In this series, Ben Gray - keen staff runner, is 'Living with Montane Running'. In the first post, he provides his first impressions of the kit...
Hello, I'm Ben, and I'm lucky enough to be doing the 'Living With' project for run brand Montane.
Specialising in trail running, their products are right up my street. As an avid trail runner, I was really excited to be asked to test out the products in my local countryside.
Living on the edge of the South Downs, I can be in the forests or up in the hills minutes from my front door. Montane sent over a good mix of kit; really handy for the UK weather this time of year! It is early days for me with Montane, so I'll run through my early impressions of the kit.
Trail 2Sk Shorts
Big fan of these shorts. The inner liner is really great. They fit well and have a good sized pocket for stashing your front door key. They also cope well in the wet; never becoming soggy, and due to the liner, the outer section never gets stuck to your skin.
They also coped well with the overgrowth. Cutting through overgrown trails normally leads to a few knicks on the shorts, however these have remained solid and undamaged.
All in all, great shorts. Looking forward to these becoming a staple part of my kit through. Early Score: 8/10
View the Montane Trail 2Sk Shorts (AW16) at Wiggle
Sonic Short Sleeve T-Shirt
A decent enough tee, however it doesn't really do anything extraordinary. It does what you'd expect; no more. Then again, maybe that's a good thing?
Just like the shorts, the tee actually retains a good level of comfort when wet, and doesn't get too bogged down and sticky. Not really much more to say here, it's a good quality running top, no more. Early Score 6/10
View the Montane Sonic Short Sleeve T-Shirt (AW16) at Wiggle
VIA Fang 5 Bag
One of my favourite pieces of the new kit. I'm new to running bags / vests, so this was a real surprise.
It fits really well, hugs the body, and offers no movement when running. This was something I was worried might be a problem, but it held very firm.
A decent amount of pockets, and the ability to take a bladder made this bag very relevant to me. On my longer runs it was a revelation to have a bladder available (no more carrying bottles for me!).
Lots of bits available to tinker the fit; I'm particularly fond of the stretch fit straps that really move with your body. It also came with two collapsible water bottles.
So impressed with the bag I've also used this for cycling! Early Score : 9/10
View the Montane VIA Fang 5 at Wiggle
This smock is sold as incredibly compactable and lightweight, whilst retaining a decent 20,000mm hydrostatic head and top level breathability. It does perform very well, however not without a few flaws.
The size and weight are incredible; making it very easy to store in the Fang 5 when I'm heading out into questionable weather, the waterproofing is also good (I remained dry throughout the wet spells!). It was a touch warm inside, but then I've yet to find a waterproof running jacket that has never had this problem. It also has a generous front pocket that is also waterproof; I used this to carry a map and some other bits on a holiday run into the unknown.
Onto the flaws. The biggest one is the elasticated waist. I have no idea why companies keep creating these; all they seem to do is ride up, and sit at a level above the shorts that the water just runs off them. This is exaggerated when running with a bag, they just crumple up under the bag. Maybe it's just my shape, but I'm not the only one to have this problem! The elasticated hood I also found a problem. It just didn't sit right around my forehead. I would strongly recommend wearing a cap under the hood to avoid this problem and keep the rain out your eyes! Early Score 7/10
View the Montane Minimus Smock (AW16) at Wiggle
VIA Bite 1
Not quite as useful as the Fang 5, but still a very handy piece of kit to have. Designed for shorter runs, I took this down to Cornwall to visit the parents.
I used it for a couple of runs along the coastal path, so I could carry a collapsible water bottle, my phone, and a few other bits and pieces.
Comfort wise it fits really well, and due to the elasticated waist strap it doesn't ride about too much (pending weight in the bag!). I actually forgot I was running in it for a while!
A good size pocket for medium runs; however I found the mesh pockets didn't really offer enough security to be used effectively. I ended up losing a bag of dog treats out of them (running with the dog!). Early Score 7/10
Featherlite 7 Jacket
Marketed as a super-light windproof (with a bit of rain protection), I was actually surprised by how effective this jacket was. It packs down to the size of a satsuma, so is a fantastic 'emergency' jacket that you can stuff literally anywhere.
Made from a rip stop fabric, it's also pretty strong; nowhere near as fragile as it feels.
Running along the Cornish coastal paths with their strong winds, this jacket was superb, and really kept the chill off. Then when I headed inland, I could pack it down and stuff it in the Bite 1; knowing it wasn't going to be bulky or add any weight.
One downside I found was that the jacket felt a bit 'staticy' when you unpack it. Not really a big issue, but it was a little annoying at fist.
This is an item that I'm looking forward to using a lot more over summer. A lot more to come on this jacket! Early Score 8/10.
View the Montane Featherlite 7 Jacket (AW16) at Wiggle
With early impressions out the way, I'm really looking forward to getting out more over summer with the Montane kit; to really put it through its paces. From what I've found, its good solid kit that could do with only a few refinements to make it really top level.