Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, 2013 Edition

Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, 2013 Edition
Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, 2013 Edition. One of the best pieces of gear I carry!

Greetings Hikers,

Montbell has had a major hit on their hands with their Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket and the Montbell Tachyon Anorak since they were introduced to the ultralight hiking and running communities. For 2013 they decided to one-up themselves, and boy did they ever!

Three months ago when I was informed I had been selected as a Montbell America sponsored hiker I received one of the brand new 2013 editions of the Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, to replace my aging Montbell Tachyon Anorak that I had a few years of hiking use with.

The 2013 edition of the Tachyon was revealed to us here in America at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 – and what really made a lot of us go “wow!” was the fact that Montbell was indicating a weight of 45.36 grams (1.6 ounces) for a size medium!

Gone, for the Tachyon wind jacket, was any hood and any hem drawcord – In was a new and substantially large mesh armpit, and the use of 7-denier material that is now the hot thing in the SUL/XUL world.

Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket
Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, 2013 Edition — Large at 51.63 grams — a thing of beauty!

Size, Fit, Features:

I am a bit of a larger individual so I ordered up the size large – it weighs in on my calibrated scale at 51.63 grams (2.037 ounces)!!

The fit is superb!

I have long arms so I tend to have to custom order gear with an extra two or three inches of arm length, but the new 2013 Tachyon does not suffer this problem.

It has its own built-in stow pocket so you can easily store it. Love this feature and glad to see more manufacturers adding the little stow pockets to their smaller jackets.

They retained the elastic wrists which is nice.

And it has a full front zipper! Stop and think about that… a windjacket with a full zipper that is 2 ounces! And under two ounces if you can fit into a medium. Amazing… simply amazing. It has a zipper guard at the top of the zipper too.

The jacket also has some rather large pit vents made of mesh. This makes for amazing ventilation to prevent peripheral temperature build-up, but it also tends to cause the jacket to balloon, as can been seen in this photograph that a buddy took after having some lunch one day. There was just a slight breeze and it causes this ballooning effect – it happens quite a bit.

Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket
Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket in its own stow pocket, next to a regular sized Bic lighter.


At this point I have a little over two hundred miles of hiking with the 2013 edition of the Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, and of those 200 miles (322 kilometers) I have used it for somewhere between 60 and 80 miles, so not a whole lot. I have also used it as a daily jacket around my home town.

It is able to repel light rain, heavy mist, and fog, but it quickly soaks out in anything beyond that, which is to be expected – it is a wind jacket, not a rain jacket.

For what it is designed to do — shielding you from all but the strongest of winds — it performs perfectly!

It has gone with me, and has been used, on multiple hiking trips along the ocean where we have strong cold winds, and it handles the job it is there to do.

It has gone with me on multiple hiking trips along rivers where during the early evenings it is nice to have a wind jacket to take off the cool breeze from the river.

It has gone with me on trips through the Redwoods where the under canopy does not see the light of day and tends to be a bit chilly, and I have put it on to help gain a degree or two of increased temperatures, rather than putting on a heavier layer.

I have used it twice in full sun situations where the sun was just beating down on me and I wanted some level of UV protection. While it is not a UV rated jacket, something is better than nothing at times. It does have a tendency to stick to your skin in warmer situations, but lets face it, it is designed to be a wind shirt, not a sun shirt.

Most importantly, it is one of those rare pieces of gear that has a very specific job, is super ultralight weight, and does the job it has been designed to do!

What Others Think:

Thank you,

+John Abela

Author wearing the Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, 2013 Edition
Author wearing the Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, 2013 Edition

In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that as of the day of publication of this article I am a sponsored hiker of Montbell America, Gossamer Gear, Black Rock Gear, Suluk46.

37 thoughts on “Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, 2013 Edition

    1. Awesome to hear Justin!!

      Do you have the same ballooning effect that I mentioned, or is it just something mine is doing because of the way I wear it, or some such thing??

  1. Nice review. I’ve always wanted to buy a wind shirt but wanted/needed it to also replace my 8 oz. long sleeve sun shirt. Sounds like this one wouldn’t do that job. That’s a bummer. I really don’t need wind protection with any frequency, but I need sun and mosquito protection that is lighter than my current option.

