Montbell Versalite Review

I tested the Montbell Versalite jacket and this is my verdict.

November 15, 2023
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The Montbell Versalite Women's Jacket is a lightweight, breathable, and comfortable ultralight rain jacket with features like pit zips, water-resistant zippers, a three-way adjustable hood, Alpine cuffs, and two zippered hand pockets. It's cut using the K-Mono Cut pattern, reducing seam lines for waterproofing. 

Product Overview

Montbell Versalite

montbell versalite jacket

✅ Ultralight

✅ Comfortable

✅ Breathable

✅ Packable

✅ Durable for an ultralight jacket


❌ Expensive

❌ Soaks through in long periods of hard rain

❌ Runs a little small


  • Weight: 5.8 oz (165 g)
  • Compressed size: 2.8 x 2.8 x 5.1 in (7 x 7 x 13 cm)
  • Material: 2-layer WINDSTOPPER® fabric (10-denier Ballistic Airlight nylon ripstop with DWR finish)
  • Water resistance: 30,000 mm
  • Breathability: 43,000 g/ m²/ 24 hrs
  • Pockets: 2 side zip pockets
  • Pit zips: Yes
  • Available sizes: Men’s & Women’s in S - XL

The Montbell Versalite Jacket was the one and only rain jacket I carried on my 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail thru-hike in 2020. While doing my research and planning for my thru-hike, I knew I wanted a rain jacket that was not only ultralight, compactable, and breathable but would also be comfortable enough to wear all day all while keeping me moderately dry.

I looked at a few other popular rain jackets including the Outdoor Research Helium II and the Frog Togs jackets, but ultimately decided to purchase the Versalite. Not only did it check off all my must-haves for an ultralight rain jacket, but with its additional features like pit zips, zippered pockets, and a synched hood, it was a no-brainer decision for me. 

Overall, it works great as a wind protectant and an additional warmth layer, but like many other ultralight rain jackets, it will soak through after long periods of hard rain.

To see reviews on other rain jackets, see our post on the best ultralight rain jackets for thru-hiking.

Performance Test Results

montbell versalite performance score graph

How We Tested:

I thru-hiked the entire 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, as well as hundreds of additional miles wearing this jacket. I tested the Montbell Versalite in all seasons on my thru-hikes and backpacking trips where the weather varied significantly and I experienced many days of cold, rain, snow, and wind wearing this jacket.

hiker wearing montbell versalite jacket

Weight: 10/10

Although this rain jacket is not the lightest on the market it comes close at only 5.8 ounces for a women’s small. I have the large and, on my scale, it weighs in at a little over 6 ounces and in its stuff, sack weighs only 6.5 ounces, with all the additional features included such as pit zips, two zippered side pockets, and adjustable cuffs, it is worth the additional few extra ounces.

Another reason for the reduced weight although it has plenty of features, is the unique process for cutting the material known as the K-Mono Cut pattern which cuts the jacket from a single piece of fabric.

montbell versalite jacket close-up

The rain jacket weighs 5.8 ounces for a women's small size.

Durability: 8/10

After hiking almost 3,000 miles wearing this jacket, many times for days on end, it held up quite well. I have only one small snag on the arm which did not quite make a hole in the jacket, but rather slightly frayed the fabric. My hikes had me crawling underneath downed trees, climbing over rocks, and traversing through some harsh weather conditions, and this jacket held its own in durability. Although the fabric is made of a thinner material, the construction is such that it resists tears.

montbell versalite jacket close-up features

The Versalite held up well in bad weather conditions and was still breathable despite its thinner fabric.

Weather Resistance: 6/10

Although the jacket worked well at the beginning of my thru-hike and didn’t wet through initially, after about a month on the trail, in continuous heavy rains, the jacket did soak through. In my experience, I’ve found this to be typical for almost all ultralight rain jackets. The pressure from the hard rains pushes through the thin material causing the rain to soak through.

In lighter rain conditions, even prolonged, the jacket kept me dry underneath. However, after a lot of use and several months of hiking, the DWR finish began to wear off which caused the jacket to begin to soak through even in lighter rain conditions.

hiker wearing montbell versalite jacket

Material: 10/10

The Montbell Versalite is made of a 2-layer Windstopper fabric and not only wears well but feels soft against the skin and is very comfortable even over long periods of daily wear. It is made from a 10-denier Ballistic Airlight ripstop fabric which also gives it better durability and prevents rips and tears.

The construction is made using the K-Mono Cut pattern which drastically reduces seamlines, further lightening the jacket’s weight as well as improving packability. This innovative pattern is based on Montbell's philosophy of "Ki-no-bi" which is a Japanese term for "Function is Beauty".

montbell versalite jacket close-up features

The 2-layer Windstopper fabric provides comfort and softness for all-day use.

Breathability: 10/10

The breathability of this rain jacket is better than any other jacket I’ve ever used. This was one of the most comfortable rain jackets I have ever worn while hiking. It is not only ultralight in weight, but the breathability and ventilation are exceptional. I could wear this jacket all day, sometimes in warm conditions and I never felt stuffy or overheated. You can also undo the pit zips to help increase ventilation and remove excess heat.

hiker wearing montbell versalite jacket

The Versalite is among the comfiest and lightest rain jackets for hiking thanks to its great breathability and ventilation.

Price: 7/10

This is one of the highest-priced rain jackets on the market, but for good reason. The quality of the materials and the method the fabric is sewn to prevent fewer seams, plus the additional features, make this jacket worth the money in my opinion. But if you can’t get past the sticker shock or are looking for something you may want to easily replace, then this jacket might not be for you. I found this jacket worth the extra cost because 4 years later, I am still wearing this jacket on my hikes.

hiker wearing montbell versalite jacket

At $249, this jacket is one of the most expensive ones available in the market.

Packability: 9/10

This jacket packs down in its own stuff sack to about the size of your hand and will fit into any side or front pocket on your pack including day packs. Although not the most compactable ultralight jacket I have seen, it is a strong contender for one of the most packable jackets on the market. The K-Mono Cut pattern also helps with packability.

packing montbell versalite jacket

One of the most packable jackets on the market right now is definitely the Versalite.

Additional Features: 10/10

One of the things I absolutely love about this jacket is all the extra features that most ultralight rain jackets do not have including pit zips, zippered pockets, adjustable alpine wrist cuffs, as well as an adjustable hood that cinches at the chin to help keep the rain, wind and snow out.

inner lining of montbell versalite jacket

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Gretchen Pardon photo

About Gretchen Pardon

Gretchen (aka Braids) has hiked over 5,000 miles including thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2020, the Foothills and Bartram Trails as well as completing all the trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She spends her free time reading, spending time outdoors, and traveling as much as possible.


About Greenbelly

After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

Stoveless Backpacking Meals
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