This is a seriously impressive bit of kit and I love it. Its simple, its basic and it works. Marketed at the ultra-lightweight crowd, its ideal for them: its also very suitable for soldiers, both for tactical and adventure training purposes.
Warmer than a 100-weight fleece and very close to a 200-weight fleece, I found it to be perfectly comfortable over an ordinary base layer at around 0oC. This warmth is coupled with much better weatherproofing: it has kept off light drizzle (Ive not been troubled with anything heavier) with ease and has dealt with some quite strong winds effectively. Its also very breathable (I was even able to use it as a running top in below 0oC temperatures) and works when damp (straight out of the washing machine) with the Primaloft insulating material continuing to be effective.
So light it didnt even register on my scales, it packs down very small (I squeezed it into the bottom half of a utility pouch with very little effort). To keep the weight down, there are no pockets and no adjustors at waist or wrist, both of which are elasticated for heat retention. Ventilation is achieved either by using the zip at the neck or by taking it off. Like all Montane products I have used, it is rugged and relatively tough, although if I was using it tactically I would always want a smock over the top.
Size-wise, I trialled the Medium. At 56 tall with a 40 chest, I was very pleased to discover that this fitted me like a glove, albeit showing off my paunch slightly and being maybe an inch too long in the arms. It would be worth trying before you buy or phoning Montane for advice if you are buying on-line. Very comfortable, the Pertex fabric is smooth and comfortable against the skin. There is relatively little stretch in the fabric, so the extra length in the arms came in handy when I was reaching above my head. One small point is that the smock should not be tumble-dried which may create issues for some users in the block.
This smock is brutally simple and is not intended as a fashion item for the pub. It is designed to be used in the field, either on a mountaineers or a soldiers back. Id estimate its best use as being between early spring and late autumn, rather than a fleece or a Softie. Personally, I would use it in winter as one of a number of layers or as an emergency layer.
This top should be available in the autumn of 2011 and Montane have yet to issue a price. As a result, I cant award the 5 out of 5 that I want to as I cant judge the value for money. So, at the moment, Ill give it 4.5 out of 5.
Featherlite Thermo Smock kindly supplied by Montane