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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Marmot Flurry > Michael Wheiler > Test Report by Michael Wheiler
MARMOT FLURRY JACKET
By Michael Wheiler
March 20, 2007 Edition
(November 14, 2006)
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Age: 50 years old
Height: 5'10" (177.8 cm)
Weight: 175 pounds (79.4 kg)
Chest: 42" (107 cm)
Shoulder girth: 48" (122 cm)
Location: Southeast Idaho
Email: jmwlaw AT ida DOT net
Personal Biographical Information:
I have had more than 38 years of outdoor experience. I've been car camping/hiking/backpacking since my early teens; mostly weekend trips but some week long trips. I try to take trips of 3 to 5 days in length at least once a year along with multiple weekend jaunts during the year. I like to camp/hike/backpack regardless of the weather.
I have been a "traditional" backpacker. I have transitioned (thanks to BGT and the companies with whom we work) to a lighter weight backpacking style. Ever since joining BackpackGearTest I have been learning about the lightweight and ultra-lightweight backpacking styles. As a result, I am really trying to cut down on my total pack weight. I have now carried a pack weighing around 40 pounds (18 kg) and wondered why it took me so long to figure out that I didn't need to carry everything I owned!
Most of my camping occurs in the southeastern Idaho area but spills over into central Idaho, western Wyoming (Grand Teton National Park) and western Montana. The elevations of the areas I frequent generally range from 5,500' (2 km) to 8,500' (3 km) above sea level. However, during the summer of 2005 I was able to climb Mt. Borah in the Lost River Range (12,662'/3,859 m) and Diamond Peak in the Lemhi Range (12,197'/3,718 m). I recently climbed Mt. Leatherman (12,228'/3,727 m). Idaho has nine peaks with elevations above 12,000' (3,658 m). Mt. Borah is the tallest; Leatherman is number two and Diamond is number four. The weather in southeastern Idaho is fairly typical of a high desert plain. Winters are usually cold and snow depths vary but are generally over 10-12' (3-4 m) in most of the areas where we camp and snowshoe. Springs can be moderately wet and cold. Summers are typically dry and warm (80° to the upper 90° Fahrenheit/27-32° Celsius) though this year we have seen temperatures over 100° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius) with occasional thunderstorms. Fall weather is actually the best--crisp mornings, warm afternoons and cool evenings with little moisture. In the winter, although we can expect colder temperatures, we generally try not to camp in anything colder than -10° Fahrenheit (-23° Celsius).
Available Colors: Ionic Blue, Fire, Bonfire, BlackDate Received: November 10, 2006
Color Received: Fire
Size Received: Large
Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price: $150.00 US
The Flurry arrived undamaged and looking much like what I expected from the picture and description on Marmot's web page. I must admit though that the color is a bit brighter than I expected. Upon seeing me in the jacket, one of my girls yelled, "Hey Dad, nice Santa outfit!" At least I'll be visible when necessary.
Manufacturer Specifications (from Marmot's web page):
Examination and Initial Use:
The exterior material on the body of the Flurry is a soft 100% polyester which on this version is bright red in color with horizontal stitching. The stitching is uniform and all seams appear to be stitched securely. The lining material is a soft 100% polyester, gray in color with a subtle geometric design. YKK zippers are used throughout the jacket. The jacket has three exterior pockets and one interior stuff sack/pocket. All zippers have a pull tab except the inside pocket. The jacket's main front zipper is a two way zipper with a nylon webbing extension on the zipper pull. The extension sports the Marmot name and logo. The two handwarmer pockets and the chest pocket each have an extension on the zipper pull made of red cord attached to an oblong black plastic piece. Inside the pockets is a soft, smooth material which catches on my weathered hands. The Marmot insignia is stitched over the left breast in red thread making it a little difficult to see. There is a white and red Marmot logo patch on the right shoulder and on the back of the jacket near the base of the neck. At the back of the neck is a small loop of nylon webbing sporting the Marmot logo. There is an elastic draw cord around the hood with cord locks for adjusting the hood on each side on the collar and in the back near the base of the head. There is also an elastic draw cord around the hem of the jacket with cord locks on each side. The cuffs on each wrist have adjustable Velcro tabs. There is a strip of DriClime® material, gray in color, strategically inserted to surround the neck and chin. There is a care/materials tag sewn into the vertical hem on the left side of the jacket. The care instructions are, "Machine wash cold, powdered detergent, no fabric softeners, do not iron, bleach or dry clean. Tumble dry warm. Close all fasteners."
