The Montane Featherlite Velo H2O Jacket is, perhaps, a confusing garment. It’s not waterproof, has hardly any features, is paper-thin and needs to be regularly reproofed to maintain what qualities it does have.
This model, using Freeflow H2O fabric, is now a bit hidden on Montane’s website. A Google search will locate it in the ‘shell’ section. Assuming it doesn’t feature in the new season, the closest alternative is probably the (cheaper) Featherlite Velo.
So why buy such a seemingly specialist, minimalist piece of kit? I’ve found it to be perfect for my needs.
The primary purpose of this jacket is for my commute, and I have a particular kind of commute: 10 mins to the station in Manchester, train to London, 20 mins to the office, 20 mins to Liverpool Street, train, 10 mins to my lodgings in Chelmsford. Repeat, with a slight variation, three times a week.
I’ve been riding this routine in all weathers for the last four months and the Featherlite Velo H2O has been an excellent performer.
So just how waterproof is it? The simple answer is, ‘enough’. It has taped seams and the DWR treatment is good, and water beads on the fabric well. Montane recommend you reproof every six months and I’ll follow these guidelines closely rather than the tardy care routine I apply to other items of outdoor gear.
As you might expect, the jacket is windproof and achieves an acceptable balance with breathability. I ride warm, though. A frosty, two-degree sprint to the station here in the north was fine the other morning. Others may find it inadequate.
The jacket performs best over a long-sleeved merino base layer. It’s not so good next to the skin as things can get a little damp if you are working hard. Vents in the back of the jacket help to deal with perspiration around the body, but the arms are most at risk from clamminess as the sleeves fit snugly. The Spartan spec includes reflective trim on the arms and full-length zipper and a draw cord waist.
On the subject of fit, the Montane again works for me. My lanky 6’6” frame fits an extra large perfectly… close without being restrictive. The sleeve length is pretty much perfect on the bike, the drop hem a reassuring butt-coverer.
Three other factors really win out for me with this garment. It dries very quickly, weighs next to nothing (a measly 160g on the kitchen scales), and packs down easily into its mesh stuff sack. It lives in the rear pocket of my Carradice City folder when not in use.
It now accompanies on long days in the saddle on my Audax, but only when I have confidence that the weather will be all about showers rather than heavy downpours. For the latter, particularly on tour, I’d want something more substantial.