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Has Marmot Quality Slipped?

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
My last Marmot jacket served me well for over 10 years and since I liked the design of this year's Tower 8 I didn't think twice about purchasing it. I was thinking that I was getting a lot of features for $350 msrp (I'm one of the few people who really like the Zippin' liner concept), and maybe I got a jacket from a bad manufacturing run, but....

After only a few uses I noticed that the jacket's lining material was puckering in some places (like it was going to wear through from abarsion, perhaps from my pant's suspenders), while threads had been pulled loose in other places to the extent that small tears in the lining have started. The lining material is supposedly a ripstop nylon, but it appears to be anything but - from the looks of the damage I doubt it will make it through the rest of the season without shredding!

I soon discovered that even the slightest contact with the hook portion of velcro causes the "pulled threads" damage to the material (which appears to be even occuring from some of the velcro patches on the jacket itself). I don't know about other skiers, but bouts with velcro is an unavoidable abuse that my gear needs to reasonably withstand, which it generally has until now.

So tell me EpicSkiers, is this just a defective garment (a call to Marmot resulted in a "...haven't heard about that problem before...." response) or has Marmot's quality gone to hell (and are they now making stuff that is better used as evening wear rather than for outdoor activity)?
post #2 of 41
My wife bought a new Marmot jacket this year at a ski shop in seattle,it has been holding up great to our cold and wet Alaska winter.
post #3 of 41
So much has changed in terms of fabric and manufacturing that i don't think any brand's design, durability or craftsmanship ten years ago could help predict the quality of the stuff they make today. So i would say just about everyone's quality has changed, but stuff is lighter these days. A good retailer should take it back - try another of the same jacket or one from a different manufacturer. I think this sort of thing is pretty common these days. People will swear by one brand, but every brand will make some designs that are bad and go to market anyway, the important thing is how they take care of your problem for you.
post #4 of 41
And Marmot's own customer service is excellent. They'll replace anything that's no longer bullet-proof, speaking from experience.
post #5 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by akski View Post
My wife bought a new Marmot jacket this year at a ski shop in seattle,it has been holding up great to our cold and wet Alaska winter.
Do you know the model name of the jacket - not all were made with the same lining material as mine?
post #6 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post
And Marmot's own customer service is excellent. They'll replace anything that's no longer bullet-proof, speaking from experience.
That's good to know, though when I called them today their inital response was "Don't let the lining come in contact with whatever is causing this damage." After further discussion they did say they would stand behind the product, though I would need to send it to them so they can "inspect" it for six weeks to determine the source of the problem. It ain't sounding like great customer service so far!
post #7 of 41
Yeah, the turnaround on return/replacements is generally too slow to preclude buying something else in the interim. I've had that experience with Marmot, North Face and Arcteryx. Don't think there's any way around it.
post #8 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chemSki View Post
....A good retailer should take it back - try another of the same jacket or one from a different manufacturer. ...
Yeah the retailer said they would take it back or exchange it - they're not leaving me out to dry. The problem is: 1) I really like the combination of features in this jacket and am not ready to try another model or manufacturer just yet, and 2) The retailer could not give me any assurance that the replacement jacket wouldn't have the same problem (I take a Small which is only available via the Internet, so I can't see the garment in person before ordering it, and the retailer of course isn't interested in determining if the replacement is "velcro-proof").

So my choices are to send it to Marmot for six weeks of "research" (after which they'll tell me what's next), roll the dice and try another version of the garment, or try another model. If this is what defines good customer service so be it, but I'd rather rather go skiing....
post #9 of 41
Roll the dice. If the new jacket still has the problem, bear with it until the off season and send it back, or just return it to the store and go with a different brand.

CJ
post #10 of 41
Long time Marmot wearer here: Shells, Ski Pants, Fleeces, Gloves, and Zip-neck shirts. My latest gear is in its third season and is holding up great. Only thing that didn't last more than one season was some lesser priced "Piste" gloves. Had to replace those after one year due to seams between fingers unraveling, plus they were not very warm. Replaced them with more expensive "Randonnee" gloves that are performing well (previous pair of same model lasted 7 seasons). For reference, I used my first set of Marmot outerwear for almost 10 seasons also. Even sent the pants back one off-season due to a seam issue and they were back within a few weeks, and had no further problems with them.
post #11 of 41
We have three Marmot items in our outdoor wear collection, and ALL have zipper problems. Hmmmm....
post #12 of 41
Marmot is one of the many brands owned by Jarden Corp., along with K2, Marker, Volkl, Mr. Coffee, Seal-a-Meal, and many others. They're in the branded consumer products business, not the outdoor specialty business.
post #13 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post
Marmot is one of the many brands owned by Jarden Corp., along with K2, Marker, Volkl, Mr. Coffee, Seal-a-Meal, and many others. They're in the branded consumer products business, not the outdoor specialty business.
Indeed..., yet, while I can't speak to the quality of Mr. Coffee, the Jarden Corp. seems to have maintained a fairly high standing for K2, Marker and Volkl. I guess the garment industry is a different beast whereby, once it transitions from a cottage business to part of an international conglomerate, item-to-item and/or model-to-model quality control can definitely become loosey-goosey.

