The Marmot Discovery Bibs top the "full bib" subcategory. We closely compared them to proper bibs, pants that call themselves bibs, and to regular pants. The primary factor to consider is whether you prefer bibs or regular pants. That takes some trial and error on your part. It is impossible for us to guess who will prefer one over the other. Next, make sure you are comparing "apples to apples." The Salomon Chill Out Bib, for instance, calls itself a bib but is really just regular ski pants with attached suspenders. Of what we tested, the FlyLow Baker Bibs and the Marmot Discovery are full bib pants. Between these two, the FlyLow is a bit more robust while the Marmot is definitely more comfortable. Overall, we preferred the Marmot.
Marmot Discovery Bib Review
Cons: Not everyone likes bibs
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Marmot Discovery Bib
|Price||$164.97 at Backcountry||$348.93 at REI|
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|$149.00 at Patagonia|
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|$134.99 at Backcountry|
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|$188.83 at REI|
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|Pros||Bib design, fully waterproofed construction, many pockets||Immaculate weather protection, excellent fit, fleecy lining||Fashionable, carefully tailored, excellent weather protection||Warm, comfy, solid overall||Lightweight, flexible, comfortable, waterproof|
|Cons||Not everyone likes bibs||Expensive, no bright color options||Mesh-backed vents, doesn’t have all the bells and whistles||Limited sealing of pockets, less effective vents||Limited insulation, limited pockets, limited durability|
|Bottom Line||This model does the difficult; they combine comfort with full-blown bib protection. In this subcategory of ski pants, these are our favorite.||These are top of the line pants. The protection, fit, and comfort are unmatched. They are versatile, durable, and have a lasting style.||Excellent, all-around ski pants suitable for almost all users.||The top insulated ski pants for those who need them.||For backcountry skiing in most conditions, these are the pants for you.|
|Rating Categories||Marmot Discovery Bib||Arc'teryx Sabre Pants||Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants||Spyder Dare Regular GTX||Patagonia Descensionist|
|Weather Resistance (30%)|
|Fit And Comfort (25%)|
|Specs||Marmot Discovery Bib||Arc'teryx Sabre...||Patagonia Powder...||Spyder Dare...||Patagonia...|
|Main fabric||100% Nylon 2L||Cordura Nylon 3L||4.6-oz 150-denier 100% recycled polyester 2L||Polyester plain weave 2L||4.9-oz 50-denier 86% nylon/14% polyester plain weave 3L|
|Insulation||Hanging mesh lining||Laminated fleecy lining||Hanging mesh lining||3M Thinsulate||None|
|Waterproofing||Membrain 2-Layer||N80p-X Gore-Tex (3-layer)||Gore-Tex w/ DWR finish (2-layer)||Gore-Tex laminate and PFCecFree DWR (2-layer)||Proprietary, unnamed laminate (3-layer), DWR|
|Waistline construction (elastic? snaps?)||Bibs||Snaps. Built-in elastic belt||Snap/zipper fly with adjustable tabs||Snap/zipper fly with internal adjustment and removable suspenders||snap/zipper fly with built-in belt|
|Weight (in pounds)||1.97 lbs||1.32 lbs||1.67 lbs||1.79 lbs||1.13 lbs|
|Weight (in grams)||894 g||600 g||756 g||811 g||512 g|
|# of Pockets||6||3||4||5||3|
|Vents?||Exterior thigh zips, with mesh||Exterior thigh zips, no mesh||Exterior thigh zips, with mesh||Inner thigh zips, with mesh||Exterior thigh zips, no mesh|
|Ski-specific features||Bibs, gaiters, reinforced ankles||Recco, fleecy handwarmer pockets, key/pass clip inside pocket||Scuff guards, gaiters||Scuff guards, gaiters, articulated knee, insulation on back for cold chairlifts||Scuff guards, gaiters, can be attached to Patagonia ski jacket, beacon pocket with clip|
Our Analysis and Test Results
These are our top scoring true bib pants. Full bibs are a polarizing product. Those that like them, really love them. Those that don't see the advantages outweighing the drawbacks are plenty and are passionate in their stance. Overall more people seem to prefer "regular" pants. For those that prefer bibs, though, we made a thorough comparison.
The Discovery Bibs are made with Marmot's proprietary "MemBrain" fabric, stitched together with sealed seams and accessorized with pockets, fly, and vents that open and close with waterproof zippers. The result is weather resistance that works and that extends well above your waist. You choose the bib style for its weatherproofness, so we are thankful that the construction of the Discovery keeps out the weather.
