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A Tale of Three Jackets

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

After about ten years of careful use, my beloved Marmot Cobra jacket finally took a turn for the worst.  The Gore-Tex was delaminating and holes were developing where some sharp creases rubbed.

 

 

 

So, I sent the jacket to Marmot to see what they could do.  The verdict: unrepairable.  They offered me a $270 credit toward anything on their site.  Nice.

 

Shopping time: after perusing their site, I set my sights on the Silverton jacket for $500.  OK, I figure $230 for that isn't too bad, but I do a little research first.  Turns out that Gore-Tex Pro Shell isn't the most breathable stuff on the planet.  So, I get to thinking what else I might get for $230 and I find this...

 

 

 

The Mountain Hardwear Snowpocalypse jacket with Dry.Q Elite for $235 and free shipping from Altrec.  I'd rather have blue, but I pull the trigger.  Got the last one.

 

Now that I'm feeling smug, I start to wonder how long my Marmot credit will last.  I figure it's best not to find out.  Let's see what they've got for $270...

 

 

 

The Marmot Vertical jacket at $285.  I've been curious about soft shells.  Now, here's a well-rated one that I can try for $15.  Removable hood and pit zips, and available in blue.  What's not to like?

 

So, did I just turn one old jacket into two new ones?

Did I score?

Did I learn a few things?

post #2 of 29

popcorn.gif

post #3 of 29

Did you already order the Marmot Vertical, if not or if returnable consider the Zion polartec neoshell waterproof breathable stretchy softshell. No powder skirt but it may be all you need. http://marmot.com/products/zion_jacket?p=129,142&ft=142
 

post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestion.  While I'm not married to the powder skirt, I do like the Vertical for two reasons: removable hood, and price.  Unless I've got something wrong, that Zion is $100 more.  When the new jackets arrive, I'll post some opinions.

post #5 of 29

neonorchid - do you have the zion? ive been considering a neoshell softshell but cant read through all the marketing hype.

post #6 of 29

The snowpocalypse is a hard shell so I would aim on a softshell from Marmot and use the credit you have, the Polartec Neoshell would be cheap stuff considering your credit, like $150 or so!

 

MH stuff is also very good, I prefer the Victorio jacket over the snowpocalypse but just because I like to use under the cuff gloves and can`t do with the snowpocalypse, but the material is very good more breathable than goretex as they say. I didn`t had a chance to test it yet since I also got it on summer sale.

 

Anyway, I would go for a softshell from Marmot for sure!

post #7 of 29

...don't know, i picked up the sample at from my local REI, liked it allot only didn't actually use it due to lack of snow. I used my Gore-tex shell the two times i got to ski during snow storms. Hardly seemed worth paying full msrp for a jacket i would've used twice so i returned it. As it is i already have four ski jackets! However i would likely repurchase when i find a good buy.

post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 

Snowpocalypse jacket arrived first.  Here's a shot with a base layer and fleece jacket underneath.  Fits well, and not too sweaty with the pit zips open.  Mountain Hardwear's Large is definitely smaller than Marmot's Large.  This jacket's not as baggy as my last one.

 

 

As expected, quality, fit and finish appear good.  Total of seven pockets, headphone wire pass-through.  Pit zips and powder skirt seem fine.  The hood brim is a little stiff, keeping it from lying flat when not in use.  May be less noticeable with a helmet.

post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post

Snowpocalypse jacket arrived first.  Here's a shot with a base layer and fleece jacket underneath.  Fits well, and not too sweaty with the pit zips open.  Mountain Hardwear's Large is definitely smaller than Marmot's Large.  This jacket's not as baggy as my last one.

 

 

As expected, quality, fit and finish appear good.  Total of seven pockets, headphone wire pass-through.  Pit zips and powder skirt seem fine.  The hood brim is a little stiff, keeping it from lying flat when not in use.  May be less noticeable with a helmet.

