Reviews You Can Rely On

Marmot Knife Edge Review

The lightest hardshell that includes pit zips
Marmot Knife Edge
Photo: Marmot
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $225 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Good ventilation, bargain price, lightweight, fully waterproof
Cons:  Interior fabric is clingy, feels delicate, limited drawcords
Manufacturer:   Marmot
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2020
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 15
  • Weather Protection - 30% 6
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Mobility and Fit - 20% 6
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 7
  • Features and Design - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Designing a hardshell is a difficult task, trying to find the right balance between minimizing weight yet including useful features. The Marmot Knife Edge strikes an outstanding balance by remaining lightweight while providing at useful accessory feature: pit zips. This combination means you're more likely to wear this jacket, and when you do, you're less likely to overheat. Our testers are also pleased with the generous cut, which ensures the sleeves and hem stay in place during a wide variety of movements, and yet it somehow avoids feeling unathletic or baggy. What we don't like is the 2.5-layer Gore-Tex Paclite construction. Sure, this fabric is plenty breathable, but the glossy backing clings to your skin, and we have real concerns about its durability. If you factor in these durability concerns, the Knife Edge's low price does not present as much value as it initially appears. Still, this could be a worthy jacket if you want a lightweight hardshell and need pit zips for ventilation.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Marmot Knife Edge
This Product
Marmot Knife Edge
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$332.50 at Backcountry$249 List
Check Price at REI
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$129.97 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
66
80
69
67
64
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Good ventilation, bargain price, lightweight, fully waterproofLightweight, form fitting, great storm hood, superior construction quality, reasonable priceCheap, ultralight, solid weather protection, impressive breathabilityStretchy, light, very packable, affordable, quite breathableLightweight, inexpensive, easy to tighten drawcords
Cons Interior fabric is clingy, feels delicate, limited drawcordsCrinkly and noisy, very little ventilation, few pockets, short front hemNo internal pockets, poor ventilation, unreliable hood drawcordsHand pockets are a bit low, hood is a bit shallow with a helmet on, fragileGlossy internal fabric, poor mobility, hand pocket zippers not waterproof
Bottom Line The lightest hardshell that includes pit zipsThis hardshell is an alpine climber’s dream, and is really great for skiing as wellAn affordable hardshell that can get the job doneThe best choice for highly aerobic activities where mobility and breathability are keyCloser to a rain jacket than a hardshell
Rating Categories Marmot Knife Edge Arc'teryx Alpha FL REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Outdoor Research In... Exposure/2 Gore-Tex...
Weather Protection (30%)
6.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Mobility And Fit (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Venting And Breathability (20%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
Features And Design (10%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Marmot Knife Edge Arc'teryx Alpha FL REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Outdoor Research In... Exposure/2 Gore-Tex...
Pit Zips Yes No No No No
Measured Weight (size large) 12.4 oz 11.8 oz 11.0 oz 11.2 oz 11.4 oz
Material Gore-Tex Paclite 2.5L 100% Polyester Gore-Tex with N40p-X face fabric Gore-Tex Active 3L AscentShell 3L 100% nylon 20D stretch ripstop with 100% polyester 12D backer Gore-Tex Paclite 2.5L 100% nylon w/ DWR coating
Pockets 2 hand, 1 chest 1 external chest, 1 internal chest 2 hand 2 handwarmer, 1 chest 2 hand, 1 chest
Helmet Compatible Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hood Draw Cords 1 3 3 3 1
Adjustable Cuffs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Two-Way Front Zipper No No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Marmot Knife Edge is one of the most affordable hardshells. It's...
The Marmot Knife Edge is one of the most affordable hardshells. It's more than adequate for most winter activities, but it may not be burly enough to survive multiple seasons.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Weather Protection


The Knife Edge features a 2.5-layer construction with Gore-Tex Paclite as the waterproof/breathable membrane. This material is plenty waterproof, but we observed the face fabric "wetting out" early on in our field testing. When that happens, water still can't get in from the outside, but it also can't escape from the inside, so moisture from your own perspiration can build up quickly.

