Montane Fireball Nano Hooded Jacket Review - ''I love the fact there’s no insulation in the arms, I don’t like gilets so the fabric-only sleeves on the Fireball Nano are perfect''

Posted by Mark Richardson on Jul 31, 2023

Daytime insulation is tricky when you’re Backpacking, especially if you’re moving through a mountainous region where you could be slogging up a steep incline one minute then traversing a windy ridge the next. I find the ideal insulation is ‘not very much’, but you do need something to keep the wind chill at bay.

As far as  Montane’s Fireball Nano is concerned it seems pretty much perfect for this type of application. I took mine on a week’s backpacking and Munro-bagging in Scotland where the weather was mainly good but inevitably windy on some days with the occasional light shower on others.

I pulled it on first thing in the morning as I struck camp and pretty much kept wearing it on a lot of the days, it’s extremely breathable which means its still comfortable even when you’re overheating on an uphill stretch therefore you’ll still be wearing it when you hit the ridge and the wind!

It coped with a short light shower but you need a waterproof shell for most situations, certainly if the rain is going to be sustained for any length of time.

The stretch in the fabric and insulation make it a great fit although I went up a size compared to other brands which I often do for  Montane because they tend to be small fitting. I love the fact there’s no insulation in the arms, I don’t like gilets so the fabric-only sleeves on the Fireball Nano are perfect, giving protection against wind and light showers without insulation that I don’t need.

There’s no insulation in the hood either, though I don’t have strong feelings as to whether this is the right thing, although it saves further weight of course.

The overall weight of the jacket means that if it’s a hot, sunny and calm day carrying it in your pack is not a burden and its minimal packed size doesn’t take much space. It packs neatly into one of its pockets.

The hem is adjustable with shockcord and a cordlock, the cuffs are simply finished with an elasticated banding, all with a very high standard of finishing. The hood too is pretty simple, it just fits round the face, but its effective.

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to continue wearing this, or when it will no longer be warm enough, I’m planning another trip to Scotland in September and will be taking it then – I guess it depends on the weather after that.

Of course, you need something extra for evenings around camp, unless it’s the height of summer, combining this with an ultralight down garment sounds like the perfect option. On my trip I didn’t need the extra down jacket but I carried it just in case.

The  Fireball Nano would also be the perfect garment for hut trekking in Europe, very lightweight and just what you need for evenings chatting to your fellow hikers.

Mark Richardson

Mark was the founder of Ultralight Outdoor Gear back in 2006 and has completed long distance backpacking routes in some of the remotest parts of the world. His favourite hikes have been Torres del Paine (full circuit), the John Muir trail and the Markha Valley trail (Ladakh, India). Although semi-retired Mark has not lost any enthusiasm for minimalist backpacking and is tackling Scotland’s Munros choosing multi-day backpacking routes over the more usual guide book excursions.

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