Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $165
Pros: Well-featured, comfortable, lightweight
Cons: Velcro hood adjustment instead of elastic
Best Uses: Hiking, Backpacking, Biking, Around Town, Kayaking
Marmot's Aegis Jacket is our testers' favorite, winning it our Editor's Choice Award. The Aegis Jacket is essentially the same jacket as the Marmot Oracle (our previous Editor's Choice winner), but with this jacket Marmot has trimmed some of the fat, making it lighter while retaining the same level of comfort and weather protection. The Aegis is comfortable, completely waterproof, and has enough features on it to stand out, without being cumbersome.
It proved itself to be a more than competent barrier against the elements, being wind resistant as well as waterproof. The storm flap on the main zipper keeps water from leaking in through the front and the waterproof zippers on the pockets prevent water from seeping inside. We experienced no leaking on the seams, and the hood keeps the head and face dry.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A fairly lightweight rain jacket with just the right amount of features, this fully waterproof layer with a roll-away hood and pit-zips is the perfect protection against a rain storm, weather you are hiking in the backcountry, walking the dog, or running errands around town.
Marmot's layered MemBrain® Strata™ fabric is completely waterproof and and does not allow leaking or seeping in any part of the jacket. The jacket is 100% seam taped and features water resistant zippers which do not leak.
To test breathability we climbed, hiked, walked, and biked in each jacket. We also pointedly ran for at least one hard hour in each jacket… in the rain. We found that during any kind of high exertion activity we were promptly creating our own weather inside most of the jackets. The only thing that saved us from our self-made monsoons was the fact that many jackets we tested had pit-zips to let out some of moisture and let in some fresh air.
As could be expected, none of the rain jackets that we tested proved to be outstandingly breathable. Almost all of the jackets boast a "waterproof/breathable technology" of some kind, but typically rain shells use two-layer fabrics that are less breathable than materials used in hard shell jackets. If you want the latest in waterproof/breathable technology, reference The Best Hard Shell Jacket Review, which evaluates even more technical performance pieces, though they will usually cost significantly more than a rain jacket.
The Aegis actually uses a 2.5 layer material, which is more breathable than many other two-layer materials. Another benefit to this MemBrain® Strata™ fabric is that it includes micro particles on the interior of the lamination to cut down on the clammy feeling that some rain jackets elicit. This also enhances durability. If you would prefer a more breathable jacket made from a three-layer material, but that is still not as pricey as a hard shell, try the REI Kimtah Jacket, which is constructed from eVent.
Marmot's Aegis Jacket enhances the the fabric's ability to let out moisture by also providing pit-zips and mesh lined pockets to allow air circulation. We found that when opened, the pit-zips and mesh pockets significantly increased the ability of the jacket to let moisture out and kept the clamminess created by our own exertion down to a manageable level.
Comfort & Mobility
The Aegis is a comfortable jacket with excellent mobility and a good fit. The collar and cuffs are lined with DriClime® microfleece, providing an extra degree of comfort that is often not found on minimalist rain jackets. An adjustable hood provides good protection from the weather and is fairly comfortable, and rolls away into a cushy collar when not needed. We found it to be unrestrictive in our activities.
This jacket has just enough features to stand out as more than a simple rain shell, but is not overburdened with inconvenient pockets, unnecessary adjustment points, and heavy extra zippers. Two front hand pockets which double as vents and a small pocket on the arm provide enough room to stash some belongings as well as keep your hands out of the weather. All the pockets have water resistant zippers that keep water out and function smoothly.
The hood is easily adjusted, has a generous brim, and fits comfortably on the head, though we feel that an elastic adjustment on the back of the hood would have been superior to the Velcro adjustment that is in place. If it's a windy, clear day and the hood is flapping around uselessly, you can roll the hood up, forming a collar around the neck to get it out of the way.
There is a single adjustment point along the waistline operated by a simple toggle and the cuffs are easily closed up tight with Velcro enclosures. The main zipper is dual-direction and is covered by a storm flap. The storm flap is secured along its length with intermittent Velcro enclosures. All together, these simple features add up to just the right amount of comfort, protection, and adjustability to make this jacket easy to use and to live in.
Weight & Bulk
Weighing in at 13.4oz, the Aegis Jacket is one of the lighter models in our sample set. It is not a minimalist, super-lightweight model, but it it weighs a whole three ounces less than its comfortable cousin, the Marmot Oracle. It is light enough to bring along on extended trekking trips and, in our opinion, strikes an excellent balance between economy of weight, comfort, and features. If looking for a lighter weight piece, the Montane Minimus Jacket is our favorite lightweight rain shell and the Outdoor Research Helium 2 - Men's is also notable at only 6.3 ounces, half the weight of the Aegis and it packs down into a small, convenient package.
This jacket shines in any activity during wet or rainy conditions: backpacking, hiking, biking, camping, and general around town use. Since it is is middle of the road in terms of weight and has some comfort features, it is a versatile piece that can be used for any activity you need it for.
For around $165, the Aegis is an excellent buy. For a completely waterproof, protective jacket that is not extremely bulky, this is a good deal. Additionally, the material is fairly durable, so you will get decent life out of this jacket. It is less expensive than the similar Marmot Oracle, and far less expensive than a hard shell, which would essentially serve the same purpose. If you would like a jacket similar to this one but don't want to drop the cash, we also love the less expensive Marmot Precip, which won our Best Buy award.
All in all, this jacket is as capable of performing well as a backcountry essential or as a lifestyle piece for around town use. With a $160 price tag, it isn't an economy jacket, but it will prove to be a quality piece time and again. For the lightest jacket possible check out the Outdoor Research Helium 2, or for a burly jacket with a minimalist design and an equally breathable 2.5 layer material try Marmot Minimalist Jacket.
Looking for a women's rain jacket? Check out the Marmot Oracle - Women's, $186.
The Marmot PreCip - Men's - $100, or Marmot PreCip - Women's is the best value out of all the rain jackets we tested and it wins our Best Buy Award.
— Robert Beno and McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: February 20, 2014
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