The Monlite WP Softshell Jacket by Pentagon is advertised as a wind and waterproof shell built for adverse weather during your adventure expeditions and everyday outdoor use. We decided that it would be cool to put it to the test high in the mountains where weather changes literally every second. So we did exactly that.
In this review, we will look closer into the Monlite’s design, important characteristics, technical features, and everything else that you need to know before considering whether this jacket is the right for your outings.
Quick specs: Pentagon Monlite WP Shell Jacket
Weight: 559 g (19.7 oz) for size 2XL
Material (outer shell): 94% Polyester, 6% elastane
Waterproof: Yes, TPU laminated (8000mm WP & 5000gr/m2/24h MPV)
Where to get it: Military 1st
- The outer side is composed of polyester and elastane treated with DWR (durable water repellent) coating; the shell comes with knitted inner tricot backing
- Waterproof breathable membrane for added water and wind resistance; taped seams for complete protection from the elements
- Strong YKK front zipper with zipper pull can be operated when wearing gloves; inner storm flap
- Temperature regulating armpit zip vent for increased airflow helps release excess body heat in the environment
- High collar and 3-point adjustable hood (the cord lock system is embedded in the jacket for improved user experience)
- Top-notch wind and water resistance – the jacket defends well against wind and rain (or snow). The waterproof sealed seams and zippers add another layer of protection.
- The Monlite jacket is a fully seam-taped construction that works best in cool-to-cold variable/windy weather especially if it isn’t sunny.
- The technical design provides a good fit, easy layering, and allows the user to stay functional (no mobility issues).
- Large mesh-lined hand pockets with watertight zippers offer plenty of space for holding things.
- Easily adjustable – the bottom hem (the hem cinch cord and cord locks can operate with a one-handed pinch), sleeve cuffs, and hood guarantee individual fit and are easy to adjust.
- Breathability is not optimized – the underarm ventilation openings cannot compensate for the low MVP (moisture vapor permeability) especially during high-exertion activities when air permeability is crucial for staying dry from the inside.
- Not as versatile as a classic softshell jacket, the Pentagon Monlite looks and feels more of a rain shell than a softshell jacket.
- The hood is easy to adjust and comes with a brim, which works well in most cases. However, the lack of a laminated brim or integrated visor means that the hood won’t hold its shape well during a downpour, which may impair visibility.
- Only the front zipper comes with a zipper pull – the handwarmer pockets come without a glove-friendly pull.
We’ve had an opportunity to test the Pentagon Monlite Jacket for more than two months and see how it behaves in certain situations and environments including:
- Mountainous regions (elevation from 1900 to 2600+ m a.s.l.) with a multitude of terrains as well as town
- Variable temperatures – from a bit more than 0°C to about 20°C (approximately 32-68°F)
- Changing weather including weather conditions ranging from scanty to moderate rainfall to a downpour
The jacket is built to endure harsh conditions and can definitely be an asset in windy or bad weather when having wind and waterproof apparel handy is a must to battle against the elements.
Our experience testing the Pentagon Monlite will be discussed in more detail in the following sections. Of course, you may wish to skim through the sections to save time or get to the conclusion directly. But we think that it’s vital not to skimp on reading because you may miss something really important.
Material and construction
The design, construction, and material used are definitely super important for a garment that’s intended to ensure unrestricted lightweight mobility. Pentagon Monlite is made with first-class material – a nice polyester-elastane blend. The face fabric utilized for this model consists of 94% polyester and 6% elastane. The material is not very stretchy and it shouldn’t be considering the main function of a waterproof breathable jacket. If wondering what it is – it’s to cut the wind and keep out rain without restricting the body movements so that the wearer could easily move their body in the direction they want to go. The fabric is relatively thin but looks tough and abrasion-resistant as it is expected to protect the membrane from everything that could damage it from the outside.
The design is cool and the construction is solid with nice stitching. Things are put together nicely and the jacket seems to be durable enough to hold up well even in the harshest conditions. Note that it’s certainly too early to judge the overall durability of the jacket objectively and we cannot say if the Monlite will be able to provide the needed flexibility and protection from the elements for a couple of seasons or even more. We realize that speculating about what might happen isn’t particularly helpful. Given the fact that the durability of the shell has not been an issue in our experience, we think that it did pretty well so far.
As usual with rain gear, the DWR-treated face fabric of the Pentagon Monlite is combined with a waterproof breathable layer. The construction is seam-sealed to reinforce the waterproof construction further as seams are known to be among the weakest points of waterproof clothing.
Excellent wind and weather resistance are crucial for having a bearable outdoor experience even in the harshest conditions. The Monlite jacket does well what it is built for – to protect the user from the elements. You can wear it in town or in the high mountain (we’ve tested it up to around 2650 m a.s.l.) where rapidly changing weather conditions are the norm. No problem. As long as the weather stays cool-to-cold, the garment will keep you dry from the outside and from the inside.
The jacket works reasonably well in cool-to-cold conditions especially if it isn’t sunny all the time (as we noted in one of our articles on high altitude travel, UV radiation puts the temp up to about 20% for every 1000 m a.s.l. so the sun definitely feels more intense when at high elevations). It defends well against wind and rain. Just keep the underarm zippers unzipped for added ventilation and air circulation. They work very well and you won’t sweat in temps up to around 10-14°C (50-57°F) or if you do it, you’ll barely sweat. In our experience, you won’t need more than a merino wool base layer underneath to feel cool and comfortable in temps as low as 4°C (39°F) as long as you stay active.
Unfortunately, in temps above 15°C (60°F), you’ll need something less thick – a backpacking rain poncho should provide enough airflow to avoid wetting from the inside.
