To date, the Phase Nano is Montane’s lightest and most breathable Gore-Tex waterproof shell jacket. It's designed for trail running when the weather would rather you didn’t and it’s certainly one of the best options for the job.
The Montane Phase Nano sits quite high up in terms of price, so we expect some serious performance in return. To find out just how seriously it performs, we’ve been using the Montane Phase Nano jacket over much of the winter and spring. Turns out, this piece is impressive enough to earn an LFTO trail running gear of the year award.
There aren’t that many waterproof running jackets that are truly suitable for the sport, largely because breathability isn’t up to scratch. So, we’ve been keeping close tabs on not just how the Phase Nano fits and repels rain, but how well perspiration can escape.
Design and features
Gore-Tex is a label outdoorsy people recognise immediately. And for many, it puts their mind at ease because it’s a very reliable waterproof fabric. But exactly what type of Gore-Tex does the Phase Nano utilise?
It’s called Gore-Tex Active; it’s a 3-layer 13D nylon fabric. GTA offers the same level of waterproofing you expect from Gore-Tex, but with the weight trimmed down.
Montane talks a lot about the Phase Nano being lightweight, which is fair enough. Lightness is definitely desireable. But because of that, you might think it’s as featureless as the Cambridgeshire countryside. Of course, you'd be wrong. Surprisingly, the 250g Phase Nano has a decent collection of features.
These features include two zip pockets; a three-point adjustable hood with a stiffened peak; internal storm flap; and water-resistant YKK zips. Yes, of course you’d expect these things on a hiking waterproof jacket, but not necessarily on a running waterproof jacket.
However, something we certainly do expect from all waterproof jackets (and outdoor clothing in general) is a men’s and women’s version. Sadly, at time of writing, the Phase Nano only comes in a men’s.
The fit is slim and athletic and is best used with one or two slim running base-layers underneath. Impressively, because the length is short and the shoulders are broad, Montane has done a great job allowing freedom of movement.
Is it properly waterproof? Absolutely, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Cutting down the weight of waterproof jackets without compromising their water-repellency has been one of the most notable advances in outdoor gear in recent years.
Is it well made? Yes, but you do have to remember that this is a jacket designed to maximise breathability and lightness. Although the Phase Nano is certainly one of the best lightweight waterproof jacket constructions we’ve come across, it’s still not that tough. No lightweight jacket is.
The 13D nylon fabric isn’t made to take a battering, nor are the zips. To get the most from the Phase Nano, it’s best to treat it like a delicate garment. And only wear it with a small hydration pack, or better yet, no pack at all. That way, it should last you a long time.
Is it breathable enough for running? This is what makes the Phase Nano stand out from most other waterproof running jackets. With most waterproof running jackets we come to the same conclusion. They're generally a lot more breathable than a normal waterproof jacket, but could still be a lot better. The Montane Phase Nano is better.
It’s the best we’ve come across in terms of breathability. You can wear it for longer runs without it becoming very clammy, which is remarkable. Like Asian-Greek fusion cuisine, Montane is onto a winning concept here.
It seems that Montane has prioritised performance over sustainability with the Phase Nano. To be clear, Montane does a better job than most clothing and gear brands on the sustainability front. It’s a Fair Wear Foundation member, offers a repair service for its gear, and Montane has its More Sustainable Choice products.
But the Phase Nano isn’t part of the More Sustainable Choice range. It isn’t PFC-free, for example, nor does it use recycled material. It’s a pity but with careful care, you should still get many years of use from the Phase Nano.
Price and competition
At the time of writing, the RRP is £300. That’s a lot. Period. What you get in return is a fully waterproof, comfortable, and highly breathable running jacket. It’s up to you to decide if the investment is worth it. We suggest that it’ll offer the best return to more serious runners.
Competition includes the Inov-8 Stormshell jacket, which is even lighter, superb in the wet and getting on for half the price. It has a couple of differences, such as using a Pertex waterproof fabric rather than Gore-Tex, and having one pocket rather than two. But it’s certainly a good alternative to consider if the price of the Phase Nano is simply too much for you.
After weeks of use, we are very impressed with the Montane Phase Nano jacket. It’s very expensive, no question about that. But it’s one of very few waterproof jackets that’s genuinely breathable enough for running.
We also like that Montane has still squeezed in some important features. It would be good to see the Phase Nano join the Montane More Sustainable Choice product line-up one day, but at least with care, this is a lightweight jacket that should see you through many rainy runs.
1. Montane Phase Nano
- Genuinely breathable enough for running
- Two pockets
- Ideal for serious trail and mountain runners
- No women's version