Montane know a thing or two about lightweight. Arguably, they are one of the first companies truly to push the boundaries of going light to the mountains with single layer clothing. For over 18-years, Montane have developed and tweaked ideas and recently they have moved into trail and mountain running. It was a natural progression. Involvement on the Lakeland 100 and 50-mile races has progressed to sponsorship of The Spine and the Yukon Arctic Ultra amongst others. Involvement in these races and the development of a trail running team is an invaluable process for a brand that are looking to push boundaries and we as consumers benefit from this explorative work. Let’s face it the Minimus Jacket and Pants have become almost essential items for anyone requiring light, functional fully waterproof outer layers for demanding sports. So, I was excited to see Montane’s new packs in late 2013 and even happier to get hold of samples to test in 2014.
In summary, Montane have developed 3 new run packs and 1 waist belt. The packs are as follows:
and as the name would suggest each have a capacity of 5, 10 and 20 liters. The waist best, Bite 1, is a stretch trail running belt that holds one bottle and has a small waterproof pocket for essential items.
The packs have many of the same features and for the purpose of a review I have the Jaws 10, which sits nicely in the middle of the range and ultimately, if you were only going to purchase 1-pack for many running scenarios, this pack would offer the most options excluding any OMM type of event.
Montane say, ‘The Jaws 10 is the world’s most weather resistant ultra distance trail running pack. Designed for mountain trails in wet or changeable conditions, it uses RAPTOR Hydroseal waterproof fabric and fully taped seams to help protect kit from the elements. Through its stretch body fit, the new MONTANE® Freelight Chassis provides an even weight balance whilst trail running and keeps the weight away from the lower back allowing for nimble agility. With a super lightweight 10 liter storage capacity, two specially adapted MONTANE® water bottles and a bladder compartment, the Jaws 10 is perfect for ultra distance race events or long trail days.’
On first look, the Jaws 10 conforms to many of the ‘new’ packs on the market. It has a ‘vest’-fitting fitting scenario that fits and hugs the body like a piece of clothing. We could argue all day about which company first invented this system and to be honest, I don’t know than answer. For many though, Salomon rightly or wrongly get the recognition and I am not going to argue, The S-Lab vest was a key moment that changed how run packs are designed. Montane are following the trend but with a difference.
At first glance, you notice the bottles on the shoulder straps and then you take a second look and contemplate the fastening system. They look like they are held by 2-elastic bungees. They are but the bottle has a specially developed clip (not dissimilar to a pen) that hooks into a specially reinforced pocket on the shoulder straps. This system is actually quite ingenious and really is thinking out of the box.
Below the left hand bottle is a small open-ended stretch mesh pocket for small essentials that are required while running. On the opposite side is a larger mesh pocket added on top of a zipper pocket. The zipper pocket would be ideal for valuable items such as phone, gps, money or small camera. Above these pockets is a series of elasticated loops that would hold a bladder feed tube if this was your preferred drink method.
A whistle is attached to the front of the pack on a small cord and the pack is fastened with an adjustable chest stretch that hooks onto reinforced loops. Lower down the pack a large/ wide adjustable stretch Velcro holds the pack close to ones body.
On the rear the pack splits into 3.
The zip on the left allows access to the bladder pocket (bladder not supplied) which would offer additional storage should you wish to just use bottles.
The right zip is sealed and taped and offers a large waterproof pocket.
On the face of the pack is a zipped mesh pocket for smaller items.
On the lower section of the pack is an elasticated adjustable cord for attaching poles and the pack has an external draw cord should you wish to compress the pack. On the right hand side is a hole to allow the bladder pipe to exit and run around the pack, under the arm to the front of the pack.
On the side are two large stretch mesh panels that allow the pack to conform to your body and adjust with movement.
The pack in use
The Jaws 10 comes in 2-sizes*: S/M and M/L. I was literally the borderline measurement and received a M/L from Montane.
*For our SS15 season, Montane have introduced new chest sizes for the Jaws 10 and Fang 5 – they both now come in S/M and M/L.. Chest measurements of the wearer respectively are: 76-97 cm (S/M) and 97-112 cm (M/L).
The pack didn’t feel too large but I was adjusting to the tightest fitting. So, it would be interesting to try the S/M and see if I noticed any difference in fit. On the body, the Jaws 10 fits snuggly just as all vest products should. Under the arms I didn’t feel too compressed and the lightweight and stretchy mesh in this area allowed the pack to adjust and conform to my body movement. I can’t help but think that Montane missed a trick in this area! The stretch panels under the arms are large and may well have provided another storage option by adding an open top mesh pocket on each side. It would have been perfect for bars, gels, hat, gloves and so on.
Adjusting the pack to the body is done via the sternum strap, it can be moved up and down.
An elasticated belt that sits just below the rib cage provides the main adjustment. It’s interesting to see a brand using this method as most manufacturers have now moved away from this. Adjustment was easy and secure and the elastic does allow for fine tune adjustment and expansion while wearing. As stated, the Jaws 10 fits like clothing, however, the added pressure this elasticated belt provides may not be to everyone’s liking?
The key USP of this pack are the bottles and the way they fasten. It’s a little like putting a pen in your shirt pocket… the specially designed bottles have a clip that slips into a reinforced pocket on each shoulder strap and the bottle is then held in place with a top and bottom bungee cord.
In use, the bottles never came loose which I have to say was a surprise! The design really is quite clever and moving bottles and then replacing them on the go is a breeze. Again, much easier than I expected!