The cut of the jacket is decent for keeping precip out. The hood has a 2.5-inch brim to direct water away from the collar. This hood also features one drawcord to adjust the fit, and there's a second drawcord to tighten the bottom hem. Both of these are adequate but not exceptional. Other hardshells, for example, include up to five drawcords for the same purpose that supply extra adjustability. Overall, this jacket provides average weather protection.

The Knife Edge's Gore-Tex Paclite fabric is completely waterproof.
The Knife Edge's Gore-Tex Paclite fabric is completely waterproof.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Weight


We measured a size large at 12.4 ounces on our scale. This is a little more than an ounce heavier than the lightest hardshells in the review. However, the Knife Edge is notable because it's the lightest model that includes underarm vents. This is a great feature that enhances the jacket's usefulness for sustained activity. In other ways, such as the number of drawcords or pockets, this jacket is pretty pared down to minimize weight.

This size large fit this 6'2" tester quite well. Our only complaint...
This size large fit this 6'2" tester quite well. Our only complaint is so slight riding up on the sleeves with arms overhead.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Mobility and Fit


The cut of the Knife Edge feels halfway between athletic and baggy. This lends it looks that seem more suitable for skiing or casual outings. However, our ice climbing testers were also pleased with the cut because the low hem stayed tucked into their harnesses while they were swinging their ice tools overhead.

The Gore-Tex Paclite fabric provides some mild stretchiness to enhance mobility and reduced crinkly sounds compared to burlier Gore-Tex Pro. Some of our testers, however, complained about the glossy fabric backing because it seemed prone to cling to their skin.

The Gore-Tex Paclite fabric is breathable, but all...
The Gore-Tex Paclite fabric is breathable, but all waterproof/breathable fabrics will soak through if you charge uphill for long enough.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Venting and Breathability


Gore claims their Paclite membrane is more breathable than many of their other fabrics, and this seemed like the case during our stationary bike test. Compared to the knit backing of other waterproof/breathable fabrics, however, the glossy backing of the Paclite amplifies the sensation of moisture inside the jacket.

Even though this jacket may let more moisture escape, many of our testers believe this jacket's fabric makes it feel stuffier than other models. This stuffiness is somewhat negated by the inclusion of the pit zips to shed excess heat, and we're impressed they can include this additional venting on such a light weight shell.

The backing of three Gore-Tex fabrics from left to right: Pro...
The backing of three Gore-Tex fabrics from left to right: Pro, Active, and Paclite. Paclite is the glossiest and clings to the skin the most if it gets moist.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Features and Design


This ultralight jacket is a little limited in terms of features. It sports three pockets: two handwarmers and one external chest pocket. We like the positioning of these pockets but wish their zippers had longer pull tabs so they would be easier to use with gloves on. There is a single drawcord on the hood and hem to tighten things down in a gale. These can be operated with gloves, but when either is fully cinched down, you're left with an excess elastic cord that is prone to snagging.

The zipper pull tabs on the Marmot Knife Edge and disappointingly...
The zipper pull tabs on the Marmot Knife Edge and disappointingly short and tricky to grab with gloves on.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Value


The Knife Edge is one of the most affordable jackets out there that we would classify as a hardshell. Bear in mind, however, that we don't think its 2.5-layer Gore-Tex Paclite fabric provides the same durability as Gore-Tex Pro or Gore-Tex Active. This jacket, therefore, can serve as a cheap way to fill a need for a hardshell, but over the full lifetime of the garment, it may not present a great value.

Conclusion


There is a lot to like about the Marmot Knife Edge. It's affordable and lightweight, yet it manages to include pit zips for venting excess heat. That's exceedingly rare among hardshells in its weight class. Still, we aren't huge fans of its Gore-Tex Paclite construction or the durability we fear this may not provide. Overall, the Knife Edge is still a good jacket, but we think it's outclassed by similarly priced hardshells made with Gore-Tex Active materials, such as the Best Buy Award-winning REI Drypoint GTX.

Jack Cramer