The Flurry appears to be well constructed. My initial inspection revealed no obvious defects. The size large fit my upper body with a little bit of room for additional layering if necessary. All zippers pulled easily and smoothly. I have noticed, however, that the main zipper bottom clasp migrates up the zipper with use and I have to pull it back down into place to completely unzip the jacket. Marmot provides no instructions for stuffing the jacket into the stuff pocket but after a couple of minutes I determined that it was easiest to reach into the unzipped pocket, grab the exterior shell or sleeve and pull it into the pocket (in essence turning the pocket inside out) and then stuff the jacket into the pocket. If stuffed correctly, the zipper will be at the top and will allow the user to zip the pocket closed with the jacket inside the pocket. As stuffed, the jacket is approximately 12" (30.5 cm) in length by 9" (23 cm) wide by 4.5" (11 cm) thick. (See photograph below.) I left the jacket in the stuff pocket overnight and the next morning, took it to the office where it was weighed. I then unzipped the pocket and released the jacket from its stuff sack. It was a little bit wrinkled in places but loft was quickly restored and it was difficult to tell that the Flurry had been compacted overnight in the stuff pocket.
I wore the Flurry outside running errands on Saturday and to the office today. The weather on both days was cold and very windy with a few rain drops. The Flurry kept me warm despite a fairly stiff wind. However, I was not out in the weather for an extended period of time. As such, I still need to do a real test of the Flurry's wind resistance and warmth. The Flurry's fit was comfortable and allowed full, free movement. However, again, my use was very limited and a real field test is still necessary to provide an accurate evaluation of the fit and comfort. I did not use the hood on either occasion.
Because Marmot proclaims that the Flurry can be used either as a sweater or a jacket, I previously promised to pontificate on the question previously bantered about on BGT--"What is a sweater?" However, given my findings and conclusions, this discussion will be relegated to a footnote at the end of this report.¹
Field Testing Strategy:
In November I will spend one night in Crater's of the Moon National Park either on snowshoes or cross country skis if snow permits. In December I plan to spend at least one night in Harriman State Park on snowshoes or cross country skis. In January 2007, I will spend one night in a snow cave in Island Park with the Boy Scouts. Also in January, I will spend one or more nights near Soda Springs, Idaho hunting elk. February will bring a little warmer weather but it will still be cold enough to put the Flurry to good use. In February, I plan to spend one night in the Warm River area watching for River Otters. I have no specific plans right now for March and April but will spend at least one weekend each month backpacking or hiking.
My brothers and I have also made reservations for an attempted climb of Mt. Rainier on July 26-27, 2007. Looking at the list of recommended gear for the Rainier climb, the Flurry would fit well into the suggested equipment list. I will use the Flurry on each of these outings, including the Rainier climb (and will report by addendum on the use of the jacket on that climb). As such, it will get extensive use in cool to very cold conditions at extremely different elevations. While I do not claim to be an ultralight backpacker, given the fact that the weather here in southeast Idaho changes dramatically and unexpectedly (we have actually seen snow during the Fourth of July parade here in Idaho Falls), I like to carry a light weight insulated jacket on most, if not all of my outings. I will use the Flurry as both a layer of clothing during activities and for colder evenings in a sleeping bag.
(January 23, 2007)
I have now used the Flurry consistently over the past 45 days as my primary jacket. It has been used in light rain, light snow, very cold temperatures and windy conditions. However, since this site is designed to address backpacking uses of equipment, I will not report on my nearly daily use of the jacket but will focus on my hiking/backpacking experiences with the Flurry. It has spent the night with me on more than three outings but I will only report on three outings for now. First, I used the Flurry on an overnight trip on December 2, 2006 at Black's Canyon (elevation 5,437 ft/1,657 m). It had recently snowed and the temperatures dipped to 21° F (-6° C) according to my Brunton Sherpa. There was little to no wind. I wore a light thermal top, a cotton turtle neck pull-over, and a fleece wind stopper vest under the Flurry. I never really felt cold during camp set-up or take down the next morning while wearing the Flurry. Even when I was just standing around waiting for my meal to cook, I didn't really get cold. Pockets were easy to zip and unzip even with gloved hands. I did not wear the Flurry to bed as I did not feel the temperatures would require same and ultimately that proved to be true. At no time did I feel that the fit of the Flurry over the other layers of clothing was too tight or restrictive.
I next used the Flurry on December 23, 2006, I spent one night at Twin Bridges (elevation 4,820 ft/1,469 m). Overnight temperatures were cold and the following morning the temperature was 17° F (-8° C). It was windy while setting up my camp but the winds died down over night to include only an occasional gust of wind. Again, I wore a light thermal top as a base layer, a cotton turtle neck pull-over, and a fleece wind stopper vest under the Flurry. I also brought a weather proof coat to wear over the Flurry in the event of snow which was predicted for that evening. I tried the outer shell on over the Flurry and did not feel like the "Stay Puff Marshmallow Man." Movement was easy and unrestricted. Ultimately the storm (other than the wind) did not develop and I did not use the outer shell. Even with the wind, I did not feel cold while setting up or taking down camp. I kept the Flurry handy in case I needed it during the night but ultimately did not need to use it for overnight warmth.
