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.
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:
- Weight: 9.1 oz (259 grams) – men’s medium.
- 3-layer DRY-TEC™ Technology
- 15-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon
- 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 cuffs – Another 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.
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.
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.
The Peak Shell surprised me. In a good way.
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.
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.