Ultralight Rain Jacket
Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on and Jacket
$185 (pull-on)/$205 (jacket), 6 oz. (men’s medium pull-on)
Sizes: men’s XS-XL, women’s US 6-14 (jacket only)
From bone-rattling cold wind on a September dayhike in Glacier National Park and a back-to-back, rim-to-rim dayhikes across the Grand Canyon in October, to wind and rain while scrambling peaks in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, Montane’s Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on keep me dry and warm, thanks to its solid wind protection and good breathability. Certainly one of the lightest and most packable waterproof-breathable shells out there, this pull-on, and the jacket version, are a top choice for trail runners, hikers, climbers, and ultralight backpackers. Here’s why.
Ultralight shells like the Minimus Stretch Ultra—which comes in pull-on and full-zip jacket versions—are marketed primarily to trail runners, but are often a better choice than a heavier, bulkier rain jacket for dayhikers, climbers, and lightweight/ultralight backpackers who don’t expect to encounter heavy rain. I wore it in cool wind and temps at times on back-to-back, rim-to-rim dayhikes (22 and 25 miles) across the Grand Canyon and back in October; a dayhike in strong, cold wind of the eight-mile Scenic Point Trail in Glacier National Park; for several hours, in chilly wind and light rain on parts of a 13-hour, mostly off-trail dayhike of around 20 miles in late August in Idaho’s Sawtooths; and on an October dayhike of The Narrows in Zion National Park, with temps in the 50s and a cool wind at times.
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The shell, made of waterproof-breathable 2.5-layer, 20-denier Pertex Shield fabric with a DWR (durable, water-resistant coating), repelled steady, light rain for a few hours in the Sawtooths and breathed well enough to prevent me from overheating and getting soaked, even when hiking and scrambling steeply uphill off-trail during lulls the wind in the Sawtooths (although the temps were also cool).
The jacket hood has two-point adjustability, and the pull-on hood is not adjustable; still, I found the pull-on hood, which is elasticized in back and front, didn’t blow off in wind, stayed put when I turned my head, and fits smoothly under a climbing helmet. The small, flexible brim keeps light rain off your face, but doesn’t provide the coverage needed for heavy, windblown rain.
While ultralight shells can be susceptible to tears, Montane uses 12-13 stitches per inch in the Minimus Stretch Ultra to enhance durability; the industry average is about eight stitches per inch.
The jacket stuffs into one of the two zippered pockets, which ventilate and are positioned above the height of a pack belt. The pull-on stuffs into its one zippered chest pocket (which does not ventilate), packing down to the size of a large orange. I appreciated its low weight and packability when I mostly carried the pull-on throughout a four-day family backpacking trip in August in Idaho’s Sawtooths; it replaced a rain shell that would have been twice the weight and bulk.
For dayhikers, trail runners, climbers, and ultralight backpackers who need an ultralight, waterproof-breathable shell that cuts wind and keeps you dry through all but perhaps the heaviest rain, the Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Pull-on (available only in men’s sizes) and Jacket (available in men’s and women’s sizes) rise to the top of a very small fields of shells.
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See my review of “The Best Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking Jackets” and all my reviews of ultralight wind shells, ultralight rain jackets, trail-running apparel, hiking apparel, and outdoor apparel at The Big Outside.
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.