Finally, I used the Flurry on January 16, 2007 on a day hike near Soda Mountain (elevation 5,750 ft/1,753 m). Temperatures during the day stayed at around 0° F (-18° C) for most of the day. There was very little wind. I was also testing a pair of Red Feather Explore snowshoes. Snow depths varied between 4 inches (10 cm) and 2 feet (61 cm) depending upon where I was on the mountain. The sun was shinning most of the day. I was carrying a day pack which weighed approximately 15 pounds (7 kg). At times I had to unzip the Flurry to keep from overheating. When I stopped hiking, I began to feel chilled from the cold temperature. However, I soon warmed up after resuming my hiking. The pack rode well on my shoulders and I did not notice any wear or tear on the shoulders of the Flurry after a full day of snowshoeing while carrying the pack.
Following this use, I decided it was time to wash the Flurry. I followed the manufacturer's recommendations as set forth in my Initial Report. I washed it in a washing machine on standard mode, with light detergent. After the spin cycle had finished, I hung the Flurry on a hanger to dry at room temperature. By the following morning, the Flurry was dry, clean, and ready for use.
The Flurry is light weight yet surprisingly warm and comfortable to wear. I have been able to use it over multiple base and mid-weight layers and it still fits comfortably under an outer weatherproof shell. It is well constructed and I have experienced no wear or tear problems. The zippers are all easy to use even with gloved hands. I also really like the soft, almost silky, feel of the liner of the Flurry. When necessary, the hood is easy to use and provides my ears and head with ample protection from the cold and wind.
So far there are only two minor complaints that I have with the Flurry and one of those is particular to this user. First, my winter roughed hands do not really like the linings in the pockets. They tend to snag on the lining. Once in the pockets, my hands are warm. Second, the lining in the sleeve in the right arm of the Flurry tends to slide out from under the cuff so that I have a little gray material protruding around my wrist. It doesn't happen on the left side and it does not affect the function of the jacket--it is just a bit annoying and I have yet to figure out why it happens only on the one side.
I have now also used the Flurry while cross-country skiing in a snow storm but you will need to read my Long Term Report for details.
LONG TERM REPORT
(March 20, 2007)
Rather than keep you in suspense, I'll start by reporting that I love this jacket! It is lightweight, comfortable to wear, moderately easy to compress and stuff into the interior pocket, and is surprisingly warm. In my opinion, if this jacket had pit zips and the shell was waterproof, it would be perfect. In fact, I like it enough that the Flurry will serve as my primary insulating jacket when I attempt to climb Rainier on July 26-27, 2007. I'll add an addendum to this report series following my summit bid. Since my Field Report, I used the Flurry almost every day--except when I had to wear a suit. The highlights of my time in the Flurry are as follows:
On January 16, 2007, I did some additional hiking near Soda Mountain (elevation 5,750 ft/1,753 m). Temperatures during the day stayed at around 0° F (-18° C) for most of the day. There was very little wind. I wore cotton long handle underwear, a cotton turtleneck, windproof fleece vest, wool pants, and the Flurry. I carried a pack which weighed 22 pounds and a traditional black powder rifle. Although the temperature was cold, I stayed warm throughout the day. In order to access my binoculars and other gear, I was constantly zipping and unzipping the Flurry and/or its pockets. I never had any problem with the zippers.
On January 20, 2007, I went cross-country skiing in Harriman State Park (elevation of 6,128 ft/1,868 m). The weather was overcast and cold. The weather forecast called for snow. I wore long underwear, ski pants, a cotton turtleneck, a neck gaiter, the Flurry and ski gloves. We took a route that covers approximately 4 miles (6 km). My day pack contained first aid items, winter survival gear, water and some extra food. It weighed 14 pounds (6 kg). At the beginning of the trip the weather was just overcast with a temperature of 32º F (0º C). About the time we reached the half-way mark in the trip, the wind picked up and it was soon snowing fairly hard. Despite the stiff wind, the Flurry kept me warm. It was also comfortable to wear and did not restrict my ability to move as necessary during cross-country skiing. Toward the end of the trip, I noticed that the outer shell of the jacket was becoming very wet. However, the moisture never reached the inner lining of the jacket and the Flurry maintained its ability to keep me warm.
Middle of the trip with a storm brewing. Snow and wind are approaching fast.
By now, the snow is falling hard and the Flurry is getting wet.
