Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $165 - $185 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros: Highly Featured, Super Comfy, Breathable/Well Ventilated
Cons: Heavy, Fairly Expensive
Best Uses: Recreational Backpacking, Hiking, Light climbing, Around Town
The Marmot Oracle was the rain jacket offering 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 was the heaviest of all the rain jackets we tested and therefore would not be ideal for those seeking the lightest jacket possible. If you are counting the ounces, check out the Patagonia Rain Shadow. Also at $165 this is the second most expensive jacket we tested. 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 liked all the features that Marmot packed onto this jacket and we felt like we were actually wearing a jacket when we put it on. Many of the shells that we tested just felt like a tent rain fly with sleeves and didn’t have any of the extra comforts that we wanted from a jacket. The Oracle was 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 just simply became the jacket that we reached for the most when heading out on a rainy day jog, or a jaunt around town.
We found the jacket to be completely waterproof, and more breathable than the other jackets we tested during higher intensity activities due to the ventilation minded design of the mesh lined front pockets. All of the zippers and cinches were easy to use and didn’t get hung up, and the hood was bomber and comfortable. The fully lined collar and cuffs made the jacket the coziest we tested, and with 5 pockets there were 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
Comfort & Mobility
The Marmot Oracle is loaded with good 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 layered well, and the waistline didn’t ride up too much when we raised our arms keeping our bodies covered and dry.
Aside from comfort and mobility, we thought the Oracle just looked good. It fit really well and generally lacked the boxy look that many rain shells have.
None of the rain jackets that we tested proved to be very breathable. Almost all of the jackets boast a “waterproof breathable technology” of some kind, but please interpret these claims loosely. We found that when we wore the jackets for any kind of high exertion activity (and we pointedly took at least one hard 1 hour run in each jacket… in the rain, in addition to climbing in them, hiking in them, walking in them and biking in them) we found that we were promptly creating our own weather inside the jacket. The only thing that saved us from our self-made monsoon was the fact that each jacket we tested had pit zips to let out some of moisture.
Marmot’s Oracle Rain Jacket has large mesh lined pockets that can be left open in addition to the pit zips to help with breathability. While the jacket wasn’t very breathable with the vents all closed, once we opened the pit zips and the pockets there was considerable air circulation with little loss on weather protection. All in all, a good design.
As with all the rain shells we tested, the Oracle is completely water proof. With 20,000mm in water resistance, Marmot’s layered Membrain fabric did 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.
Weight & Bulk
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 that we tested. If you seek a light rain shell with a minimalist design, look elsewhere, the Oracle might be more accurately described as a packable hardshell rather than a rain shell.
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 water proof pocket that is perfect for stashing your electronic devices, keeping the away from the outside rain, and the condensation inside the jacket.
The hood is of good design and all the cinches are easily operated for good adjustability. 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. 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.
Any activity in wet or rainy conditions; around town use. Since this jacket has a fully lined collar it could also comfortably cross over as a shell for skiing or other winter activities, but layer up. As with all rain jackets, breathability is poor so layer with a synthetic base layer in high intensity adventures or suffer the clammy consequences.
— Robert Beno
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Most recent review: November 27, 2012
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