What’s in a name? The original Montane Sabretooth soft shell jacket was made from Polartec Windpro until July 2010, but from autumn 2010 there is a new version that uses Polartec Powershield. This new fabric has a membrane, which leads to a lower weight plus an increase in water resistance and wind resistance. What’s not to like?
The old Sabretooth may linger in some shops, so check the swing tag for Polartec Powershield, and note that the new version has red zips. The new version is over 100g lighter than the original. The membrane of the Polartec Powershield fabric is perforated to allow some airflow and hence maximise breathability. That membrane also provides more wind and water resistance, making this better for wetter and windier conditions. Apart from the fabric, the design of the Montane Sabretooth remains the same as last year with two good main pockets, a pair of Napoleon chest pockets and a hood. The body style is reasonably close, although I had a medium rather than my normal large, so it may be looser-fitting than appearances suggest.
On the hill
The Montane Sabretooth was very comfortable, even though in a size medium it was a tad small for me. The inside of the fabric has a brushed face, which made it comfy against exposed skin on the arms for example. The fabric is not as stretchy as some non-membrane products though. However the sleeve design, for example, does mean that there is an excellent degree of freedom of movement. Compared with many jackets the pockets are particularly good; plus the hood has a wired peak and volume adjuster, and it can be rolled down and secured at the collar. You also get Velcro-adjustable cuffs, which come in useful when you start to overheat on a warmer day. This all allowed me to wear this jacket in those squally moist and windy conditions that are so common when it is neither sunny nor properly raining in the Lakeland fells.
In the lab
The Montane Sabretooth offers a good level of insulation at 0.76 TOGs – about the same as a medium-weight fleece. It’s very windproof too, so it feels warmer because of that. This low level of air permeability (just 1.29 cm3/s/cm2) means this is not so good under a waterproof as it reduces airflow and hence breathability.
Fabric Polartec Powershield
Weight 520g (size M)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 50
Stockist details – tel. (01670) 522300; www.montane.co.uk
The Montane Sabretooth boasts superb pockets; great hood; excellent sleeve movement; average warmth; average windproofness; ideal for squally weather in the hills. But it’s not as stretchy or as breathable as some, so not ideal under a waterproof. Overall, it’s an excellent soft shell for wearing in typically mixed mountain weather when it is not raining. It picked up the ‘Best in Test’ accolade.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine September 2010