My name is Kat Roberts and I love big adventures, covering a lot of ground by moving fast and light in the mountains. When you think of the word Spine it instantly triggers the thought of the Spine Race, one of Montane`s toughest ultra run events. With that in mind I had to get one of these Spine jackets to put it through its paces…. and I knew exactly how I was going to do this.
An adventure on El Hierro
In the far south-west of the Canary Islands, amongst the Atlantic ocean rests a sleepy little island called El Hierro. The Island is home to only around 11,000 people and with most of the inhabitants living away from the coast, it’s an island that comes alive the further up you go in height. With ever changing weather and landscape I had to visit to see it all for myself. El Hierro, like all the other islands in the Canaries, is volcanic and had its last eruption only back in 2012. Myself and Matt (my partner and travel companion) were therefore expecting some pretty exciting volcanic terrain.
I decided I was going to cover the G131, the final section of the E7 route that scales across the Island from the west coast to the furthest point east at over 42km, taking around 1600m of elevation over the first half of the run. Why have I chosen this out of everywhere else I could have gone? Because it is somewhere totally new that I had only discovered a month prior, all the research lured me in… I can tell you now that it was nothing to do with the weather as the climate is totally different to the other islands in February. The only way I would explain it is like the Welsh mountains in spring (where i'm from). Wet, wild and windy - perfect for a Spine waterproof jacket test!
We started out from sea level at 6am, from the lighthouse in Orchilla. I packed my Spine jacket into my Geko VP 5+ thinking (and hoping) I wouldn’t have to wear it for a while. As the sun began to rise, a beautiful rainbow made a short and sweet appearance… shortly followed by a heavy long downpour, out my women's waterproof jacket came and remained on for the rest of the run. Over the course of the 42km we experienced torrential rain, 50mph winds along the tops and low clouds with extremely poor visibility, alongside fluctuating temperatures throughout. Underfoot was a transition from volcanic ash to lush green grass, with the occasional hard pack trail. The climate, along with the terrain on the this island, was just mind-blowing. Every thirty minutes it totally changed underfoot.
With all of this ever-changing weather in mind I was a little bit skeptical as to how the Spine Jacket would fit into this run and whether or not it would be a little bit too much. Especially due to the temperature and weather always changing - would the spine alone be enough? How can you be so sure of your gear when the island you’re exploring doesn’t even have an accurate forecast available anywhere?! The good news is I can confirm it was perfect for this run.
Size and fit
I am 5ft5 and a size 8/10. I wear a size 10 in my Spine jacket, because of the specific mountain running fit, it fits my body nicely, looks slick and feels really flattering and feminine. It has plenty of room underneath for an insulated layer and base layer without restricting movement, this makes it perfect for all year round, especially for UK use.
Lightweight and packable
It’s so lightweight and small it goes totally unnoticed in my pack. Thanks to its lightweight fabric it feels light and soft on the skin, which also optimizes my comfort. It’s highly breathable and I found that throughout my run I didn’t feel like I needed to take it off because I was feeling uncomfortable and I was able to regulate my temperature by just opening the zip. It stayed on most of the day and my body temperature remained comfortable.
Protection from the elements
During the run we encountered some really heavy downpours and strong winds throughout the day and for such a lightweight women's waterproof jacket I am super psyched with how well it holds its own. I felt well and truly protected throughout. For any fast paced activity freedom to move is really important to me. The Spine jacket provides relentless protection from the wind and rain whilst still allowing me to move with freedom.
Along the exposed mountain tops I did need to pop on an extra layer to help maintain my body temperature. My go-to for this run was the fireball jacket. Again another fantastic layer which is super breathable thanks to the way the CLO insulation works, this was a dream duo that allowed me to move along the tops fast and smoothly without feeling bulky. There is enough room under the Spine for this jacket and you don’t feel heavy or like you are moving with extra unnecessary weight. Something again which is always taken into consideration on these fast and light days!
Handy jacket features
This womens waterproof jacket has two large pockets in the front that I used to stash my compass, map and Montane Groove gloves, for ease of access. The mesh lined inner was perfect to allow extra ventilation and dump excess heat, whilst working hard on the uphill, it also allowed me to keep the jacket on whilst running downhill in the rain even though the temperature was increasing.
I had my hood up most of the time and the adjustable, low profile hood with the stiffened peak protected my ears and face from the howling winds and helped to stop the rain getting in my eyes. It also allowed for extra warmth and comfort. The toggle at the back allowed me to fit it to my head correctly so the hood wasn’t flapping around, whilst stopping unwanted wind from getting into the hood. The adjustable elasticated drawstring on the waist allowed me to tighten the fit, I would loosen the spine to help ventilate and then tighten up again when I started to feel my body temperature drop.
All of the features of the spine jacket covered everything I could have needed in a running jacket for my day running in the Canaries.The Spine jacket is versatile, durable, TOUGH, extremely breathable, weatherproof and incredibly lightweight. Not to forget comfortable. After my trip to El Hierro I can easily say that the Spine jacket performs well in adverse weather from drizzly coast to windy torrential mountain top - wherever you are in the world.
The Spine jacket is so versatile that I can see this coming out with me on every mountain raid and despite it being a running jacket I can also see this being equally suitable for any fast paced activities in the mountains. It is definitely a women's waterproof jacket that is made for more!
The Spine waterproof jacket is available for women and men. You can learn more about the Spine Jacket on this dedicated page. For those who need more convincing you can read another Spine jacket review by fellow Montane athlete Simon Roberts.