The Marmot Nano AS is a no-frills, lightweight jacket that comes at a very affordable cost. Right out of the box, we found it very attractive as it seemed to be offering direct competition to our favorite jacket, the Arc'teryx Alpha FL. But within the very first ski tour we noticed that it kept riding up above our waist - when we wiped out, this caused big problems with snow inside our clothing. While out ice climbing, we noticed the short sleeves rode up our arms, allowing water to drip down our forearms on the melting ice of the Ouray Ice Park. This is a jacket that we desperately wanted to love, but in the end was simply too flawed for us to consider recommending.
Despite the slight wind effect on this powder, it still skied plenty fast! Peter Dever out testing jackets on the slopes of the San Juans, his favorite haunt. Although the Nano AS may be affordable, its poor fit detracts from its value.
We loved the cave created by the large wire-brimmed hood on this jacket, no water in our face this time! It also showed little sign of wetting out in our shower test after three months, proving it had one of the more durable DWR coatings.
In our shower test, we stood underneath the showerhead for close to three minutes as water poured down on top of us. In this controlled environment, we thought the Nano AS was the second best jacket that we tested, better in fact than the Arc'teryx Beta AR
or Arc'teryx Theta AR
. The extremely wide-brim on the hood did an amazing job of protecting our face and funneling water away from the facial opening. The zippers were water tight, and we found there to be minimal wetting out. However, our field testing really showed us this jacket's flaws — the fit. Although we also assess fit with mobility, in the case of the Nano AS the fit severely compromised overall weather protection. Our head tester repeatedly ended up with snow up his jacket time and again, and had to pull the hem down over and over. In the end, we decided that it isn't possible to say that this is truly a protective hardshell, and as a result it earned a 6 out of 10.
The essence of the shower test: see how well these jackets tolerate a downpour by standing underneath the shower head. In Colorado, where these jackets were tested in winter, there is no rain, but we think we simulated it well!
The Nano AS weighs 12.1 ounces for a size large. Considering it has virtually the exact same features as the Arc'teryx Alpha FL, but not as much coverage and a supposedly lighter membrane, we couldn't figure out why it was heavier. Regardless, we loved its light weight. It isn't quite as packable as the Patagonia M10 however. Although Marmot claims that the Nano AS packs down to the size of a fist, we weren't able to make this happen without a stuff sack or self-packing pocket, which it doesn't have.
Mobility and Fit
We have already talked about the issues with the fit repeatedly, so we will only say this: Marmot, please lengthen the sleeves and drop the hem. OK, enough said. In terms of the mobility, this jacket is fantastic. We liked how it was cut rather trim, but still large enough to fit layers underneath, and the stretchy face fabric was never constrictive. The hood was nice and flexible with a helmet on; it hugged the helmet and turned with the head, but there was a bit of tightness in the collar while wearing a helmet and having it zipped all the way up. 5 out of 10 points.
Shown here is one of the main problems with the fit of this jacket, that the sleeves are simply too short to offer adequate weather protection on this men's size large. We think that this will be a great jacket once the issues with the fit are solved.
More evidence of the Nano AS's poor fit: the highest riding hem line of all the jackets we tried. Simply put, the cut is much too short for climbing, and we ended up with a whole jacket full of snow after a wipeout while out skiing.
The Nano AS received 8 out of a possible 10 points for breathability, right up there with the best jackets. While we of course felt a bit hot and steamy while running in the jacket, there was no noticeable clamminess or moisture built up on the inside of the jacket while running. This makes it comparable to the highly rated Westcomb Shift LT for aerobic activities.
The treadmill test, where we compared the jackets head-to-head for breathability. In each jacket we ran in the heated indoors for seven minutes, dripping sweat on the inside, and comparing how well they were able to breath. The good news: they all work!
The Nano AS has very few features by design, but unfortunately the ones it does include do not work as well as we would like. It has two handwarmer pockets that sit high enough up on the chest so as to not be constricted by a waist belt. However, we wished it had another draw cord buckle on the waist, and that the draw cord buckles were slightly easier to manipulate. We also had an issue with the size of Velcro used on the wrist enclosures; it felt unnecessarily minimal when wanting to ensure solid closure for a long time.
We liked the double chest high handwarmer pockets that resided high enough on this jacket to not be inhibited by a harness. While they are uncomfortably high for use like this, the reality is that they are just for storing things, you don't really use pockets for your hands when wearing gloves in the backcountry.
This tiny flap of velcro is what holds the wrist enclosure closed. We found this to be way to small, and couldn't understand why a full length piece of velcro wouldn't be used instead.
The Nano AS is trying to be a cheaper alternative to fast and light alpine climbing shells like the Arc'teryx Alpha FL or Patagonia M10. However, due to the drawbacks described above, we wouldn't recommend it for those purposes. With future refinements, we hope it will get there, and it has a promising start. Sized as it is, we would really only recommend it for non-winter activities that don't involve moving your arms too much, like hiking or backpacking.
The Nano AS will run you $290.00. In its current form, it is better used as a rain jacket than as a winter hardshell. If this sounds like you, we think you will be able to find something just as usable for much cheaper if you check out our Rain Jacket Review. Alternatively, if you're certain that you want a hardshell jacket, consider the Mountain Hardwear Torsun, which is a stand-out all-around performer for just $350.
The Marmot Nano AS is a very promising jacket with some critical design flaws. Except for the poor fit, this is a very likeable jacket, and it comes at a much lower cost than the competition. While we wouldn't recommend this jacket to a friend right now, we think that if Marmot answers the call and fixes the few flaws, then future versions of the Nano AS could be exceptional. Stay tuned.
Surfing untracked snow on a bluebird day in the Nano AS - life doesn't get better than this! Luckily we can tell you the best gear for playing in this type of terrain. We wanted to find the perfect jacket for both climbing and skiing, the perfect mountain layer.
Minimalist Jacket - $200.00
- Similar jacket that uses GORE Paclite. Essentially a cheaper option for rainwear.
Men's Speed Light Jacket - $450.00
- Another minimalist offering that has a GORE-TEX Pro membrane and pit zips.
Women's Nano AS - $290.00
- Women's version of the same jacket