Nice! How are the cuffs? Are they really not good for under the cuff gloves? I like the color!

post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 

Cuffs are weird.  Forgot to mention that.  They call them "butter jersey" cuffs, whatever that means.  They have a thumb hole so you can keep the sleeves from riding up.  Even though the material is soft and thin, I just shove them up into the sleeve.  They are noticeable in there, but I soon forget about them.  It looks like you could just cut them off if you need more room for under-cuff gloves.  The outer shell cuff has its own velcro size adjustment and opens reasonably wide.  I notice that the current-year Maximalist, Alakazam, Kepler and a few other jackets also have these cuffs.  I guess the feedback wasn't too negative.

 

As for the color, I think it should have been a little more electric green.

post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xela View Post

Cuffs are weird.  Forgot to mention that.  They call them "butter jersey" cuffs, whatever that means.  They have a thumb hole so you can keep the sleeves from riding up.  Even though the material is soft and thin, I just shove them up into the sleeve.  They are noticeable in there, but I soon forget about them.  It looks like you could just cut them off if you need more room for under-cuff gloves.  The outer shell cuff has its own velcro size adjustment and opens reasonably wide.  I notice that the current-year Maximalist, Alakazam, Kepler and a few other jackets also have these cuffs.  I guess the feedback wasn't too negative.

 

As for the color, I think it should have been a little more electric green.

I think the cuffs are similar to the snowtastic, they also have this thumb hole but the softshell cuffs on the outside is very tight although it has the velcro but it doesn`t make much difference since there isn`t space at all. I though the snowpocalypse would be the same but it might provide a little bit more space if you take out the lycra "glove"

post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 

The Marmot Vertical Jacket finally came.  Actually, it came pretty promptly, but it was way too big.  I sent it back and got a medium instead.  Here it is, with just a base layer under.

 

 

 

I'd say it fits about the same as the large from Mountain Hardwear.  I probably could have even gone with a small in this jacket if I really wanted to use the stretch of the softshell material.  It depends a lot on if I try to layer a fleece under this, which I doubt.  Marmot's sizes seem larger than ten years ago.

 

Anyway, it's a nice jacket.  Moderately warm.  Good fit/finish.  Fleecy interior; exterior a bit like a bed sheet.  Removable hood and powder skirt.  Pit zips.  Two inside pockets (one zippered).  Four zippered outside pockets (one on sleeve).  No funky cuffs, just velcro.  The color is quite nice.  For those who use an iPod, I couldn't find a way to route a headphone cord from the outside chest pocket to the inside.  There are some snaps inside in the front middle down low.  Not sure what they're for, but maybe they attach to pants.

 

Now I just need to decide when to wear what.

post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 

So, I've been wearing the Vertical softshell around town a bit.  It's true what some of the reviews say about the arms being long.  It's a little annoying; so, I cinched up the velcro around the cuffs.  If this were a traditional shell, that would take care of it with no big deal.  With the soft shell, since the fabric is thick, I end up with some bunched up material rubbing my wrist.  Not a huge deal, but I thought I'd share.  My opinions may change when I get it on snow.

post #14 of 29

There's a fairly lenghty thread in here about the MH jackets, including the Snowpocalypse.  I had that jacket, skiied it, but ultimately the sizing was pretty off and I had to switch to an XL (I ALWAYS wear large).  At about the same time I ended up with a great deal on the MH Alakazam, and ended up liking it better than the Snowpocalypse.  All great jackets, btw!  I have the blue color in each of them, but after seeing your pic, that yellow/green is pretty slick!

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/106336/mountain-hardwear-kepler-softshell-jacket

post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I read that thread.  I still like the 100% hard shell.

 

I wore my Snowpocalypse to work today.  Now they guys are calling me "highlighter".

post #16 of 29
Thread Starter 

After four days on-snow with the Snowpocalypse, I'm here to report that it works great.  Only two quibbles.  First, the main zipper is difficult to pull up and down.  The jacket uses YKK AquaGuard zippers and the urethane flap adds friction.  It doesn't seem to be a big deal for the pockets or pit zips, but I find that I can't do quick one-handed adjustments of the main zipper.  Of course, that's the one zipper that matters most for temperature regulation and protection from the elements.

