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Marmot Ether DriClime Review

A great layer for aerobic activities in cooler months, too much insulation for warm conditions.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $125 List | $93.71 at Backcountry
Pros:  Liner makes it warmer and helps wick moisture, great wind protection.
Cons:  Too hot for most summer activity, not very packable, poor water resistance
Manufacturer:   Marmot
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 20, 2016
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 10
  • Wind Resistance - 30% 10
  • Breathability and Venting - 30% 7
  • Weight and Packability - 20% 5
  • Fit and Functionality - 10% 7
  • Water Resistance - 10% 3

Our Verdict

The Marmot Ether DriClime Hoody has an inside liner that adds a considerable amount of warmth, bolster's the jacket's ability to block the wind, and effectively extends its comfort range. While the liner meant that it was a bit too insulated for us to wear during the middle of summer, no other jacket perfectly balanced the need for breathability with warmth during cooler weather. We found that this is nearly the perfect layer for backcountry skiers. If you need a windbreaker for aerobic activities during the colder months of the year, the Ether Hoody is the one we would recommend, earning it a Top Pick award.


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Price $93.71 at Backcountry$99.00 at REI
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Pros Liner makes it warmer and helps wick moisture, great wind protection.Low price, simple and effective design, tiny packed-size, impressive DWR coatingLightest in the category, tiny packed size, larger chest pocketStretchy nylon, comfortable, very breathableGreat pocket space, neck snap for venting, brim gives some sun protection
Cons Too hot for most summer activity, not very packable, poor water resistanceNo feature to stow-away hood, thin material can feel clammy during high-output activitySee-through material, under-performing DWR fabricSleeves a tad shortHood brim is goofy looking, internal pocket low, not the best breathability
Bottom Line A great layer for aerobic activities in cooler months, too much insulation for warm conditions.The best overall value and performance in a lightweight package that sets the category standardAn ultralight jacket purposefully built for fast and light mountain missionsA stretchy and hyper mobile windbreaker that breathes well.A solid jacket at a great price. The pocket options were best in class.
Rating Categories Marmot Ether DriClime Patagonia Houdini Distance Wind Shell Outdoor Research Tantrum II Rab Vital Windshell
Wind Resistance (30%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
Breathability And Venting (30%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
Weight And Packability (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Fit And Functionality (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
Water Resistance (10%)
10
0
3
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
6
Specs Marmot Ether... Patagonia Houdini Distance Wind Shell Outdoor Research... Rab Vital Windshell
Measured Weight, size M 8.1 oz 3.9 oz (size L) 3.5 oz 4.6 oz 4.7 oz
Material 100% Recycled Nylon 100% nylon ripstop, DWR finish 100% nylon ripstop, woven w/ DWR treatment (Green Theme Technology "Breathable Water Protection Technology") 100% nylon 20D mechanical stretch ripstop 20D nylon
Pockets 3 zip (2 hand, 1 chest) 1 zip (chest) 1 chest 1 zip (chest) 2 external hand, 1 internal zip
Safety Reflective Material? Yes reflective logos on chest, right arm, and upper left back No (company states reflective logo on left chest, too small to really be visible) No Yes, reflective logo Yes, reflective logo
Stuffs into itself? Yes, stows in hand pocket Yes, stows in chest pocket Yes, stows in chest pocket Yes, stows in chest pocket Yes
Adjustable Cuffs? Elastic Half Elastic Elastic Elastic Half Elastic
Hood? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Some of the wind jackets we tested are designed to fit snug to the body and serve as a light shell over a single base layer, like a long sleeve t-shirt. Others are a bit roomier to allow for a little more layering ability, meant to be pulled out and thrown over whatever you are wearing when bad weather sets in. The Ether Hoody is a snug, athletic-fitting wind jacket that has that thin, warm layer already built in. While the DriClime liner is a very thin piece of felt-like material, it makes a massive difference in how the jacket feels. It added significantly to the jacket's wind resistance, ranking it at the top of the pile. However, it also holds enough heat that we weren't very comfortable wearing it on warm, sunny days — even in the mountains when we wanted a little wind protection. For winter activities, such as snowshoeing or ski touring, this jacket is a comfortable and convenient layer that can be worn all day.

This jacket is excellent for wind protection, has great venting capability, and is impressively breathable even during most high-output activity. Still, we wouldn't consider this a jacket for the summer months, unless you live in the far north. With two hand pockets, a chest pocket, and numerous cinchable drawcords, this jacket has a high level of carrying-capacity and overall functionality — great for alpine climbers. While it is not the lightest or the most packable in our review, this jacket's lowest attribute is its water resistance. With its synthetic insulation, it will keep you dry in a snowstorm, but don't bet on breaking this out for protection from a quick-passing rainstorm.

