Marmot Knife Edge Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More