Montane’s Atomic Rain Pants are lightweight waterproof/breathable rain pants with thigh-high side zippers for easy ventilation and temperature regulation. They’re ideal for spring, autumn, and winter hiking in highly variable temperature conditions when you need rain protection for your legs, but cool temperatures can chill you unless you can vent excess perspiration. Montane makes great rain pants that are cut slim in the legs so they don’t bunch up. I’m also a big fan of the Minimus Rain Pants, which are very similar to these Atomic Pants, but don’t have venting side zippers down the legs.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 8 oz in men’s Large (also available in women’s sizes)
- Waterproof/breathable: Yes
- Hydrostatic head: 10,000 mm
- MVTR: 8,000
- Material: 40d Pertex Shield
- Side Zippers: Thigh-high
The Atomic Pants are two and a half layer Pertex waterproof/breathable rain pants with a DWR coating. They have drawstring waist closure, which goes all the way around the waist, so it won’t pull out like cheap ones that are just sewn in on the sides. The crotch has a high diamond-shaped crotch gusset, which makes the pants good for scrambling and ankle snaps so you can shrink the cuff opening above your shoes.
The side zippers are bi-directional, so you can pull them down to vent your upper thighs or up to vent your ankles and lower legs. You can’t open them up all the way though, because they’re non-separating at the bottom. Regardless, zippers like these make it possible to put on and take off the pants without taking off your shoes, which is always unpleasant and best avoided when the ground is cold and wet.
While the Atomic Pants are roomy inside the legs are not baggy, like many other rain pants. Montane includes a hook and loop calf tab on these pants, just below the knee, that you can use to minimize the interior volume of the legs or hold the sides closed if the zippers are fully open. There are also plastic press studs along the bottom cuff of each leg that can be used to reduce the girth of the ankles and prevent heat loss. While these volume reduction features are great for trail runners, they also help make the pants much quieter if you have to hike in the rain since there’s less swishing fabric to contend with.
The weight of the pants is quite low compared to other rain pants, including those with and without zips. I typically wear mine over my regular hiking pants, but you could also wear them over a pair of running shorts or even boxers if you wanted to save on clothing weight, depending on weather conditions, of course.
The sizing runs about a half-size small on these pants because they’re cut for a slimmer British fit and not a US one. They are available in a wide range of pant lengths, however, so hopefully, you’ll be able to fine-tune the fit for your needs.
Montane’s Atomic Rain Pants are versatile hard shell pants that can be used for rain or wind protection, year round. Weighing just 8 oz per pair, they’re remarkably versatile with thigh-high zippers along the sides of the leg that can be unzipped all the way to the ankles. When it comes to temperature regulation and moisture management, side zippers can’t be beaten. But they’re usually only available on baggy rain pants that weigh nearly twice as much as the Atomic Pants. That’s what is so great about these pants. They’re lightweight but high function at a surprisingly affordable price.
Disclosure: The author received a pair of pants for this review.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.
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