The grey area between soft shell and fleece is spanned by the Montane Sabretooth, which is described as a ‘highly technical soft shell’ jacket as it is more wind- and water-resistant than other fleece mid layers. But most importantly it does not have a membrane so it is far more breathable than most soft shells.
The Montane Sabretooth is a fully featured jacket that has something for everyone. If environmental credentials are important, the jacket is made from 87 per cent recycled fleece. This fabric is no slouch either as it is more windproof than most, making it ideal for windier conditions. Then there are the four pockets on the chest that can all be accessed while wearing a rucksack and comprise of two for the hands and two Napoleon designs. There is a hood too, which is neat enough to fit under a helmet or waterproof jacket hood, and has a volume adjuster too. The cuffs are Velcro-adjustable for extra venting control, and a hem drawcord completes the spec.
On the hill
At 696g the Montane Sabretooth was the heaviest jacket here and instantly my least favourite for that reason. Of course this is only a problem when stashing it in your pack. Get it on and the windproofness is a real bonus, as I did not have to resort so readily to donning a waterproof to keep the wind out. All those pockets are useful, but for me just two are enough and having four is unnecessary in my view. Fit, comfort and freedom of movement were ideal thanks to the stretch fabric and I’m sure it will resist scrapes with rocks better than some other items featured here. The Velcro cuffs are a little bulky, and I have found that basic stretch cuffs are generally all that is required. The hood is very useful, though, particularly as it has a degree of windproofness – but I wasn’t sure the volume adjuster was needed. Overall I just felt this jacket had more features than it really needed, and these add to the weight and the price.
In the lab
The medium level of insulation of the Montane Sabretooth’s fabric is boosted by the extremely low levels of air permeability, which means this is more windproof than other fleeces. So it will feel warmer in the wind, when not worn under a windproof layer such as a waterproof.
Material Polartec WindPro Stretch with Hardface (87% recycled polyester)
Weight 696g (size L)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 60
Stockist details – tel. (01670) 522 300; www.montane.co.uk
Verdict: The Montane Sabretooth Jacket uses stretch fabric with medium level of insulation but high level of windproofness; two large chest pockets; two Napoleon pockets; hood; thumb loops; full-length zip. But others allow more airflow, which may assist condensation control when worn under a waterproof; others are much lower in price.
Overall it offers superb performance, but I suspect many hill-walkers would prefer less performance, less weight and a lower price.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2009