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Hands-on Gear Review
Marmot Minimalist Review
Cons: Heavy for a "minimalist" design, slightly more expensive than non-Gore-tex jackets
Bottom line: While this jacket BARELY didn't win an award it remains one of our favorites and is an awesome do-anything jacket offering excellent storm worthiness, functionality, & durability.
The Marmot Minimalist rain jacket features Gore-Tex Paclite fabric. A heavy hitter in the industry, Gore-Tex has long been a recognizable brand that consumers trust. The jacket itself is designed quite well and offers the most bombproof weather protection and durability of all the rain jackets we tested. This contender is the closest thing to a lightweight hardshell jacket and would be an excellent shell for alpine ascents; it can also double as a backcountry ski shell. The Outdoor Research Foray, the other Gore-Tex rain jacket we tested, won a Top Pick for Ventilation and Features. If you want a Gore-Tex Paclite model with class-leading ventilation, the Foray is for you.
This model is on the heavy side concerning weight, at 15 ounces. If you need a ultralight minimalist jacket, check out Outdoor Research Helium II. On the other end of the price spectrum, the Best Buy Award winning Marmot PreCip offers high performance at a modest price.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Marmot Minimalist is a performance jacket; the cut is athletic, the construction quality is superior, and the weather protection is excellent. The hood stands out, in particular, as being constructed to provide excellent protection against the weather, excellent peripheral vision, and superior adjustability. We found the fabric of the jacket was more durable than any other rain jacket that we tested, making it an ideal choice for massive abuse while climbing, hiking, trekking or even backcountry or downhill skiing. Of the rain jackets we reviewed, the Minimalist is the closest in construction and function to crossing over into the hardshell 3 layer construction jacket category.
This jacket, along with the Arc'teryx Beta SL, Outdoor Research Foray, and REI Rhyolite, featured the best overall weather protection of all the jackets that we tested. The Gore-Tex Paclite fabric is highly waterproof, and the hood and collar provide excellent coverage and weather repellency for your head and face. The storm flaps that sit inside and outside along the main zipper prevent any seepage, and the wrist cuffs cinch down tight with Velcro. The Minimalist impressed all of our testers both in our side-by-side garden hose tests and weeks of real-world testing.
An interesting note on the construction of this product is the lack of seams all along the shoulders and arms, ensuring that there is no chance of water leaking in along these areas of high exposure. The lack of seams along the shoulder will also prevent water from being squeezed in through the seams while under the pressure of a pack strap.
Breathability & Ventilation
The Minimalist provides more breathability than most others through its Paclite fabric. The 2.5 layer Paclite laminate offers one of the highest breathability ratings, not far behind the eVent laminate, and better than all coated options. While this Gore-Tex fabric is more expensive than many proprietary competitors, we find it does breathe better.
The Minimalist also features generous pit zips for ventilation. They extend down into the main body of the jacket, much farther than the average pit-zip found on other rain jackets. Testers found that these pit zips provided adequate ventilation during high exertion to prevent all-out overheating. Other jackets can vent through mesh-lined pockets, but all of the Minimalist's pockets are fully waterproof and seam-taped allowing the wearer to keep items in those pockets slightly drier, but it can't vent through its pockets. If you like the Minimalist but are worried about overheating, check out the Outdoor Research Foray, which features the same Gore-Tex Paclight fabric with the better ventilation features.
Comfort & Mobility
Marmot's Minimalist jacket is just as its name suggests: minimalist in design. There are not many comfort features on this jacket; the collar does not have a micro-fleece lining, hang loop, or roll away hood feature. The zipper pulls, and cord locks are all easy to use though, and the multiple hood cinches provide an excellent hood fit with the large stiffened brim. The small neoprene sleeve that the over-brow elastic cord passes through is a nice touch on the face.
What the jacket does offer are an athletic cut and good fit. It allows for excellent range of motion and is rarely a nuisance in awkward and reachy situations. The hood and collar are one of the best of the rain jackets we tested, providing ideal protection from the weather and a great fit around the head for comfortable movement. Unfortunately, this hood fit the least well with our lead tester's climbing helmet. Overall, this jacket offered some of the best range of motion in the review and was comparable to the other highest scoring models like the Arc'teryx Beta SL, Patagonia Torrentshell, or The North Face Dryzzle.
At 15 ounces, the Minimalist is nearly the heaviest model we tested. It uses the heaviest, most durable fabric among the products in this review and doesn't cut any corners at the cuffs, pockets, or hood to save weight. It is lighter than more 3 layer models that it offers similar durability, but even at 15 ounces, it's hardly "heavy" and is only 2-4 ounces heavier than other Gore-tex Paclite models.
The Minimalist received the highest score we awarded for durability. The polyester face fabric is beefier, stretchier, and more UV resistant than nylon. The laminate membrane should last you forever and is backed by a lifetime guarantee. The Outdoor Research Foray is the only other jacket to earn our top durability score; its polyester face offers similar durability, though its numerous zippers mean more potential points of failure.
This jacket does not feature a stuff pocket. Rolling it and tucking it into the hood is the best quick way to pack it. This contender packs down smaller than most Gore-tex shells on the market; however, when compared to most jackets in our review, which tend to be on the smaller/lighter end of the spectrum, it is slightly less compressible than average. It packs down smaller than the Outdoor Research Foray, is similar to The North Face Dryzzle, and is quite as small as the Arc'teryx Beta SL.
The Minimalist's hood is one of the most comfortable and featured in this review. The brim is stiffened with a thin plastic insert, and two elastic cinch cords provide adjustment. The one that tightens the hood around the face passes through a soft neoprene sleeve that is super comfy on the brow and temples. The second cord with a toggle on the back of the head adjusts the brow. All three cord locks are exterior and can be adjusted when the collar is fully zipped.
It also features zippers that are easy to grab even with gloves and zippers, that have both interior and exterior storm flaps. Both zippered hand pockets are full 2.5 layer fabric inside and out and have a storm flap and a Velcro closure. The wrist cuffs have a Velcro tab adjustment and an offset design that is longer on the back of the hand than the inside of the wrist. Finally, it has an elastic hem cinch with cord locks on both the right and left sides.
This rain shell made from Gore-Tex Paclite borders on a hardshell jacket; this gives it added versatility and durability. It excels at backpacking, hiking, alpine climbing, and skiing. We LOVE its hood design, which offers some of the best peripheral vision of any jacket in our review. Its only slightly limiting factor is it doesn't fit over a helmet very well.
At $200, this hardshell-esque rain jacket is a great deal in large part because it costs half the price of most 3-layer Gore-tex hardshells. Though it is pricey when compared to other rain jackets, this product is more breathable and will last longer. It is worth the price if it meets your needs.
If you are looking for an inexpensive hardshell or a notably durable rain jacket, the Marmot Minimalist is one to consider. The materials and construction are exceptional, though it is a rather heavyweight rain shell.
— Ian Nicholson
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