I have a rather long history of writing about wind shirts and have been a huge advocate of them over the years – even in times when big name hikers were saying they have no place in a hiker’s backpack – yet through it all, when I hit the trail, be it for a long hike, a day hike, trail running, or just a speed walk through my neighborhood, a wind jacket is something that goes with me. Really, why not. They are stupid light, pack down crazy small, and perform the job which they are designed to do.
The wind jacket that has been going along with me, for almost a year as of the time of this article (May 2016), has been the ZPacks ‘Ventum‘ Wind Shell Jacket. On my calibrated scale the wind jacket from ZPacks is an amazing 54 grams (1.9 ounces) and that is with a hood and a full zipper!
Introduced to the mass public at the ISPO 2015/16, the Inov-8 ‘Race Ultra Shell HZ’ instantly become a ‘must have’ piece of gear for a whole lot of folks around the world. Initially, and still to some degree, the ability to acquire this shell was/is rather difficult, both in Europe and here in the USA.
One of my readers, who lives in Alaska, was able to acquired one from a store in Europe. After using and not finding it to work out for him, he contacted me and asked if I would like to have it, to which I said yes and a week or so later it showed up at my house — so many thanks to him!
Before I talk about how this shell performs, I think it is important to really address what this shell was designed for. More so than many other pieces of gear I have used over the years this shell has proven itself to me, and others that have reviewed it, to have a rather narrow POU (Purpose of Use) and in many ways, the POU that Inov0-8 seems to have designed this shell for is not where it seems to be performing all that well at. But that is far from saying it does not excel at other POU’s, or in different climates, because it surely does.
I received word yesterday from the North American Operations of Montbell that I have been accepted as a sponsor of Montbell. This is a very exciting new sponsorship for me. Montbell is one of the leading companies in ultralight hiking gear and to be accepted by them is truly an honor and I want to extend a huge thank you to those involved in this decision at Montbell.
I have never made it any secrete that I have a special place in my hiking heart for Montbell. I have done extensive testing and publication on their gear over the last few years and their gear has continued to stand up to all that I have demanded of it.
One of the most popular articles I have written has been on the Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants – a truly amazing piece of gear that I have worn for over two thousands miles of hiking. Dozens and dozens of hikers have read my article on these pants and bought them and sent me an email saying thanks, and I have even come across a few hikers on youtube that have mentioned my article when talking about them buying these wind pants. I can honestly say that I have never encountered any other pair of pants I would prefer to be out hiking with… be it sunny and hot, raining like crazy, or even in the snow. These pants have been with me everywhere.
Just before the start of the 2012/2013 winter season I purchased the Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka. It has been one of the best parkas I have ever purchased. I acquired mine just before their Mirage Parka came out, so I look forward to giving it a go over the 2013 hiking season. Those I trust the most have been telling me the Mirage is a dream come true jacket for them.
And of course my long time readers know all to well my long standing love with the Tachyon Wind Jacket. It was the wind jacket that introduced me and a lot of other hikers I know to the fact that wind jackets have a serious place in a UL/SUL/XUL hikers backpack. Their new 2013 version has hit the scales at an insane sub 50 gram mark.
When talking with other hikers I have often said that Montbell is one of those rare companies that exist that have given me the means to reach the weight levels that I have over the last few years. As a primarily SUL hiker I have used a lot of gear over the last few years and there are very few pieces of gear that have made it from one season to the next season — and not because I am hard on my gear, far from it, but rather because so much of the gear made today by companies claiming to make SUL gear, have simply not been able to design, develop, test, and bring to market gear that actually meets the needs of my style of hiking. I can truly count the companies that I consider to be top end companies for SUL hiking gear on one hand. Montbell is among them.
To be granted the opportunity to be a sponsor of Montbell is a huge honor for me. I am going to keep using their gear that I have already proven to be solid, test their new gear to see how it holds up, and I will continue to invest the time to write articles where I share my honest thoughts about the gear I use from Montbell. I have never bought a piece of gear from Montbell where after using it I went “Hmm, I wish I had not bought that“. That alone pretty much says it all.
Again, to those of you at Montbell, thank you very much and I look forward to developing a further relationship with Montbell over the years ahead. Continue to strive to make the gear that you make!