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.
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.
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.
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.
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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