Montane Fireball Lite Hooded Jacket Review

© UKC Gear

Light, breathable and extremely versatile, this hybrid synthetic insulated jacket is easy to love and hard to fault, finds Rob Greenwood. In fact he's barely worn anything else since he got it.

If you've been watching the Ticklist, or have read any reviews I've written over 2022, then chances are you've seen me wearing the Fireball Lite. After receiving a sample earlier in the year I've used it pretty much constantly, whatever I'm doing. It has become my go-to synthetic insulated jacket, because its breathability - coupled with its comfort - make it good for pretty much everything. If there's a single product that I've used more than any other in recent months then this is it.

The Fireball Lite in use at Stanage  © UKC Gear
The Fireball Lite in use at Stanage

The Fireball Lite is the thinner, stripped-down take on an established jacket, the Fireball. We reviewed that last year, and thought similarly highly of it:

The Lite model comes in either a hooded version (reviewed here) or a hoodless jacket. Each will have their fans.

Pros: Really versatile, really breathable, suitable for just about everything

Cons: NOT a belay jacket, will get quite cold if you're stationary

In Use

One of the best things about the Fireball Lite is that, being light, it can be worn for just about everything, year-round. It can be used in the warmer months for its insulation, taking the edge off the breeze with just a base layer beneath. In the cooler months it can serve as an outer layer with a base layer/fleece underneath, or topped up with a windproof, waterproof or more substantially insulated jacket to become a breathable mid layer. As such, it's an extremely versatile jacket.

This versatility comes as a result of its breathability. A traditional synthetic jacket's primary focus is to keep you warm whilst you're standing still, and were you to go on a walk in one you might be sweating in minutes. As a hybrid of insulating fill and stretchy fleece side panels, the Fireball Lite features a lot less insulation and a lot more venting than you'll typically find, and this helps to regulate your temperature. The end result is that you can go about your chosen activity in relative comfort, with sweat being kept at bay by the airflow. It's a good example of modern 'active insulation'.

On a family walk over Kinder and Grindslow Knoll  © Penny Orr
On a family walk over Kinder and Grindslow Knoll

Midway through an island walk around Kerrera  © Penny Orr
Midway through an island walk around Kerrera

Adding to its status as a superb all-rounder is a truly fantastic cut (on me at least), and a lovely soft and comfortable feel, meaning that it can be worn in both a casual and technical environment. I've used it walking on the moors, fells and mountains and climbing in a variety of disciplines, including bouldering, sport and trad. Whilst I haven't used it running, I have considered it - particularly on cold days; even though this isn't what it was designed for, I reckon it'd work. The freedom of movement it offers in the arms and shoulders makes it an ideal choice for climbers and mountaineers, but the fact that it's so infinitely wearable means that it'll be of interest to just about anyone who heads outside. It's a jacket that you're likely to put on at the start of the day, then take off at the end of the day having forgotten you've been wearing it.

In case you can't tell, I've absolutely loved it.

The Fireball Lite has nice long arms which are easily rolled up if needed  © UKC Gear
The Fireball Lite has nice long arms which are easily rolled up if needed


The Fireball Lite comes in both men's and women's versions.  It fits true to size and has what Montane describe as a 'trim' cut. On me I'd actually say it's a little more relaxed than that, which is partly why I find it so comfortable. There's nothing worse than a constrictive cut. I'd say the Fireball Lite certainly doesn't suffer from that, though bigger/bulkier users might find it a bit trim. The active fit is further aided by the fact that it's made from extremely stretchy materials, so if you get on with the fit then the whole thing feels completely unrestricted.

The arms themselves have a good length, and when raised above the head I find there's minimal lift around the hem - ideal for climbing. The cut clearly works on me, but in the hoodless version that he has our Gear Editor Dan finds it too close and restrictive in the arms and suffers a lot of hem lift, so the moral as ever is to try one on for yourself.

The hood has a snug fit with a good seal, meaning it works well under a helmet. There's no adjustment, but given its low volume there doesn't need to be, as there'd be nothing to adjust (and if you don't want a hood, there's a version without).

On me, the fit gives the jacket its superb freedom of movement  © UKC Gear
On me, the fit gives the jacket its superb freedom of movement


The Fireball Lite features two types of insulation: recycled 40g/m2 Dynamic Eco throughout the body and hood and Thermo Grid stretch fleece throughout the side panels and underarms. The former provides greater insulation than the latter, but the latter is what helps to provide the through flow of air throughout the jacket, and it's the balance between the two that gives the jacket its versatility.

Both the inner and outer are constructed using a fantastically soft and stretchy Featherlite Air nylon fabric. This has plenty of air permeability to aid the breathability of the jacket - great when you're working hard, but it does mean you can feel a cold wind through it, so in more challenging conditions this is not a stand-alone outer but will need to be backed up with a waterproof or windproof layer. Despite its soft feel the fabric has been impressively tough, having been ground down against a variety of different rock types throughout the testing process, but showing no signs yet of any wear or tear.

Strawberries - the hardest boulder problem in the world  © UKC Gear
Strawberries - the hardest boulder problem in the world
© UKC Gear

Trad - Sport - Bouldering - the Fireball Lite does it all  © UKC Gear
Trad - Sport - Bouldering - the Fireball Lite does it all


At 360g it's heavier than a midweight fleece, but perhaps that isn't all too surprising given the fact it's not a fleece. It's also very far from heavy too and the fact it's intended to be worn means that it's not (at least in theory) going to end up in your pack as a redundant layer.

Ethics and environment

Top marks to the Dynamic Eco Insulation, which is made of recycled polyester. As a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, Montane are committed to improving working conditions for the people making their stuff. You can read about how the brand is working towards being more sustainable here.


If you've got this far, it'll come as no surprise that this is a jacket I have absolutely loved. It's been great for a wide variety of activities from walking to climbing. The fact that it's adaptable enough for use year-round - either as a mid layer or an outer layer - makes it even more appealing. It's got a great cut (on me at least), it's constructed using a fantastic set of fabrics, and it has managed to withstand pretty much non-stop use since I first got it. All said, it's hard to find fault.

For more information Montane

11 Oct, 2022

He’s right about Strawberries you know.

It’s bloody desperate isn’t it?!

11 Oct, 2022

Certainly punching upwards!

Loading Notifications...
Facebook Twitter Copy Email