Chris HuntBASE Editor and Bristol-based adventure writer with a penchant for travel by bike, interesting coastlines and adventures that end in the pub.
The Montane Fireball Lite Hooded is a warm, highly breathable and super stretchy mid-layer designed for versatile multi-season use.
Featherlite™ Air nylon stretch outer and lining, Recycled 40g/m2 Dynamic Eco Insulation, Thermo Grid brushed back stretch fleece side panels
Simple functional design
None that I’ve found
What I’m Looking for
Insulated layers are a core part of any outdoors getup, but in the quest to further refine my of minimising my wardrobe, I’m seeking something which holds maximum versatility. I have a couple of great mid-layer fleece options as well as plenty of battered old down jackets (many of which have long lost their former down loft and warmth) and I’m fond of a hood both in terms of looks, comfort and also functionality.
So I’m after a versatile insulated hoody, that’s easy to wash, easy to combine with other layers and that will account for a range of different movements without feeling restrictive.
Pwoar, now this thing is bright. The vivid blue wouldn’t normally be to my taste, hence the reason my entire wardrobe is compiled from hues of dark green. Although the blue is a staple of men’s outdoor clothing it’s one I’ve largely managed to avoid wearing but actually it’s warmed on me over the past month of use, making a strong contrast to whatever else I’m wearing. The branding is really minimal, just the stamp on the chest as is customary with Montane.
I’m a fairly stocky build so often find that the really technically designed mid-layers are pretty tight. But that’s not the case with the Fireball. It’s got a pretty comfortable causal fit, with a normal feeling length to it, while still feeling plenty functional for active outdoor use.
There’s a nice loft to the synthetic insulation and a clear difference in the panelling which make up the body of the jacket, both which feel incredibly stretchy to the touch – particularly those side panels.
Since getting my hands on it at the beginning of spring, the Fireball Lite has joined me on gentle walks along the river, day-to-day errands around town and short hikes in the Black Mountains of South Wales. And it’s been a great addition.
It’s been a pretty warm spring and a hot start to summer here in the UK so I wouldn’t say I’ve really had chance to test its salt in terms of warmth or how it layers up with additional insulation or a waterproof but it has soon become the go to for an extra layer on a cooler evening.
The main thing that really stands out about this jacket is its all-round versatility.
Who is this jacket for?
If you’re after something for maximum warmth, then as the name would suggest the Fireball Lite is not the option for you. Instead, the jacket’s standard version would be a better option.
Instead, this is a jacket designed for fastpacking adventures, for those who want to move fast and light, using kit with minimal faff and maximum functionality.
I’m looking forward to getting this out in autumn multi-day hikes where the confidence in having an insulated like the Fireball is essential, but when I know I can still afford to keep things pretty light.
Designed for fastpacking adventures, for those who want to move fast and light
What Stands Out
As this is designed as an active layer designed for fast and light movement, overall breathability is key!
One of the main fabrics used in the Fireball Lite is what Montane call FEATHERLITE™ Air, a permeable fabric built to maximise breathability and moisture management.
The body of the jacket is made from two very distinct different fabrics, both of which are pretty stretchy. The sides and underarms however are panels of what Montane call Thermo Grid brushed stretch fleece. These panels in particular are really noticeably flexible with 4-way stretch meaning movement is really unrestricted.
Eco Friendly Insulation
For the body and hood’s main insulation, the Fireball Lite uses recycled 40g/m2 Dynamic Eco Insulation. This lofty 100% recycled synthetic insulation is highly breathable and retains heat even when wet.
An all round lightweight active mid-layer is great for so many situations, from hiking to ski touring. The Fireball Lite is a great example from Montane ready for whatever you throw at it.
What makes a synthetic layer great is its ability to deal with varying weather conditions. The synthetic insulation stays light and warm even in damp conditions and the DWR coating ensures it’ll brush off any unforeseen light showers too.
Value For Money
£190 is a solid whack for a mid-layer. Even with the recent price hikes across well pretty much every industry and product, you don’t have to look too hard to find much heavier insulated outer layers, even in down for around the same price range.
You can also definitely find a solid mid layer from competing British brands such as Mountain Equipment and Rab for a good chunk cheaper.
That said, this is a really well technically designed jacket with good eco credentials and the Fireball Lite comes in a good £30 cheaper than the popular Arcteryx Atom LT and £80 less than Patagonia’s Nano Air Lite.
BASE Bottom Line
Part of Montane’s wider Fireball range, the Lite is a fantastic technical all round mid-layer option for fast and light expeditions and adventures. Using multiple insulation types and fabrics, it’s design is cleverly constructed with demanding active use in the mountains in mind.
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