By Jason B.
Montane is a UK company with a pretty spectacular history of creating cutting edge equipment to support expeditions in harsh environments. Their mission statement is “Montane engineers innovative, lightweight, breathable clothing and equipment for endurance sports and activities in extreme environments.” They even sponsor a couple of ultra-endurance events: the Montane Lakeland 100 and the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra.
Montane describes the Viper Hoodie as a “Thermally efficient lightweight hooded POLARTEC® fleece jacket with stretch.” My description for the Viper Hoodie is that it is a soft, comfortable fleece the easily layers over base layers and looks good on the mountain or cruising around town. The jacket retails for $115.
The Viper Hoodie looks and fits like a traditional hoody, but is filled with high tech features. The POLARTEC® Thermal Pro® is a fast drying fleece with high stretch to improve mobility. It has well placed front hand pockets and an interior zipper pocket in the left hand warmer pocket. The hood is soft and fits easily under a ski or bike helmet.
My initial impression of the Montane Viper Hoodie is a positive one. I received an extra large hoody and I would say that it fits true to size. It is neither baggy or tight. I can easily wear baselayers underneath it and slip on a hardshell when I need wind, rain or snow protection. The hoody is comfortable to wear and really soft.
When reviewing jackets I like to look for the following characteristics. First is comfort. Do I want to wear the jacket? Does it keep me warm or cool depending on the situation? The second characteristic is durability. How does the jacket hold up to daily wear and abuse? If I wear the jacket while backpacking or with a running vest will it show wear in the shoulders? Do any of the seams unravel? My final category is functionality. What temperatures is the jacket best for? What can I hold in the pockets?
First Update on the Montane Viper Hoodie January 17, 2019
I have worn the Montane Viper Hoodie almost constantly for the last month even though I have only worn it for about 30 miles of traditional hiking. I wore it during cool morning walks with my dog before work, on a frigid overnight camping trip to a local farm in Mississippi with the Youth Group from church, and on an overnight backpacking trip to the Black Creek Wilderness in Mississippi. Temperatures ranged from the upper 50s to the upper 30s with no significant precipitation.
My big three criteria for mid layer jackets like the Montane Viper Hoodie are comfort, durability and functionality. I start with comfort because that is the most important to me. It makes reviewing items so much easier if I “want” to wear it. Well, the Viper Hoodie is so comfortable that I don’t want to take it off. The inner fleece lining is soft and feels great against my skin. The fabric has just enough stretch that it moves with me and does not hinder my movement in any way. Even the hood is comfortable. It fits nicely over ball caps and stays in place, and the light elastic binding is just enough to keep the hood up against the wind when the jacket is fully zipped.
The durability of the Montane Viper Hoodie has been excellent. I wore it backpacking in the Black Creek Wilderness with a 30 pound overnight pack, and there are no wear marks anywhere. I have also worn it with daypacks and regular backpacks with no issues. The elastic in the cuffs and the hem still perform and look new. The zipper operates smoothly with no issues. Definitely an A+ for durability.
My final criteria is functionality. What activities can I use the Montane Viper Hoodie for? The hoody definitely multitasks. I love it for everyday casual wear; it is so comfortable, stretchy, and also very breathable. It provides a decent bit of layering warmth, but I can feel cold wind through the hoody when I wear it as a stand alone outer layer. This makes the hoody work well for high output activities like trail running and backpacking. It is thin enough that it can be used under a rain jacket or puffy if needed. It is a true multipurpose jacket.
Final Update: Montane Viper Hoodie April 17, 2019
I have continued to use the Montane Viper Hoody over the past few months. In addition to everyday casual wear, I wore it hiking and camping in Cheaha State Park in north Alabama; for a week resort skiing and during Après activities while at Northstar Resort in Lake Tahoe, California; and for morning and evening walks with the dog on the Mississippi River levee near my house. The weather at Cheaha State Park started out foggy, damp and windy and then just windy and cool once the front passed through. The weather at Tahoe was in the upper 20s to upper 30s with daily snow showers, except for my third day there where it snowed hard wet flakes all day. New Orleans weather has been all over the place with windy, cool days in the 40s and 50s to hot, humid days in the 80s.
As I have said before my big three characteristics are comfort, durability and functionality. Comfort remains amazing. I have a lot of fleeces to choose from and the Montane Viper Hoody is one of my favorites because of how comfortable it is. The fabric is soft and there is just enough stretch to hug my body without feeling constricting.
The durability has been superior as well. The fleece is thin, I can hold it up to a light, or even my laptop screen as I type this, and I can easily see the light through the fabric. Even though the fabric is thin, it has performed well with no wear spots anywhere on the hoodie. I expected there to be wear on the cuffs and the hem of the hoody and I am happily surprised to find those areas looking like new. Overall, I am very pleased with the durability of the Montane Viper Hoody.
My final criteria is functionality. This fleece is great. It is breathable enough for hiking and backpacking in cool weather without getting overheated; it looks great while grabbing Après s’mores at the fire pit with my daughter after a day of skiing; and is comfortable enough to wear while watching basketball on the couch. It is thin enough to layer under a hard shell but has enough give to wear over a base layer. It is thin and highly breathable, so I would not want it to be my outer layer in cold and damp situations, but that is really the only area where I would want a beefier fleece.
Thanks to 4alloutdoors.org and Montane for providing the Viper Hoodie for this review.