Since our test period, Marmot updated this jacket. The materials and many of the features have not changed, but there are some slight tweaks. The seamlines of the jacket have been moved a bit, and the chest pocket now features a storm flap and is located on the right breast instead of the left. The new jacket has gusseted elbows and a bonded-flap zipper. Compare the two jackets below; the new model is shown first.
We've purchased the updated model for testing, but until our findings are published, the review below is our account of last season's Minimalist.
Hands-On Review of the Minimalist
The Marmot Minimalist is a performance-focused jacket, which blurs the line between a lightweight minimalist shell and a do-everything 3-layer hardshell. The cut is moderately athletic, and mobility focused, the face-fabric and construction quality is bomber, and the weather protection is excellent. The hood stands out, in particular, as being constructed to provide excellent protection against the weather, fantastic peripheral vision, and superior adjustability. The fabric of this jacket is also more durable than nearly all the other rain jackets we tested; this makes it an ideal choice for mountaineering, climbing, hiking, trekking or even backcountry or downhill skiing for its ability to stand up to abuse.
The Minimalist uses Gore-Tex PacLite for its weather resistance and a bomber 50-denier external fabric, some of the most durable in our review. We loved the Minimalist's stormworthy features, and after extensive testing concluded that this jacket offered top-notch weather protection that was among the very best in the review.
This jacket, along with the Arc'teryx Zeta SL, Outdoor Research Foray, and REI Rhyolite, features the best overall weather protection of all the models that we tested. The Gore-Tex Paclite fabric is highly waterproof and offers a long-last DWR, while the hood and collar provide excellent coverage and weather repellency for your head and face. The storm flaps that sit inside and outside along the main zipper prevent any seepage, and the wrist cuffs cinch down tight with Velcro. The Minimalist impressed all of our testers both in our side-by-side garden hose tests and weeks of real-world testing and is easily among the most stormworthy models of its weight currently on the market.
As we mentioned earlier, the Minimalist features one of the best hoods in our review. It effectively seals out the weather and moves with the wearers head. The Minimalist's hood is easy to adjust with a toggle on the back controlling tension on a horizontal piece of shock-cord (elastic), and toggles on either side of the wearer's face that control a second shock-cord that runs around the face area of the hood.
An interesting note on the construction of this product is the lack of seams all along the shoulders and arms, ensuring that there is no chance of water leaking in along these areas of high exposure. The lack of seams along the shoulder will also prevent water from being squeezed in through the seams while under the pressure of a pack strap.
Our testing team raved about the Minimalist's hood, which not only did an excellent job at sealing out the elements but was also among the best at moving with the wearers head, maximizing peripheral vision.
Breathability & Ventilation
The Minimalist provides better overall breathability than most other models we tested featuring Gore-Tex Paclite fabric. This 2.5 layer Paclite laminate offers some of the best overall breathability of any of the materials we tested with only eVent and 3-layer Gore-Tex Active (featured in REI Drypoint GTX) offering marginally better performance.
The Minimalist features Gore-Tex PacLite, which is among the most breathable fabrics we tested. Also, the jacket features average length pit zips to help dump extra heat and assist in moving moisture. We didn't think it was a big deal, but it's worth noting that the Minimalist features waterproof pockets instead of mesh-lined ones. While this means the pockets cannot help out with ventilation, they tended to keep items in your pockets drier.
In addition to top-tier breathability, the Minimalist features generous pit zips for ventilation and the ability to dump extra heat while working hard. These pit zips extend well down into the main body of the jacket and are slightly longer than the pit-zips found on other rain jackets in our review.
Tom rocks the Gore-Tex Minimalist on a day out backcountry skiing. This jacket offers excellent water resistance and durability, as well as good breathability, even when compared to burlier 3-layer models.
Some jackets offer the option to vent through mesh-lined pockets, but this is not the case with the Minimalist. All of the Minimalist's pockets are fully waterproof and seam-taped, offering the advantage of allowing the wearer to keep these items in the pockets slightly drier (with a small disadvantage of not being able to vent through its pockets).
All of our testers loved the feel of this model's interior fabric and noted it was among the least clammy feeling models in our review.
If you like the Minimalist but are worried about overheating, check out the Outdoor Research Foray, which features the same Gore-Tex Paclight fabric with better ventilation features. The Arc'teryx Zeta SL also provides excellent breathability.
The Marmot Minimalist wasn't our top scorer in mobility, but it still ranked above average in this metric. For most activities like backpacking, mountaineering, or backcountry skiing, the Minimalist's range of motion is more than sufficient.
Comfort & Mobility
This model offers some of the best mobility and range of motion of any we tested. It features an athletic, function-focused cut but still allows for some layering. Our team of reviewers was impressed by this model's top-tier range of motion, and it rarely restricted movement, even in awkward and reachy situations. The hood and collar are some of the best we've tested, providing top-tier storm protection and a great fit around the wearer's head (for comfortable and storm protection).
