At first glance the Marmot Cerro Torre jacket did not exactly stick out or scream that it was a remarkable jacket, so we admit to being a bit surprised when at the end of our test period it ranked right up there with the best. An apt description for this jacket would be "no-frills." Nevertheless, it delivers without letting you down. It was among the best when it came to weather protection, the most important quality a jacket can have, and was also near the top for mobility and fit, as well as venting capability. The biggest letdown was the lack of super tight adjustability with its wrist enclosures, although we would be hard pressed to find anything else about this jacket that we could complain about.
Within this review, the Cerro Torre is most similar to the Black Diamond Helio Alpine Shell and the Arc'teryx Beta AR. Its fabric is quieter and more supple than either of those two jackets, but it shares a similar feature set of two front pockets and standard pit zips. It was the highest rated of the three. Although we thought this jacket did a great job at protecting from the weather while still coming it at a relatively low weight, Marmot brand lovers who want an even lighter top-of-the-line hardshell should check out the Speed Light Jacket, a very similar design that uses GORE-TEX Pro and weighs a couple of ounces less for the same price.
Even if it is a bluebird day, hardshell jackets are our go-to layer for skiing, as they do a great job protecting us from the cold winds, and the possibility of getting wet should we hit the deck (which we never do:).
The giant brim of this hood did an awesome job of protecting our face and inside of the collar from any sort of water running off into it.
We were happy to award this jacket 9 out of 10 points for weather protection, tied as the best in this review with the Arc'teryx Alpha FL and the Outdoor Research Furio. We felt that the 3-layer GORE-TEX did a fantastic job fending off all forms of liquid precipitation, and we saw less wetting out of the face fabric after the end of the testing period than with almost any other jacket.
The DWR coating had only worn off a very slight amount on the shoulders, meaning that while it will still need to be re-applied over time, you might be able to push it farther in between applications. The hood was also a highlight, with a very wide arcing brim that easily funneled the downpour off the head in our shower test, without the slightest drop hitting us in the face or the slightest trickle making its way into the collar. When it came to weather protection, we couldn't find anything to complain about.
Shown here it he C-knit backer which forms the inner layer to the membrane, along with the small zippered interior pocket.
Weight & Packability
Our size large Cerro Torre weighed in at 16.5 ounces, making it roughly the same weight as the Arc'teryx Beta AR. This is appropriate, as the two fit similarly and have almost the exact same feature set. That said, this was nowhere near the lightest jacket in this review, a full five ounces heavier than the Alpha FL, which was the lightest jacket reviewed. This jacket rolled up easily and was easy to stow within its giant hood. 7 out of 10 points.
Avalanche danger is always a real threat during the winter in Colorado. After remote triggering this small windslab, the smartest option for escaping more danger was to ski the bed surface to where the angle eased a bit.
Mobility and Fit
Based on Marmot's sizing guide, we ordered our Cerro Torre in size men's large. We loved the quiet, supple feel of the fabric, which reminded us of the Outdoor Research Axiom or Rab Latok Alpine Jacket, and was much quieter than the Black Diamond Helio Alpine Shell. The hem was long enough to not allow snow to come in or ride up above our waist, and likewise, the sleeves were just long enough to not ride down our forearms with our hands over our head. The hood is oversized and we found it necessary to tighten it down a bit whether we were wearing a helmet or not; in both cases, we were able to settle on a good fit. The collar is big and wide and covers the front of the face well when all the way zipped up. We did find this one to be a bit baggy in the chest, but would call this a minor complaint, rather than an egregious one. We awarded it 8 out of 10 points.
Venting and Breathability
The two-way front zipper on this jacket allows for easy access to the top of the pants, or other under-layers, and also allows for easier venting.
The Cerro Torre features 3-layer GORE-TEX with C-knit backer that is purportedly up to 15 percent more breathable than the standard 3-layer GORE-TEX alone. We found this impossible to accurately substantiate, but in numerous days spent skinning uphill while wearing this jacket, we can say that it has plenty of options for ventilation. While it didn't include full side zips like the Outdoor Research Furio or full arm zips like the Rab Latok Alpine Jacket, we thought the two-way front zipper combined with standard pit zips worked pretty well to help us ditch the heat that built up when working hard. Like many two-way front zippers, we found it hard to start at times, but the ease of using the pit zips was easier on this jacket than some others with the same exact options for ventilation, so we awarded it 8 out of 10 points.
This jacket, with its standard pit zips and two-way front zipper, did a good job of allowing us to stay cool by venting while hiking uphill.
If there is one aspect of this jacket that let us down compared to the competition, it is the features. Specifically, the wrist enclosures. Our head tester has skinny wrists, and with this jacket, he simply couldn't tighten the wrist enclosures down as tight as he wanted to, as the soft loops side of the Velcro seemed to be sewn into the wrong place on the wrist for those with similar tiny wrists. This was the only jacket where we encountered this problem, one that seems like it should have been easy to remedy. By comparison, our favorite wrist enclosures on the Arc'teryx Alpha FL or Beta AR granted a much wider range of possible tightness.
Besides that complaint, we felt like the jacket had a great balance of necessary features that worked well. It has a functional yet fairly limited set of pockets, including one inside zippered pocket and two high handwarmer pockets that live above the waist belt of a pack or harness. The buckles on all of the draw cords were not quite as easy to use as those on the Patagonia Refugitive, but they were close. As one of its weakest departments, we awarded 6 out of 10 for features.
Our biggest complaint with this jacket was the seemingly misplaced Velcro tabs on the wrist enclosures. Although hard to see here, the two pieces of Velcro do not line up, meaning it's pretty hard to secure these wrists tightly.
The Marmot Cerro Torre is a great all-around jacket that will be equally as home while skiing as it is mountaineering or alpine climbing. Its feature set is designed to be functional in multiple different circumstances, and it doesn't pigeonhole itself into a specialty niche by cutting out all the pockets and zippers. Regardless of your winter sport preference, this jacket is a functional and practical outer layer.
Fresh powder tracks down huge alpine runs, this is why we ski!
The Cerro Torre will set you back $450 at retail prices. This is exactly in the middle of the range of jackets in our review, as five were more expensive, and five less. This is still a lot of money! As one of the highest rated jackets in the review, this one offers a pretty good value, but for the price conscious, there are perfectly viable options for less money.
The Marmot Cerro Torre uses the newest GORE C-knit backer technology to make a mobile, supple, quiet, and breathable jacket designed for all manner of bad weather activities. As one of the highest rated jackets in this review, it is certainly one that we would recommend to readers and friends alike, and strikes a nearly perfect balance between usable features and a practical weight for backcountry use.
Troutman uses the Cerro Torre jacket for a bit of an alpine tour in the high peaks of the San Juans.