Review: Montane VIA Trail Series Clothing and Packs 2021
Written By: SportsShoes
For more than 25 years, Montane has been engineering innovative, lightweight clothing and equipment for fast-pace activities in extreme environments.
The Montane VIA Trail Series has seen a design refresh and colour updates across the full range, including new high-performance next-to-skin layers and updated men’s and women’s fast and light shorts. We take a look at this latest range of clothing and packs, featuring kit reviews from our experienced Trail Running Ambassador Ben Mounsey*.
Here are his top picks for SS21;
* Ben is 6ft and has a 30-inch waist. He wore medium size Montane clothing for testing.
MONTANE VIA TRAIL SERIES CLOTHING
1. MONTANE DRAGON TWIN SKIN SHORTS
Photo credit: Montane
The Montane Dragon Twin Skin Shorts feature a close fitting CARVICO under short with a lightweight, loose overshort. The technical feature set is designed for trail and endurance running alike.
Ben says: The first thing to mention about this pair of shorts is just how comfortable they are to wear, both casually and for exercise. I particularly love the fit and feel, especially the high waistband which has some stretch in the material and can be tied at the front to ensure a personalised fit. At the back of this waistband there is also a zipped pocket which can comfortably and securely store a smartphone or other small essential items e.g. keys, money etc.
These shorts feel extremely lightweight and are perfectly suited for fast and light activities. Both the inner and outer sections of the twin-skin design are made from soft and stretchy materials, which feel amazing to wear. I tested a size medium and the shorts are a generous fit around my waist and thighs. Personally, I would opt for a size small if you are a similar build but, like me, prefer a more athletic fit.
2. MONTANE DRAGON ZIP T-SHIRT
Photo credit: Montane
Through high-performance fabric, the Montane Dragon Zip T-Shirt, acts as a second skin for high tempo training sessions, and endurance events using fast wicking Apex-Lite for superior moisture management. The fabric dries fast and stays odour free for longer, thanks to the POLYGIENE® treatment.
Ben says: In a size medium, this T-shirt is the perfect fit and is extremely lightweight and comfortable to wear. Ideal for fast and light activities, I find it super-breathable because of the thin, fast-wicking material. It also sits really well underneath a race vest without riding up during exercise, mainly because of its athletic shape and fit.
I love the colour and design of this base layer. Plus, the low collar design and ¼ zip mean that it allows for increased breathability and ventilation, making it the ideal choice for active use in warm conditions. The tailored collar also helps to eliminate neck chafing.
3. MONTANE MINIMUS STRETCH ULTRA JACKET
Photo credit: Montane
Designed for high output trail running in wet conditions. The minimalist design utilises PERTEX® SHIELD with stretch, which offers significantly reduced weight and increased breathability whilst delivering durably waterproof, windproof protection.
Ben says: When it comes to outdoor jackets, Montane always guarantees quality and the Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket is no exception. With a high 20,000HH waterproof rating, complete with taped seams, it will comfortably pass any race kit check and is suitable for both training and racing.
Like all apparel in the VIA Trail series range, this jacket feels incredibly soft to touch and is extremely comfortable to wear. Additional features include two large pockets on either side of the jacket which can comfortably store all kinds of essential items. Importantly, these pockets are also positioned clear of a race vest or backpack to allow easy access when wearing both together. I particularly like the hood (complete with stiffened front peak) which can be easily adjusted by a small drawcord on either side to allow for a really comfortable and personalised fit. There is also a thin panel of super-soft microfleece material which sits directly against your neck when fully zipped to prevent chafing and discomfort. Towards the centre of the chest, there is a press-stud zipper closure system, which keeps the jacket close to the body when the zip is fully open and allows for increased ventilation. It also has shaped, partially elasticated cuffs for a close fit around wrists or gloves.
Using super-breathable fabrics, the Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket is lightweight and packable with added stretch, making it the perfect choice for all types of running and fast-paced outdoor adventures.
