Reviewed in October, 2017
Rain jackets and I have an interesting relationship. In a perfect world, they would be completely unnecessary, but the reality on the Continental Divide Trail is far from perfect and so I brought along the Montbell Torrent Flier Jacket to protect me from all the water (frozen or otherwise) I expected to be falling from the sky (and hopefully from lightning as well, though I'm less confident of this).
I used this jacket through snow, hail, sleet, rain, and everything in between. I even used it as armor against mosquitoes in Wyoming's Wind River Range (can confirm, mosquitoes cannot bite through this jacket).
Whether or not this jacket remains in my pack forever remains to be seen, but at present, the Montbell Torrent Flier is my go-to rain jacket.
WHAT WE LIKE
[THE STORM-WORTHINESS] Before you get into any other features, gripes, or accolades for a rain jacket, it has to do the one thing you probably bought it to do – keep you dry. This jacket kept me dry. From New Mexico snow to Montana thunderstorms, the Torrent Flier performed exactly as I hoped it would (and its pocket kept my phone dry as well).
[THE WEIGHT] At 8.6 oz / 243 g, this is the lightest Gore-Text rain jacket I have been able to find (if you know of a lighter one, let me know). There are lighter rain jackets out there, but I am usually only wearing my rain jacket if I really need it (aka it's pouring); some of the lighter rain jackets are designed for light to moderate rain, not a downpour. This jacket is still the heaviest piece of gear I carry in my pack (my Montbell Plasma 1000 Down Parka comes in slightly lighter), but it's definitely on the lighter side by rain jacket standards.
[THE MATERIAL] Like I said above, this jacket uses 2.5-layer Gore-Tex PacLite which uses an oleophobic (aka oil-hating) carbon layer. It's 15% lighter than the 3-ply Gore-Tex and packs down much smaller. That being said, it isn't as rugged as the 3-ply, but it's certainly no wimp; I've had no problems with wear on the jacket (even post-CDT). I'm skeptical of companies' propriety waterproof fabrics (at least when I'm making an investment), so it was nice to know what I was getting with the Torrent Flier.
[THE VENTILATION] The thing I hate most about all rain jackets (at least all that I've tried until today) is that if it's above freezing and I'm hiking uphill, I will ultimately end up sweating my ass off. To help with this, the Torrent Flier has two 16 in / 42 cm pit zips. They use the same weather-resistant zippers as the pocket and front pocket and they aren't too difficult to reach with my pack on (note: I can open them one-handed, but I need two hands to close them). However, I found that when I had them all the way open in a downpour I would get a little leakage into the jacket.
Torrent Flier Jacket Men's
Updated 10/03/17 (EST)
Reviewed in October, 2017
Reviewed on Apr. 11, 2016
Bikepacking featured the Torrent Flier Jacket and the Versalite Jacket in a view on their website. Here's what they had to say about the Torrent Flier.
"In my opinion, the Torrent Flier competes with ultralight technical jackets out there, such as the M10 and shells from Arc’teryx and Mountain Hardware. And for an hardshell at this level, the Torrent Flier seems like a really good value. You will be very hard pressed to find a sub 10oz Gore-Tex jacket for a similar price. My biggest complaint would be the lack of hand warmer pockets. But as a true minimalist hardshell, the Torrent Flier is a great choice when low weight and packability is as high a priority as all-weather protection.” – Logan Watts
How to choose the right rain gear
Review Date: August 25th, 2015
This article from Appalachian Trials about choosing the right rain gear features Montbell's Torrent Flier Jacket.
"Anyone who spends time in the outdoors is inevitably going to do so in the rain. Hiking, hunting, fishing or being anywhere outside of Arica Chile will end up dealing with rain. Arica has a rainfall average of .03 in annually. Being wet leads to being cool and eventually cold. Being cold can lead to being dead in some cases of extreme hypothermia. Having the right rain gear can be vital to staying alive. This should help you make sense of all the terms and products out there to help choose what is the best option for you."