    1. Hey Warren, thanks.

      Yeah, this wind jacket is just not going to be able to handle the job of being a sun shirt. It starts sticking to your arms pretty fast if it starts building up heat.

      I recently dropped the big bucks for the Sun Precations, Ultra Athlete Full Zip Shirt (actually, I bought the shirt, pants and a hat, which was a bit over 250 bucks – ouch!!) and I hope to give it a try the rest of the summer. (going to be hard to switch away from my Montbell Dynamo pants that I have been wearing every day for three-odd years, but, all for the sake of gear testing, eh!) I have heard a lot of really good things about this shirt so hopefully the entire will be worth the money. If it proves to be useful and do its job I will for sure be posting an article about it late this year or next summer.

      Not sure if the Sun Precautions offer protection from those bugs-that-shall-not-be-named. The Montbell Tachyon wind jacket I have used twice when “they” were out and about and it seemed to do a good job, but, then again, it could have just been the wind… lol… no idea.

          1. Ah, umm, yeah, no idea… the company does not list weights on their website (shame on them). I am just having to wait until they show up to find out – sigh.

          2. OK. Cool. The wait. Been there a time or two myself. Got some LevaGaiters that just arrived today. Can’t wait to give them a try.

  2. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has used this in thick bush. I’m sticking with my old Houdini for now, the fabric is not clingy like a lot of the cycling/velo wind jackets and I have a degree of confidence in its resistance to ripping. Haven’t been able to get my hands on the new Tachyon in Australia yet.

    1. I would not really think anybody would want to take a 7-denier piece of hiking gear into thick brush. Why would you take the risk? If you are hiking in zones of dense forest or thick underbrush, SUL/XUL hiking gear does not tend to go well with this regions.

  3. John – nice review – My first question is why a full zip – a 1/3 zip would have worked and shaved off another 20/30 grams!
    Secondly, I don’t wish to be rude, but you are wearing a large size – the “balloon” photo shows even more room – is this a standard or fitted style? I doubt if one would be wearing bulk under this – just the hiking top. Your stock photo looks like this is a fitted style? I currently use the old GoLite Wisp.
    Finally, darn you. I am trying not to buy more gear to save for my retirement to allow me to hike full time until I die – at this rate I have to continue to work full time to afford lighter gear so I can keep hiking occasionally until I die :-)

    1. Hello, I just added the photograph at the bottom of the article. It was suppose to be in there when I published it, but guess I messed up something. It should show the “fit” a bit better.

      Regarding 1/3rd zipper… that is something that a lot of us were going “hmmm” about when it was first announced. It would fall in line with the Montbell Tachyon Anorak. I could only wildly guess as to why they used a full length zipper, I have no “insider knowledge” regarding this issue.

  4. I bought mine in Hiroshima and used it on the Shikoku 99 temple walk. Superb piece of kit.
    I also bought the montbell rain pants and they also are out of the top drawer. I think I may get the rain jacket as well. Any thoughts on just using the rain jacket for both wind and rain and not having to have both pieces?
    Dara OhUiginn

  5. I think it is the montbell versalite jacket I will get as I have the pants and they work really well. I tried them out in a downpour here in ottawa to be sure and with my OR goretex jacket and asics GTX runners I was dry as a bone. But the Versalite would save about 250 grams or so. Now to save for a ZPACKS tent and I will be all set.

    1. I have not yet had a chance to give the Montbell Versalite jacket a try. It is a pretty decent weight for a sub $200 rain jacket.

      The 20,000 mm waterproofness rating, and a 15,000g/m2/24hours breathability is a bit below todays standard for rain jackets, but keep in mind, again, it is a sub $200 rain jacket, and most of the ones with much higher mm & g/m2 ratings are almost twice as expensive.

      Are their lighter ones out there? Yes. Are there more breathable ones out there? Yes. But for a value-based jacket, the Verslite provides a pretty decent performance-to-price ratio for the budget minded hiker!

