The Ether falls behind other models in many of 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 Marmot Ether is best used in colder temps or low-output activity, thanks to its fleece lining.
The Ether offers superior wind resistance, largely due to its fleece-lining. 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. With it, the Ether can keep out drafts well (except for the hood, which allows a bit more air through). For a jacket that includes microfleece in the hood, check out our Top Pick for a Cold Day, the Columbia Flash Forward.
Though the hood is fleece-free, the rest of the Marmot Ether is lined with a cozy fleece layer and features hand pockets to keep your toasty and on chilly days,
Because this contender has three layers (fleece lining the double nylon mini rip), it is slightly less breathable than thinner models, like the Black Diamond Alpine Start or the shockingly thin Patagonia Houdini. Likely because of its thickness, this is the only model that features armpit ventilation, which does an adequate job of increasing air movement. However, if you're not out to do a lot of high output activity and instead seek a jacket that keeps you warmer through those stiff breezes, you may consider the cozy Columbia Flash Forward that's completely fleece-lined and has no underarm vents. (Read: It's less breathable but warmer).
The armpit ventilation of the Ether adds to its breathability but detracts from its wind resistance.
Weight and Packability
This metric is the Ether's Achilles heel. With one of 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. That said, it does pack down into a little package complete with a harness loop, which is more than the larger and bulkier, Columbia Flash Forward can claim. At 7 ounces, the Ether is just barely heavier than the more compactable Black Diamond Alpine Start. However, if you plan to use 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 windbreaker is not very versatile due to the combination of its fleece-lined interior and slim, athletic fit, making it awkward to layer. The fleece is prone to catching on base layers, making it difficult and uncomfortable to wear a long sleeve shirt under this jacket. The other heavily fleece-lined jacket in this review, the Columbia Flash Forward, is easier to layer because of its relaxed fit, which allows more room for additional layers and maneuvering. The Adidas Agravic is also easier to layer, as it only boasts additional lining in certain areas like the chest and shoulders, making it easier to pull on over long sleeves. The Marmot's unlined hood is less useful against the wind than the lined hood of the Flash Forward.
The fleece lining of the Marmot keeps it from packing compactly and tends to catch on underlayers.
The Marmot Ether is made of 100% Nylon Double Mini Rip and does notfeature a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. This windbreaker is one of only a few contenders that doesn't feature this useful finish. As a result, it's a low performer when it comes to water resistance. The fleece lining does provide an added barrier if you are caught in unexpected precip, but it takes 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 brisk days. Its underarm vents add breathability that isn't found in the Columbia Flash Forward, while its more complete fleece lining adds warmth the Adidas Outdoor Agravic can't offer.
The Marmot's extra insulation makes it better for slower paced activities, like playing tug o' war.
At $100, the Marmot Ether DriClime is about the average cost for a windbreaker. If you want to spend a little less, you may consider the similar Columbia Flash Forward, our Top Pick for a Cold Day, or even the unlined but fashion-forward Cotopaxi Teca, which took home the Best Buy award. However, if you're looking for something that adds a little warmth to your everyday activities without overheating when you stop inside the coffee shop or bookstore, this jacket is a pretty good choice.
As a middling fleece-lined windbreaker in our review, the Marmot Ether is better suited to cooler days than many of the unlined jackets we tested. With an interesting combination of a fully lined interior, unlined hood, and underarm vents, this windbreaker is a combo jacket we think is pretty unique. While it didn't stand out as a top contender in any single category, it might be the right jacket for the ever-changing weather in your life.