The Marmot Zion Jacket utilizes Polartec’s NeoShell, and is seam taped, providing the waterproof and windproof protection of a hard shell with the soft hand, elasticity and quietness of a soft shell. Depending on the point of view, this jacket is a highly breathable “hard shell,” or an extremely weatherproof softshell, best suited for the cold, windy and wet mountain environments.
Breathability The Marmot Zion jacket’s three-layer laminate limits breathability compared to other soft shells, making it better suited for low to moderate aerobic activity in colder temperatures. Full-length pit zips aid in dumping heat when necessary, but the NeoShell laminated membrane, although highly breathable for a waterproof garment, limits vapor transfer compared to non-laminated soft shells.
Durability The Marmot Zion jacket shows no visible wear after consistent use in rocky surroundings with pack straps, hip belts and climbing harnesses. The DWR coating still repels water droplets after repeated washings.
Weatherproofing This jacket was the most weatherproof of the test; completely waterproof and essentially windproof NeoShell fabric, 100% seam taping and water resistant zippers yield confidence when conditions deteriorate. The hood also closes down tightly around the face to provide excellent head and neck coverage. Although there is a fleece lining, it provides little warmth on its own.
Fit/Comfort The Marmot Zion Jacket is athletically cut, being moderately trim in the torso and just wide enough in the shoulders. Layering fits underneath but can cause a little tightening in the upper back when arms are forward with higher lofted garments. The torso length is just long enough to go under a climbing harness. “Angel-Wing Movement” patterning produces minimal creep of the Velcro adjusted asymmetric cuffs when arms move overhead without using overly long sleeves. The hood is adjustable at both sides in the front and on the rear, but fits tightly when used with a helmet, causing some binding when looking side to side. The elastic cord in the lower hem is adjustable on both sides via captive cord locks.
Compressibility The Marmot Zion Jacket compresses down to about the size of large grapefruit. Although not as compressible as non-laminated soft shells, it packs small for a three-layer waterproof jacket that has a full complement of extras.
Features The Marmot Zion jacket has an impressive array of pockets, all with water resistant zippers: two high handwarmer pockets (clears pack hip belts), one interior chest pocket, one exterior chest pocket and one upper sleeve pocket. It is also the only jacket in the test with full-length pit zips.
Seiji Ishii works as a trainer to professional supercross/motocross riders, adventure riding test editor at Dirt Rider Magazine and an AMGA certified rock climbing guide/instructor for White Star Mountain Guides/Austin Rock Gym. He lives in Wimberley, TX with wife Shay, 3 year old daughter Sequoia, 3 dogs and a cat. His personal time is spent rock climbing, any form of dirt biking, cycling, and training for the next mountaineering adventure.