  6. How would you compare using the versalite with the zpacks cuben rain jacket? Although the zpacks cuben is very very expensive it seems to be superb and very light. Perhaps it depends much on where one is hiking. Here in Canada it is not so rainy so just the versalite would be fine but when I hike in Ireland it can rain cats and dogs for hours so the better the protection is needed.

    1. Hey Dara,

      Sorry for the long delay in responding to this. I did not want to get into the answer of this question until I had published my thoughts on WPB/CF/eVENT – and I could not do that until after the Summer Outdoor Retail event.

      I personally do not believe the ZPacks WPBCF/eVENT Rain Jacket to be “very very expensive” – see my comments in the article.

      My feeling tends to be that if a person finds a 200 rain jacket to be expensive, they should probably just stick with dryducks or the like, as $200 is FAR from an in-expensive rain jackets, as some of them out there are $600 dollars or more.

      The price point of the Versalite places it within the same category as the OR Helium II.

      Interesting both the Montbell Versalite and the OR Helium II are 20,000mm / 20,000 g/m2/24hrs, both are 2.5-layer fabrics, both are in the 6 ounce range, and both are right at $150 bucks.

      All of those things make it very clear that you realistically cannot compare the ZPacks WPB/CF/eVENT rain jacket with either the Montbell Versalite or the OR Helium 2.

      The ZPacks WPB/CF/eVENT rain jacket is a three layer garment, with double the MVTR (g/m2/24hr) and is one-third less weight of the other two jackets.

      So, to be fair to the Montbell Versalite and the ZPacks WPBCF/eVENT Rain Jacket, and yet to attempt to answer your question…

      Sorry, but I just do not believe that it would be fair to either of those garments to put them in the same category and attempt to compare one to the other.

      1. Thanks John. I agree with your thoughts now. It is clearly not apples to apples. I love my ArcBlast Zpacks pack and the liners and bear bags. They work superbly and could not be compared to others easily.

        Perhaps the thing that makes one think twice is the fashion side. The cuben is eminently functional of course. The Montbell is prettier from a fashion viewpoint.

        My next is a duomid tent and perhaps also the rain jacket from Joe and company.

        Thanks again for the note on the materials. Great to read always.


  7. John – Hiking GC in 3 weeks – Want to buy this when in USA but need to order now for delivery to hotel – what is the fit like? Trim or standard. I am between M and L – 6ft, trim, 33 waist – if trim I would go L it a bit on the “floaty” side, M. What do you think.
    I think this link may work to give you an idea of my build. Cheers Rob

    1. Hey Rob, awesome to hear you are flying over here to hike the GC!! How special and awesome.

      The Tachyon is a pretty trim fit… I would almost tend to think the medium would be good for you. Only worry with the medium (which I have never seen) would be the length… not sure if the torso height would be long enough for you… but again, I have no idea what the torso length of the medium is.

      I went with the large because I am a bit fat around the middle and to wear over base layers, and the large is a good fit for me.

  8. I bought mine in the Montbell store in Hiroshima. Remember the sizing in Japan may be a little different. I had to buy larger than I would normally. It is a piece of gear I never leave at home now.

    The Montbell website for America says it is for Canada too but I suggest Canadians use the Japan English website if you want normal (metric) measures. Montbell does not know that Canada is a different country than the U.S. and is metric so buy with lots of caution. Their support email response is non existent so I gave up on that for any help after a few tries.

    Probably easier to buy regular gear from MEC but the Montbell Tachyon is something special and worth the effort to try to buy it. Other than that I love their gear and their quality.

  9. John, I have the Tachyon jacket and carry it when trail running to throw on quickly to prevent cooling down during water stops for the dog. But for hiking I just luv-luv-luv the Dynamo hooded wind jacket and pants combo — absolutely superb wind stoppers, but they still breathe quite well and can even stand up to a pretty decent drizzle. They are quickly becoming my most used clothing items.

    I have used the Tachyon quite a bit, but find that for me it gets clammy pretty quickly when exercising… However, I am thinking about trying out the Tachy hooded anorak and some sort of super-light VBL pants to keep the winter down sleeping bag dry. What do you think of this?


    1. Hey Bob,

      I have never used the Dynamo jacket so totally unable to comment on it. The Dynamo wind pants are obviously a whole other story.