 

Second, although this jacket has a ton of pockets, they're not very big.  Once I stuff a Turtle Fur neck gaiter into a chest pocket, it's full and bulges a bit.  My old Cobra had room for the neck gaiter and more.

 

As for the weird cuffs, they don't bother me.  For extra warmth, I even used them once.  Just keep in mind that you can't reach your hand very far into a tight pocket when something is keeping the sleeve from riding up.

post #17 of 29

Xela, for reference, how tall are you?  Weight?  It would help to gauge when we see the pics and size of jackets.  Thanks!

post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 

5'9" 150.  Compared to average people with those numbers, my waist is a bit smaller and my shoulders are a bit wider.

post #19 of 29
Thread Starter 

I bought a tube of McNett Zip Tech and applied it to the zipper of the Snowpocalypse.  Now it goes up and down a bit easier.  It's still not a one-hand job, as the inner storm flap has a way of getting in the zipper's path.  Most of my other jackets have had a similar issue.

post #20 of 29

Fun thread. Glad you like your new duds. For the record, I think we get overwrought about breathability, as if there's some earth shattering difference between membranes, say compared to differences in how much we sweat when we ski. And if there is some minor difference, everything's a tradeoff. Slightly more breathability = slightly less waterproofing or slightly less durability, according to what I've seen. Which makes sense from thinking about how molecules move back and forth. th_dunno-1[1].gif

post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonorchid View Post

Did you already order the Marmot Vertical, if not or if returnable consider the Zion polartec neoshell waterproof breathable stretchy softshell. No powder skirt but it may be all you need. http://marmot.com/products/zion_jacket?p=129,142&ft=142
 

I have a Zion. Great jacket!  Just beware the fit.  I am a small in Patagonia and OR, but the size chart for Marmot said "medium".  Not even close!  Definitely a small.  I have no idea what is up with the misleading size charts.  Why bother printing them at all? 

 

It is more of a medium shell than a soft shell.   Not supple like the Pro Tour jacket.  More weather resistant though, surely more than enough for anything short of a downpour. 

post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

Fun thread. Glad you like your new duds. For the record, I think we get overwrought about breathability, as if there's some earth shattering difference between membranes, say compared to differences in how much we sweat when we ski. And if there is some minor difference, everything's a tradeoff. Slightly more breathability = slightly less waterproofing or slightly less durability, according to what I've seen. Which makes sense from thinking about how molecules move back and forth. th_dunno-1[1].gif

There has definitly been an improvement on breathability while staying windproof as of late.  I used MH Dry-Q jacket last year and it outperformed any Goretex product I have owned (too many) through the years.  Trying out the Marmot Zion this season with Neoshell. Too soon to tell, but my one day out in the high 40's shows it breathes well, but nothing else yet. 

 

Scott, ride less, eat and drink more and Mamot's size charts are spot on.wink.gif  Worked for me anywayeek.gif

post #23 of 29
Thread Starter 

After four days in the Snowpocalypse DryQ Elite hard shell, I can't say I notice any negatives compared to Gore-Tex products I've previously used.  I experienced wind, cold, sun, etc.  I neither felt wind blowing through, nor did I get that swampy feeling.

post #24 of 29
Thread Starter 

The saga continues...

 

I sent the neon yellow Snowpocalypse back to Mountain Hardwear because some items I put in the upper pocket were slipping down into the lower pocket.  I expected them to fix it, but they also noticed some premature fraying of fabric and offered me a $450 credit on a new jacket.

 

So, after much ado, I settled on the Snowtastic Jacket in medium:

 

 

I'm back to my preferred blue (Azul).  They call this a soft shell, but I'd call it a regular shell with a more fuzzy interior.  It doesn't stretch.  Seven pockets, pit zips, powder skirt, Dry.Q Elite.  What's not to like?  They did a good job separating the hood from the collar in back.  I wish the hood just came off.  It's got the same "butter jersey" cuffs with the thumb holes.