In the rain, it does its job effectively considering that the waterproof rating of the Pentagon Monlite is 8000 mm. This is usually enough to shield off persistent light to moderate rain for hours. We can confirm that even in driving light rain, it definitely does not let water from the outside. The problem can be the temperature because in temps above 15°C (60°F) you could get wet from the inside. It’s happened on one of our outings.
Additionally, once we’ve been caught in a sudden downpour on the trail and there there was no problem whatsoever. This jacket can definitely provide sufficient weather protection in pouring rain but we doubt that it could keep you dry in a downpour for longer than a few minutes. Generally, rain jackets with a higher waterproofness rating do a better job in such situations.
As with all DWR-treated garments, don’t forget to reproof the water repellent coating regularly to keep the level of weather resistance intact. Many people ignore this but the DWR finish degrades over time due to friction and general wear.
Breathability and ventilation
Air permeability and breathability are closely related as breathability or moisture vapor permeability is the key factor for proper moisture management. It allows moisture vapor (sweat) to be transported from the body to the outer side of the jacket where it could be evaporated.
While the Monlite’s 5000gr/m2/24h MPV is enough for casual walking or day hiking, it’s too low for high-intensive activities where daily perspiration rate could reach up to 20 000gr/m2/24h or even 30 000gr/m2/24h. Put simply, the Monlite doesn’t breathe very well when you’re working hard or on very wet days. Having said that, even wearing the most breathable design doesn’t guarantee that you’ll stay completely dry when walking at a very high work rate in harsh conditions.
We should also note that this model by Pentagon does really well in windy weather. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the Monlite jacket offers great wind resistance sufficient to ward off high winds. And secondly, the shell is very comfortable thanks to the underarm vents that provide added ventilation. This extra airflow works great for cooling the body whenever needed especially when the temperatures aren’t too high. The non-restrictive cut of the Monlite, mesh-lined hand pockets and the adjustable cuffs also increase the overall air permeability but we feel that their role is much less significant. The two-way armpit zip vents are definitely a key element in cooling down the user.
Weight and packability
The Pentagon Monlite jacket weighs 559 g (1 lb 3.7 oz) for size 2XL. Hence this shell is not among those outer layers craved by ultralighters but it’s still fairly lightweight. Actually, some of the best waterproof outer shells on the market weigh between 400 g and 600 g (14.1 oz to 1 lb 5.2 oz). Additionally, it’s compact and easy to store in a backpack.
Fit and comfort
The Monlite jacket can fit most body types well providing room for wearing a couple of layers underneath. The rain shell isn’t bulky or form-fitting, which means that it allows flexibility for the upper torso. There are seven sizes ranging from XS to 3XL. The jacket pictured in this post is size 2XL. It fits well a 186 cm (6’1″) person who weighs approximately 102 kg (225 lbs) and wears just a thick merino wool base layer underneath. The overall style and fit are really nice. The length of the sleeves is good. The fabric isn’t very stretchy but it’s comfortable and allows for a decent range of motion.
The black and grey jacket pictured in this post is ‘Wolf Grey’ and looks quite good. Two more color options are available.
Hood: one of the most important features of a rain jacket is the hood. A hood that’s well thought out can be a huge bonus for a softshell but it’s absolutely essential for a waterproof breathable shell as it is a critical factor influencing how effective the rainwear will be. The Pentagon Monlite comes with well-designed vertical and horizontal hood adjustments. Integrated into the textile, the hood adjusting stoppers to the left and to the right are convenient to use. The third is placed on the back of the hood and is one-hand adjustable simplifying the hood adjustment.
The hood comes with a brim, which works well in most cases. However, the lack of a laminated brim means that the hood won’t hold its shape well during a downpour, which may impair visibility. Unfortunately, this is a common problem with rain jackets (yes, even those with laminated and stiffened peak cannot guarantee 100% visibility all the time). The hood is not helmet-compatible but you can easily wear a warm hat underneath.
Pockets: the spacious mesh-lined hand pockets are slightly elevated and are a convenient place to keep your hands warm. You can also store bigger items such as a map or a smartphone there. The large size allows keeping lots of stuff. Each pocket comes with a watertight zipper and a protective flap to keep essential items dry.
Hem and cuff closures: two of the elements that make adjustments easier are the hem and cuff closures. The former have a one-hand adjustable drawstring cord while the latter have hook-and-loop fasteners. We like that there’s no elastic on the cuffs. They may not be as efficient as elasticated cuffs in sleeve opening sealing but this means that they can provide extra airflow to regulate body temperature when needed.
Zippers: the sturdy YKK front zipper comes with a large and easy-to-use pull string on the zipper for easy grip with gloves on. There are four more zippers – two large two-way pit zips and two watertight pocket zippers designed to keep water away from seeping into the pocket. None of them comes with a zipper pull.
Taped seams: while many manufacturers skimp on sealing all seams (they tape the most vulnerable seams only), there isn’t a single seam of the Monlite shell that’s not sealed properly. Moreover, the high-quality stitching contributes substantially to keeping this waterproof item… waterproof.
The Pentagon Monlite Jacket is made with performance in bad weather in mind and we should say that it works well in less than ideal conditions providing the necessary weather protection. The shell combines thoughtful design and good weather protection consistent with Pentagon Tactical’s ambition to find balance. In addition, the Monlite is functional, comfortable, and (at around a pound or a bit more) it’s relatively lightweight.
If you’re looking for a reliable rain jacket that works well in variable weather and allows flexibility, the Monlite jacket by Pentagon is a good choice.
Disclaimer: Valentin Shekerov (Camotrek.com) received a sample jacket for this review.
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