I really rate Montane jackets for fell running & mountain walking.
I have a Superfly jacket for long days on the hill where I’m likely to be walking rather than running and my most used piece of running kit is my trusty Litespeed windproof jacket. So I was keen to get my hands on the Minimus Smock, reputed to be one of the lightest, truly waterproof jackets on the market.
My first impression was Wow – that’s light! The kitchen scales showed it to be 144 grammes (for the small) including stuffsack. Take off the weight of the sack and you get 136g. I then weighed my Litespeed which was 145g without sack so the Minimus is actually lighter.
So it’s minimal in weight but what about features?
The material is Pertex Shield, a highly breatheable, lightweight waterproof fabric with micro taped seams. The zips are YKK (if you’re precious about your zip manufacturers!) Aqua Guard with storm flaps.
When I’m leading a run or teaching navigation I need constant access to map & compass so a pocket is a must. The smock has a handy chest pocket that easily swallows a section of map, compass, gels etc. The interior of the pocket is mesh so you can open the zip to vent if things get too warm. It has an elasticated hood, cuffs and hem (which I prefer to a drawcord) and gives a snug fit when worn over a simple long sleeved base layer.
My first chance to try it out was on a group guided run in the Peak District. The weather was cold and foggy with a threat of rain, conditions when I would have normally worn my Litespeed. A few runners commented on the good looks – a distinctive electric blue with orange zips. The day was a stop start affair, frequently pausing to look at the map and so with the chance of getting cold. The Minimus certainly kept out the chill wind and pulling up the hood and running for a few moments made a real difference and I found I quickly warmed up again.
I like the idea of a smock; no faffing around trying to do up the zip on a windy day with cold or gloved hands and also less weight and less to go wrong. The zips do have extenders making gloved use more easy.
A second, more rigorous test came when I was caught out in squally shower with hailstones mixed into the almost horizontal rain. It was great to have a hood to prevent rain going down my neck and the Minimus did a great job of keeping out the weather.
One thing I’ve struggled with in the past is what to use on a windy day with the forecast of rain. The Litespeed is great in wind but is mine has long since lost its DWR coating and so I need a waterproof as well. I have a Kamleika smock which is great but quite a bit bulkier than the windproof. It seems that the Minimus answers the problem – it’s as light and compressible as the Litespeed and waterproof too so could be the “one size fits all” solution. Whilst supporting a recent Bob Graham round I knew I would be on the go for 8 hours or more and that saving weight in my pack was crucial so the Minimus was the obvious choice.
Races run under Fell Runner Association (FRA) rules stipulate that windproof / waterproof clothing must be carried on certain races. Again the dilemma of “what to take?” is a common discussion point between runners on the start line. For me from now on it’s a simple answer “the Minimus” it’s as light as a windproof but it’s also waterproof.
There’s no such thing as a waterproof, breatheable jacket! – if you’re running hard in wet conditions your sweat will condense on the inside to some extent. This is true of the Minimus, but no more so than with my OMM Kamleika smock or a Lowe Alpine top I used previously.
The super light fabric seems that it might not be very durable, but only time and repeated use will tell. As with any waterproof it needs to be looked after; washing with soap and reproofing occasionally with Nikwax TX Direct.
My one gripe is that having used the Litespeed for years I am used to reaching for the pocket zip with my right hand but the Minimus zip closes left to right (as worn) so needs the left hand! I’m sure I can live with that.
So for me it’s a winner; racing, training, guiding runs – from now on I’m going Minimus!