Marmot Hyper Jacket
Marc MacMillan, October 22, 2011
As I tore the bright red Marmot Hyper Jacket from its packaging the first thing I was struck by was its weight. At just 335g in a medium this was indeed a lightweight waterproof shell with enough stats to compete with heavyweights.
One of the defining features of the Hyper is its use of Marmot’s patented technology, the MemBrain Strata. This is Marmot’s very own waterproof material, similar to Mountain Hardwear’s Conduit DT (dry touch) comparison. Marmot’s fabric has come up with some impressive figures: at 20,000mm in waterproof performance and 20,000 gr in breathability it is comparable to the more widely known Gore-Tex fabrics. Another noteworthy feature of MemBrain Strata is the fabric’s ‘micro inorganic particles,’ impregnated on the inside of the laminate. Putting technical jargon to one side this basically means the inside of the jacket has a dry feeling when wet on the outside, so avoiding that clammy feeling usually created by waterproofs of old. This allows for greater comfort when wearing just a t-shirt or less under the jacket.
The second feature I immediately noticed with the jacket is that the fabric is stretchy, thanks to Marmot’s Stretch Anatomic Articulation and Angel-Wing Movement tech. Although the exact mechanisms this technology are beyond me, I did find the jacket to be extremely comfortable and liberal in allowing plenty of unrestricted movement. The best thing about this stretch feature was that it allowed me to pile on plenty of warm layers beneath the Hyper jacket, including my down jacket when temperatures plummeted in Iceland.
The jacket is evidently made to a very high standard and is well thought out as far as positioning goes. Before I had even worn the jacket I was impressed with the waterproof zips and adjustable hood and collar. The jacket features three pockets: One chest pocket with a waterproof zipper and two large hand pockets each with 2-zip adjustable zippers. The large hand pockets were well positioned and double as vents; with no underarm vents built into the jacket, you can use the hand pockets to regulate flow through the jacket.
Aesthetically the jacket has a great cut; the stretchiness of the fabric allows Marmot to design a more fitted jacket without restricting movement. The red colour is also great and though I prefer dark colours for fishing purposes, the red has been a welcome addition, brightening up a monochrome arsenal of outdoor gear. The Marmot logo on the jacket is stylishly small and does not ruin the overall sleek stripped down look of the jacket. With no extra gimmicks this jacket looked perhaps a little underwhelming for the serious bit of kit it is.
In the last five months I have tried to put the Hyper Jacket in as many different situations as possible. Whilst in London I utilised the jacket as essentially a lightweight training top for running and cycling usually two to three times per week. Wearing just a t-shirt underneath I went the Jacket I went on many runs in rain and shine round Richmond Park where the jacket did admirably, keeping me warm and dry during cold/wet spells and cool when temperatures increased slightly. The stretch of the jacket made running far more comfortable than any other waterproof I had run in with none of the usual chafing. Another feature I found handy was the velcro wrist cuffs which formed a good seal, especially in preventing water running up my arms when running in the rain.
When cycling the jacket offered great performance in cutting through the wind and although it’s not exactly the right cut to use on a bike it still performed very well. Breathability again was great whilst on my bike, and being so light and small it was nothing to carry around. So far so good, however I had not really tested the jacket to its full capabilities.
Testing further afield
This summer I went to Iceland for the first two weeks of June. A very late spring meant all the highroads were still closed so the interior was only accessible via foot or plane. I opted for the former and so prepared for the worst as I had heard stories of experienced hikers getting caught in below freezing temperatures and thick fog. As well as carrying a tent, sleeping bag and down jacket I had my Hyper Jacket as my waterproof.
One concern I had was that the fitted cut of the jacket would prevent me from wearing multiple layers underneath when the temperature plummeted. However I found the stretch in the jacket allowed me to wear all my layers underneath, including my bulky down jacket.
High winds and cold temperatures featured for much of my time in Iceland yet I found myself wearing the jacket most of the day regardless of the weather. It performed excellently. I was worried that the slick outer layer would rip on the sharp rocks I was scrambling over however after a week of hiking and scrambling up mountains no rips appeared.
Following Iceland I went to the Canadian Rockies on a two-week fishing trip. For the best part of two weeks it rained all day and most of the night. I wore the jacket most days on the river over my waders and almost every evening. The fabric did a great job in keeping me dry and even more importantly it was comfortable allowing me to continue with my usual fly fishing cast.
Overall I have been very impressed with the Marmot Hyper Jacket. One of the biggest advantages for me was that the weight and stretch in the material made it extremely comfortable to wear in almost any situation I tested it in. I have yet to own another jacket which I would be happy to run in and bring on a multi-week expedition. As a lightweight waterproof shell it offered good ventilation through vents in the pockets and did a great job in keeping me dry. In high winds it performed well whilst on my bike, however in Iceland when I was around the campsite I felt as though it didn’t perform quite as well in stopping the wind as my heavier laminate Gore-Tex jackets. The durability of the jacket at first had me slightly concerned due to its lightweight and thin fabric but after six months of regular use the jacket shows no signs of wear. The jacket is obviously made to a high standard
and I can see it as an investment that will last me several years to come (not to mention the Marmot Lifetime warranty). Even for a moderate £160/$200, the Hyper’s versatility is resounding and would be hard to beat.