Advice: Marmot Technical Shell

2:58 p.m. on October 17, 2012 (EDT)
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I purchased a Marmot Cloudlight jacket a number of years ago. The jacket has served my needs well, until the laminate began to peel off. Marmot was unable to repair the product, but stood by their warranty and gave me $275 of store credit to purchase a replacement. I am seeking advice on what jacket I should purchase.

I am looking for a technical shell only, no insulation. I typically will layer a fleece or down jacket underneath as necessary. I use the jacket for ice fishing, boat fishing, snow sports (minor need, not special features needed), and backpacking. Primary concern is durability and level of waterproofness. It could be in the rain and snow for hours during fishing trips. Secondary is weight. I do backpack fairly lightweight, however, I could always purchase a low-cost (Precip?) solution if needed. Tertiary, is level of breathability. Typically I am not very active in my shell.

I am willing to supplement the $275 credit up to $50 if necessary. Obliviously since this is Marmot credit, all other brands are out.

Here are the jackets I am interested in so far.

Conness Jacket
- Concern: Uses 2 layer MemBrain. How good is it?
- Concern: A little heavy at 2 lbs.
- Positive: Very similar features to my CloudLight. A newer version of the same?

Minimalist Jacket
- Postive: GORE-TEX.
- Concern: It is GORE-TEX Paclite. How is the waterproofness of this?
- Positive: Light-weight
- Positive: $200
- Negative: Low on features. Only a single pocket. Not a deal breaker.
- Positive: Good reviews.

Aegis Jacket
- Concern. Uses 2.5 layer MemBrain Strata. How good is it?
- Positive: Medium-weight
- Positive: $160
- Positive: Good reviews, award-winning.
- Positive: Has good pockets.
- Question: Difference between Conness and Aegis. Over $100 dollar difference.

What are your thoughts, recommendations? Have I overlooked a good choice in this line up? I am particularly interested in experience with Marmot MemBrian , Marmot MemBrain Strata, and GORE-TEX Paclite.

An alternative is to get a low-cast jacket (Precip) and use the credit for something else. Although PreCip gets high reviews (and some very low reviews), I feel those reviews on based on the value of the jacket, not the ultimate performance (i.e. good performance for cost, but not great performance overall). Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

3:28 p.m. on October 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Read my review on the Outdoor Research Foray Jacket. Gore-Tex Paclite fabric is used in many jackets made by a number of the top manufacturers, including OR, Marmot, Arc'teryx, and Patagonia.

For what it's worth, it is usually used in their high-end jackets, while less expensive models will use Pertex, eVent, Omni-shield or other fabrics.

Because it's just one laminated layer, Paclite allows the jacket to be a lot lighter. I found it to be 100% waterproof. While there are more breathable fabrics, if you're not using it for high levels of activity you shouldn't have a any problems. Make sure your jacket has pit zips, just in case.

4:34 p.m. on October 17, 2012 (EDT)
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all three of the jackets you are looking at are fully waterproof.  i'm pretty sure that gore tex does a better job allowing moisture to escape than the various types of membrain.  for your stated uses, i would go with the minimalist jacket out of those three, hands down, provided it sizes roomy enough wear your down jacket underneath.

can you combine the credit with a store sale? i ask because Eastern Mountain Sports has a lot of Marmot shells discounted 20% at the moment.  if you were considering something at the edge of your price range, it would be a nice way to upgrade.

for how you plan to use the jacket, i'm not sure you would really want or need to pay more.  why not save the extra credit and get a nice pair of gloves or something? however, if you might want to, consider the Marmot Speed Light and Spire jackets.  the Speed Light is a gore tex pro shell fabric (high end light/tough gore tex), very light weight, more pockets than the minimalist.  might want to try one on; athletic cut for marmot might not do well with a down jacket underneath.  the Spire is their mid-level gore tex, 'performance' - somewhat heavier, really more of an  alpine climbing/skiing shell.  more pockets than the minimalist, though. 