Performance Comparison


Catching some spring winds above Taos Ski Valley. For all winter activities  from hiking to skinning  this hoody proved itself with a great balance of cozy insulation and technical performance.
Catching some spring winds above Taos Ski Valley. For all winter activities, from hiking to skinning, this hoody proved itself with a great balance of cozy insulation and technical performance.

Wind Resistance


The outer shell fabric of this jacket is very lightweight and quite air-permeable. Taken alone, we suspect that it would be one of the least wind resistant materials in this review. However, it doesn't function alone --the DriClime liner, two cinchable drawcords on the hood and one on the waist, and elastic wrist cuffs all combine to provide the most wind resistance of any jacket in this test.


The only other jacket with comparable, near-total wind resistance is our top-choice for commuters, the softshell-like Patagonia Tezzeron. But in our side-by-side wind testing — on a day when windchill values approached zero degrees Fahrenheit — the Ether Hoody was decidedly the most comfortable to stand out in the howling winds for any significant amount of time. Supported by a number of chilly, early-morning ski tours, this is the jacket you want to be wearing on any cold summit.

Ripping climbing skins in the wind can be frustrating. But you can remain confident that this jacket will keep you warm as a single layer  no matter how long your transitions take.
Ripping climbing skins in the wind can be frustrating. But you can remain confident that this jacket will keep you warm as a single layer, no matter how long your transitions take.

Breathability and Venting


When it comes to breathability and venting, we gave the Ether DriClime seven out of a possible 10 points, similar to the KUHL Parajax and the Outdoor Research Tantrum II. The design of separating the liner from the outer shell material does a very good job of absorbing and evaporating perspiration — after our hose test, the synthetic insulation of this jacket dried out surprisingly quickly compared to other heavier-weight jackets. Added features, like large underarm mesh vents and zippered hand and chest pockets, aid in ventilating the jacket when on the move. If you are working up a sweat in colder weather, this jacket does a good job of drying you off to help keep you warm and comfortable.


The flip-side to this venting ability is that since the lined jacket is so much warmer than any other in this review, we found that you are certainly far more likely to work up a sweat in the first place. Once temperatures began to warm up, we couldn't wear this jacket very often — except on early morning runs or bike rides — because we simply got too hot, too quickly. If you're headed into the mountains in the spring or fall, this jacket will perform great on your early morning approach, but will likely feel stifling when hiking back down in the afternoon sun.

Fleece-backed insulation over much of this jacket -- with the exception of the hood -- makes this jacket a super cozy option for outdoor  winter activity.
Fleece-backed insulation over much of this jacket -- with the exception of the hood -- makes this jacket a super cozy option for outdoor, winter activity.

Weight and Packability


Our size medium weighed in at 8.1 ounces, which was curiously about one whole ounce lighter than Marmot advertised on its website. Although still very light for a (moderately) insulated jacket, this is the third heaviest in our review, weighing slightly more than the similarly soft, but single-layer North Face Flyweight Hoodie.


We also decided to deduct a point from this score for its packability. It stuffs into one of its hand pockets, rather than the smaller chest pocket like most of its competitors. The result is that it remains much larger once packed than most, with a size that is almost pillow-like. In fact, with half of the soft, DriClime liner exposed, we found out on a winter overnight trip that this jacket doubles as a great camping pillow! While it does include a clip-in loop, this is not a jacket we want hanging from a harness or stored anywhere but inside a pack, due to its rather thin outer layer that we worry might tear easily. While you might find that this jacket is able to be stuffed smaller than its packed-down size, weight and packability are two of the Ether Hoody's drawbacks, especially in comparison to other options in this review.

Although it appears to pack down to a size larger than a Nalgene bottle  there is lots of extra fluff to stuff this jacket to a size much smaller than you would think.
Although it appears to pack down to a size larger than a Nalgene bottle, there is lots of extra fluff to stuff this jacket to a size much smaller than you would think.

Fit and Functionality


This jacket is designed to Marmot's athletic fit, which means that it is designed to hug the body in a sleek way, not hindering movement by being too baggy or bulky. For the 5'10", 165 pound, skinny-mountaineer frame of our head tester, a medium fit perfectly — except when it came to layering. The DriClime liner is a bit grippy and sticky with other fabric, meaning you wouldn't want to try to layer underneath this jacket, or else deal with bunching fabric in the arms that might never sit just right. However, we found that thanks to its sleek fit, it was easy to throw a rain jacket on over the Ether Hoody, and that it wears very comfortably as a midlayer.