The other bibs, the FlyLow Baker, are just as weather protective. The stiffer fabric lends an even greater perception of protection, especially in wind, whether that wind is created by nature or by your movement through the atmosphere. The Salomon Chill Out Bib is called a "bib," but it is more accurately described as a pair of pants with fancy suspenders. The weather protection of the Salomon isn't as good as the Marmot. The Spyder Dare comes in the same suspender configuration as the Salomon. Its weather protection is compromised by pockets and pocket seams that aren't entirely sealed. The Marmot Discovery does better than the Spyder in keeping the weather out.
Fit and Comfort
The most notable comfort factor of the Marmot Discovery Bibs is the bib part. Many folks find them to be very comfortable, but many do not. If you are a bib person, you'll dig it, but if not, you won't. The lining fabric is soft, and the exterior fabric is quiet. The range of motion is adequate, but you will notice some binding when backcountry booting or when stretching to warm up. The fit of the Marmot Discover seems to run a bit large. If you are on the fence between two sizes, choose the smaller option.
The closest comparison is to the FlyLow Baker Bib. Of these two, the Marmot is quite a bit more comfortable. The FlyLow doesn't have the smooth lining or quiet shell fabric of the Discovery. The Baker has a much more utilitarian feel. The fabric is stiff, and the interior is a little rougher, whether against bare skin or a base layer.
Ventilation in the Marmot Discovery is provided exclusively by two long, exterior leg vents. These vents open wide, with no mesh backing them up. When needed, these vents dump heat quite effectively.
The only better pant venting configuration we have seen is the dual leg vents of the FlyLow Baker Bibs (also present on the FlyLow Chemical Snow Pants). Two vents per leg are more than twice as good as one. Dual vents allow cross ventilation and allow for air to swirl up and down as well. The next best is the long, mesh-less, external vents of the Marmot Discovery. The vents on the Discovery are the same as those on the Top Pick Patagonia Descensionist and the Editors' Choice Arc'Teryx Sabre.
The Discovery Bib is pretty neutral in styling. Sized appropriately, the cut is not baggy nor trim. The color selection is pretty muted and neutral.
The FlyLow Baker Bibs make a more bold statement. It is difficult to point to exactly how, and maybe it is just in the branding, but the Baker Bibs seem to suggest "core" skiing lifer. While the Marmot Discovery says virtually nothing. We like the understated look of the Marmot.
These are uninsulated shell pants. The only warmth they provide is against the convective cooling of wind and via the air space created between the hanging lining and the shell layer. The result is moderate warmth, but really no insulation.
The Discovery Bibs are similar in warmth to the Patagonia Powder Bowl and the Best Buy The North Face Freedom. Both of these are also shell pants with a separate hanging lining. The Top Pick for Warmth Spyder Dare, with its puff insulation, is quite a bit warmer than these bibs. The Discovery provides greater protection against the cold than the FlyLow Baker Bibs, though.
There are six pockets on the Marmot Discovery Bibs. Every one of them is sealed with a zipper. The main handwarmer pockets have fuzzy backing. The bib is a feature of its own, and we like that the straps are relatively narrow, soft, with small buckles. The front zippered opening on the Discovery Bibs lets you get them on and off, lends a little ventilation, and serves mainly as a zipped fly for bathroom relief. The Recco reflector built into the Marmot Discovery aids in avalanche rescue in very specific circumstances.
Few pants have more pockets and features than the Marmot Discovery. At the other end of the spectrum, even our Editors' Choice Arc Teryx Sabre has fewer pockets. There are only three. The Sabre, though, also has a Recco reflector.
If you dig bibs, these are for you. If you think you might dig bibs, these are good ones, and relatively inexpensive for what you get. You can try these without it being too painful on the wallet. If you know you are one of those that doesn't like bibs, steer clear and consider a different choice.
The Marmot Discovery Bibs aren't the best value around, but for the degree of protection you get, the price is right. None of the less expensive options we tested for 2019, for instance, offer fully sealed seams and zippers.
Not everyone likes bib pants for skiing. Those that do are a devout bunch, and that passionate crowd will like the Marmot Discovery Bibs. Those that are on the fence about bibs can give these a try for a relatively non-committing price and still count on excellent performance.
— Jediah Porter