Ambassador kit review: Pac Plus XT Waterproof Jacket

Montane Ambassador and ultra-running coach Howard Dracup took our latest waterproof jacket for a spin and his verdict is in! Here’s his review of our Pac Plus XT.

When the opportunity arose to test out the new Pac Plus XT waterproof jacket, it was an offer I couldn’t resist! Id heard a lot of great things about the original Pac Plus jacket and was looking forward to see what changes had been made to an already decent jacket.

First impressions
On first impression - it looked the part. Now I know its not about the look, its more about how the jacket performs, but if you can find a jacket that’s highly functional and looks the part, then you're definitely on to a winner. I was impressed with the colour. I chose oxide orange and it was two tone, like an orange, rusty brown colour.

The cut of the jacket was that of an athletic type, it looked tailored and not too baggy. It felt robust, durable and crispy, but extremely light. So the Pac Plus XT can talk the talk but can it walk the walk?

The Pac Plus in action
My first outing with the jacket was in the Langdale Valley. I headed up to Jacks Rake on a little scramble. To begin with it was raining gently, but this got heavier as I got up to Stickle Tarn.

It's quite a steep climb out of the valley up to the tarn and I was very grateful for the new pit zips on the Pac Plus XT. I have quite a fast pace and it doesn’t take long for me to break a sweat, so the pit zips were fully open, so were the adjustable velcro cuffs at the wrist to allow as much hot air as possible to be dumped. The pit zips were easily accessible and had a small amount of cord on the zip so they can be easily found and pulled. 

Handy features
Another great feature I found was the 2 big map/hand pockets, they were mesh lined so by opening these 2 pockets it allowed even more ventilation and helped keep me from overheating too much. I also need to add that the bottom hem of the jacket is elasticated with a cinchable drawcord so this was set to fully open, again allowing more ventilation.

Making my way up the gully it was quite slippy and I caught my elbows on the rock a few times and caught my shoulders once or twice. This wasn’t a problem for the 40 Denier Gore Tex material as it withstood quite a few slips and scuffs on the way up. For how light it felt I was amazed at how tough it was.

I have quite long arms and I was quite impressed with the arm length of the jacket. While reaching for handholds and over reaching, the arms were plenty long and the sleeves didn’t keep riding up my arm.

The hood felt pretty big to begin with, it had plenty of room for a helmet under there if you needed one. I didn’t need one that day so using the 2 cinchable drawcords I kept the wind and rain out of my eyes by adjusting them and I also managed to get rid if the excess material needed to accommodate a helmet. The peak on the hood also has an adjustable stiffened peak which I had pulled low to protect my eyes more.

Easily packable
Upon reaching the top of Jacks Rake and breaking out into the open I was rewarded with a break from the rain. There wasn’t much wind either so I decided to take the jacket off and stow it in my pack. With a couple of short, sharp, shakes, I shook the excess water off and compressed the jacket down to the size of just bigger than my fist. This was really good as it allowed me to stuff the jacket in a stretchy pocket externally on my pack for easy access if it began to rain again.

Overall verdict
I was impressed by the waterproofness of the jacket, my base layer was dry every where apart from a few mildly damp patches were I had obviously been sweating on the way up.

Id probably been out in the rain for about 2 hours in total but it had rained heavily for the last hour and the jacket did an awesome job of keeping the elements out. But if it hadn’t been for the high functionality of the jacket, Id of been much wetter underneath from sweating, but that wasn’t the case because the features did a great job of allowing me to ventilate and dump the heat. The Gore Tex Paclite Plus fabric is also designed to be very breathable so that sweat vapour can easily escape.

So all that combined makes a very packable, very durable, very waterproof and very breathable jacket, making it a good weapon of choice for unexpected adventures.

So, what’s new?
I think the main differences between the Pac Plus and the Pac Plus XT are:

  • Pit Zips: two way YKK Aquaguard pit zippers as opposed to no pit zips.
  • The material: GoreTex Paclite plus fabric with a 40 denier nylon face which is completely recycled with sustainability firmly in mind. As opposed to 30 denier.
  • 3 pockets: There's an extra chest pocket with the XT.
  • Weight: The Pac Plus XT is about 90g heavier, which for me is a great compromise to say you get the qualities and functions of a high performing, 3 season mountain jacket.

Feeling inspired?
Head to our website to discover more about our Pac Plus XT Waterproof Jacket for men, our ultimate jacket for protection against the elements this winter! This jacket is also available for women too. For more options, don't miss our full range of men's waterproof jackets.