New for review, interesting hooded soft shell using zoned fabrics for a mix of weather resistance and breathability.
Alongside the revised Super Mica Jacket we've got in for a look, we also have a brand spanking new for spring 2012, Marmot Vapor Trail Hoody, a non-membrane soft shell top with, erm, a hood.
First thing you notice is that the jacket has a lovely, soft, handle – tech speak for the way the fabric feels - then you spot that the front panel is lined with a velour-type microfleece fabric for some extra insulation in that area – the rest of the jacket is unlined.
Two Grades Of Fabric
There are actually two varieties of Marmot's stretchy Polyester-based m2 soft shell fabric in the jacket. The fabric in the front panel of the jacket and the outside of the sleeves and hood, the light blue portion in the images, is pretty much windproof and highly water resistant with it.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the fabric, the darker coloured panels, are a much more permeable material for better breathability. In our highly scientific, OM 'blowing through the fabric' lab test, the light stuff felt pretty much completely windproof, while the side panels were decidedly not very windproof at all.
The idea is to get weather protection where you need it, but in less exposed areas, to sacrifice wind and rain resistance for breathability making the jacket a much more comfortable prospect in milder conditions when working hard. Or in cold conditions working really hard.
Past Experience Suggests...
We've used a few jackets with this sort of construction before and it works pretty well. The Mountain Equipment Astron, for example, mixes PowerShield with PowerStretch side panels and works well for fast-moving stuff in cold weather. Or slower activities when it's milder. We'd expect the Vapor Trail Hoody to do a similar job.
Marmot says the cut is 'athletic', but ours is quite generously sized for a medium and certainly not as uncompromising as, say, Arcteryx or the first generation Berghaus Asgard kit. It's reasonably long too. Mobility is great reaching up, out, over or every which way.
MP3 Port And All...
The detailing's nice too with two windproof-ish, pack-belt dodging hand-warmer pockets, a ski-pass pocket on the upper sleeve and an internal zipped pocket complete with MP3 player headphone outlet.
The hem's adustable with shock-cord pulls at each side – might need care in harness mode, though you could always cut them to length – and elasticated cuffs. The latter are a bit loose on us, but we have quite slim wrists and, to be honest, given the porosity of the side panels, it's no big deal.
Then there's the hood. It uses the same stretch, nigh-on windproof material as the front panel and sleeves and is nice and stretchy with front and back adjustment cords, it'll fit over a helmet too, making it climable and the stretch helps with mobility.
One thing we're not sure about is the long term durability of the fabric when used with a pack. It does have a soft feel to the face and polyester tends not to be as durable as polyamide (posh word for Nylon) and even though Marmot has used some reinforcing strips on the shoulder they look more consmetic than practical.
Last thing, weight is just 390 grammes so it's not going to put a big hole in your lightweight gramme budget and it would team nicely with the Super Mica, with the waterproof coming out when the going gets properly wet.
Price once it's available in the UK in the near future will be £130. More Marmot info at www.marmot.com and for UK Marmot info, www.marmot.eu.