The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Montane Litespeed H2O – First Look

Following from my earlier reviews of the Vango EOS 350 tent, the Hi-Tec Blaze Ti Stove and the Petzl Tikkina head torch, Go Outdoors got in touch again and asked whether we would like to review an item from their range of waterproof jackets.

More precisely, they asked if Mick would like to review one of their men’s waterproof jackets, and having surveyed the range that fell within the allocated budget Mick opted for a Montane Litespeed H2O, which I had to agree looked like an interesting jacket.

IMG_1657a IMG_1658a

Mick, being no stranger to bright yellow Montane jackets didn’t flinch at the colour! It does also come in black.

At a glance the jacket has many similarities with items in Montane’s windproof range – the fabric is very light, and it’s a minimalist jacket with no pockets and with elasticated (rather than velcro-adjusted) cuffs. The difference is that rather than being simply a windproof the Litespeed H2O is a waterproof, complete with taped seams and a hood (albeit a very basic hood).

On-line you’ll find the jacket listed as being waterproof, with no obvious mentions of limitations on that description. On the swing tag it is a little bit more conservative, stating that it is ‘moderately waterproof’. That’s a little confusing, to my mind. Is it waterproof or isn’t it?

The swing tag does also declare it as having a 1300mm hydrostatic head (HH) and gives a high ‘waterproof’ rating on Montane’s own comparative scale – all of which (together with the taped seams) seems to me to point at it being able to withstand quite a lot of rain (you can get tents with lower HH than that), although perhaps not an extended torrential downpour. It also advertises itself as being pretty breathable too.

Given the light weight and lack of features on the jacket, it looks to me to be an ideal jacket for throwing in your pack for the summer months on days when you’re not expecting wall-to-wall rain. At 138g (in a size small, without the 12g stuff-sack), and scrunching down to the size of a grapefruit, you’d hardly notice that it was there. It’s certainly the main use I can see in this household, although it may get some use for running too.

The observation in first trying it on is that it doesn’t seem to be cut quite the same as the Featherlite or the other Montane Windproof that Mick owns (the name of which I can’t remember). Mick fits nicely into my size small Featherlite, but the Litespeed H2O seems a touch smaller and shorter. It still fits him adequately – and as an added bonus it doesn’t swamp me either (that’s not so much a bonus for Mick, as he’ll be fighting me for use of it!).

Even though it only arrived a week ago, it has already been out on a few walks, but so far has only seen about 20 minutes of wear, and I don’t think that 20 minutes of walking around the centre of Birmingham really counts as a good test. Admittedly, it did bead the water really well during those 20 minutes, and I did remain dry, but then my windproof, when newly proofed, would have dealt equally well with those conditions, so it wasn’t really a valid test. I would have been shocked indeed if a £70* garment that’s billed as being waterproof hadn’t been able to cope with its first 20-minute shower. (*I see that Go Outdoors has it on sale at £36.82 this week, albeit with only the size small left in stock.)

Mick will be on a mission to test it properly over the coming weeks and we’ll report further in due course. Of most interest to me is how long the jacket will remain waterproof if worn with a pack (just a daypack; I don’t see this as a backpacking jacket).

If a mininalist (no pockets, no cuff adjustment, basic hood with a cinching cord but not a stiff peak), 138g waterproof doesn’t cut it for you, then Go Outdoors does sell quite a wide range of other waterproofs – right the way from the budget end of the market, through this super-lightweight and up to a reasonable range of Paramo items.



  1. See, Mick looks fine, dandy and even moderately happy in his lary-canary Lite-Speed H2O.

    Mine makes me look like a complete knob.


  2. I only have the windproof version which i do like very much even though when it’s windy it tends to balloon out like the Michelin man.
    I wash mine in Nikwax that seems to give it a slightly more waterproof finish but only in a short shower. I fancy the H20 depending on what you find after some serious testing.
    I don’t understand people who go into the hills with something lightweight but not waterproof all day so it will be good to read your comments.

    I wouldn’t go for that colour though unless i was a runner. I like the grey i have.

  3. BG! - I confess that I did feel a little conspicuous wearing the jacket in the centre of Birmingham!

    Alan - Aside from wanting to find out how durable this jacket will be, I'll be interested to find out how breathable it is, and thus whether it is a viable substitute for a wind-shirt. Just need some suitable conditions to test it out now...

  4. Gayle,
    By any chance, have you managed to give the jacket a testing during the last months lousy weather. We are considering getting one for Sheila's mum but would like an opinion before taking the plunge with this or going for the GoLite. Thanks

  5. Hi Alan, I was just thinking today that I ought to add a little bit of an update to this review.

    We have both used the jacket in the recent wet weather, and have both found the same thing - that our arms got wet and the jacket stuck to our skin in a moderately unpleasant way.

    I'm not considering the testing so far as being conclusive, because on every occasion we've had bare arms underneath the jacket (because although it's been wet it's been quite warm), and neither of us has been able to decide whether that wetness on the arms was sweat or leakage (either way, I suppose that you could argue that the material either isn't waterproof enough or isn't breathable enough).

    I want to test the jacket out in more varied conditions (and particularly with a long-sleeved baselayer) before I draw final conclusions. My current feeling is that the wetness is sweat and that it wouldn't be so noticeable if the fabric was thicker, such that it wouldn't flex and stick to the skin the same way (think of a wet plastic bag sticking to wet skin...).

    On the plus side, the jacket is very comfortable when it's not raining too much, with a very nice feel to it and (obviously) works perfectly well as a wind-proof. I'll report back further when we've used it more in wet weather.

    Not sure whether that's any help.


  6. Hi Gayle,
    Yes very helpful, thanks very much.
    We were considering this jacket for a trip to New Zealand at New Year hopeful of travelling as light as possible with clothing options that would cater for all aspects of weather over the 5 week trip.
    The thing is with NZ is that the weather is quite changeable. Therefore the waterproof i feel she will need sounds like it will have to be slightly more substantial than the H20.
    I am just about to start testing the OMM Cypher smock which i think will be ideal for me but we didn't want to spend that much for Sheila's mum because the usage will be much less.
    We are not looking to spend any more that £70 so i suppose the options are limited. I need to do some searching.
    Any suggestions?

  7. Alan - If I'd been after a sub-£70 waterproof jacket last week then without question I would have gone to Go Outdoors and bought a Berghaus Paclite Extrem, which (last week) they had on sale at £60. I know that some people complain about the breathability of GoreTex Paclite, but my only complaint about that jacket is the lack of a good hood (it's the jacket I wore when we walked LEJOG). Now that's not an overly helpful suggestion as it's no longer on sale - although I see that if it's a size 8 or size 14 that you're after there are some bargain ones on Ebay at the moment.

    (Oh, and as for the comment not appearing: that's because I moderate all comments made on posts that are over 2 weeks old (because I had some spam issues on old posts). The problem is that Blogger doesn't tell me when I've got comments awaiting moderation, so it depends on me happening to spot them in Blogger (which is a bit hit and miss given that I don't visit Blogger with any regularity.)

  8. Thanks Gayle,
    If you wore that jacket on the LEJOG then it speaks for itself if you endorse it.
    I have found a Mountain Hardware Epic jacket for £56 new, that fills the requirements. It weights around 350gr. so i think i will order this one.

    I am surprised that you get spam on old comments. I have only ever had 5 spam comments ever.