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Marmot Minimalist Pant Review

A basic, few-frills Gore-Tex pant that offers fantastic storm protection and mobility; it sacrifices little convenience for weight, without giving up anything in the way of performance
Marmot Minimalist Pant
Photo: Marmot
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Price:  $165 List | $123.75 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, among the most weather resistant on the market, comfortable fit, excellent mobility
Cons:  Ankle length zips, no venting options, no waist tightening/cinching options, no belt-loops
Manufacturer:   Marmot
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 16, 2017
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86
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 13
  • Water Resistance - 25% 10
  • Comfort and Mobility - 18% 9
  • Breathability & Venting - 18% 8
  • Features - 5% 7
  • Packed Size - 12% 7
  • Weight - 17% 8
  • Durability - 5% 9

Our Verdict

The Marmot Minimalist Pant is well-designed and simple, yet functional, Gore-tex rain pant. It offers superb weather protection without weighing too much or taking up much room in your pack. The Minimalist is exactly what the name implies: a fairly minimalist design, which doesn't offer full-length side zippers, instead featuring 1/4 length boot cuff zips, two front pockets, and decent articulation. When it comes to durability, don't let the Minimalist name fool you. While not feature rich, this pant is bombproof, and easily among the most durable models we tested. It also features some of the best articulation and is one of the more versatile options that we tested.

Product Updated

Marmot tweaked the Minimalist pant this year. Check out the info below.

March 2020

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Price $123.75 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Durable, among the most weather resistant on the market, comfortable fit, excellent mobilityLightweight, stormworthy, quiet fabric, good breathability, 3/4 length side zips, effective elastic cuffsBy far the lightest and most compact pant in our review, great mobility, elastic waist band is extremely comfortable and functionalInexpensive, lightweight, excellent packed size, reasonably weather-resistant, baggy cut makes it easy to wear over other layers, low profile waistband doesn't pinch under a backpackBest pant among $50 and under options, above average durability, excellent storm worthiness
Cons Ankle length zips, no venting options, no waist tightening/cinching options, no belt-loopsNo zip fly, one marginally useful pocket, DWR didn't last as long as other models and needed to be retreated more frequentlyLess durable than most, hard to pull on over bootsNot especially breathable, clammy with moderate aerobic activity, no front hand pockets, below average articulationNo pockets, breathability, ventilation, not easy to put on without removing footwear
Bottom Line A basic, few-frills Gore-Tex pant that offers fantastic storm protection and mobility; it sacrifices little convenience for weight, without giving up anything in the way of performanceHighly protective pants that are light and compact for tucking away in your backpackHard to beat for any trip where weight and packed space are at a premium - as long as there isn't too much off-trail travel, where their lower than average durability could be an issuePerfect for those who want to bring a pair of rain pants but aren't likely to use them very oftenA killer pant for the price, offering better than expected feel and weather resistance, but does not offer much in the way of features
Rating Categories Marmot Minimalist Pant Outdoor Research Fo... Outdoor Research He... REI Co-op Essential Columbia Rebel Roamer
Water Resistance (25%)
10.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Comfort And Mobility (18%)
9.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Breathability & Venting (18%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Features (5%)
7.0
6.0
5.0
6.0
5.0
Packed Size (12%)
7.0
9.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Weight (17%)
8.0
8.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Durability (5%)
9.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
Specs Marmot Minimalist Pant Outdoor Research Fo... Outdoor Research He... REI Co-op Essential Columbia Rebel Roamer
Measured Weight 11oz / 292g 10.2 oz / 289g 6.5 oz / 184g 9.5 oz / 271g 12.5 oz / 354g
Waterproof Fabric Material 2.5 Layer Gore-tex with PacLite Technology Gore-Tex 2.5 Layer Pertex Shield+ 2.5-layer REI Proprietary waterproof breathable fabric Omni-Tech Waterproof/Breathable
Face Fabric and Layer Construction 50D 100% Polyester w / Gore-tex PacLite Waterproof Breathable Membrane 2L 100% Polyester 50D 30D 100 Nylon Ripstop w/ Pertex Shield+ Waterproof Breathable Insert 40-denier nylon ripstop 70D 100% Nylon
Pockets 2 pockets 1 pocket 1 pocket 1 pocket 0 pockets
Side Zips Length? 1/4 Length Ankle Zips 3/4-Length 1/4 Length Ankle Zips 1/4 Length Ankle Zips None
Put on Over Hiking or Mountaineering Boots Hiking Boots, but not all Mtn Boots Yes No No No
Inseam Length, Size Medium 31, 32, 33 in 30 in 31 in 31.5 inches 30 or 32 in
Stows Into Pocket? No Yes Yes Yes No
Waist band Style 1/2 Elastic Elastic + shock cord Elastic + Shock Cord Elastic + Shock Cord Elastic + Shock Cord