As of now I'm leaning towards taking the advice of CJO and exchanging the jacket for the same model. That might help determine if I just got one defective item or if the Jarden multi-national conglomerate wasn't paying attention to the lining material selection for this and several other jackets in their line (they use the same material in at least five other jackets in their line and that's just the Men's stuff).
post #14 of 41
I had to replace my Marmot Randonee gloves a few years back (after several years of faithful service). The new pair didn't hold up very well. Stiches came undone and there were a few rips in the fingers. I still love the fit, but a $90 pair of gloves should last for more than 20-25 skier days.
post #15 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski-ra View Post
...while I can't speak to the quality of Mr. Coffee, the Jarden Corp. seems to have maintained a fairly high standing for K2, Marker and Volkl....
A little bit of googling has revealed that:
  • K2 aquired Marmot (along with Marker and Volkl) in 2004.
  • Jarden acquired K2 in 2007.
If more negative comments about the quality of Marmot gear are posted it might be interesting to see which of the two above dates seem to be the beginning of the end....
post #16 of 41
I'm an Arc'teryx man but have always held Marmot is high esteem. I ski and climb with several Marmot athletes and I've not really heard that the quality has declined on their higher end stuff. That being said, like most K2 products there are a lot of items that are made for the masses. As a result, there are some less technical pieces that just aren't the quality of their higher end stuff.
post #17 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skierhj View Post
...I ski and climb with several Marmot athletes and I've not really heard that the quality has declined on their higher end stuff....there are some less technical pieces that just aren't the quality of their higher end stuff.
Sounds like Marmot now needs to be seen as in the same category TNF (though at least the TNF website provides hints about which of their products are "technical" vs. not.)

Anyway, Marmot's line between technical and less technical may be based on their use of Gore-Tex. The Gore-Tex jackets appear to have a heavier-duty lining material than those with Marmot's "MemBrain" shell material. I of course bought a MemBrain jacket (I don't need Gore-Tex for skiing in CO and only the MemBrain jackets come with the zip-in insulation liner that I've always loved, though that may change...).
Quote:
Originally Posted by skierhj View Post
...like most K2 products there are a lot of items that are made for the masses....
I consider myself somewhere between "technical" and "the masses" (I'm a hard-charging in-bounds skier). Nevertheless I can't imagine that K2 intended even their "for the masses" products to shred when coming in light contact with velcro....
post #18 of 41
Good point I was not implying that K2 was intending to make an inferior product. But merely stating that once they asked for products that could be sold at a lower price point, and with great production numbers it's likely that cheaper materials and massed produced products may have caused some of the more price friendly items to be a lower quality than some of the technical pieces. This is also, by no means, a criticism of lower priced items. There are some good pieces that don't cost a fortune. I think there are some massed produced pieces that were made for sale to big chain stores that might not be totally on par with the quality that Marmot would generally be expected to make
post #19 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skierhj View Post
Good point I was not implying that K2 was intending to make an inferior product. But merely stating that once they asked for products that could be sold at a lower price point, and with great production numbers it's likely that cheaper materials and massed produced products may have caused some of the more price friendly items to be a lower quality than some of the technical pieces.... I think there are some massed produced pieces that were made for sale to big chain stores that might not be totally on par with the quality that Marmot would generally be expected to make
Understood! The funny thing is that the item I bought is the 2nd most expensive ski jacket that Marmot sells, the most expensive MemBrain jacket they sell, and was not available in any store (big chain or not) in Denver. You would think this would put this jacket in the category of the quality we might expect from Marmot.

OTOH it is beginning to appear that the store buyers no longer view Marmot as making a technical product - their stuff is no longer available in Denver-area mountaineering shops and only their lower-end stuff is available in REI, etc. I should have taken this as a hint and moved on to another manufacturer, which may still happen....
post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski-ra View Post
Understood! The funny thing is that the item I bought is the 2nd most expensive ski jacket that Marmot sells, the most expensive MemBrain jacket they sell, and was not available in any store (big chain or not) in Denver. You would think this would put this jacket in the category of the quality we might expect from Marmot.

OTOH it is beginning to appear that the store buyers no longer view Marmot as making a technical product - their stuff is no longer available in Denver-area mountaineering shops and only their lower-end stuff is available in REI, etc. I should have taken this as a hint and moved on to another manufacturer, which may still happen....
I have noticed it too: Patagonia and Mammut, with some BD and OR stuff sprinkled in, are the big brands for ice climbing and mountaineering anymore. There is especially a big Patagonia presence around here, but they sponsor several climbers in the area.

I remember when Marmot was the pinnacle in terms of mountaineering gear. It beat the snot out of my Mountain Hardware stuff.