However, for me the bottles have far too much bounce when running. Not only do they move up and down but left to right. With each bottle full I felt a little like one of the ladies from Baywatch (heavy chested) running along the beach and wearing no bra! I did get used to the bounce over repeated runs, however, for me it’s not something I could tolerate. I must stress here that I personally have never been a fan of bottles on shoulder straps, particularly when they are allowed to move around. The recent invention of soft flasks and mesh pockets have addressed this issue and eradicated bounce. In my opinion, it’s a far more preferable way to hold liquid in this area of the body. I can’t speak for the ladies, but I don’t see how this pack could be comfortable for the female anatomy, especially when one considers the placement of the bottles in relation to a ladies chest? (We will come back to you on this with a female viewpoint)
The zippered pocket below the right bottle is ideal for a valuable item such as phone, gps, money or iPod and has room for several items.
The mesh pocket attached here is great for gels, bars or similar but it ‘s not the ‘Tardis’ so you will be restricted.
On the opposite side is another mesh pocket, however, this is smaller than the right hand side and only really for small items such as salt tabs, shot blocks or similar.
I preferred the feel of the pack with a bladder and the rooting system works well bringing the feed pipe out of the lower right hand side of the rear pack and rooting it under the arm while securing it in elastic loops. You can then place the feed nozzle at your preferred heights for feeding hassle free. Of course, you can use a bladder with bottles that would potentially provide you with 3-4lts of liquid storage, a real plus in some self-sufficient events. But, if you don’t use the bottles you are left with two wasted spaces on the shoulder straps and elastic bungee hanging loose!
The waterproof compartment on the rear will fit ‘mandatory kit’ for most events and I include UTMB or Lakeland 100 if you pack smartly. The main issue is that the pocket is just an open pocket with no compartments, so, fill it up and off you go. Should you need something it will be a case of rummaging around and finding it or potentially lifting everything out one-by-one until you find what you need. It’s a pay off! One compartment will be less weight than several compartments, so, you pay your money and make your choice. The waterproof compartment and zip is a real plus. I poured water over it, submerged the pack and used it in rain and it did not leak. The zips also have a ‘garage’ to add security and sealing, The outer rear mesh pocket is ideal for small things and it does expand, The bladder pocket adds additional storage should you need it. For most people, if you are planning doing a one-day race or a 100-mile event, this pack will provide a great lightweight option. In addition the Jaws 10 has bungee cords for poles and a compression bungee to tighten the pack should it be required.
The Jaws 10 really fits well and is extremely comfortable (for men) providing you like the adjustable elastic chassis. It’s a light breathable product that functions extremely well on the trail when racing or training. The bottles are an ingenious idea, work well but bounce around too much for me! Storage is good (but not great) and the addition of a waterproof pocket is a unique addition but may very well over engineer something that can be solved with a plastic bag? Using a bladder is easy and very comfortable and the separate pocket allows for on the go filling and replacing. Storage pockets are adequate but are less capacious than like for like products. The Jaws 10 has many great features and pluses but I firmly believe that a few tweaks would make what is a good pack a much better pack. For example, the addition of ‘dump’ pockets under the arms would increase storage for the essentials we all need when running long events.
- Waterproof compartment
- Will take bladder and bottles
- Bladder compartment can be used for storage
- Will hold poles
- Unique bottles that are easy to use
- Two size options
- Bottles have too much bounce
- On the go storage is minimal
- Montane only bottles so I suggest you purchase spares
- Not convinced how practical for ladies?
Tech Specs provided by Montane
- Main body fabric constructed from super lightweight RAPTOR Hydroseal waterproof fabric that has a PU inner coating and a silicone outer face
- MONTANE® Freelight Chassis constructed from lightweight CONTACT Flyte Mesh that is fast drying and highly breathable
- Fully taped internal seams in the main pack compartment
- Bound seams on the chassis give stronger, neater edges
- YKK semi-auto zips that lock shut and are rustle free
- All zip openings feature zip garages to help prevent weather ingress
MONTANE® FREELIGHT CHASSIS
- Technically tailored ergonomic MONTANE® Freelight Chassis vest designed for body hugging load carrying comfort during movement over long distances and whilst running
- Front stretch Velcro lower body adjustment enables chassis to grip the body whilst running
- Chassis elastication also allows the user’s rib cage to expand freely for unrestricted breathing during exertion
- Low profile sternum stretch adjustment with adjustable hook and multiple attachment points
- 2 x MONTANE® customized water bottles with unique easy clip to harness for rapid hydration
- Water bottle is anti-roll, curved to fit to chest / torso
- Right hand front zipped storage pocket with stretch mesh
- Lower right and left hand front sleeve pockets with stretch mesh
- Upper left hand chest gear loop on shoulder straps
- Trekking pole attachment point with low profile ‘penny cordlock’ adjustment that is easy to access whilst on the move
- Removable whistle accessory for mountain and race safety
- Two way YKK Aqua Guard® MONTANE® semi-auto main body zip that has been laser cut and bonded into opening
- External pocket with stretch mesh panel
- External drawcord provides rear pack compression and additional storage with low profile ‘penny cordlock’ adjustment
- Hydration bladder pocket behind rear back panel with stretch loops for hydration tube on chassis
Top lightweight hang loop
Black / Blue spark zips / Blue spark trims
Blue spark / Kiwi zips / Kiwi trims
Weight: 281.5g / 9.9oz
Size: S/M and M/L
Fit: Active Mountain
Activities: Fast Alpine / Mountain Walking / Alpine Running / Mountain Marathon / Trail Running
Montane products are available to view HERE
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