Photography: Jesse Levine
Long days in the mountains call for reliable clothing and equipment that will keep you well-protected when the weather takes a turn! This is a fact our regular ultra runner Alyssa Wendt knows only too well, being based in the mighty Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA. The weather here can change rapidly throughout the seasons.
We asked Alyssa to put our Minimus Lite Waterproof Jacket through its paces in this wild and rugged mountain environment. Keep reading to discover how this lightweight running jacket performed…
I’m a health & wellness coach and endurance athlete based in Crested Butte, Colorado. While training for the Montane Grand Traverse mountain bike and running races last summer, we had a heavy monsoon season that was followed by a drizzly autumn. These conditions made for the perfect testing grounds to try out the Minimus Lite Waterproof Jacket and see if it’d stand the test of the Rocky Mountain elements.
Trail Running in the Elk Mountains
Crested Butte is a small mountain town tucked away in the Elk Mountain Range. In the winter time, the town resembles the imaginary Dr. Suess town, Whoville, located inside a snowflake and complete with its very own crooked-topped mountain. There are colorful homes with roofs loaded with snow, access to incredible ski terrain, and a whimsical community. When the blanket of snow reluctantly pulls back for summer, it reveals fields of wildflowers, wildlife, and recreation attracting photographers, artists, researchers, and outdoor enthusiasts of all abilities to enjoy.
As an ultra runner, mountain biker, and all around outdoor fun-haver, the long days of summer are hard to beat. We have such a variety of things to enjoy here including mountain biking down classics, like the “401 trail” , floating along the Slate River, listening to live music, and always finding new-to-me trails in the 2 million+ acres of public lands in the Gunnison Valley. I’m personally drawn to the flowy trails and winding runs through Aspen tree groves and wildflowers, as well as the frigid streams and lakes for paddle boarding, the many high mountain ridges and passes that challenge me to step outside of my comfort zone, and the beautiful community of people I get to share them each with.
Living above 9,000 feet (2,800m), storms roll in like clock-work during summer afternoons. This past summer, the monsoon season felt longer and heavier than normal and shifted most of my training to the early morning hours before work, to try and avoid getting caught in rain showers and lightning (one of my biggest fears).
But during one of my longer 30-mile training runs, on what was supposed to be a day with little-to-no chance of rain, some friends and I ran into a small storm while climbing up and over the last mountain pass of four that day, aptly named Frigid Air Pass. I was glad to have the Minimus Lite waterproof jacket with me to stay warm and dry for those few minutes until the storm passed.
And while waiting, we got to enjoy the surrounding views of the jagged, red colored peaks, the Maroon Bells off in the distance, while we forced down the last bit of food and water we had before booking the last 6 miles down into the valley to the trailhead where cold drinks and a cool stream to soak our feet waited. I’ve had my fair share of jackets advertised as “waterproof” that turned out to be only “water-resistant” for only a few minutes.This jacket is not that! The Minimus kept me fully dry.
And not only did it hold up against storms, but it held up against my relentless early morning battle with the wildflower juice (aka, my silly term for dew, ha!). The heavy storms covered the fields of flowers at night so when I biked or ran in the early mornings through them without a rain jacket, I’d be drenched. Throwing on the Minimus Lite once again kept me dry and smiling as I frolicked through the fields of flowers (I know, I know…I’m giving off some big Julie Andrews & Sound of Music vibes).
I'm 5’6” and wear a UK 10 /US 6 small in the Women’s Minimus Lite Waterproof Jacket. I’m fairly petite but I also don’t love my clothes fitting super tightly while moving quickly through the mountains. I thought the fit was true to size and allowed for a comfortable amount of space for a base layer below without impacting my range of motion too much.
For my runs, I layered the jacket with the nice and breathable Montane Women's Dart Lite T-Shirt, Montane Women's Dart Lite Long Sleeve T-Shirt, and the Montane Women's Protium Lite Hooded Pull-On Fleece. I thought each of those paired well, depending on the temperature range from summer to fall.
Weight, durability, and packability are always important considerations for me when choosing my gear. When going long distances with a pack, carrying less is an element of safety. The Minimus Lite lived up to its name and was a super light addition to my running vest and biking pack. It also packed down super well, leaving room for me to add other essential fuel and safety gear.
I’m also a big fan of functional and large pockets so I loved that there are two good sized pockets on the front of the jacket that are awesome for stowing a phone, my Garmin InReach, or anything else I didn’t want to get wet.
I’ve gotta say, I’m not usually one to wear something “pinkish colored” and normally gravitate towards picking the color teal in literally everything. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked mixing it up and trying the lavender, Allium, color.
To top it off, in the autumn months, I’m often running and biking through hunting zones where it’s very important to wear bright colors for safety reasons and the Allium was a great choice for that – it’s hard to miss. Not to fret, if lavender isn’t your color of choice, there’s also a deep Eclipse Blue and bold Saffron Red to choose from, too.
Get your trail running kit
Alyssa reviewed our Minimus Lite Waterproof Jacket, available for both men and women. For more technical, lightweight running kit, take a look at our collection page to get started.