Home / Gear Reviews / Clothes and Footwear / Montane Fireball Verso Pull-On Sweater Review

Montane Fireball Verso Pull-On Sweater Review

manufactured by :
Philip Werner
Version:
1
Price:
149.95

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On December 2, 2015
Last modified:October 30, 2016

Summary:

While the Fireball Verso is a very comfortable and stylish pullover for wearing around town, it's not a very versatile hiking garment for layering one the course of an extended winter hike last more than a few hours. I do however think it would be far more suitable for cold weather trail running, where you'd want to avoid carrying an extra wind shell in cold weather.

The Montane Fireball Verso pullover is reversible with a windproof fabric on one side (black) and a breathable one on the other (blue). -1
The Montane Fireball Verso pullover is reversible with a windproof fabric on one side (black) and a breathable one on the other (blue).

The Montane Fireball Verso Pull-On Sweater is a Primaloft-insulated reversible pullover with a windproof Pertex shell on one side and an air permeable fabric that Montane calls Hypervent on the other. This garment eliminates the need to carry an extra wind shirt to wear over a mid-layer for running and hiking in cooler weather since it combines those two functions into the same garment.

Insulation

The Fireball Verso Pull-On is insulated with 40 grams of Primaloft Silver Active, a water-repellant, breathable form of Primaloft, designed to be paired with breathable shell and liner fabrics. It’s also warm and packable, making the 9.8 oz (size XL) Fireball Verso Pull-on far warmer and much more compressible than a 100 weight fleece pullover weighing the same amount.

Montane Fireball Verso Pullover, Hypervent side out
Montane Fireball Verso Pullover, Hypervent side out, climbing a steep slope

In testing the Montane Fireball Verso Sweater as an outer layer, I found that it’s best suited for use in temperatures under 30 degrees fahrenheit. If you’re hiking vigorously while wearing a backpack or climbing above freezing, you’ll start to sweat and drench your base layer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing the black windproof Pertex side out or the blue Hypervent fabric, although the black Pertex side does provide noticeable wind proofing in winds over 20 mph. While there is a half-length two-way zipper on the chest and stretch sleeve cuffs so you can pull up your sleeves to vent heat, they’re not sufficient to dump enough heat to prevent you from perspiring.

Windy Day near treeline wearing the Montane Fireball Verso Pullover
Windy Day near treeline wearing the Montane Fireball Verso Pullover

Layering

Traditional layering doctrine dictates that you pull off or vent layers as you begin to perspire to dump excess body heat and put them on when you stop being active or you get chilled by external  temperatures. The goal is to regulate your activity level and the amount of heat you produce to prevent perspiration from accumulating near your skin where it takes more energy to keep warm.

But the reality is that most people don’t slow down when they’re hiking in cold weather. Instead, hikers wear wicking base layers and mid-layers like polypropylene or wool shirts, and fleece or wool vests, pull overs and jackets that wick perspiration away from their base layer, so the layer next to your skin stays dry and warm.

Chill morning in the Montane Fireball Verso Pullover
Chill morning in the Montane Fireball Verso Pullover

Not a Wicking Midlayer

Despite its light weight, superior packability, and warmth, the Montane Fireball Verso Pull-on Sweater is not a wicking garment. If you perspire heavily while wearing it, the moisture will be trapped in your base layer where it will chill you when you stop moving and generating body heat.

While the Fireball Verso is a very comfortable and stylish pullover for wearing around town, it’s not a very versatile hiking garment for layering over the course of an extended winter hike. Hikers start and stop many times during a cold weather hike to eat, drink, rest, and change clothes and having a wet baselayer makes it difficult to stay warm when you stop or get warm when you start up again.

While there are similarities between trail runners and hikers, cold weather runners maintain a fairly constant level of increased activity without stopping as frequently as hikers, reducing the risk of becoming chilled. If a runner wearing the Montane Fireball Verso were to perspire in cold weather, even heavily, it would be less of an issue because their furnace would stay “stoked”, as long as they kept running and didn’t stop.

Disclosure: Montane provided Philip Werner with a sample Fireball Verso Pull-on Sweater for this review. 

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10 comments

  1. Isn’t it obvious that this garment would fail since it can’t wick? Why would Montane make a garment like this?

    • You never know until you try (I try to stay objective about such things). I wore this garment for 6 weeks worth of hikes and really hoped it would fare better than it did. But it didn’t. Use fleece. That’s still the best mid-layer insulation in my book. It wicks and its warm, and a whole lot less expensive

  2. I’ve decided that pull-on garments are not for me. Every time I remove one, the garments underneath try to come off with it. If I weren’t wearing a bra, the result would be indecent exposure! More to the point, cold drafts hit my midriff (the part of me most vulnerable to cold) when I’m subtracting layers. At least I cool off in a hurry! :-) I’ve decided that it’s worth the extra weight of full-length zippers so I don’t have this problem! If I’m not too overdressed, I can open the full-length zipper to vent without removing my pack or outer layers.

    • Very good point. You’re also reading ahead. I writing next Monday’s post now about advanced layering (thermo-regulartion) techniques. :-)

    • As a Granny-aged hiker, I totally agree. When weather is not too cold, I always use a light base layer, sometimes with a half zip for venting, and then a full-zip fleece for more venting flexibility. For underwear, it’s always a noncotton “exercise” bra and Terramar underpants or Sporthill’s Northwind Unders, which are wicking and relatively windresistant. I have also found that silk is, comparatively, not that warm in the winter, and seems to retain water much more than polypro. I go with the updated Coldpruf for a base layer when it’s cold. Coldpruf Platinum combines 70 % polyester and 30% Merino wool on the outside of this dual layer product, and 100% “CPT Performance Polyester” on the inside. So warm, I am tempted to just wear Coldpruf without a midlayer-usually not a good idea!

  3. Interesting review on an alluring piece of outdoors clothing.

  4. I’m thinking of going from a fleece jacket to a synthetic puffy sweater. Mostly for the packability. Do you think one with a breathable inner and outer fabric would work significantly better than the montane did ? Or would you just stick with fleece ?

    • I picked up one of those thermoball vests on clearance and find it dries quicker than fleece but isn’t as comfortable to hike in. Fleece breaths better where these things are more like leaky wind jackets.

      • Id stick with fleece. The only way to deal with the wicking issue is a wicking base layer and wicking mid layer underneath the Fireball, which defeats the purpose.

  5. I could see this as being a nice layer for throwing on in the evenings but never while hiking. I sweat just thinking about hiking so I like thin wool or poly t with a second layer on top.

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