Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket Review

Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket Review

The Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket is a 2-layer Gore-Tex Infinium rain shell that’s loaded with features but still exceptionally lightweight and affordable. Weighing just 7.8 oz in a men’s XL (6.9 oz in a size medium), it’s a great seam-taped jacket for 3+ season weather with a three-way adjustable hood, front brim, velcro wrist-cuffs, a water-resistant front zipper, and two hipbelt compatible zippered chest pockets. Those chest pockets are a pretty rare thing on rain jackets designed for warmer weather use, but they are extremely valuable if you like to treat your rain jacket pockets as an extension of your packing system.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 6.9 (Men’s M) – Women’s sizes available
  • Weight Tested: 7.8 oz Men’s XL
  • Type: 2-layer, waterproof/breathable
  • Membrane: Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper
  • Outer Fabric: 20D Nylon Ripstop with DWR finish
  • Helmet Compatible: Yes
  • Hydrostatic Head: 30,000 mm
  • MVTR: 43,000 g/ m²/ 24hrs

The Montbell Rain Trekker is a lightweight but fully-featured seam-taped rain jacket. I’ve been using it since this spring for rain and for wind protection in cooler weather, usually layered over a fleece midlayer. While the Rain Trekker is billed as a waterproof/breathable jacket, I haven’t been blown away by its ability to vent water vapor. It’s adequate as far as these things go. I certainly accumulate perspiration when wearing it, but if you have low expectations about waterproof/breathable fabrics, you’ll never be disappointed.

The neck adjustment cords are buried in the neck so you can tighten them while wearing gloves
The neck adjustment cords are buried in the neck so you can tighten them while wearing gloves.

The main reason to get a waterproof/breathable jacket instead of a silpoly or silnylon one boils down to the fit, features, and seam taping which are usually far superior for hiking in mountainous terrain. If you know how to manage wet-out with midlayers, so it doesn’t chill you, or you only use a waterproof/breathable jacket as a hardshell in winter when the precipitation is solid, then a waterproof/breathable jacket makes sense to wear.

Besides its low weight, the features on this jacket that really rock my boat are the hood and its three-way adjustability, the velcro wrist cuffs, the seam-taped construction, and the exterior fabric which is quiet to wear and doesn’t have a shiny surface that you find on some of Montbell’s other rain jackets like the Versalite. If the Rain Trekker had pit zips, it’d be an even more desirable jacket.

The velcro tab lets you position the front brim, while the neck elastic lets you control the hood volume.
The velcro tab lets you position the front brim, while the neck elastic lets you control the hood volume.

The Hood

Good hoods are hard to find on rain jackets. This one is exceptional because it can be adjusted in three ways.

  1. The size of the face opening can be adjusted to block wind from entering around your face. This is done with elastic cords which Montbell tunnels through the upper chest so that they can be adjusted while wearing gloves. They use the same system on other jackets and it’s brilliant.
  2. There is a velcro tab in the back than can be used to raise or lower the front brim. The brim is not bendable but does prevent the front of the hood from flopping down over the eyes.
  3. A rear cordlock lets you adjust the hood volume to help reduce flapping in the wind.

While the Rain Trekker hood is helmet compatible, these adjustments also let you tailor it easily for non-helmet use. I have a small hat size and I don’t have any problem shrinking the hood to a more formfitting size.

The hood has a front brim so you do not need to wear a billed cap to prevent it from flopping down over your eyes.
The hood has a front brim so you do not need to wear a billed cap to prevent it from flopping down over your eyes. I hate billed caps, so this is a big plus for me. 

Hipbelt Compatible Pockets

The Rain Trekker has two chest pockets that can be easily accessed while wearing a backpack. I like keeping hats and gloves in these pockets so they’re easy to put on or take off when I’m hiking. But they’re also large enough to hold a folded map, compass, phone, or snacks.

The front pockets are positioned above the hip belt and completely accessible when a backpack is worn.
The front pockets are positioned above the hip belt and are completely accessible when a backpack is worn.

Most rain jackets don’t have chest pockets like these, because they’re actually not designed for hikers who wear hip belts. I like these pockets because I can access or put away frequently used items that you really can’t easily put into backpack shoulder strap or hip belt pockets. Both of these pockets are quite large and also have water-resistant zippers with zipper garages on top to prevent water streaming down your chest from leaking in.

The wrists cuffs are half elastic and half velcro.
The wrist cuffs are half elastic and half velcro. (Guess this jacket needs a wash.)

Wrist Cuffs

The jacket also comes with wrist cuffs, which are half elastic and half velcro, so you prevent wind and water from leaking up the arms or wrap the sleeve around glove/mitten gauntlets. I’ve also found them easy to use when I pull the jacket sleeves up to vent my wrists since this is a good way to regulate body heat.

Recommendation

The Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket is a very lightweight 2-layer Gore-Tex Infinium rain jacket that’s good for 3+ season use. I like it because it is so lightweight, but still quite “technical”, with a highly adjustable hood and hipbelt-compatible pockets that complement my style of hiking. I rate it as a 3+ season jacket because I have found it a little too cool to wear in winter and prefer a thicker and warmer hard shell for winter use.

If you’re wondering how this jacket compares to the Montbell Versalite Rain Jacket (link to review) which I also recommend, they’re actually quite similar, except that the Versalite has a shiny exterior fabric and long pit zips, which are desirable for venting body heat so you perspire less. That said, they’re both superb rain jackets and really are best-in-class.

Disclosure: Montbell donated a jacket for this review.

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