 

This 'medium' is only slightly smaller than my previous 'large'.  I think MH is aiming for the average American male.  The jacket feels a bit like a barrel, even with a puffy vest under (as in photo).  I'm certainly thinner than average, but I'd really welcome the return of "athletic fit" for activities that are inherently athletic, such as skiing.

 

I hope this will be my jacket for at least a few years.

post #25 of 29

Excellent comment about the "barrel" fit, and completely agree after owning several MH jackets.  It's true, they're striving for the "average" fit.  Now.......we could have considerable fun arguing what the "average American male" looks like these days in reference to a barrel, but I'll pass on that discussion LOL (we Canucks do enjoy a good chuckle at our southern friends' expense once in awhile ;))

 

That's why I had to sell all my MH gear; after I lost 30 lbs, none of it fits.  I had to find something more "athletic" and trim in its fitting, so I went with all Arc'teryx gear now.  I like MH fabric better, but the fit is impossible for me these days.  I really would LOVE for MH to offer some athletic fits, but it appears that's unfortunately not their target market.  A shame, really.  They make some great stuff.

post #26 of 29

I believe the MH "Minalist" jacket has a bit more of a trim fit than anything else they offer, but that is their only selection and I still wouldn't call it a traditional Alpine fit.

 

I searched high and low for a traditional slim or alpine fit shell and while I really liked the fabric and technical features of the MH jackets, in the end I had to go with a Euro manufacturer. Of all the American outfitters, only a handful have a "slim" model. I was told by a person in the industry it has just as much to do with the "street" culture infecting- sorry I mean affecting- the sport as it does the girth of the average person these days.

 

Congrats on your new jacket Xela! Thanks for keeping us updated after a year. Always good to hear how these companies support their products too.

post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 

Alpenglow, I've been impressed with how both Marmot and Mountain Hardwear stand behind their products.  I should add Outdoor Research to the list, at least for mittens.

 

By the way, back when I used to do winter camping, we used to stuff all manner of gear under our jackets to prevent freezing.  And we often had to add many layers at night.  The bigger problem back then would have been too small of a jacket.  Of course, they were a bit baggy during sunny hikes, but who wants to buy too many jackets?

post #28 of 29

Standing behind product = good thing. Product needing to be stood behind = maybe not so good thing, will be interested in how your new one holds up. Have owned two MH, no Marmots. IME, MH is sort of middling QC, better than North Face, not as good as Arcteryx, similar to REI. Also would note that besides the tradeoffs between breathability and waterproofing, there are tradeoffs between breathability and durability. Meaning that all things equal, the lighter and thinner a membrane and its supporting layer(s) are - all the better to pass water vapor - the quicker it will get frayed or dinged. My old three layer Gore Tex jacket is heavy, noisy, and only so-so for breathability. But I can put all sorts of weird stuff inside, until the zips are straining, and it still may outlast me. My newer Dry Q Jacket is super light, somewhat more breathable, somewhat quieter, packs into nothing. Great for traveling. But I can already tell it's not for skiing trees or sitting on while I wait for my turn at the gate or tormenting the inner pockets with bulky gear or camping on or near decomposed granite. It also runs colder, so I need to compensate by wearing thicker layers...

 

Just my .02 but don't see many free lunches out there. 

post #29 of 29

Agree with some other comments - from a practical point of view, making a jacket with too "athletic" a fit turns it from utilitarian tech wear to basic resort wear. Not everyone has my overgrown shoulders & bulky chest, or my extra bit of insulation, but....IMO a decent tech jacket should allow for several layers and for a beacon. And some folks like stuffing their skins or a small water bottle/bag or snacks, maybe even a radio, etc.  inside. So a bit of spare room can be a big benefit. I'm not commenting on any one jacket - just the fact that tech wear designed to facilitate skinning, boot packing, etc is gonna have a different volume, pocket arrangement, etc. than something meant as basic protection against the elements for piste oriented resort skiing.

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