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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Marmot Down Sweater > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Marmot Down Sweater
By Raymond Estrella
February 28, 2006


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.

The Product

Manufacturer: Marmot Mountain, LLC
Web site:
Product: Down Sweater
Style #: 5052
Year manufactured: 2003
MSRP: $160.00 (US)
Weight listed: 21 oz (588 g)
Verified weight: 23 oz (644 g)
Color reviewed: Electric (Blue)
Colors available: Black, Electric, Real Red, and Smoke
Size reviewed: Extra Large
Warranty: (Quoted from web site), “We warrant every product we make to be free of manufacturer defects. Should you have a warranty issue, return the item to us. We will repair it if possible or replace all valid warranty items.”

Product Description

The Marmot Down Sweater (hereafter referred to as the jacket) is a light weight, down filled jacket. Mine is what the manufacturer describes as Electric, a bright, lighter shade of blue. The outer shell is made of “Helix NP-150” nylon.

The jacket uses sewn-through construction throughout. There are five lines of stitching in the body of the jacket, giving it six horizontal chambers to hold the insulation. The arms have four lines of stitching, to give them five chambers each.

According to Marmot, the insulation used for the Down Sweater is 650 fill goose down.

The jacket has a stand-up style Cadet collar, with four vertical baffles. On the outer center of the collar, directly over my spine is a round sewn-on patch with the Marmot “M” logo. On the outer left-side front of the body, near the bottom is the Marmot name embroidered on the shell.

The sleeve cuffs have an elastic band sewn in, and have a Velcro closure to allow it to be snuggly closed around my wrist. The sleeves are cut with what Marmot calls “Angel-wing Movement, a Marmot exclusive: a jacket and sweater design whereby armholes and sleeves have been engineered to allow your arms every-which-way movement.” I think that means that they let the armpit drop a little lower than is the norm.

There is a pocket to either side of the lower front of the jacket. These are placed at an angle (slash style) to make it more natural to keep my hands in them. They are lined with “DriClime” fabric, a soft brushed nylon. The pockets close with nylon YKK zippers.

A one-way YKK zipper also secures the jacket itself. A nylon-cord pull with the Marmot name on it has been attached to the metal zipper pull, to facilitate use with gloves on. A generous down filled draft tube runs the length of the right-hand side of the zipper, inside of the jacket.

The inside, with the exception of the area of the inside stash pocket, is lined with a soft light-gray nylon called “Flashback P220”. This area is lined with the same material as the exterior shell. The pocket is constructed of the same nylon also. The reason for this is that the pocket can be used as a stuff sack by stuffing the jacket into it, turning the pocket inside out in the process.

Centered inside of the jacket, where the collar meets the body, is a flat nylon hang loop. Underneath it is a sewn-in “Marmot” label. Directly under the label is a tag stating ”Made in China”, along with the size. Attached to a side seam inside the jacket, on the left, are 3 consumer tags with a material list, and washing instructions printed on them.

At the very bottom of the jacket body is a pull-cord that allows me to cinch the jacket tight against my waist to help block out wind, and retain heat. The cord pulls are accessed from inside the side pockets.

Here is a picture of the Marmot Down Sweater stuffed inside of it’s pocket.


Field Conditions

This jacket has been with me for more than 800 trail miles (1280 km). The highest point it has been at is the top of Mt. Whitney at 14496’ (4349 m) elevation. The lowest point, on the same backpacking trip was in Death Valley, at 260’ (78 m) below sea level. The coldest temperatures that I used it was at Round Valley, San Jacinto State Park in February of 2004 where it hit 10 F (-12 C), and near the same area two weeks later at 12 F (-11C). The hottest temps were on the Rincon trail, east of the Kern River where it hit 108 F (42 C). Another memorably warm trip was in Death Valley, where it was 105 F (42 C) at the end of September.

I have worn the Marmot in snowstorms in the eastern Sierra Nevada, frigid winds on White Mountain, and in freezing rain in Minnesota. Here is a picture of the jacket on top of Mt Whitney with Dave. Yeah, that’s me in it.

On top of ol' Whitney

Field Use

In 2003 I decided to do a complete make-over of my hiking style and gear. I wanted to go to a much lighter and more compact set of gear. For many years I had carried an REI down filled pull-over. It was my only down item, and it was not very light-weight as it had a heavy shell, and did not stuff down very small. But it was better than the early fleece in my opinion. Since then I have switched everything “puffy” (coats, booties, mukluks, bags) to down. The first “new” down purchase was the Marmot Down Sweater.

I was extremely pleased with the loft and warmth from such a light jacket. It is very well made. Even today, with the untold number of stuffings, it is still in very good shape. The stitching is still good. The zippers still run true, with no snagging. As I lay it on the floor, it still has 4 - 5 in (10 - 13 cm) of loft. To my foggy memory it has lost about a half inch (1.25 cm) of loft in the past two plus years of hard use.

And it has done double duty for me. The reason it has been on so many warm weather trips is because I can not sleep without a pillow. Stuffing this jacket in a Cascade Designs pillow case makes for a wonderful nights sleep for this backpacker. And I have found that it can turn cold when you least expect it. Even in the summer, as this 5:00 am start attests to.

1 AM start

After summiting Mt Whitney at the end of a 140 mile hike, I woke up at my camp site by Consultation Lake to a snowstorm. It was 27 F (-3 C) and very windy. By putting my rain shell over the Marmot jacket I was toasty warm, but I could feel the wind going through the jacket without the shell on, especially where it is sewn through the body.

At San Jacinto where I used it for 5 days of hiking (two trips) with lows to 10 F (-12 C) I used a shell over it also, and expedition weight Thermax as a base layer. It worked, barely. I could never say I was warm on those trips. Those conditions call for a real parka, but it got me through that winter. And because of how impressed I was with the Down Sweater, I bought Marmot’s Plasma Parka the next year. (Watch for review on this Bat-channel).

I only stuffed it into its own pocket a few times. It is very difficult to get in, and just about takes three hands to get the zipper to close once I do. I was worried that I would tear the seams with too much of that, so would usually stuff it in one of my small sleeping bag’s sacks.

One thing I really like about this jacket is the hand warmer pockets. The “DriClime” material feels great. If that was lining the pockets of my Levi’s I would get kicked out of a lot of places, and not know why. It is soft and warm, and I can’t keep my hands out of them.

It does lose a bit of down. As I track stuff like this now, I can say it is my second most “leaky” down item. But it has taken more abuse, and racked up more miles than anything but my first-aid kit and trowel.

And as of summer of 2005 the Marmot Down Sweater has become semi-retired. Yes I wanted something newer, sexier, and lighter weight. (I am still talking about jackets, mind you.) But it is going through a second career in Minnesota, where I received two compliments about it this week. I see it lasting for many years to come.

Pros: Fairly light weight, a lot of warmth for the money, great pockets.
Cons: Could be lighter, sewn through stitching compromise warmth, loses down.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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