I’ll be the first to admit it: it can be a bit confusing to shop for rain jackets. It seems every manufacturer has their own proprietary waterproofing technology, a couple of trademarked names, and there must be hundreds of different rain jackets on the market! Marmot rain jackets are some of our best-sellers, so, let’s start by focusing there… but things are still a little tricky. What’s the difference between NanoPro and GORE-TEX Paclite? Do I need a $100 Marmot Precip Jacket or a $200 Marmot Minimalist Jacket?
Well, good news: we’re here to help.
First, whether we like it or not, we’re going to have to discuss some technology so we can compare the options. I promise there won’t be any math, but it is worth understanding what you’re paying for!
Most importantly, these rain jackets are breathable. This means that they allow water vapor from your body to pass through into the outside air, while simultaneously preventing external rain or moisture from penetrating the jacket. This task is critical for staying comfortable and dry, and the different technologies perform it with varying efficiency. Despite this breathable quality, all of these options remain 100% windproof.
The primary factor here, then, is this breathability; if you’ve ever tried to hike in one of those cheesy vinyl “packable rain jackets,” you’ll appreciate how important vapor transfer is when selecting foul-weather wear. Without breathability, a few moments of exertion will make the inside of the jacket just as wet — from sweat — as the outside of the jacket! The more breathable a jacket is, the faster it can transmit water vapor to the exterior environment. Generally, that’s what makes the more expensive rain jackets more expensive: they use better waterproof/breathable technologies.
Certainly, waterproofness is the other characteristic you look for in a rain jacket, but we’ll consider that a secondary factor because all of these Marmot jackets utilize fabrics that are 100% waterproof. They’re also 100% seam-taped, and feature a DWR repellent to help rain bead up instead of soaking into the shell fabric. Rain absolutely will not get through a Marmot rain jacket.
After all, a rain jacket that isn’t waterproof wouldn’t be very effective, would it? You’d be surprised, though… some of the rain jackets on the market fail this test.
When choosing a Marmot rain jacket, you also need to consider technical features. If you’re going to be hiking the Appalachian Trail, you probably want to make sure you select a jacket with pit zips. Likewise, if you’re going to be mountain biking in the rain, you probably want to make sure the hood will fit under your helmet!
Alright, that’s enough of a primer. Here is Rock/Creek’s selection of Marmot rain jackets, with information about each. From this guide, you should be able to make an informed decision about which jacket is best for your needs & budget.
Marmot Precip Jacket (men’s)
Marmot Precip Jacket (women’s)
This is the standard, all-around everyday rain jacket. I keep mine in the car, so I’m basically never stuck without a rain shell. The Marmot Precip has seemingly been around forever, but Marmot has improved it constantly over the years, including the switch to NanoPro in 2014.
The DryTouch lining feels great, and the jacket includes large pit zips for venting.The Marmot Precip Jacket is also the best value around if you don’t need a super-technical rain jacket, and comes in a tremendous variety of colors! Its long-standing reputation as a classic is well-deserved.
Marmot Minimalist Jacket (men’s)
Marmot Minimalist Jacket (women’s)
The Minimalist is exactly that: minimal. It has pit zips and a chest pocket, and still includes Marmot features like an adjustable hood and draw cord waist hem, but most of what you see here isn’t bells and whistles. This is a streamlined, bombproof, lightweight rain jacket for true outdoor enthusiasts. Durable seam taping and a full-length storm flap over the front zipper means this one will keep you dry all day long.
Oh, and it weighs just 15 ounces for a men’s medium… and costs just $200. It’s simply the features you need and nothing you don’t. Minimalism is underrated.
Marmot Mica Jacket (men’s)
Marmot Crystalline Jacket (women’s)
I’m going to go ahead and steal Marmot’s line here: “It couldn’t be any lighter and still be called a jacket.” This is true, and that’s exactly why it’s great. The Mica — and Crystalline, the women’s version — weigh the same as many competitors’ wind shells, but it’s a truly waterproof rain jacket. The men’s M weighs 7 ounces (198 grams) and the women’s M weighs 6.2 ounces (176 grams), which makes it light enough that even the gram-counters won’t be tempted to leave it at home.
The next time your climbing partner gets caught out in the rain because they chose to “go light” …laugh at them.
Marmot Spire Jacket (men’s)
Marmot Spire Jacket (women’s)
At $400, this is not the cheapest option out there. Also, at about a pound and a half, it’s not the lightest. But this is the burliest Marmot rain jacket we sell, and it has a three-layer GORE-TEX Performance Shell.
That means you get full waterproof breathability that you expect from the GORE-TEX name, but the membrane is sandwiched between an inner and outer protective layer, so you’re getting a level of durability that you wouldn’t otherwise.
Well, if you haven’t charged off to buy a Marmot rain jacket by now, that means you’re still reading along. Hopefully, this guide helps you make a better purchase decision… at Rock/Creek, along with only providing high-quality gear that lasts years and years, it’s our goal to help you choose the right gear in the first place. Stay dry out there!
Your article was fantastic and I’m happy with some of the technical analysis you included. Great job! I’ll end up with the Super Mica.
Jeff Bartlett says
That’s my favorite, too. I actually had the Mica first, but ended up deciding that the ~2 oz penalty was worth having pit zips and the enhanced durability.
Plus, the white color they have this season is sweet. And Marmot is on sale right now!!