The Marmot Spire is a durable, weatherproof shell best suited to skiing in bounds due to its heavy weight and limited ranges of motion.
Ice climbing in the Spire seemed like a logical choice, but the fabric proved too stiff for technical climbing movement.
The Spire is a very rugged and weatherproof shell jacket. It is thick and well featured to keep snow and precipitation outside. The hood is highly adjustable with a broad brim that keeps precip off your face. The waist hem has a drawcord to seal out cold drafts. And there is a removable powder skirt to keep you dry even when you take a tumble in deep powder. This was one of the strongest categories for the Spire, but it had some competition. We also really liked the burly Arc'teryx Alpha SV, if you can stomach the price or the excellent Norrona Trollveggen.
The many faces of the Spire.
This jacket feels very stiff and heavy. It was not our favorite for ice climbing, and it felt too cumbersome for climbing movement. But it is decent for skiing in bounds in heavy snowfall and is where it excels the most. We were frustrated by how restrictive it felt to move around in this jacket. We much preferred the supple and soft OR Clairvoyant or the impeccably designed Arc'teryx Beta SL.
Stiffer fabric and a storm flap instead of waterproof zippers all conspire to make this jacket feel heavier and stiffer.
This jacket is very heavy and best suited to colder or less aerobic activities. It has very small pit zips with one zipper, so you don't have a lot of options for venting if you get warm. For a much lighter jacket that offers excellent breathability, check out our favorite, the Arc'teryx Beta SL. Or if you want a good all-around model that features pit zips and highly breathable eVent 3 layer fabric, check out the REI Stormrealm.
The pit zips have storm flaps instead of waterproof zippers, which adds weight and stiffness to the jacket.
At 14.5 ounces for a small jacket, this was the heaviest in the review, and by far the heaviest among the technical outdoor style jackets. The next closest, at 13 ounces, is more of a lifestyle hardshell jacket. For the burliest and best severe weather jacket, 4.5 ounces lighter, check out the Arc'teryx Alpha SV. The Alpha shows just what you can get in a severe weather jacket for much less of a weight penalty. Or, if you're looking in the opposite direction, check out what you can get with the featherweight Arc'teryx Beta SL.
The Spire seems best suited for inbounds skiing and snowboarding. It has a shorter torso length which is less ideal for climbing, as it won't seat as well under a harness. It does have a powder skirt, however, and a burly hood for when it's dumping snow. The pit zips are pretty small to be very effective, and only have one zipper, so they only unzip in one direction. The cuffs are simple and adjustable with velcro.
The bottom hem adjustments are at the center zipper instead of the sides which we thought made them more difficult and awkward to operate.
We did really like the high front pockets at a funky and useful angle and loved the sizeable inner chest pocket. The lower left sleeve also has a handy little pocket, suitable for electronic ski lift passes. For a jacket that is also well featured for in-bounds skiing, you might also like the Patagonia Triolet. Otherwise, for an excellent all-around competitor for mountain use, the Norrona Trollveggen had a great blend of features, as well as strong performances in the other metrics.
The powder skirt is great for in bounds skiers, and we love internal zippered chest pockets.
The Spire shines in the durability metric. It is made of 3-layer GORE-TEX, 4.9 oz/yd polyester. It is thick, stiff, and proved relatively indestructible in our field tests. Durability was this jacket's strongest metric. There were a few contenders, but only one that beat it: the Arc'teryx Alpha SV. If you don't want to fork out the cash for that one, you'll likely appreciate the Arc'teryx Beta AR or the Norrona Trollveggen.
This jacket is best for in bounds skiing. It is not very breathable, has poor venting, and feels thick and stiff. However, it has excellent ski area specific features, so if that's what you're looking for, this might be a great fit. This was not the Spire's best category. For our most versatile models, we like the Norrona Trollveggen or the Arc'teryx Beta AR.
The removable powder skirt helps keep fresh snow out of the jacket, even when it's deep, or you face plant in it.
This is a great jacket for inbounds skiing and riding. The features, like a powder skirt and small zippered sleeve pocket hint at this utility. It is marketed as a high altitude shell jacket, but if we're going on an expedition, we would much prefer a lighter weight jacket with the same weather protection, such as the Arc'teryx Alpha SV or even the Norrona Trollveggen.
This jacket is not the most expensive shell out there, but it also has limited utility. This makes it a poor value unless it is the perfect fit for your uses.
Testing the Spire on a beautiful winter day.
The Marmot Spire is limited in scope for technical activities, but extremely storm proof and durable and hiking or in-bounds skiing. If it fits you well and meets your needs, likely as a ski resort hardshell (probably not as a high altitude or expedition shell), then you might really dig it.