Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: stretchy, very breathable
Cons: tight sleeves are hard to layer underneath, hood doesn't fit over a helmet, short hemline, not very water resistant
Best Uses: winter aerobic activities: hiking, running, cycling, cross country skiing, snowshoeing
Like peanut butter and jelly joining salty and sweet forces to form a classic and packable sandwich, the Marmot ROM is a hybrid jacket constructed from two very different materials that strive to strike the perfect balance for winter sports protection. This piece is comprised primarily of Gore Windstopper, a stretchy but windproof material, but it also incorporates Marmot M2 softshell, a thin material that is highly breathable and flexible, underneath the arms and at the end of the sleeves. It is similar in its body-mapped design to the Outdoor Research Enchainment – Women's, which is also a hybrid jacket with the opposite focus. The Enchainment succeeds in being more protective from weather than the average softshell, while the ROM succeeds in creating above average breathability while still blocking a significant amount of wind.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
he Marmot ROM is a hybrid jacket that offers technical performance during high exertion activities by combining a windproof material with a very thin, breathable material under the arms.
Like other hybrid jackets, such as the similarly designed OR Enchainment, the Marmot ROM uses a combination of fabrics to create a unique protection layer with added temperature regulation. Marmot adds windproof material to M2 softshell that makes up the underarm panels and sleeve cuffs, and is thin, stretchy, and highly breathable.
This does prevent sweat from building up inside the jacket, and allows for excellent temperature moderation during aerobic activities. This panel on the ROM is much larger than on the Enchainment, though the thin fabric isn't found anywhere on the jacket other than under the arms. The piece has wide swaths of the thin fabric that begin under the arms and reach all the way down the sleeves and completely around the wrists, forming the cuffs themselves. On the Enchainment, the breathable material reaches from about 3 inches above the hem, runs underneath the whole arm, and stops about 3 inches from the sleeve cuffs. It also has small portions across the back of the neck, on the hood, and by the chin. Overall, we find the ROM to be one of the most breathable pieces in our tests.
With body-mapped Windstopper softshell material, this jacket is windproof in the areas that get hammered by the wind the most, which is the chest, back, and hood. However, if you are out in intense wind, the M2 softshell material lets wind whistle right through the underarms. The Windstopper fabric also adds a degree of water resistance, but isn't nearly as water resistant as the Enchainment. On the Patagonia Mixed Guide Hoody - Women's, also a hybrid design jacket, the shoulders and hood are made from waterproof hardshell material, adding much more weather resistance than is found on the ROM.
The thin and lightweight nature of this jacket make it exceptionally flexible and mobile. It moves with the wearer and feels like a second skin. The only dock on mobility points came from the tight-fitting sleeves. If only wearing a tank top underneath, the sleeves are a perfect fit. If you try to layer with a base layer and a fleece underneath, the sleeves become uncomfortably restrictive. This is yet another indication that this jacket works best as a layer during aerobic activities, where wearing multiple layers underneath a shell is unlikely.
Any jacket that is under a pound earns our approval, and this piece is the lightest in our entire test group, weighing only 0.85 pounds. This makes for an easy choice to toss in your pack when headed on a day hike or weekend camping trip. It won't weigh you down.
The hood on this jacket does not quite fit over a helmet and the thin stretchy material that makes up the adjustable sleeve cuffs do not fit well over most gloves. What does this tell us? This shell is not built for skiers or ice climbers, but is best suited to runners, hikers, and campers who have no need to wear a helmet or bulky gloves. The hem and helmet do adjust to seal out wind. Other than that, the feature list is simple: two mesh-lined hand pockets and a chest pocket.
Style & Fit
The look of this jacket is appealing. It is form-fitting and flattering, simple with fun colors, and just slightly techy. In our experience it runs small, and we recommend sizing up one size from your normal size unless you are looking for a tight-fitting jacket for running or biking. The sleeves are tight, and hard to layer underneath, while the length of this jacket is a little too short for comfort. It is much too short for wearing underneath a harness, and it rides up when arms are raised, making it not the choice for a climber. But for other activities where a close fitting jacket is desired, the ROM will do the trick.
Since it is ultra breathable and mobile, the ROM is best suited for aerobic activities in cool weather like running, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and cycling, where a form fitting layer that adds just a bit of weather protection is needed. Since this jacket isn't long enough to wear under a harness and the hood doesn't fit well over a helmet, this is not an ideal jacket for climbing.
Under $200 is a deal for a cool weather protection layer. Compared to our $350 Editors' Choice, the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody – Women's, the ROM is a more wallet-friendly option. Other inexpensive softshells such as the Pataognia Adze – Women's offer more weather protection but aren't as flexible or comfortable.
If you like to keep up your aerobic routine during winter and need a little weather protection to keep you outside instead of on the treadmill, the ROM is an excellent layer. It employs a hybrid design, but with the focus of adding even more breathability and flexibility rather than increasing weather resistance, as with the other hybrid softshells we tested. We love the look and feel of this jacket, and could get accustomed to wearing it everywhere.
This jacket is also available in a men's version.
— McKenzie Long
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Most recent review: March 10, 2014
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