The Montane Podium is an ultralight rain smock designed for trail running, fastpacking, and ultralight backpacking that’s best worn in warmer summer weather. Weighing 4.1 oz (115 g) in a size large, it’s sized quite snug with no room for a mid-layer underneath. Still, it’s nicely appointed with a well-fitting hood, a shapeable wire brim, a YKK Aquagard front zip for ventilation, and elasticated cuffs and hem.
Specs at a Glance
- Fit: Athletic, as in skin-tight
- Weight: 4.1 oz (115 g) in size large; 4.3 oz (122 g) in size XL
- Gender: Unisex
- Type: 2.5 layer jacket
- Seam-taped: Yes
- Helmet-compatible. No
- Waterproofing: 15,000mm Hydrostatic head
- Breathability: 15,000g/m2/24hrs MVTR)
I was recently asked by a reader “What is the lightest weight rain jacket available?” While I don’t know the definitive answer, my guess is that the Montane Podium is one of the lightest available waterproof jackets available that you can wear for rain protection. While it is not a rain shell that I would recommend for three-season hiking, it’s ideal for use in hot and humid summer conditions when you’ll get the occasional rain shower or thunderstorm because it is so lightweight and so packable.
The Podium is made with a 2.5 layer waterproof/breathable fabric that Montane calls Aqua Pro Lite that is nearly see-thru. It has a 15,000/15,000 waterproof breathability rating which is ok, but not fantastic. While the jacket is seam-taped, the fabric is very thin and should be handled with care. I wouldn’t recommend using it with a heavy backpack because you’ll experience rapid DWR deterioration and abrasion on the shoulders, but trail vests or ultralight packs with sub-15 pound loads should wear much better.
The Podium has a half-length front zip for ventilation with a YKK Aquaguard zipper, a zipper garage at the top to keep it out of your beard, all backed by an interior storm flap. There’s also a snap half-way up the zipper so you keep it fully unzipped and venting, but still hold the sides together to prevent flapping.
The hood is fitted small so it will stay up even though it lacks any adjustments, like neck toggles or a rear volume adjustment. I think it works great, even when its windy. The hood also has a brim and a shapeable wire inside so you can adjust it how you like. The brim has enough coverage to keep rain off your glasses without the need to wear a billed cap. Double plus, that!
Finally, the cuffs are elasticated as is the jacket hem, in keeping with the minimalist vibe. That’s it. There are no pockets, no hem adjusters, no key fobs, no hang loops, or the ability to hang it from a harness.
The fit of the Podium jacket is tight; athletic they call it. I can only wear it comfortably with a baselayer because there’s not a lot of slack, even though I’m wearing the XL. Otherwise the sleeve length is fine and so is the fit of the arms, torso, shoulders, and head with good freedom of movement.
But this isn’t a garment that would be easy to use with a mid-layer fleece. That in my mind limits its utility to hot, summer rainstorms where there’s less of a chance that you’ll be chilled if the jacket wet outs when the DWR wears off or the temperature drops substantially. This is the perfect jacket to carry in your pack for when it’s less likely to rain because it is so lightweight and so compact. I always carry a rain jacket, because you never know when you’ll need it, especially in mountainous terrain.
Personally, I’m willing to carry a few more ounces (and it’s only 2-3 ounces) so I can fit a mid-layer under a rain jacket that I know will keep me warm if the jacket wets out or the temperature drops and it’s still raining. But if you are dead set on trimming every possible ounce of gear weight, the Montane Podium Rain Jacket should work well for you. Montane also makes the Podium Rain Pant which weighs in at 3.5 oz (100g) in a size medium.
Available in the USA from CampSaver.com.
Disclosure: Montane donated a jacket for this review.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
Thanks for the review Philip, always good to see if something somehow lives up to the billing- and it seems like this one does not (unsurprisingly.) I have come full circle on rain gear and until there’s some massive sea-change in material science, I simply don’t believe in waterproof/breathable gear. Or, to clarify- I don’t believe it’s worth taking into the woods. If your rain gear can wet out it’s not worth the weight, as it will fundamentally not do the number one job you’re carrying the weight to accomplish.
I’m pretty settled on taking my Lightheart jacket and umbrella for anything where rain is likely, and just not worrying about breathability. After going whole-hog and getting the quite expensive H5 shakedry, only to find that it was still quite clammy if hiking sufficiently fast I basically resigned myself to mechanical ventilation and 100% waterproof fabrics.
Final thought is total agreement with you on adding weight to make a piece functional- these days gear is at such a high level of performance; compromising that to cut 3 oz. is absurd, especially for gear that potentially keeps you from going hypothermic is foolish in the least, potentially deadly in the worst.
I too am not a fan of rain gear for hiking. Depending on temperature of course, I prefer to get wet and have a full set of dry, warm clothes deep in my pack with a complete rain envelope to go over once I am immobile. This applies mostly to overnighters and multi-day trips. I don’t worry about getting wet on day hikes.
I think it really depends on the locale. I prefer sweating to hypothermia but have been known to dance in the rain and get all wet when the conditions are right.
Thanks for the review Phillip. I personally have been using for a while the Ultimate Direction Ultra Jacket both for trail running and hiking/fast packing. It weighs about 6 oz and provides waterproofing and breathability with 20,000g/m2/24hr moisture vapor transmission rate and 20,000mm water entry pressure. The new version is 30,000/30,000.
I really like the fact that this jacket has glove inserts which in the case of a cold bad weather is perfect to keep the hands fairly dry. I use this jacket year-round as its sizing is comfortable. Having one size about me, I often keep my running hydration vest underneath the jacket in winter, and therefore preventing freezing of the hydration tube. I have had it for a couple years now and have used it regularly, so I’d qualify it as decent durability.
However, like the previous comments, in a warm environment, it’ll get clamy on the inside.
I reviewed the first version of that jacket…it wetted out on the first hike I took with it. It was awful. Never bothered to retest it. But the attached glove thingies were cool.