Marmot Avant Featherless Hoody - Women's Review
Cons: Not breathable, tight across the back
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Marmot Avant Featherless stands out for its grandeur warmth. Packed with airy insulation that performs a lot like down, but even better, it offers the highest compression to warmth ratio of any jacket in this review tested. It is perfect for ladies seeking a jacket that'll keep them warm in the depth of winter. It also functions well as a belay jacket or for simply wearing around town.
Resembling a down-filled jacket, this synthetic-filled offers excellent warmth when the temperatures dip well into the double negatives. The 3M Thinsulate synthetic fibers are claimed to be just as warm as 700-fill down. While we can't verify that exact warmth metric, we wouldn't be surprised if it were even warmer than that. It also insulates even when wet, and you'll be hard-pressed to get the material to saturate. It's pretty weather resistant.
The baffled design makes for lofty pockets of warmth throughout the entire length of the jacket. The exterior is constructed of a 20-D nylon that offers excellent weather protection, adding to the overall warmth of the jacket. The thickness, insulation, and hood features allow you to bundle up when the snow comes down.
Most warm-weather clothing systems are not simply based on one piece of clothing. The spacious interior makes it easy to put a base layer or fleece jacket underneath, which adds even more warmth to the jacket.
We tested this jacket in temperatures dipping way below zero in the high mountains of Colorado. Whenever presented with a situation where the wind was blowing hard, latticed with ice crystals, and stinging cold weather, this jacket will always be our first choice. While it's wonderful for winter use, it also functions nicely as a warm jacket to bring on camping trips in warmer climates for the night or shady conditions.
Weight & Compression
One of the best benefits of a down jacket is its ability to compress. Synthetics typically aren't as compressible, which is true of the Avant. This jacket doesn't have any special pockets that it can compress into, nor does it come with a stuff sack. At first glance, it is quite large in size, but when we took the time to stuff it into our pack while on a trip and during our in-home comparative tests, we learned that it packs well and isn't too heavy for the amount of warmth it offers.
A size small weighs in at just 14.75 ounces, which is just under a pound. The jacket itself is quite airy and doesn't feel heavy when worn. We'd even go as far as to say that it feels like a lightweight! Given that it offers an immense amount of warmth, this has one of the highest warmth to weight ratios that we've tested.
It'll keep you super warm in frigid weather and fits nicely into a tiny pack, though we'd recommend purchasing a small stuff sack that you can put it in. While it fits nicely into the corners and crevices of a backpack, the material is springy, and you may want something to keep it together, so it doesn't unfold and decompress.
Comfort & Coziness
While this jacket isn't fleecy or super-soft, it earns a high comfort score for its overall feel. Wearing it is like crawling into a super puffy, comfortable sleeping bag. The coziness comes from the overall feel of the jacket and not any fancy features; in fact, it's quite simple in design.
The hem has a pull-string to keep warmth inside the coat and prevent wind from coming in from the bottom. The elasticized cuffs are not particularly special, but long enough for the long-limbed and fits comfortably under or over a pair of gloves.
The hood is also elasticized, but unfortunately does not have a pull cord at the back of the hood to offer a more specific fit, especially if you're wearing a helmet. The hood itself has quite a large volume, so its fit is less specific and offers a more versatile fit.
The pockets are not fleece-lined or mega comfortable. There's a pocket on the exterior chest and two handwarmer pockets, all of which are zippered. The chest pocket is small, but will still fit a smaller smartphone or snacks. We had a little trouble reaching into it with bulkier gloves, but a thin pair shouldn't be a problem. The handwarmer pockets are spacious and offer a decent amount of storage too. There is no interior storage on this jacket.
All the zippers are garaged and easy to pull, even with a big pair of gloves on. Overall, the comfort and coziness of this jacket come in the form of its airy insulation that makes you feel all wrapped up, even on the coldest days.
The Avant Featherless is unparalleled in performance when it comes to weather. We wore it during windy snowstorms, rain showers, and even sprayed it down with water to objectively see how the materials did in moisture. Of all the jackets tested in this review, it proves to be the most weather resistant.
The thickness and its 20-denier nylon exterior material are what makes it almost windproof. When testing on a day where winds reached 50 mph, we felt a little chill through our base layer, fleece, and this jacket. Other jackets, on the other hand, felt noticeably colder. The exterior material on both the outer and innermost part of the jacket cuts the wind, protecting the core to maintain warmth; sandwiched in between are baffled layers of insulation. Normally, the wind gets through the zipper and the stitching between these baffles. However, Marmot constructed it in a way that'll keep you well protected.
During snowstorms, when the snow was heavy and wet, the Nylon offered excellent water resistance. While snowflakes stuck to the material, they quickly melted and wicked away from the moisture. We observed this same result while waiting out a couple of rainstorms. Just to be sure, we took this jacket and sprayed it down with water in our shower for about five minutes. After this period, it didn't absorb any water and stayed completely dry, which is pretty amazing. No other jacket showed this great level of performance in our tests. You can expect excellent weather resistance, which is why it earns such a high score in this category.
This is not an incredibly breathable jacket. With its super thick layers and exceptional weather resistance, it's built to keep heat in, not offload it. While the nylon exterior and insulation itself has breathable properties, the jacket as a whole will keep you warm. This is not the jacket if you're seeking something for winter running or cross-country skiing. You'll sweat quickly, and the jacket will keep that sweat close to your body. That said, it still offers good functionality for light aerobic work in very cold weather.
When hiking in the San Juans of Colorado during cold weather, we appreciated the warmth of this jacket. When on flat terrain and while moving slowly, it offered enough breathability to maintain a good temperature. However, as soon as we started to sweat, we found ourselves taking this jacket off almost immediately. This is the jacket to shove in your backpack as a warm layer or to wear when hiking in super cold temperatures. It's not meant to breathe exceptionally well, and it doesn't.
Style & Fit
As outdoor enthusiasts, we love the look that it offers, but it's not for everybody. This baffled jacket offers a traditional outdoorsy look, and the baffles are long and horizontal. It does offer a flattering seam-line which makes for a slimming effect. This is one of our favorite stylish features.
The material is shiny, which our main testers like; others that prefer a less technical look may want to look elsewhere. While it's not a jacket you'd choose for your first date in the city, it sure looks good for meeting friends at the bar or while hiking on the trail.
The fit is specific. Our main tester is about 145 pounds and 5'6. She wears a size small, which fit nicely throughout the arms and body. The length of the arms didn't provide any additional length, and the hemline was just around her hips. The only caveat is this jacket is tight in the armpits and doesn't offer a ton of width across the back of the jacket.
If you're broad-shouldered, we'd recommend trying this on or ordering a larger size. While this is our observation, several online reviews verify this fit issue is real. If Marmot made this jacket a little wider through the back and less tight in the armpits, it would have a far more versatile fit.
The price is right and it has many great qualities. It's wonderfully warm and comfortable, with a fit best for those with shoulders and backs that aren't as broad. If you need a jacket that'll keep you warm in the winter or will suffice as a belay jacket in some questionable weather, this is a fantastic option to consider.
The Marmot Avant Featherless is a warm insulated jacket that looks and performs just like a down jacket. Claimed to keep you just as warm as a 700-fill down coat, it offers remarkable warmth and weather protection. Since it's not that breathable and has a specific fit, it's best for women seeking a jacket for standing warmth or while hiking in super cold conditions.
— Amber King