      The Tachyon can get a bit clammy if it is next-to-skin, but the trick to most (all?) wind jackets are that they are used on top of an initial base layer. The theory being if you don’t need a long sleeve base layer on than you probably don’t need a wind jacket.

      The Montbell Dynamo wind pants can handle a bit of rain but they do wet out fairly fast – but they are not designed for rain/snow, just wind protection – but that has rarely mattered to me… I much prefer hiking in the rain and just do not care if my legs are wet – your legs are not core-body and thus matter very little if they are wet (the exception being *very* cold wind AND rain.).

      VBL pants… I am the wrong guy to ask about that as I have very little hiking experience in such cold temperatures that require VBL. In the world of hiking an VBL this article by Skurka is probably the best out there. I have used VBL in other outdoor activites but never hiking so I not my place to comment on this issue.

      As for Tachyon vs Anarak vs Hood. All just a personal choice. I like full zippered tops for better thermoregulation (see my core-body article) and if conditions warrant a hood I’m just going to put on my ZPacks rain jacket.

      Look forward to hearing back from you on what you decide regarding the VBL pants.

      1. Thanks, John!

        Yes, next to the skin can be really clammy, but mostly I have been using it with some older (as in 15-20 years!, lol!) EMS Techwick polyester zip-turtles, and the single layer does indeed really extend its useful time range. But once I get crankin’ it turns into a hothouse pretty quickly. Of course, that’s just a testament to its effectiveness, and unzipping it extends its time range a bit more. Winter alpine used to be my almost-exclusive hiking activity (I was deeply into cycling, road and MTB, in the other seasons), hence the interest in VBL applications. Thanks for the Skurka link – very useful in that regard.

        I have REALLY been researching lightweight rain jackets lately and it is one of the toughest decisions when it comes to outdoor gear. Lotsa “wars” on BPL about this, with people swearing by low-end stuff like Dri Ducks and all the hyperexpensive, latest-tech dazzlewear. I ordered a Dri Ducks jacket/pants combo on Amazon because that’s a relatively cheap experiment, mainly because I am saving up some pennies for a Zpacks Zero to be used in really warm weather when I emulate your SUL gear list. I will probably cave in and get the Zpacks jacket if the Driducks doesn’t work out, but I am really easy on my gear and maybe it will last. I’m sure you remember the first-generation Marmot Precip, and even that fragile stuff held up pretty well for me.

        But for anyone sitting on the fence about the Tachyon, it is extremely useful to have a jacket that you can literally wad up in your fist, and makes you warm *right now!* with minimal layering. I run trails with a Nathan Vapor Wrap and it literallly disappears into even the smallest pocket with room left over for a Clif bar!


  10. Am interested in the Tachyon, and wondering how breathable it is? I tend to perspire a lot, so this is important for me. I am down to this and the Patagonia Houdini, which has a reputation for breathability, though some have said that it’s not as good as it used to be.

    1. I have used the Montbell Tachyon and it is superb as a wind jacket. Recently though I am more inlicned to use my Zpacks cuben jacket for wind and/or rain with the pit zips open. I love both. I have no experience with the Patagonia. I think having pit zips is a good idea if you sweat a lot as nothing is breathable enough really for that problem.

    2. Hello SierraCanon.

      I do not really see either the Montbell Tachyon or the Patagonia Houdini as being labeled “breathable” garments.

      A wind jacket has only two roles in life… (1) to prevent wind from reaching your skin and thus losing core body heat (see my article) and (2) to provide a micro-enviorment to keep warm air in when the cold air outside is attempt to suck the warmth from you.

      So, the whole premise of a wind jacket venting out warm air just goes against everything I believe about using a wind jacket as a facet of a multi-layering garment system.

      Personally, I would select the Montbell Tachyon over the Patagonia, as have a whole lot of other hikers I respect. I rarely see the Houdini listed on gear lists of folks that tend to be pushing the limits or out there doing big miles.

      1. Several reviews of the Houdini rate it as being “very breatheable…” providing good wind resistance, without feeling clammy on the inside when your micro-climate warms up.

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