This model's sleeves pulled back far less than the most models we tested and had a great range of mobility and freedom of movement.
Unfortunately, this model's hood does not fit over a climbing or bike helmet but can be worn underneath one. Overall, this jacket offered some of the best range of motion in the review and was comparable to the other highest scoring models like the Arc'teryx Zeta SL, Rab Kinetic Plus, or REI Drypoint GTX.
No matter what terrain you're tackling, there are ideal hiking footwear and rain jacket options for you!
At 15 ounces, the Minimalist is nearly the heaviest model we tested. However, it uses a thick, durable fabric, and doesn't cut any corners with the cuffs, pockets, or hood - to save weight. It is lighter than most models with 3-layer fabrics to who it offers similar levels of durability. Even at 15 ounces, it's hardly "heavy" and is only 2-4 ounces heavier than other Gore-tex Paclite models. If you like the idea of a Gore-Tex jacket but were hoping for something lighter, we like the REI Drypoint GTX (10.5 oz) or the Arc'teryx Zeta SL (11 oz).
With a 50D face fabric and a long-lasting Gore-Tex Paclite waterproof membrane, this is one of the tougher sub 1 lb rain jackets currently available. With that said, its durability is what makes it one of the "heavier" models in our review - but at 15 ounces, it is hardly "heavy".
The Minimalist received the highest score we awarded for durability. The polyester face fabric is beefier, stretchier, and more UV resistant than nylon. This model also uses the thickest exterior fabric of any model we tested, helping it to resist tears and abrasion better than models with thinner fabrics. The Gore-tex Packlite laminate membrane is also far more long-lasting than models with coated waterproof membranes and is backed by a lifetime guarantee. The Outdoor Research Foray is the only other jacket to earn our top durability score; its polyester face offers similar durability, though its numerous zippers mean more potential points of failure.
The Minimalist doesn't stuff into any of its pockets, but it does pack down fairly small for a Gore-Tex jacket. Here, it's shown stuffed into its hood next to a 1-liter Nalgene.
This jacket does not feature a stuff pocket. Rolling it and tucking it into the hood is the best quick way to pack it. This contender packs down smaller than most Gore-Tex shells on the market; however, when compared to most jackets in our review, which tend to be on the smaller/lighter end of the spectrum, it is slightly less compressible than most. It packs down smaller than the Outdoor Research Foray, is similar to The North Face Dryzzle, but isn't quite as small as the Arc'teryx Zeta SL.
One of the few features our review team didn't love was the Minimalist's two lower hand pockets, which become inaccessible under a backpack's waist-belt or a climbing harness. The upside is that the zippers didn't pinch under backpack waist-belts like the zippers on other jackets were prone to do.
Marmot's Minimalist jacket is just as its name suggests; minimalist in design. There are not many extra comfort features on this jacket; the collar does not have a micro-fleece lining, hang loop, or roll away hood feature. However, all the most standard features were exceptional, such as easy-to-grab zipper pulls, low profile wrist cinches, and multiple hood cinches that allow for adjustability and fit in conjunction with a larger-than-average stiffened brim.
We liked this model's low profile velcro tabs to minimize bulk around the wearer's hands and minimize how much water gets inside the jacket.
It also features zippers that are easy to grab even with gloves and zippers, that have both interior and exterior storm flaps. Both zippered hand pockets are full 2.5 layer fabric inside and out and have a storm flap and a Velcro closure. The wrist cuffs have a Velcro tab adjustment and an offset design; the cuffs are longer on the back of the hand than the inside of the wrist. Finally, it has an elastic hem cinch with cord locks on both the right and left sides.
A hang loop in the back of the collar would be nice, but this jacket has excellent pit zips and wrist cuffs.
At $189, this hardshell-esque rain jacket is a SUPER deal, as it costs half the price of most 3-layer Gore-Tex hardshells and slightly less than other models that feature a Gore-Tex membrane. While slightly pricey when compared to the most basic rain jackets, this product is more breathable and will last longer. It is worth the price if it meets your needs; we are impressed that this model retails for less than $200.
Brandon is psyched to take the Minimalist out for a spin. This Gore-Tex Paclite jacket is one of the most durable we tested.
If you are looking for an inexpensive hardshell or a durable rain jacket, the Marmot Minimalist is certainly one to consider. The materials and construction are exceptional, and it offers stupendous versatility if you'd like one rain jacket for a wide range of activities - with a little more summertime hiking/backpacking focus. Its only real downside for summertime users is it's a little heavy as a just-in-case type rain jacket on backpacking or hiking trips. While you could get away with a smaller, more packable jacket, many models won't offer the same level of durability, performance, or versatility.
At $189, this model is a screaming deal on a Gore-Tex Paclite jacket. We felt this was especially true considering its exceptional level of versatility. Light enough for mountaineering or day hiking but tough enough for backpacking or even occasional downhill skiing.