Montane Flux Jacket – Climbing Gear Review

Montane Flux Jacket

Montane Flux Jacket – a well featured piece of synthetic insulation for year round belay duties.

Performance ****

Quality ****

Value for money *****

RRP Jacket £130.00

These days many companies produce what they call a “belay jacket”. Something you can throw on over the top of your other layers on long winter belay stints or when holding your mate’s ropes for hours when he’s dogging his sport project. They’re also great as a bivi back-up and can even be regularly seen posing down the local pub. For UK use the most favorable filling is some sort of synthetic insulation such as Primaloft or similar. This means that even if it gets wet or damp it won’t lose any of it’s insulating capacity.

I’ve tried a lot of synthetic belay jackets over the last few years and have found, like with everything else, that some are better than others. I normally look for certain essential features. These are:

  • helmet compatible, insulated hood
  • adjustable cuffs (makes it easier to get on and off over layers)
  • two big handwarmer pockets
  • two way zipper (means you can pull it down to cover your upper bum and hips but still access your belay loop)
  • mesh internal pockets
  • cut large enough to go over the top of your base, mid and outer layers
  • athletic enough to climb in if need be
So does Montane’s Flux Jacket tick all of these boxes? In short, yes it pretty much does. It has velcro adjustable cuffs, a baffled two way zip, and two big zippered handwarmer pockets one of which doubles as a stuff sack but unfortunately there is no clip loop to allow you to clip it to your harness. It also features two zippered chest pockets though there are no internal mesh pockets which is a shame, as I find this simple feature very useful for stashing spare gloves etc and allowing them to dry. All the zippers feature zip tabs though which mean they can be operated smoothly whilst wearing gloves. All in all storage space is plentiful and getting the jacket on and off is easy.

The Montane Flux Jacket - a cosy synthetic belay parka

The Flux Jacket - perfect for UK cragging too

The hood is also well sized and goes over a helmet. It features a wired visor which holds it’s shape well and a drawcord system which reduces the volume effectively and tailors the fit to your head/helmet but won’t have your eye out in high winds. My only gripe about the hood/neck is that when I put the hood up and zip the jacket all the way up to the neck, the neck feels tight and restrictive so I have ended up unzipping it and leaving my chin exposed to the elements which is not ideal. The chin does feature a soft and comfortable microfibre “beard guard” though which is nice when I do zip it all the way up.
In terms of cut and size I found the Flux jacket to be generally excellent. My test jacket was a size medium which fitted nicely over the top of all of my other layers but didn’t flap about in the wrong places if it actually came to climbing in it. The only thing I’d change was the neck.

So, does the Flux Jacket provide decent cold weather protection? The microlight Pertex outer is windproof and coupled with a DWR finish, repels light moisture well. It dries quickly when damp and is also proving to be quite tough. The layered 60g/40g Primaloft synthetic insulation provides great warmth for it’s weight. I was a little confused regarding the layout of the insulation so I asked Montane to explain things further:

“The arrangement of 60g and 40g is as follows:
· 60g in the back
· 60g in the crown of the hood
· 40g in the sides of the hood

· 60g in the arms
· 40g in the cuff area

· 2 layers of 40g in the chest area, meaning that the front pockets are encased between these layers.”

The idea is that the thicker insulation is sited in key areas where warmth is needed most, such as the core and the lighter insulation is used elsewhere. This works really well and gives a jacket that is warm, pretty light and offers excellent mobility when on the move.

It’s not as warm as say a Patagonia DAS Parka, but then again with the Flux weighing in at 540g for a Medium, the DAS Parka is 250g heavier. Having used the Flux jacket as a belay jacket this winter in both Scotland and on day routes in the Alps I have found it to provide more than enough warmth. It certainly sits happily alongside other synthetic belay jackets of a similar spec such as The North Face Redpoint Optimus or RAB Generator Alpine jacket, providing a good level of warmth to weight. If I was going to be spending nights bivvying in the Alps in winter however, then maybe I’d opt for something warmer (and probably filled with down).

The Montane Flux Jacket - an athletic enough cut to climb in if need be but sized large enough to wear over the top of all of your other layers. Here Kev tests the jacket in Cogne, Italy.

So, in conclusion the Flux Jacket is a well featured, good quality belay jacket ideal for UK winter climbing, Alpine day routes and UK cragging. The length is good, as is the general cut. I like the hood and pocket configuration but would like to see a redesign on the neck as well as the addition of a couple of internal mesh pockets.
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