The Marmot Guides Down Hoody was an easy choice for a Top Pick Award because it is, without a doubt, the warmest jacket that we tested for this review. That said, we do admit that this jacket perhaps feels slightly out of place among our selection of lightweight down jackets, as it is the heaviest and also the bulkiest one that we tested. What really attracted us to it was its price tag — very competitive at only $250 retail — and for this price, we feel like you are getting a whole lot of awesome jacket and warmth-trapping insulation.
If you noticed that the Guides Down Hoody looks a little different these days, that's because Marmot just released some new colorways for this jacket, like the one pictured above. The manufacturer confirmed that the colors are the only change this jacket underwent for winter 2018.
If warmth is what you want, then this is the jacket for you, but if you are more attracted to a super lightweight mid-layer similar to the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded, you may also take a peak at the Marmot Quasar, an 8.4 ounce, 850 fill-power down mid layer.
In the market for a layering piece?
The little brother to the jacket we tested is the Guides Down Vest. This hoodless, sleeveless version is only $150 compared to the jacket's $250, and will undoubtedly keep your core warm while allowing some freedom of movement for your arms.
Our Analysis and Test Results
This contender was the second best scorer overall in our review and one of the few down jackets that we tested that is capable of standing alone as an outer layer in the coldest of climates. Every time we put this jacket on we ended up sweaty. It is filled with 700 fill-power down that makes it heavy compared to many of the 800 fill-power down jackets we tested, but that didn't stop Marmot from packing it full of feathers. A notably awesome feature is that the down is treated with Down Defender, Marmot's proprietary hydrophobic DWR treatment that prevents the down from losing loft when it gets wet. This is a necessary feature, since we found that the DWR coating on the face fabric of this jacket was among the least effective in our water resistance tests.
Compared to the other jackets we reviewed, the Guide is thicker, heavier, and bulkier, although far warmer. It also has the best set of features that we found on a down jacket, including two-way zippers, fleece-lined hand pockets, dual draw cords for the hood, and Velcro wrist enclosures. Its features and design make it a great choice as a belay parka while out ice climbing or winter climbing, or even a great choice for hanging out at base camp or in cold weather conditions. It is meant to be thrown over the top of your other clothing as an outer layer, and is too big to have something layered over the top of it. Overall this is a great jacket that is starkly different than most in this review.
We have already admitted above, but will mention here again, that this is no lightweight down jacket and may not even be the greatest fit for this review. This jacket is so large and insulated that is more reminiscent of a parka than a jacket. That said, we wore it a bunch anyway and still compared it to the rest of the jackets, so we're telling it like it is.
This is the warmest jacket in the review, slightly better than the comparably puffy Arc'teryx Thorium SV. Even though it only uses 700 fill-power down, it packed the large sewn through baffles until they were completely full, giving this jacket a very puffy appearance and feel. The enclosures around all openings do a great job of sealing one off from the outside, keeping cold air and bad weather out as well as trapping hot air in. While testing this jacket in below freezing high alpine environments, we most often found ourselves truly hot and sweaty, something that could not be said of any other jacket in our review. Perfect 10 out of 10.
The Guides Down Hoody weighed 1 lb. 8.8 ounces for a men's size large, recording the highest total weight of any jacket in this test. It was about one ounce heavier than the Arc'teryx Thorium SV, but far heavier than the average weight of around 12 ounces that represent the Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Down Hoody or the Western Mountaineering Flash XR. If you want a lightweight down jacket, then this is not the one for you. This is a jacket for standing around in the cold, working, or at the crag, where you will spend all day not moving so much and want the greatest warmth possible. Three out of 10 points.
It was easy for us to test the water resistance of the face fabric and DWR coating on this jacket, but much harder to get a solid idea of what was actually going on inside with the Down Defender coating applied to the 700-fill power down. To test the external water resistance we laid all of the jackets outside during a rain storm, and then made careful notice of how well the various DWR coatings worked to shed water, whether water was absorbed into the face fabrics, and how quickly they dried out. Unfortunately, in this test the Guides Down Hoody was among the worst in the test, slightly worse even than The North Face Trevail Hoodie or the REI Co-op Down Hoodie.
However, this jacket employs hydrophobic down meant to greatly increase its water resistance, up to the levels of a synthetic jacket even. To test this we put it on and stood in the shower under full deluge for about five minutes, a dousing that no down jacket should ever be forced to withstand. Although we could not see inside the baffles to analyze how the down responded to the wetness, we could conclude that the jacket lost none of its loft, nor was there water present on the inside of the jacket. Obviously the hydrophobic down is a very positive attribute, but our tests were far from scientific or conclusive as to its effectiveness. As such, we still chose to bump up its score a couple points and awarded six out of 10.
The Guides Down Hoody stuffs into its own zippered internal chest pocket for compressing and stowing. It was roughly the same size as the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody when stuffed down, but not nearly as small as the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded.
While it wasn't a piece of cake to stuff this large jacket into its little pocket, it wasn't all that hard, either. Using higher fill-power down would certainly have made this a more compressable jacket, but of course would probably have increased the price quite a bit as well. Six out of 10 points.
We awarded the Guides Down Hoody six out of a possible 10 points for style, which was about average for this metric. The Arc'teryx Thorium SV and the REI Co-op Down Hoody scored the same amount, although the Guide certainly looks different than those two jackets.
We loved how its monochromatic color scheme and very subdued logo gave it a classic puffy jacket look. While it is quite "inflated," it is not overly baggy. This is your classic puffy jacket, and does not make a person look trim.
This jacket has an excellent set of features that inspired us to rank it right up there as the best in the review with nine out of a possible 10 points. Only the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody scored the same. It is the only jacket in the review to have Velcro wrist enclosures, providing maximum adjustability and doing the best job of keeping inclement weather out of the arms.
We also liked its fleece-lined hand pockets and the fact that the hem draw cords lived inside these pockets and thus didn't hang down below our waist to catch on anything. The two-way zipper makes it easy to access a harness and belay loop, and the dual hood pull cords made it easy to seal off around the face. The only thing missing was our favorite feature in a belay jacket like this one — internal stash pockets — which is why we couldn't give it a perfect score.
As it is a big fat puffy jacket very effective at keeping you warm no matter how cold it gets, this jacket is best suited as an outer layer in very cold conditions. It would make a great belay jacket for winter climbing or very cold alpine climbing. It would also work great as a base camp jacket in the greater ranges of the world, or as an everyday winter jacket if you live in truly cold places such the high mountains or Minnesota. Because it is so big, bulky, heavy, and fits as an outer layer rather than mid-layer, we wouldn't recommend it for medium cold alpine climbing, or other active pursuits, which many of the jackets in this review are designed for.
Retail price for the Guides Down Hoody is $250. While this may seem like a fair bit of money, on a comparison scale this is a pretty affordable jacket. Considering you are getting the very warmest one we tested for one of the lowest price tags, and considering we thought this jacket was the second best one in our review, we certainly think that it presents a great value and is well worth the money.
The Marmot Guides Down Hoody is not like most of the jackets in this review. It is much heavier, bulkier, fatter, and of course, on the positive side, much warmer. It is not suitable to use it as a lightweight down jacket or as a mid-layer with a hardshell over the top of it, but rather only as an outer layer thrown over the top of all the other layers when you stop moving. Despite not fitting this genre very well, we think it is an excellent jacket with a great price tag, and highly recommend it as our Top Pick for Warmth.
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