Chris Townsend is a world-leading authority on outdoor gear. In his weekly column, he assesses new innovations and tests exclusive early samples of new kit. Today he tests out Montane’s Minimus Stretch waterproof jacket

Lightweight waterproof jackets are often minimalist in design as this helps keep the weight down. Despite the name that’s not the case with the Montane Minimus Stretch, which has all the features of a heavier jacket, yet still weighs only 250 grams (Large size). It’s made from 20 denier Pertex Shield+ 2.5 layer fabric which is very breathable as well as soft and comfortable. The fabric is stretchy too. The seams are sealed with a thinner more flexible tape than found on most waterproofs.
The hood is excellent. It has a stiffened wired peak, rear volume adjuster and tethered front drawcords and gives great protection whilst allowing side vision. There are two handwarmer and one chest pocket. Unfortunately the latter isn’t big enough for a map – Montane says it’s designed to hold a GPS or mobile phone without it bouncing. I have used it for this and it does hold my smartphone firmly. I’d still rather it was mapsize though. The lower pockets are big enough for maps but the base of them is cut off by a hipbelt. They’re lined with mesh and so can be used as vents.

Other features are articulated elbows so the jacket can be reasonably close-fitting without restricting movement and arms tailored to prevent the jacket riding up when you stretch. This works well. The cuffs have Velcro tabs and are wide enough to allow some ventilation and there’s a drawcord at the hem. All the zips are YKK AquaGuard ones with an inner flap on the front zip and flaps over the lower pocket zips. The chest pocket has a waterproof lining. All the zips have long pullers.
The specifications are very good then but how does it perform? After a few outings in light rain and drizzle it was put to a real test on a Cairngorms backpacking trip. Waking to heavy, wind-driven rain I put it on in the tent and kept it on all day as I crossed the Cairngorm Plateau. The rain never stopped and I was in wet mist almost all the time. For summer it was pretty cold and I wore a light fleece jacket under the Minimus. At the end of the day I was dry inside the jacket other than for dampness under my pack hipbelt and around my neck – the last I think from walking into the wind and rain. Overall I was impressed.
The Minimus Stretch isn’t a winter waterproof but for three-season use I think it’s excellent, especially for backpacking or any trip where weight matters. It comes in five men’s and five women’s sizes. The test jacket is a rather bright green-yellow colour called Kiwi but it’s also available in dark grey and electric blue in men’s sizes. The women’s is available in grey, dull pink, and pale blue.