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!
Since Marmot makes our best-selling line of rain jackets, 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.
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.
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.
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 Super Mica Jacket (men’s)
Marmot nails literally everything with this one. It won awards when it was first introduced, and it keeps getting better and better. Imagine the wispy Mica jacket with abrasion-resistant screening on the shoulders and hips, the addition of pit zips and 2-ounce weight penalty; that’s what we have here, a rain shell that’s light enough for emergency-style “always in the bottom of your pack” carry but tough enough for workhorse duty in real-world bad weather.
The new NanoPro Membrain is fantastic, with a better feel and more air permeability than its much-loved predecessor. THIS is why Marmot’s rain jackets are so highly-regarded.
Marmot Nano AS Jacket (men’s)
This is the high-performance, high-output shell of the bunch; at just under 12 ounces, it features the incredibly breathable GORE-TEX Active waterproof laminate and packs down to the size of a softball. Really. This is a jacket as agile as you are; GREAT for bikepacking, ultralight backpacks or anytime you’re moving fast and light in harsh conditions.
GORE-TEX Active is the star here, with windproof protection and reliable waterproofness in a package that offers breathability levels absolutely unheard of just a couple years ago. Marmot doesn’t even need to bother with pit zips here. Do you “wet out” the inside of your shell? Take a look at this one.
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!