Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $109 - $185 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros: Highly featured, super comfy, breathable/well-ventilated, versatile
Cons: Heavy, fairly expensive
Best Uses: Recreational backpacking, hiking, climbing, around town
The Marmot Oracle is the rain jacket that offers the most features and creature comforts of all the jackets we tested. All of the cool features on the Oracle do come at price however: weight, and well…price. The Oracle is the heaviest of all the rain jackets we tested, and therefore would not be ideal for those seeking a light, minimalist jacket. If you are counting the ounces, check out the Patagonia Rain Shadow or the Outdoor Research Helium 2. For a more affordable, slightly less featured rain jacket we recommend the Marmot PreCip ($100) (our Best Buy Winner), or the Patagonia Torrentshell ($120). To see exactly how it compared to others, check out our complete Rain Jacket Review.
We found the jacket to be completely waterproof and more breathable than the others during high intensity activities due to the added ventilation of the mesh lined front pockets. All of the zippers and cinches are easy to use and didn’t get hung up, and the hood is bomber and comfortable. The fully lined collar and cuffs make the jacket the coziest we tested, and with 5 pockets, there are plenty of options for stashing our stuff. The fabric is durable and the overall construction is quality.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A fully-featured, comfort-oriented rain jacket, this plush model is for those who value comfort, want a jacket that is easily lived in, and can pay the price to match. At 17.9 ounces, this jacket is heavy and not for those wanting a minimal jacket for long backcountry trips.
As with all the rain shells we tested, the Oracle is completely waterproof. With 20,000mm in water resistance, Marmot’s MemBrain® Strata™ fabric does the trick, and we didn’t have any trouble with water leaking or seeping in on any part of the jacket. All the seams are taped and the zippers are all housed in storm flaps. No water coming in through this jacket.
None of the rain jackets that we tested proved to be very breathable, though the 2.5 layer MemBrain® Strata™ is more breathable than simpler, two-layer fabrics.
Marmot’s Oracle Rain Jacket has large mesh lined pockets that can be left open in addition to pit-zips to help with breathability. While the jacket isn’t very breathable with the vents all closed, once the pit-zips and pockets are opened, there is considerable air circulation with little loss on weather protection. All in all, a good design.
Comfort & Mobility
The Marmot Oracle is loaded with handy design features, and is the most comfortable of all the rain jackets that we tested. The entire collar is lined with fleece, making it super cozy and adding warmth, while also giving the collar a little bit more structure and visible appeal when the hood is removed (yes the hood is removable). The inside of the cuffs are also lined with fleece for extra coziness.
The fit and cut of the jacket are well thought out, and testers found the Oracle to be comfortable and uninhibiting during long reaches and awkward movement. It layers well, and the waistline didn’t ride up too much when the arms are raised, which keeps the body covered and dry.
Aside from comfort and mobility, we think the Oracle just looks good. It fit really well and generally lacked the boxy look that many rain shells have. We would not be embarrassed to be seen around town in this piece.
We like all the features that Marmot packed into this jacket, and it feels like actually wearing a jacket when we put it on, as opposed to just a waterproof skin. Many of the shells that we tested more closely resemble a tent rain fly with sleeves, and didn’t have any of the extra comforts that we want from a jacket. The Oracle is the closest thing we tested to a lightweight coat that could be used for a wider range of applications instead of a single function rain coat. Additionally, the jacket performed very well in all of our testing, and it became the jacket that we reached for the most when heading out on a rainy day jog, or a jaunt around town.
Where most of the shells that we tested have a minimalist feel and generally only have two or three pockets, the Oracle has 5; a little excessive maybe, but still useful at times. The best pocket that the jacket has is an interior waterproof pocket that is perfect for stashing your electronic devices, keeping your goods safe and stashed away from the outside rain as well as the condensation inside the jacket.
The hood is of good design and all the cinches are easily operated for an adjustable fit. And as a bonus, the hood zips completely off. While we didn’t use this feature, we thought it was nice to have the option and use it just as an around town layer when it is not raining. The waistline cinches are the easiest to operate of all the rain shells we tested. The loose ends of the elastic cord are threaded through the inside of the pockets, so all it takes is a quick pull on the cord in the pocket, and the waist cinches up tight. Pretty cool. The cuffs are easily closed with a simple Velcro strap, all the zippers are smooth, and the pit-zips go with one hand.
Weight & Bulk
All these features come as a cost, however, and that is weight. While the Oracle packs down nice and small inside one of the pockets, all the features of this jacket make it heavy. At 17.9 ounces it is the heaviest rain shell that we tested, making it not suitable for light and fast endeavors. Additionally, when packed up inside its pocket, it was one of the larger “packages” of all the jackets. If you seek a light rain shell with a minimalist design, look elsewhere, perhaps towards the Top Pick winning Montane Minimus Jacket. the Oracle might be more accurately described as a packable hardshell rather than a rain shell.
This jacket all perform during any activity in wet or rainy conditions, and is particularly well-suited to around town use. Since this jacket has a fully lined collar, it comfortably crosses over as a shell for skiing or other winter activities, but you will need to layer up underneath. As with all rain jackets, breathability is relatively poor, so layer with a synthetic base layer during high intensity adventures or suffer the clammy consequences.
At $185, this is one of the more expensive rain jackets we tested. For a shell that potentially has many uses, it can be an investment quality piece and get a lot os use, making the price worth it. At a cost well under a hard shell but serving almost the same purpose, we think the Oracle is a great deal.
For someone wanting a versatile, comfort-oriented shell, the Oracle is a wonderful jacket with handy features. Not for the weight-concious consumer, this is a jacket aimed at livability as well as protection.
— Robert Beno and McKenzie Long
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 2, 2013
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