/PacLite DWR, would be the more storm-worthy of the two models.

In reality, that hasn’t been the case.

In fact, I’ve found the water repellency of both jackets to be almost identical. Both the Peak Shell and the Torrent Flier have kept me relatively dry and comfortable in the harshest of conditions.

The designs and fits are also similar. The most notable differences between the two jackets are that the Peak Shell is a little more durable, whilst the Torrent Flier is marginally more breathable.

After almost a year of usage, I have only recently begun to notice a slight diminishing of the DWR finish in both jackets.

Click here for an informative article from REI.com regarding the ins and outs of DWR maintenance.

Conclusion

The Montbell Peak Shell ticks all of my Rain Jacket boxes. Lightweight, pit zips, semi-athletic cut, durable, adjustability in the hood, quick drying and a good DWR.

In addition, retailing at $175 I think it’s good value for money in a rainwear market in which many products are either overpriced or don’t quite live up to the marketing hype.

In a word………..recommended.

Disclaimer: The author, Cam Honan (thehikinglife.com), was provided the Montbell Peak Shell free of charge in exchange for feedback from the field. He was under no obligation to write a review.

Monserrate Police

The Peak Shell, hold-ups & Colombian Police | Click here for the full story of an eventful first day in Bogota.

 


Comments

Review: Montbell Peak Shell Rain Jacket — 4 Comments

  1. Based on your review, I suspect that Montbell has changed fabric from what was used in my ten year old Peak Shell. I no longer use it for hiking but have kept it in my closet as a loaner. Other than through the pit zips, it did not and does not breath at all. In fact, I recently took it out for the first time in a couple of years to wear in the rain during my daily exercise walk and was reminded how poorly it ventilates versus my Marmot Essence or my GoLite Phantom GTX Paclite jackets that I normally wear. My Peak Shell is extremely durable. Whatever they used back then has held up amazingly well since the jacket still does not show virtually any signs of wet through.

    Thanks for your review. I love many Montbell items that I have purchased over the years. Their quality for the price IMO is exceptional.

    • Hi Gerry,

      Thanks for the message. I can’t speak to the old version of the Peak Shell, but as you say, it sounds like they have made a fabric change.

      As I mention in the article, I think the current model has a good balance of DWR, durability, fit, weight and, yes, breathability (Note: though not as breathable as their Gore-Tex Torrent Flier model).

      I couldn’t agree more with your comment in regards to Montbell products being great value for money.

      Cheers,

      Cam

  2. I am so excited to finally find a review for this jacket. Thanks so much. I have been tossing up between this jacket and the patagonia m10 for an ultralight 3 layer hardshell. the 15 denier fabric worries me a little, but I have heard good things about the m10. How is the long term durability looking? how is the wind resistance? would the hood fit a climbing helmet? how would it hold up in alpine or winter use? the price and features of this jacket look way better than the m10, but lack the long term reputation so far because it is a relatively new product.

    thanks!

    • Hey Ryan,

      After about a year of use in a wide variety of conditions (listed in the article) the Peak Shell is standing up well on the durability front. Wind resistance is also good. I haven’t worn it with a climbing helmet, but as I mention in the review, it’s two-way adjustable and is plenty roomy for my big noggin, so I imagine it would be helmet compatible.

      As for the comparison with the Patagonia M10, I can’t personally say having never tried the latter jacket. That being said, I’ve read mostly positive reviews about it, and the guys at OutdoorGearLab rate it highly:

      http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Hardshell-Jacket-Reviews/Patagonia-M10

      Just looking at the specs, the weights of the two jackets seem almost identical, however, as you allude to the price of the Peak Shell is significantly less than the M10 (less than half).

      Cheers,

      Cam

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