*** Update (Oct 2018) ***
Montane are bringing out a new version of the Fireball Verso and I was lucky enough to test it out in the Cheviot Hills!
So what’s new?
- Starting with the obvious, the colours. You now have either a black and ‘laser green’ variant or my favorite, the ‘flag red’ and grey. These are bright and bold.
- The next most notable difference is an improvement, in my mind, to the cuffs. These are now elasticated and incorporate the thumb holes (glad these remain) into the cuff rather than the sleeve design. I found this a great addition as the elasticated cuff forms a better seal on your wrist and prevents the air getting in as easily.
- The next change and from what I can see the only other addition is a more technical change. When I put it on I instantly felt the red (breathable) side felt different to touch. Now I can’t explain how or why but it felt noticeable different. On questioning it I was advised that the insulation has changed. It’s now a PRIMALOFT Gold Active+ (as opposed to the previous Silver insulation layer). Whatever that is!
Other than that it has retained all the previous great attributes I previously liked of being lightweight, very packable and well-fitting.
Putting it to the test:
Putting it to the test in the windy Cheviot hills… without the top I (naturally) felt the cold and wind. As soon as I unwrapped it from the stuff bag and slipped it on I knew I’d be comforted. It didn’t let me down. Same great performance as the previous verso. The wind didn’t touch me and I was able to run freely and unrestricted. Breathability was great and I only overheated when power hiking up the hills when the wind wasn’t felt.
I want one. Simple. I loved the red colour. I loved the cuffs. I love the performance. I tested a small size which was a better fit than the medium I previously bought. Can’t wait for this to be available! All in all I think it’s a subtle improvement on the previous version (which I haven’t stopped wearing since I got it!).
I don’t know why I bought this. But I’m so glad I did! I think I had one eye on the future, being more involved in mountain running and being at nature’s mercy. It’s a sort of mid-layer top Jacket thingy. Not sure what to call it but its a half-zip hybrid, kinda like a smock, pull it over your head and off you go. I wear it with a baselayer/t-shirt underneath as its not really for wearing on its own (as it will either be too hot or too cold depending on the conditions you run in).
What I really liked was the versatility it appeared to offer. It’s a reversible top stuffed full of insulation and features a breathable side and a more weather resistant side. So I suppose the idea is it’s a 2-in-1, cover all scenarios kinda ‘Jack of all trades’.
The wind resistant side is a Pertex Quantum fiber that is apparently ideal for the cold and windy temperatures. The other side is a made from air-permeable Hypervent fabric, which is what provides the breathability. The jacket then comes filled with PrimaLoft Silver insulation. I won’t pretend to know what a lot of that means but I get the gist. when its windy and cold, wear it one way to keep warmer. When I’m running and sweating, wear it the other way to breathe. Got it.
Anyway, onto my version…I bought the black and blue colour combination. Nice and subtle with a cheeky little blue-highlighted trim when wearing it ‘blackside’ out (that’s the wind resistant side if you were wondering!). It fits well, ever so slightly longer at the back and nice long arms that feature thumb loops. Plenty of space for wearing other layers underneath without getting uncomfortable or not being able to move.
It is incredibly lightweight and packs down into a really small (think water bottle size) pouch that is easy to carry. As it’s a reversible jacket you loose some aspects of functionality, for example it has only a single pocket (concealed and chest located on the breathable side). But for me, I’ll never be using it in isolation where I won’t have other kit such as a bag in which to carry essentials.
Besides running, I’ve worn this as a ‘coat’ to keep me warm. The early hours hanging around on the coast before the Brighton Marathon for example. It stopped the wind and kept me warm. Travelling back from Ultras at night is another example of when its protected me from the elements.
Wind side (Blackside) out – It feels like you’re wearing a high-quality down jacket. I don’t know how else to explain that. You feel cold elsewhere as a result because you are nice and snug. Don’t get me wrong though, it doesn’t keep you warm like a Down jacket if you’re sitting around in the woods on a cold night. That’s not its design!
Breathable Side (Blueside) out – The best example I have so far of running with the pertex Quantum fiber side in action was an early spring run along the South Downs. With minimal protection from the elements it was windy and chilly, but we were running (From Eastbourne to Brighton). Pulling out the jacket and laying up was a joy. Simple and easy to get into and as long as I ran I felt I wasn’t overheating in the jacket. Perfect.
What I like
- Super lightweight and pacakble
- Long arms with thumb loops
- No bulky hood
What I didn’t like
- It took me a while to understand the difference in the two sides and which is which!
The first bit of Montane gear I had. I love it. It was the origin of my love affair with Montane kit!So lightweight, packable and versatile. Two jackets in one. Such great value. I really can’t wait to put it through some true tests out in the Alps later this year.