The Montbell Tachyon Parka does a marvelous job at keeping me warm in cold, windy and wet conditions. Weighing just 2.6 oz in a size XXL (Japanese clothing sizes run small), the Tachyon wind shirt is the size of an apple and easy to stow in a jacket or pack pocket for fast access during the day. It is so lightweight and so functional that I’ve added it to my permanent 3 season backpacking list.
This is an about-face for me. I used to own a wind shirt a few years ago, but I decided to remove it from my pack because I thought I could get by with just a hard shell rain parka. Back then, I don’t think I realized how flexible a wind shirt is. It’s great when worn over a base and/or thermal layer, but it also complements other heavier rain shells or insulated jackets when layered together with them.
For example on my latest big trip, I wore the Tachyon:
- during the day in windy conditions, over a light fleece and base layer to stay warm and prevent heat loss through convection
- at night in camp, over my insulating Montbell Thermawrap jacket to prevent heat loss and stay warmer
- in heavy rain, under my rain parka to prevent DWR wet-out from spreading dampness down into my thermal layers.
Here are a few more notes on each of the jacket’s features
- The rear hood adjustment is great for those of us with smaller heads. Just scrunch up some hood fabric under the velcro strap and the capacity of hood shrinks down to a smaller size. You can also use this to raise the hood bill if it’s flopping down in front of your eyes.
- The wire brim is short enough that it needs to be augmented with a ball cap if you have glasses or want a little bit more protection from drizzle and light rain when wearing the Tachyon.
- The 7 denier nylon shell is really thin but I haven’t had any problems with it snagging or tearing. The surface of the nylon is quite slippery, which probably helps to keep it from catching on anything.
- Although the Tachyon has a DWR coating, I’ve only used it in drizzle not heavy rain. I think you still need to have a heavier rain parka, if only to provide a thicker layer of insulation in heavier precipitation.
- The elasticized cuffs on the sleeves and the draw cord hem are great for keeping the wind out and the jacket on. When you get warm, you can still easily pull the sleeves up your arms to vent more heat at your wrist joints.
- A size XXL weighs a meager 2.6 oz. It’s easy to justify adding to your gear list.
- The 7.5 inch zip is adequate for venting heat, but I wish it was just a bit longer for more flexibility.
- Stuff sack: I lost the stuff sack the second time I used the wind shirt. Now, I just keep it scrunched up in the rear mesh pocket of my backpack for fast access when I need it.
Comparable Wind Shirts and Shells
|Make / Model||Weight||Hood||Zipper||Price|
|Arc'Teryx Incendo Hoodie||4.6 oz||Yes||Full||$139|
|Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell||1.6 oz||Yes||Full||$129|
|Black Diamond Deploy Wind Shell||1.7 oz||Np||2/3||$159|
|Marmot Air Lite||3.7 oz||Yes||Full||$100|
|Montbell Ex Light Wind Jacket||1.7 oz||No||Full||$89|
|Monbell Tachyon Parka||2.6 oz||Yes||Full||$99|
|Montane Featherlite Smock||4.0 oz||No||1/3||$100|
|Outdoor Research Tantrum II||4.7 oz||Yes||Full||$109|
|Patagonia Houdini||3.7 oz||Yes||Full||$99|
|Rab Vital Windshell||4.4 oz||No||Full||$89|
For the weight and price, the Montbell Tachyon Parka is an excellent value and I highly recommend getting one if you hike in windy conditions. I plan on using mine extensively this spring and into the summer in the high peaks of the White Mountains which are known for their fierce winds. Size up. The Tachyon runs very small.
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