Marmot's venerable Precip line of shell gear offers lightweight, budget-minded performance in a variety of forms. In this review, we test both this traditional format (1/4 cuff zips) and the fully separating Marmot PreCip Full Zip. In most ways, and definitely the important ways, these pants are identical to one another. The fabric and fit are the same. The durability and weather protection, therefore, are basically the same. The full zip version vents better and is easier to get on and off. This version is lighter, more compact, and less expensive.
These are great waterproof pants for anyone on a budget. Especially for those for whom weight and bulk are a concern, the Marmot PreCip should be on your short list. Durability and breathability suffer as compared to the more expensive products, but for short exposures to wet weather, these things matter a lot less.
We like long walks in the rain... but only for testing rain gear. Here, the PreCip ants keep out driving and cold water in South America.
The membrane is fully waterproof, and Marmot's "DWR" lasts better than average. What more can you ask for? The lack of long zippers leaves even less room for breach. This model scores slightly better than the cousin Marmot PreCip Full Zip because the full zippers are a little more vulnerable to leakage. We had no actual problems with our tested full zip pants, but we know from past experience and logic that the mechanical zippers are potentially leaky.
Comfort and Mobility
A relatively loose fit and softly draping fabric are the Precip pants' positive comfort attributes. The thin fabric is a little clingy while the bare membrane lining is cold against bare legs. These things are minor, especially when wearing long pants beneath, but they need to be noted.
The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic is the comfort king in our review. The fabric really is quite stretchy and this is noticeable when you wear them. Both PreCip pants (these, and the full zip version) score similarly in terms of comfort. The Top Pick ultralight Outdoor Research Helium is also very comfortable, especially considering just how light they are.
Breathability and Venting
Marmot's NanoPro fabric and coating are quite breathable, considering the price. For moderate efforts in all but the most thoroughly soaked environments, your body heat will push some of your perspiration, in the form of water vapor, through the fabric of the Precip pants. Zipped venting, like that on the Marmot PreCip Full Zip sheds hot air and moisture even better. Gore-Tex fabric, as featured on the Marmot Minimalist really does breathe better than the less expensive options.
Marmot PreCip on the left, Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Alpha SL on the right. Both have recently been in the rain, but the Alpha was out longer. As a result, their DWR treatment was overwhelmed. The water you see on the Alpha pants did not get through to the inside.
Given how light the PreCip pants are, they have an excellent set of pockets. There are a total of three mesh-lined pockets. Two in the front and one in the rear. The 1/4 length lower leg zip allows the user to slip all but the bulkiest of mountaineering boots through.
The set of three pockets on the PreCip Pants is welcome and useful. Here, the one rear pocket. This is complemented by two hand warmer pockets on the front.
These pants are compact enough to bring on all but the most ultralight of missions. They take up about as much space as a 12 ounce LaCroix can. The Top Pick Outdoor Research Helium is the undisputed packability leader. These are tiny. The PreCip pants are almost twice the size. The Marmot PreCip is about 75% the bulk of the Marmot PreCip Full Zip.
Compact and lightweight. This is what we look for in rain pants and this small package is our well-scoring PreCip Pants.
At an even 8 ounces, the PreCip pants are lighter than the rainwater that will collect in your boots on a wet hike. Use that 8 ounces on your legs, and your boots should absorb less water. The weight of the PreCip pants can "pay for itself" that way. Now, our logic isn't bulletproof, but the point is that these aren't very heavy pants.
The Top Pick Outdoor Research Helium pants are even lighter than the PreCip pants, while the REI Talusphere Full Zip is more than twice the mass. The Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic is only two ounces heavier than the PreCip. Notably, the PreCip Full Zip is almost twice as heavy as the 1/4 zipped version. This points to the actual weight of convenience.
To test breathability we swapped pants back and forth in the same wet, active conditions. In this particular comparison, we found that the fabric of the Arc'teryx Alpha SL (on the ground) breathed better than the Precip Pant (on the tester), but not by as much as the price difference might suggest.
The thin fabric and mostly exposed internal coating of the PreCip pants are vulnerable to degradation. Our test period wasn't long enough to elicit failure, but we know from experience that fabric of this thickness will tear when snagged on thorns or rocks. This is the primary "cost" of lightweight and inexpensive equipment. On all pants, note that the DWR coating will be the first thing to fail. This is not a failure of the waterproofing. Marmot's lasts pretty well, but will eventually fail, as all DWR treatments do.
The PreCip Pants in action in the high and wild temperate rainforests of Southern Chile.
These are ultralight rain pants to keep at the bottom of your pack for hikes in any climate prone to rain.
The 1/4 length zips of this classic configuration of the Precip Pants work to get on overall but the bulkiest of ski boots and mountaineering boots.
Some products are less expensive and some perform better, but we have long found that Marmot PreCip shell gear strikes a great value. When the products are also pretty light, your calculus gets even easier. These pants are a good value.
You can't go wrong with these pants. Others are more protective, more breathable, more durable, more comfortable or lighter, but none strike the balance of these attributes that the Marmot PreCip does.