The Marmot Ether is made of 100% Nylon Double Mini Rip and does notfeature a DWR (durable water repellent) finish.
At $125, this piece is more expensive than the Patagonia Houdini ($99), which easily outperforms it according to our rating metrics. However, it is likely to last, and if you're looking for a lined windbreaker to hit the coffee shop or run errands, it is a good choice.
The Ether fell behind other models in our review metrics. Most other contenders outperformed it in weight and packability, versatility, and water resistance. Fortunately, it does have some admirable traits that might suit the right user.
The Ether performed well compared to other models when it came to wind resistance, largely in part to the fleece-lining that covered the entirety of the jacket. Without this lining, which is not featured on the hood of the jacket, the nylon double mini rip would likely be a bit less resistant to strong gusts. However, with it, the Ether was able to keep out drafts well (except for the hood, which allowed a bit more air through). For a jacket that is more wind resistant, we recommend the Patagonia Houdini or Arc'teryx Squamish.
Though the hood is fleece-free, the rest of the Marmot Ether is lined with a cozy fleece layer.
Because this contender has three layers (a fleece lining a double nylon mini rip), it was slightly less breathable than thinner models, like the Black Diamond Alpine Start. Likely because of its thickness, this was the only model that featured armpit ventilation, which our reviewers felt did an adequate job of increasing air movement in these areas. If you are using your windbreaker strictly for wind protection and don't need a piece with added features for breathability, we recommend looking at a jacket like the Eddie Bauer Uplift.
The armpit ventilation of the Ether adds to its breathability but detracts from its wind resistance.
The Ether was in the middle of the pack in the durability metric. Although none of the jackets showed significant wear during our three-month test period, our testers identified areas of weakness and strength in this area. The Ether had three layers of material, more than other models, which allows it to be a bit more abrasion-resistant in the long run. However, the outer layer is quite thin, and it would be easy to catch this in zippers. More durable pieces, like the Patagonia Houdini or Black Diamond Alpine Start, might be a good choice if you beat up your apparel.
The Marmot Ether is best used in colder temps or low-output activity, thanks to its fleece lining.
Weight and Packability
This metric was the Ether's Achilles heel. With the largest packed size of any of the jackets reviewed, this model is not the right choice for an emergency layer that you throw in your pack and forget about. At 7 ounces, it is just 0.1 ounce heavier than the Black Diamond Alpine Start, but combine this weight with its bulky packed size, and it is easily beat by the Alpine Start, which packs down into a much more compact package. However, if you plan on using your jacket as more of an around-town layer and don't require serious packability, don't let this be a deterrent.
A comparison between the relatively large Marmot Ether (right) and Patagonia Houdini (left), the smallest windbreaker in this review.
This piece performed towards the bottom of the versatility metric out of any model reviewed, largely because of its fleece-lined interior. Our reviewers found that this fleece was prone to catching on base layers, making it difficult and uncomfortable to layer this jacket over the top of another layer. Additionally, the larger packed size makes it a bit difficult to imagine packing this jacket on a lightweight mission; whether you're hiking, climbing, or biking, space is usually somewhat of a premium. If your space is not at a premium, don't let the larger packed size affect your decision. With that said, the Ether does feature a harness clip loop so you can carry it easily while climbing. More versatile jackets include the Black Diamond Alpine Start and Rab Windveil.
The fleece lining of the Marmot won't let it compact very small and tends to catch on underlayers.
This was one of only three contenders that did not feature a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. As a result, it was a low performer when it came to water resistance. The fleece lining does provide an added barrier if you are caught in unexpected precip, but this fleece lining will take a while to dry, and you may become cold during the process.
The Ether lacks a DWR finish, and it won't handle light precip as well as a jacket that is DWR treated.
The Ether is best used as an around-town piece or a jacket for light to moderate exercise on colder days.
The Marmot's extra insulation makes it better for slower paced activities, like playing tug o' war.
As the only fleece-lined windbreaker in our review, the Marmot Ether had a tough time matching the performance of the competition. But if you're looking for a bit of added warmth in your windbreaker, this might be the piece for you.