Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Light insulation - Montane Fireball Verso 2015

Montane Fireball Verso - packed up
This time last year I wrote a quick blog about the different options in terms of Fast and Light insulation layers, looking at price point, amount and type of insulation and general packability. This was basically to workout which one I wanted to buy. To cut a long story short, last year nothing was purchased, I made do with what I had.

This year saw the introduction of a number of new insulated tops, a lot of which are reversible, following the somewhat trend setting Inov8 Thermoshell. The idea of this is that on one side you have windproof material, on the other is a wind permeable material and sandwiched between them is a layer of thermal insulation. Most often this ends up being one of the permutations of Primaloft. Extras like pockets and wrist cuffs etc are put on and off each jacket to give options across the market, but ultimately they all seem to want to do the same thing.

My choice was ultimately swayed by price, and perhaps the only reason why I chose a Montane Fireball Verso over the Thermoshell, or the Berghaus Vapourlight Hypertherm reversible and the other options out
there was price. I was able to get the Montane for quite a bit less, so I jumped at it, knowing that at some point this year, there are going to be some grim nights in which I'm going to be running, and a layer like this is going to be quite a necessity.
size small - 237g

The question is, just how warm are these jackets - for running in, and as an emergency warm layer, does the whole reversible thing work, and  is there any point in buying one?

First Impression

Well, I got the "shadow grey" Verso- because the Black ones were out of stock. The first thing I thought was... how do I tell which side is windproof, and which is the breathable side? It certainly doesn't have a massive sign telling you that on the material.
Baffles sewn in - the Hypervent side out - breathable fabric to the fore
One side has baffles sewn into it - and a chest pocket, the other side is baffle-free, and has no chest pocket - it also has Pertex Quantum written on the arms. Aha, a clue.

The windproof material is on the side without the baffles, so theoretically, with that side out, it should be a slightly warmer jacket - the heat building up on the inside will be insulated by the primaloft and the wind shouldn't be able to permeate the fabric to whisk all the heat away, making it a lovely warm micro-climate.

Pertex Quantum side out - windproof.
The opposite way around, with the permeable fabric outer-most (hypervent), should still be warm - like wearing a pertex jacket, but with primaloft on the outside. The heat build up should be regulated by the fact that the wind can blow through the primaloft meaning that although you stay warmer, there is still a wind cooling effect.

Although the 2 options here may seem a little odd if you just want a jacket that keeps you warm as you sit down to make a brew on the hill - you have to remember, this is not what this jacket is made for.
Think fast and light.
As far as I can make out, it is for cold days when you need a certain amount of insulation and element protection, but if using it one way out is too warm, or indeed too cold, you can turn it the otherway out and hey presto - a solution without having to carry another layer.

In this Jacket, the Primaloft used is the new Primaloft Silver - which some people believe is basically the new iteration of Primaloft Eco (Primaloft Gold being, apparently the new iteration of Primaloft One), having said that, Primaloft now have a dizzying array of types of insulation, and to muddle your way through them would probably take too much time, and by the time you've worked out which one is best for your use, it'll be summer again. There are indeed various Clo ratings, but to be honest, I'm just going to get out there and see how it feels. 
Mobility in the top


I'm generally a small in most jackets, and the small in the Fireball Verso is a really good, snug fit. I can get it on over a running top, and it would go over a waterproof as well, but it might require a bit of coaxing. Most likely, if it was that cold on a run, I'd stop and put it on under a waterproof. The fit itself is a good reason not to put on too much weight over the winter - or there is no way I'd get the thing on come January.
Long sleeves and thumb loops

Even though I have the small version, the arms are a decent length, and come right down over my hands. The thumbloops are in the right place, both ways out, and do a good job of keeping my hands toasty.
The only pocket
The pocket is a decent size - you can certainly hold more than just a bar in there, though there are no handwarmer pockets - as previously mentioned, this is very much a piece of clothing for moving in, rather than sitting still. If it was going to be used as insulation for sitting around waiting for a kettle to boil, I'd really rather have something with a little more puff to it - or another layer on top. Equally - it could be used as an emergency layer for getting you off the hill when you have to slow down and need a bit more warmth than just a running top, but I reckon you'd certainly want to be kept moving with it on.

Having said all this, I've really only used it a couple of times so far. It really hasn't been cold enough to try it in anger yet, but its getting colder, and I'll be out and about in it as soon as its got to a decent chill. 


  1. Looking forward to your thoughts on the jackets as the nights and mornings get colder, as I am looking for something similar myself but am still not certain that those types of jackets are warm enough...

  2. Dan, I'm in the process of writing up after the first few weeks of owning it... should be out soon.