* * *

my experience with marmot shells: a marmot exum hard shell, several years old, gore tex pro shell.  a fairly minimal jacket, 2 small outer pockets, with armpit zips.  can accommodate multiple layers underneath.  under 16 ounces.  overall, a tremendous jacket. 

a fairly new marmot zion soft shell that's waterproof, uses polartec's neoshell membrane.  18-20 ounces.  a little warmer than a hard shell, and fits relatively trim; accommodates a down sweater, but not most down jackets.  completely waterproof and does a nice job venting moisture.  very happy with it so far. 

* * *

one stray thought - eVent is not  a 'low end' waterproof/breathable membrane.  in my experience, it works somewhat better than gore tex for purposes of allowing moisture to escape and costs at least as much, usually more, than moderately-priced gore tex jackets.    regardless, marmot doesn't use it in any of their shells. 

5:00 p.m. on October 17, 2012 (EDT)
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For clarity, I didn't say eVent was a 'low end' fabric. Gore-Tex (in its various configurations) is used by manufacturers who use it in their top-end jackets, and those who do seem to use other fabrics for their cheaper lines. No disrespect intended to eVent, Pertex or any of the others - most of them breathe as well as or better than Gore-Tex, but in my experience, Gore-Tex beats them all for waterproofness.

6:55 p.m. on October 17, 2012 (EDT)
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hey, everyone has experience, likes and dislikes.  i haven't used a gore tex, eVent, neoshell, Conduit, or H2No jacket that has failed to keep me dry in the rain - they are all waterproof in my experience.  some, however, make the hiking a little more comfortalbe, usually through some combination of pit zips and the ability of the jacket to allow internal moisture from hard hiking to get out. 

one thing i really like about Marmot is how consistently they use armpit zips. 

8:13 p.m. on October 17, 2012 (EDT)
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I've never seen a company that uses both E-vent and gore tex in their lines, let alone have event in a lower end jacket. They are direct competitors and event is actually superior IMO. This goes back to the whole 'ethical business' practices that Gore was caught up in, and not allowing manufactors to use certain competitors membrains if the wanted to make a product with goretex.

Regarding the OP, I would go with the minimalist as well if the pocket thing isn't a deal breaker. I have an Arcteryx shell, wearing it in my avatar, made with goretex paclite and the thing is surprisingly durable and still waterproof.

9:19 p.m. on October 17, 2012 (EDT)
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I have a jacket which uses gortex paclite and have tested it at sea level and in a t storm at 10,000ft. Never leaked. Great at blocking wind.

9:40 p.m. on October 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks for the prompt, detailed responses; they have been very helpful.

Unfortunately, leadbelly, it would be purchased through the Marmot store, so no clearance, no sales, just direct from Marmot.

It seems that the majority recommends the Minimalist jacket. Why choose the Minimalist? Weight? Price? Gore-tex over MemBrain? I'm curious by nature.

10:55 a.m. on October 18, 2012 (EDT)
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honestly, shades of gray and personal bias.  i think gore tex helps moisture escape a little better than membrain.  you can't really go wrong - they are all waterproof, they will all keep the wind off of you, and they all allow moisture to escape.  i backpack a lot and for 3 season use tend to like lighter-weight solutions that vent moisture.  (i also hike/climb in the winter, in the Northeast, and favor heavier/more durable jackets that do an excellent job allowing moisture to escape for that purpose). 

stepping back a minute and being practical, you are looking at 2 lightweight jackets and one heavier jacket that you said is a lot like the one you are replacing.  the heavier one is probably a little more durable, heavier nylon fabric i'm guessing.  you are paying extra for that durability & a few more pockets/features.  if your former jacket suited you fine, and if a fair amount of the use will be relatively low output activities where durability is more important, perhaps it would be best to use your credit getting something more likely to fit your needs. 

 

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