MONTANE VIA TRAIL SERIES PACKS
Built on thousands of kilometres of experience and in-depth athlete feedback, the Montane VIA Trail Series Pack range has been redeveloped and bolstered. The range has a refreshing colour palette which now includes the new Gecko Ultra V+ which blurs the lines between clothing and packs.
1. MONTANE GECKO VP 5+
Photo credit: Montane
Made for runners by runners, the Gecko VP 5+ builds on 100,000’s of kilometres of experience. An anatomically driven body-hugging fit, that’s as secure as a Gecko, with increased accessible storage and POLYGIENE® treatment, means you wear rather than carry your kit, when moving fast on trails and in the mountains.
The Gecko VP 5+ comes in three different sizes based on chest measurements:
Small: 76 - 92cm / 30 -36in;
Medium: 88.5 - 102cm / 35 - 40in; and
Large: 99.5-114.5cm / 39-45in
Ben says: I can confidently say that the Montane Gecko VP 5+ is one of the best running packs I’ve ever tested and I would highly recommend this product to all trail runners.
At the front of the pack, there are various loops on the front sleeves for which the two chest straps can be attached, thus allowing for a really personalised fit. The waistband is also fully adjustable and works on a Velcro belt. In terms of storage, there are two large pockets on each sleeve, custom made to hold soft flasks, with zipped compartments on both sides which can securely store essential items like a mobile phone or other small devices. Below here, at either side of the pack are two additional open pockets for extra storage – handy for carrying food and gels.
On the reverse of the pack the main compartment is split into two separate sections. At the top, there is an open pocket to store items that you may want to access more easily. Below this is a similar sized zipped section designed to store kit more securely. The major benefit of this design is a more even distribution of weight and also you don’t have to empty the entire contents to find something at the bottom of the pack.
The inside of the pack is made from 3D air mesh, which helps transfer and wick moisture away from your body. The outer material features a water-resistant coating, perfect for use in light rain but for heavy showers I would still keep clothing and devices in a dry bag to ensure full protection against the elements.
Versatility and comfort are the two stand-out features of the Gecko VP 5+, as this is a pack perfectly suited to a wide range of outdoor adventures, from short activities to longer days on the trail.
2. MONTANE GECKO ULTRA V+
Photo credit: Montane
Some will call it a vest top, others a pack. Montane believes it is the perfect fusion between the two. Combining clothing and pack expertise, the Gecko Ultra Vest fits close like a garment but performs like a pack, providing storage for essentials when racing or training hard.
Ben says: This is a race vest like no other and truly unique in design. Made from a super-lightweight and breathable material, the Ultra V+ is different to all other race vests, because it actually fits like a vest and has to be pulled over your head to be worn. Despite the fact it covers more of the body and appears to be more restrictive than a traditional running pack, it is unbelievably breathable and feels just like a second skin, working and moving with your body rather than against it. In hot conditions I would likely wear this as a single layer without a clothing base layer underneath.
In terms of adjustment and fit, there is only a singular ¼ zip at the very front which can be opened slightly when the vest is packed full of kit and therefore becomes much tighter.
Because of its minimal design, this ultra-lightweight vest has no storage at the back because you would literally have to take it off to access any items you were carrying. Instead, all of the pockets are located at the front and the sides of the vest and it’s quite remarkable just how much kit you can fit into such small spaces. Of course, it’s essential that you carefully plan and pack your clothing and provisions, because this is a product specifically built for moving at speed.
Like other Montane running packs this vest has a symmetrical design, with two larger pockets at the front of the vest for carrying soft flasks, with two smaller open pockets above and an additional two below. The largest pockets are located at the sides of the vest towards the rear and are perfect for carrying extra lightweight kit e.g. a Featherlite jacket or other super-minimal clothing.
Montane has really succeeded in pushing the boundaries with this innovative new product, by taking ultra-lightweight race kit to the next level. The Gecko Ultra V+ is the perfect choice for any athlete who wants to travel fast and light.