Our Analysis and Test Results

Minimalist Updates


The latest iteration of the Minimalist is largely the same, but weighs about an ounce more. The new model also has an adjustable drawcord on the elastic waist so you can customize the fit. Below, the new model is pictured first, and the version we tested is shown second.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The review from here on is our account of the previous model.

Hands-On Review of the Minimalist Pant


The Marmot Minimalist is exactly that. It's a few frills Gore-Tex PackLite pant that doesn't offer much in the way of extra features, instead focusing on its bomber construction, excellent storm worthiness, and fantastic freedom of movement - all while maintaining a respectable packed weight and level of compressibility.

In both real-world use and in our side-by-side garden hose and...
In both real-world use and in our side-by-side garden hose and shower comparisons, the Minimalist Pant was easily among the most storm resistant models we tested. They did a fantastic job of keeping their wearer dry.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Weather Resistance


The Marmot Minimalist offers exceptional weather resistance and performed among the best in our review, in both our side-by-side hose and shower tests, as well as over several weeks of real-world testing over a wet Pacific Northwest fall hiking and climbing season. For wet weather hiking or mountaineering, there are few pants we'd rather use than the Minimalist. Our testers were impressed with how effective this pant was in keeping us dry. This contender, along with the Arc'teryx Beta AR were the most storm-worthy pants we tested. Because the Minimalist doesn't offer any side-zippers and features waterproof pockets, there are few ways in which water could find its way in. The Gore-Tex PacLite fabric performed to the highest standard and offered long-lasting weather protection.

The DWR beading up water, not only keeping the wearer dry from the...
The DWR beading up water, not only keeping the wearer dry from the outside, but also maintaining breathability by not wetting out. The photo shows the Minimalist Pant by Marmot.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Comfort and Mobility


The Minimalist offers some of the best freedom of movement and overall mobility of any pant in our review. It features well-designed and articulated legs that move with the wearer; these designs are above average and are comfortable, but do not feel too baggy. While they performed better than most of the options we tested, they didn't offer a comparable level of freedom of movement that can found in the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic or the REI Talusphere Full Zip; both use a stretchy high-quality fabric.

Fit

These pants fit our testers well; however, depending on the tester's body, not everyone thought they fit fantastically in the waist area. Unlike most of the pants we tested, they only feature elastic on the back half of the waist area of the pant, and feature no belt-loops and no "cinching or tightening features.

The Minimalist Pant offers only 1/4 length ankle zippers. Even this...
The Minimalist Pant offers only 1/4 length ankle zippers. Even this short zipper helped these pants to be donned over smaller volume footwear like trail running shoes or low-top light-hiking shoes, but anything larger and we were forced to take off our shoes to pull these pants on. While this was a small inconvenience (as when it's rainy the ground is often muddy), it was a trade off, as not having longer side zippers saved 3-5 ounces of weight in our pack. This was a nice weight savings, considering most people carry their rain pant in their pack 95+ percent of the time.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Breathability & Ventilation


This is where the Minimalist name is more apparent; while it does not sacrifice anything in the way of durability, breathability, or storm worthiness, it doesn't feature any ventilation options. It does feature 1/4 length ankle zippers, but these don't allow much (if any) moisture to escape or for any heat to be "dumped". In our real-world testing, our review team didn't find this to be a significant issue. As we mentioned in our main buying advice article, when hiking in the rain (particularly if it's brushy), having the side zippers open is practically inviting water to run into your pants, and consequently, into your boots.

