Designed for cold winter ascents, the Ice Guide Jacket is at home in the wintry mountains. Montane's warmest synthetic jacket to date, the Ice Guide provides considerable protection, even in the most hostile conditions. Montane's US distributor, Sport-Hansa, sent me one of these synthetic jackets to test out during my ice climbing trip to Bozeman last week.
The Montane Ice Guide jacket is made from a DWR treated Pertex Microlight Stretch outer fabric that is windproof and water resistant. The front of the jacket packs in 210g of Primaloft Eco insulation for extra core warmth, with 170g everywhere else, even the hood. This "zoning" of synthetic insulation makes it a bit easier for you to move around, while still keeping your core warm without looking like a big puffy Michelin Man.
The hood easily slides over your climbing helmet and zips up to envelop your head in a little warm cocoon. The internal fleece face lining feels nice and keeps your lips from freezing on the zipper. The long hood brim extends over your helmet to catch snow from falling on your face and also houses an internal wire that can be adjusted to keep the brim from collapsing in the wind or snow. If you don't want the hood, an internal velcro tab helps you roll it out of the way. This adds a bit of bulk at the back of your neck but at least the hood is not flapping in the wind.
The Ice Guide is technically a men's jacket but as a belay jacket or even warm outer layer, the fit will work for most women. A men's small was the perfect size to throw on over all my other layers as a belay jacket for ice climbing.
As it is a men's jacket, the chest pockets are not the most flattering for the female climber. I can see them coming in handy for mountaineering pursuits where you want quick access to certain gear. However, an internal zipper pocket provides enough storage room for keeping your camera and snacks warm and close at hand.
The Ice Guide uses synthetic fill, so will not pack down quite as tight as down, but will still keep you warm even when it gets damp from either heavy snowfall or water dripping down a climb. We had some bone chilling windy cold days in Bozeman and my core stayed nice and toasty when wearing the Ice Guide Jacket.
The two hand warmer pockets are placed high enough that you can gain access when wearing your backpack. Even though they are insulated, I would love for Montane to add a fleece lining to the pockets. I know the fleece adds weight but it also adds that extra warmth factor for un-gloved hands.
Bottom Line: The Montane Ice Guide Jacket makes a great belay jacket or even extra layer for climbing in cold, potentially wet mountain conditions.
The Montane Ice Guide Jacket retails for $289 and is available now.