Marmot Phoenix Review
Cons: No ventilation options, pockets zippers aren't the best with backpacking waist-belts
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Marmot Phoenix is a solid all-around rain jacket. It's undoubtedly light and compressible enough for hiking and backpacking and is tough enough for more rugged adventures or even occasional downhill skiing. Our review team was impressed by how well it kept us dry. While it didn't exactly jump out in any single category, it remains a versatile rain shell that will hold its own, even if it isn't the best at anything.
Marmot uses their proprietary 2.5-layer MemBrain EVODry laminate for weather resistance in the Phoenix. This membrane is laminated to the inside of a strong exterior fabric that impressed our review team, particularly with how its DWR worked and how well it held up over time. In fact, this fabric is a step up from the Marmot PreCip's Nano Pro, and did a notably better job of keeping us dry after 4+ hours in the rain (compared to the Patagonia Torrentshell or The North Face Venture 2).
The Phoenix features Velcro closures on the cuffs, which help to seal out the elements, as well as a stout rain flap that covers the outside of its zipper.
Its hood, while not helmet compatible, did offer above average peripheral vision. We could turn our heads nearly 90 degrees in either direction before our face would turn into the hood. The cinch on the back of the hood effectively locked it into place, regardless of our headwear; most importantly, it performed above average when it came to keeping our heads dry (and the water out).
Breathability & Venting
The Phoenix provides fairly average breathability among our fleet. While it doesn't offer any ventilation options, its MemBrain EvoDry Laminate was better at passing moisture than some of the models we tested. Our review team felt this model's internal texture felt less clammy than others. It breathed better than the Patagonia Torrentshell, Marmot PreCip, and The North Face Venture 2 but did not pass moisture as well as the Black Diamond Fineline and Outdoor Research Helium II.
Comfort and Mobility
The Phoenix's fabric has a tiny amount of stretch, but not nearly as much as the Black Diamond Fineline or REI Drypoint GTX. Its cut is loose fitting enough that it still allows for an average amount of freedom of movement; however, when our arms are raised forward or upward, the sleeves certainly pull back 1-2 inches. This model fell in the middle of the pack for its overall comfort and mobility; it's decent for hiking or backpacking, but if you desire a jacket for activities that require a little more range-of-motion, some options perform a touch better.
At 11.5 ounces, this model is in the middle of the road for weight. It's still plenty light enough to throw in the bottom of your back on day hikes or multi-day adventures as a just in case layer but it is quite durable and tougher than most other options of similar weight. If light is right, we recommend taking a look at the Black Diamond Fineline (8 ounces) or the Outdoor Research Helium II (6.5 ounces), which are the lightest in the review.
Thus far, our review staff has been impressed by this model's overall durability, as its slightly thicker material is more tear resistant than many. Even after a season of use in the rainy Pacific Northwest, several members of our testing team noted that its DWR has held up better than many in our fleet.
This jacket compresses nicely into its left front pocket which, which similar to many other models, turns into a stuff sack when reversed. Unlike other options, our review staff appreciated this model's tight fit, which helps the Phoenix take up less overall space in our pack. It packs down slightly smaller than average and compresses enough to make it a great option for backpacking or as a "just-in-case" layer while day-hiking. While it doesn't pack down as small as the REI Drypoint GTX or the Black Diamond Fineline, it was comparable to Patagonia Torrentshell and our Best Buy Winner the Marmot PreCip.
At $175, this jacket provides an okay value for its versatility and toughness. You can undoubtedly buy higher performing models for less money, like the Black Diamond Fineline, The North Face Dryzzle, or the Outdoor Research Helium II. However, if Marmot and methods that contribute to caring for the environment are high on your list of priorities, this might be a decent choice.
The Marmot Phoenix is a solid all-arounder; it's impressively durable for the price and still offers a respectable weight. It's a versatile jacket that will perform well for a wide range of activities and could prove to last longer than other models at a similar price point. While it didn't blow the competition away in any one category, it offers solid across the board performance.
— Ian Nicholson