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Marmot ROM Review

This stretchy softshell excels at keeping cold winds at bay, thanks to its Windstopper shell material
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $190 List | $113.97 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Soft and stretchy fabric, lightweight, great wind protection
Cons:  Hood fit is tight
Manufacturer:   Marmot
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 30, 2020
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Weather Protection - 30% 8
  • Breathability - 30% 8
  • Mobility - 25% 8
  • Weight - 10% 7
  • Versatility - 5% 6

Our Verdict

The Marmot ROM has been recently redesigned and is now one of our favorite softshell layers for mountain sports, especially rock and alpine climbing. This jacket features expertly tailored panels that allow for unencumbered athletic movement, which is something we would hope for from the ROM (Range of Motion). With a combination of different softshell fabrics, above-average weather protection is attained, but not at the expense of breathability. The Gore-Tex Infinium fabric blocks wind and repels water from the head and shoulders, but the Marmot M2 fabric keeps you from overheating in the body of the jacket. We love this piece for ski touring, rock climbing, and alpine climbing, and for that have awarded it our Top Pick Award for Climbing.

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Our Analysis and Test Results

We tested the Marmot ROM in some challenging conditions, climbing rock routes in cool winter weather, ascending difficult ice and mixed lines, and ski touring in the snowy Sierra Nevada. Our impressions were positive, and we really got to love the ROM for its ability in these harsh environments, enough so that we gave it our Top Pick Award for Climbing.

Performance Comparison


Stretchy  durable and wind-resistant  the ROM excels in high-end climbing applications.
Stretchy, durable and wind-resistant, the ROM excels in high-end climbing applications.

Weather Protection


The ROM combines the well-known Marmot M2 fabric with the more robust and capable Gore-Tex Infinium 3 Layer softshell fabric to produce a hybrid jacket that can deliver excellent weather protection where it is the most needed. The Gore-Tex is able to block wind and repel moisture better than many other fabrics. The reason that it allows moisture to bead off continuously is that the membrane is on the outside, rather than being covered by a fabric layer that will eventually wet through and clog the membrane's pores, inhibiting its ability to shed perspiration.


While the Gore-Tex is very effective at shedding snow and light rain off the head and shoulders, the Marmot M2 fabric, which is not a lined material, does not offer the same protection.

The hood can fit over a helmet  but larger foam climbing helmets make it harder to fully close the zipper.
The hood can fit over a helmet, but larger foam climbing helmets make it harder to fully close the zipper.

The arms, back, and front of this jacket are thinner, less durable, and subsequently more prone to getting wet. This means that while climbing without a pack, moisture can easily bead off and not be sopped up by the M2 body fabric. However, while wearing a backpack, the material around the sternum straps and waist straps wet out over time. This is, after all, not a hardshell jacket, so we cannot be too harsh to judge the waterproofness of a softshell layer.

The difference in fabrics is evident here  giving more protection where it is most needed.
The difference in fabrics is evident here, giving more protection where it is most needed.

Breathability


The ROM has excellent breathability for its weight, and especially for its weather protection. There are certainly much more breathable jackets in our review, though this comes at the cost of being more susceptible to getting wet in harsher weather conditions. The Gore Infinium fabric does a great job at keeping weather out from the most exposed locations, as we mentioned above. However, the M2 fabric throughout the body is much more breathable (it does not have any lining), and this combination seems like the best of both worlds to us.


In our testing, we engaged in aerobic activities like ski touring, ice climbing, and rock climbing, all of which generate a lot of heat — especially when wearing a base layer. The ROM expels this heat quite well, meaning you won't suffer from damp layers underneath, a concern if recreating in cold temperatures. As long as you don't carry anything in your pockets (there are 2 handwarmer pockets and one chest pocket), then you can open the zippers to dump even more heat, as the pockets have only a mesh backing rather than a solid lining.

Gore Windstopper around the shoulders  but a lighter M2 fabric in the body makes this more breathable.
Gore Windstopper around the shoulders, but a lighter M2 fabric in the body makes this more breathable.

Mobility


We award the Marmot ROM a high score for mobility, and give the designers a nod for improving upon the old design, which was a bit too boxy to be a top performer as an athletic garment. The Angel-Wing Movement articulated tailoring allows for easy overhead reaching without causing the hems to pull up out of a harness. The cuffs also do not fall down when grabbing for something high above you, a less-than-optimal issue when snow or ice climbing.


Some users have complained that the athletic fit of the ROM is neither trim enough nor relaxed enough. For us, it has just the right amount of room for wearing base layers underneath, while not being so baggy that it loses its function in athletic activities. Our lead tester is a medium across the board, and at 5' 11" he finds the ROM spacious enough to allow a thin long sleeve shirt, as well as a medium weight hooded base layer, without feeling any constriction in the body or arms as some have noted.

A great fit makes this jacket incredibly mobile - we had no issues when climbing hard pitches in the ROM.
A great fit makes this jacket incredibly mobile - we had no issues when climbing hard pitches in the ROM.

Weight


We verified the weight of the ROM on our own personal scale, and it came in just a hair over a pound, at 17 ounces. For the weather protection it provides, as well as for its top-notch performance in rough terrain thanks to its durable fabric, we feel that while not the lightest weight jacket in our review, it is certainly quite light for its functionality.


Packing down to the size of a one-liter water bottle, the ROM is easily stuffed into a pack for when the extra protection is not required, or when hiking into an overnight destination. Few jackets are lighter than the ROM in this test, and amongst those that are, none of them provide the same weather protection, giving this jacket an edge over most other contenders.

We weighed the ROM and feel like it is worth the weight for the wind protection it provides.
We weighed the ROM and feel like it is worth the weight for the wind protection it provides.

Versatility


When rating versatility, we consider style, usefulness, and included features. The ROM has a nice, clean style that gives buyers the option between choosing between bright color schemes and more subtle dark options. The trim fit is capable of being at home at the cliffs or at the coffee shop, though the features make the jacket more useful at the former.


The cuffs are adjustable, with velcro closures, so that they can seal around gloves. The hood has a single adjustment point, as well as a brim that sheds snow and rain away from the face. The hood is climbing helmet-compatible, though just barely. Larger foam helmets may not fit underneath as well as a plastic shell helmet, and the hood is certainly not spacious enough to accommodate a ski helmet.

The hood adjustment is easy to find and operate whether wearing gloves or not.
The hood adjustment is easy to find and operate whether wearing gloves or not.

Value


The ROM is a good value as a softshell jacket well-suited to mountain activities. It has great performance in important metrics like weather protection and breathability and is a sharp-looking jacket that we feel confident in recommending.

Conclusion


The Marmot ROM is a great softshell jacket for wearing in and out of the mountains. It has excellent weather protection, enhanced breathability, and exceptional mobility, making it a perfect choice for someone looking for a durable jacket to climb, ski tour, or backpack in. It provides a balance between the protection of a hardshell and the breathability of a softshell, while not giving up much performance in the desire to be both. We give it our Top Pick for Climbing Award and recommend it to anyone who needs a comfortable layer to protect them while they focus on the moves ahead.

Velcro cuffs seal around gloves  a beneficial feature.
Velcro cuffs seal around gloves, a beneficial feature.

Ryan Huetter