It has a healthy dose of usable features, such as insulated hand pockets, a chest pocket with a headphone port, and adjustable hood with cinchable, dual drawcords on either side of the face. While these features are great additions to a very functional jacket, they could use a little adjustment in terms of design. With the headphone port, we struggled to line up our headphone wires through the two holes in the chest pocket, only to find that it doesn't even fit a USB-C jack. Trying to cinch down the hood in a stout wind, we found it difficult to adjust the hood without unzipping the jacket part way — this could be solved by placing the pull-tabs on the outside, like the design found on the Tezzeron.

A high collar faced with fleece is great for keeping the lower part of your face warm in a cold wind. But with a design that places the pull tabs on the inside  we found it difficult to adjust the hood without unzipping this jacket partway.
A high collar faced with fleece is great for keeping the lower part of your face warm in a cold wind. But with a design that places the pull tabs on the inside, we found it difficult to adjust the hood without unzipping this jacket partway.

Despite docking a point for user-friendliness, we found that the Ether Hoody is an incredibly functional layer for our tester's favorite winter activity - backcountry skiing. Not quite as feature-loaded as the Arc'teryx Squamish Hoody, this jacket will keep you comfortable, door-to-door, for any of your cold-weather adventures.

Water Resistance


While we found that the DWR coating on this jacket was solid enough to keep us dry in snow squalls, when it came to actual water resistance, there is a lot of room for improvement. In our side-by-side hose test, the Ether Hoody scored at the bottom of the barrel — after a simulated rainstorm, we found ourselves soaked through across the shoulders and chest. This performance is significantly worse than the other heavier-weight jackets in this review, including the North Face Fanorak.


As a result, we would not take this jacket out into the mountains as our only layer. Fortunately, the slender fit of this jacket means that it can easily be layered over with a rain jacket when the weather really turns nasty. We found the DWR coating performed well in the light, powder-snow of the Southwest, but would instead opt for a jacket like the award-winning, Editor's Choice Patagonia Houdini if you are looking for a weather-resistant shell for backcountry skiing.

Our tester likes to race the sun to the summit on early morning ski tours. We found that this jacket provides a nice balance of warmth in the shade  and heat management for extended periods of high-output activity.
Our tester likes to race the sun to the summit on early morning ski tours. We found that this jacket provides a nice balance of warmth in the shade, and heat management for extended periods of high-output activity.

Best Applications


As we have mentioned many times, this jacket is perfect for colder weather and as a result of its extra insulation, not so good for summer weather. For the other three seasons, this is the ideal jacket for aerobic activities — from trail running to hiking, to ski touring. We would not recommend it for trad climbing because we would not want to carry its bulky package on our harness. But it could serve as a very nice, lightweight warm layer for backpacking or alpine climbing during the warmer months — when it might be enough insulation for mornings and evenings, negating the need for a puffy.

Something we found great about this layer is that we were happy to wear it at every stage of our ski days -- from making coffee in the morning  to climbing and descent  to hanging with friends for apres-ski  this jacket is incredibly comfortable.
Something we found great about this layer is that we were happy to wear it at every stage of our ski days -- from making coffee in the morning, to climbing and descent, to hanging with friends for apres-ski, this jacket is incredibly comfortable.

Value


If you buy it at retail, the Ether Hoody will cost $125. While this is towards the top of the price range for jackets in this review, we believe its performance lives up to its price tag — particularly considering that it can double as a lightweight puffy. As our Top Pick for cold weather activity, this jacket is worth its weight in the mountains.

Conclusion


This is an ideal outer layer for aerobic activities during the colder side of the seasons. Its ability to block wind, while also keeping us cozy, was unrivaled in this review. We wouldn't choose to wear it in the summer months, but its wicking insulation and underarm vents will keep you cooler than expected. As the seasons turned to fall, this was our first choice for trail running and mountain biking. And as the fall turned to winter, we found ourselves wearing it on almost every ski tour. We can't recommend this jacket enough for those getting outside when the weather is cold.

Fitted enough to comfortably slide under a dry-suit  the Marmot Ether Hoody is a great layer for cold days in the mountains and on the river.
Fitted enough to comfortably slide under a dry-suit, the Marmot Ether Hoody is a great layer for cold days in the mountains and on the river.


Andy Wellman