While having ventilation is nice for hiking post-rainstorm, most of the time this isn't a dealbreaker. The Minimalist offers Gore-Tex PacLite fabric, which was one of the most breathable fabrics we tested. The only pant that proved more breathable was the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic; its Dry.Q fabric was air permeable and didn't require the user to work up a bunch of heat in order for the fabric to start transferring moisture. The REI Talusphere Full Zip wasn't too far off in regards to breathability, scoring 9s out of 10s.

Features


The Minimalist doesn't feature waist tightening features or belt loops, and has quarter-length angle zippers. Our testing team found we could pull these pants over small, low-profile hiking shoes, but pulling the pants over medium to larger sized hiking boots wasn't an option. In the end, not being able to pull this contender over hiking boots wasn't a momentous dealbreaker for day hikers (who have light footwear in most cases), though it was a more significant issue for mountaineers or backpackers.

The Minimalist Pant didn't offer a lot of "extra" features, but...
The Minimalist Pant didn't offer a lot of "extra" features, but instead offers a storm worthy pant that's lighter and more packable than average. One of its few features were two classically located hand warmer pockets that our testers appreciated.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Though it's always worth considering that most backpackers and hikers end up carrying their pants 95% of the time, you might appreciate the slight weight savings in exchange for the occasional inconvenience to sit down to remove your boots for those rare rainy day outings. For mountaineers who may be wearing a climbing harness, bigger volume boots and the possibility of crampons proved to be more of a pain, as sitting and removing boots in the snow is more of an issue than when on a trail.

Packed Size


These pants were slightly smaller than average in regards to other contenders that were tested; they are slightly smaller than the Marmot PreCip Full Zip Pants, but noticeably more packable than the REI Talusphere Full Zip or The North Face Venture Half Zip. Compared to most Gore-Tex models, these pants are smaller than average and among the most packable to feature Gore-Tex PacLite fabric.

Weight


A hair over 11 ounces, these are the lightest Gore-Tex pants we tested; the Minimalist remains impressive, as it is lighter than the Columbia Rebel Roamer, which also doesn't feature side zips and is far lighter than the Marmot PreCip Full Zip (14 oz), which uses slightly lighter weight fabric. The Minimalist is nowhere near as light as the Outdoor Research Helium Pant (6.5 ounces), which is by far the lightest and most compact model in our review (however, it's important to note that the Helium is not as durable or versatile).

Durability


We think these pants are the most durable pant tested in regard to abrasion resistance and in DWR and weather resistance longevity. After weeks of use on a wide array of backpacking, hiking, and mountaineering trips, our testing team was impressed with how well this contender held up. We found the Minimalist was far more durable than other award winners, like the OR Foray, and the Columbia Rebel Roamer. The Minimalist uses 50D fabric which is some of the thicker fabric among models tested; it's made of polyester, which is more abrasion resistant, and more durable than nylon.

Best Applications


The Marmot Minimalist is right at home for nearly all outdoor activities. It's light enough for throwing in the pack as a "just-in-case" layer on single or multi-day backpacking trips, but durable enough that it will last for those times when you actually have to break them out when the going gets rough. The fit and freedom of movement is suitable and allows for other cold and wet snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or even occasional downhill skiing use. In fact, this pair is one of the better options for downhill and backcountry ski boots, as the larger diameter cuff fits over decently.

Value


At $165, the Minimalist is one of the best priced Gore-Tex pants you can buy; that in itself makes it a great value. We think because of its exceptionally high level of durability, this pant will last the user quite some time. Overall, we think most folks will find this model worth every penny.

Conclusion


Our testers love the functionality and overall design of the Marmot Minimalist. It was a strong contender for our Editors' Choice Award, as it offers exceptional versatility, durability, and storm worthiness - all at an excellent price, while providing a respectable weight and packed volume. Several of our testers commented that the side zips didn't help much with ventilation when you truly needed it, which was true. The side zips did make it easy enough to put on without having to take off your boots, snowshoes, or skis. This pair of rain pants remains a sweet rainy day option, with several advantages for folks willing to sacrifice a little convenience for weight savings.

Ian Nicholson