Mammut stuff is some of the nicest on the market.
post #21 of 41
Patagonia customer service is particularly good if you live in a city with a patagonia store. REI will take stuff back, but their selection is often pretty bad. I also get the impression that patagonia pays closer attention to manufacturing because of their focus on recycled/organic/green materials. The chinese factory that made your marmot jacket one week might make a north face jacket the next, and each design probably wasn't tested by any athelete anywhere before hitting stores...
post #22 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chemSki View Post
Patagonia customer service is particularly good if you live in a city with a patagonia store. REI will take stuff back, but their selection is often pretty bad. I also get the impression that patagonia pays closer attention to manufacturing because of their focus on recycled/organic/green materials. The chinese factory that made your marmot jacket one week might make a north face jacket the next, and each design probably wasn't tested by any athelete anywhere before hitting stores...
chemSki - I followed your previous post quite well and it was vey helpful (thank you), though you kind of lost me on the above - are you stating that Marmot has gone the way of TNF in terms of quality control and that Patagonia has not? (If so, I agree, my wife bought a Patagonia jacket at the same time as I bought my Marmot and the materials and construction of the Patagonia are clearly of much higher quality). Otherwise, I'm not sure I follow what the point is about REI. Not trying to be insulting here....
post #23 of 41
Sorry, I guess I was mostly following up on dawgatching's comment. I just think that a lot of designs are made here in the states, and sent off to china for manufacture, so it's hard to have good oversight. It seems many brands that start small and high quality lose some control of their product as they get popular and have to sell higher volumes. But patagonia is very involved in sourcing fabric, avoiding sweatshop conditions, toxic dyes, etc. as part of their environmental focus. They have to work closely with manufacturers to achieve this. All this involvement is unusual and probably part of the reason their quality is consistently very good.

It seems marmot just changed owners, so who knows if a good jacket design got a cheapo liner because gave a $5 better margin because of it. Or maybe the manufacturer didn't use the specified fabric or they used a different factory this year. Does that make sense? For the most part, I think brand loyalty is a little silly these days because of the global way this stuff gets manufactured.

As for the REI comment - their customer service is generally very good. They will give you a refund for just about anything with very little hassle. I just think that the designs they carry are often the slightly cheapo, high volume, fashion stuff. They often don't stock as much well thought out, simple, functional gear as I would like.

Not trying to rant. I've had some similar bummer experiences, hope you can find something you like.
post #24 of 41
I own stuff by Marmot, Mammut, Arcteryx and North Face. Only Mountain Hardware item I have is a tent, so nothing to say there. Have never really been into Patagonia; worked in a shop that didn't carry it, so kind of got biased against it years ago.

I've always felt Marmot had the best stitching and zippers of any manufacturer. Good service.

I thought laminating was better on my old Moonstone jacket than any of the others.

I like Arcteryx a lot but it's always seemed more delicate to me than Marmot, like they've traded some durability for weight, look and features. I had a good experience with Arcteryx service too.

Mammut is really growing on me.

North Face has fine quality for what it is/how it's priced and customer service is very good too.

As for gloves/mitts, none seem to last very long, though I'm partial to Black Diamond at the moment.
post #25 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chemSki View Post
Not trying to rant. I've had some similar bummer experiences, hope you can find something you like.
Now I got what you were getting at - thanks!
post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski-ra View Post
Now I got what you were getting at
Isn't that a song by Sly and the Family Stone?
post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski-ra View Post
I of course bought a MemBrain jacket (I don't need Gore-Tex for skiing in CO and only the MemBrain jackets come with the zip-in insulation liner that I've always loved, though that may change...).

Don't underestimate the breathability of GoreTex, especially GoreTex XCR or Pro. It is generally significantly more breathable than some of the other "in-house" technologies the other companies use. You may not care about the waterproof aspects, but the breathability is an important factor. My XCR jacket is actually more breathable than the non-waterproof shell it replaced.
post #28 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
Don't underestimate the breathability of GoreTex, especially GoreTex XCR or Pro....
Yeah I sometimes short-sell myself. Though it's not that I couldn't benefit from a GoreTex jacket its that I've painted myself into a features-preference corner. Namely, I really like the zip-in insulation liner concept which is a feature NOT included with the GoreTex offerings of Marmot or TNF (and of course Columbia, the only other company that offers this feature doesn't sell GoreTex jackets).

I am going to exchange my Marmot jacket for the same model to see if that improves the lining shredding issue. If not I will be faced with the choice between superior quality (and materials that I don't think I need) vs. the features I covet (and rolling the dice on quality and longevity).

Stand by!
post #29 of 41
Between my wife and I we've got 5 Marmot jackets currently in use, one of them is about 25 years old. My newest one has a crappy zipper and does not appear to be constructed quite up to their previous standards, but still not bad. All their stuff is "guaranteed for life," so if you have a problem send it back.
post #30 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post
All their stuff is "guaranteed for life," so if you have a problem send it back.
Yeah Marmot isn't balking at dealing with the issue. It's just that they will need to keep the jacket for 6 weeks, and thereafter they'll either send some type of replacement (which probably won't be the same model since if this is the systemic issue I believe it is or given that they've already made and shipped all of these for this season) or I get to choose another model. Sounds great, but I narrowed it down to this one model, so I'd have to go back to figuring what other jacket might work best for me. Ah the price of being picky and OCD!
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