The first weekend in February, I snowshoed up Guardsman Pass (near Park City, UT)(7,800 ft/2,377 m elevation). There was 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) of new, very dry, untracked powder. I was wearing cotton long handle underwear, a cotton turtleneck, a windproof fleece vest, wool pants, and the Flurry. I also carried a day pack containing winter survival gear. There was a very stiff wind and it was very cold. My thermometer read -5º F (-20.5 C) on the ridge. I estimated the wind speed at between 10-15 mph (16-24 km/h). It was cold enough on the ridge that I needed extra insulation over my ears. As such, this was one of few times I actually used the hood and I was glad to have it. I was able to adjust the hood pulls with gloved hands. With the front zipper pulled up all the way and the hood pulled tight around my face, I was able to keep all but my cheeks and nose from the biting wind. I did notice that although the jacket's chin guard covered my chin well, it tended to rub a little on my chin as I hiked. I must say that this weather proved to me that the Flurry's Insulating ability was outstanding.
I went on another snowshoe hike at Bear Gulch on March 3, 2007 (elevation 5,662 ft/1,700 m). This was a 2 mile round trip snowshoe hike to Snake River. I wore a cotton undershirt, lightweight polypro turtleneck, windproof fleece vest, ski pants, and the Flurry. I also carried a 12 lb/5 kg day pack. There was 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) of light snow on a more compact base. The temperature was 22º F (-5.5 C) with a slight wind. About half way into the trip, I was working hard enough that I was wishing the Flurry had pit zips. I unzipped the jacket to help cool down my body's core.
On March 10, 2007, I went snowshoeing in the Kelley Canyon Ski Area (elevation 6,574 ft/2,004 m). I used the designated snowshoe trail to Upper Cole's Climb. The temperature was 32º F (0º C). I estimated the wind gusts to be 5 mph (8 km/h) at times but mostly the wind was not noticeable. There was fairly dense fog. This was approximately a three mile (5 km) hike with 10 lb/4.5 kg day pack. I was wearing a cotton undershirt, a lightweight polypro turtleneck, a windproof fleece vest, hiking pants and the Flurry. The first part of the trip was uphill and I soon found that I was too warm while in motion even when I unzipped the jacket all the way. I then took off the vest and carried it in my day pack. While climbing, I was still too warm as I was actually sweating. If I had planned to stay overnight on the mountain, I would have taken the Flurry off as well to avoid overheating and causing my clothing to become damp.
Going up Cole's Climb near Kelley Canyon
I last used the Flurry on March16-17, 2007 at Island Park (elevation 6,549 ft/1,996 m). This was an overnight snowshoe hike. The temperatures during the day were very warm. I wore the Flurry while pitching my tent and arranging my gear inside the tent. I was only wearing a cotton under shirt, a polypro turtleneck, hiking pants, and the Flurry. After setting up camp, I retired to my sleeping bag. My thermometer indicated that it was 18º F (-8º C). There was no wind. I was using a sleeping bag rated to 0º (-18º C). As such, I did not use the Flurry inside the sleeping bag. When I awoke the next morning, the temperature had dropped to between 8 and 10º F (-13º and -12º C) depending upon which thermometer I looked at. I wore the same clothing from the night before and I was toasty warm. After breakfast, I took down my camp and stowed my gear in the vehicle. I then went on a 1 1/2 mile snowshoe hike. By that time, the temperature was up to 36º F (2º C). Again, I had to unzip the front of the Flurry to maintain my body temperature at a point where I was not perspiring too much.
Since this test series began, I have washed the Flurry three times. I dry it in the drier at a light setting until it is slightly damp and then hang it over a chair to air dry. I have seen no adverse effects of washing or drying the Flurry. I also used Nickwax spray once on the Flurry to see if I could fend off moisture a little more. I noticed some slight water spot type stains from the product but those stains were gone after the next washing.
The Flurry has held up well during all this abuse. It exhibits no signs of wear. The zippers continue to work well. I have only snagged the pocket lining once with the pocket zipper and no damage was done to the lining. The areas where the shoulder straps and hip belt of my pack contact the jacket do not show any signs of wear or damage.
¹ Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary,10th Edition (1997) defines "sweater" as "one that sweats or causes sweating" and "a knitted or crocheted jacket or pullover." It is interesting that this definition of "sweater" includes the term "jacket." Clearly the Flurry is neither a knitted nor a crocheted jacket. However, depending upon the circumstances, I suppose its use could result in the user sweating but I would be surprised if this is the reason Marmot refers to the Flurry as a sweater. The Boy Scout Handbook, 11th Edition (1998), suggests carrying and using a wool sweater but fails to define this article of clothing. Neither of my survival manuals even mention a sweater and I could not find a reference to sweaters in The Complete Walker IV by Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins. On-line dictionaries also proved to be of little help. The on-line version of the American Heritage Dictionary defined "sweater" as "a jacket or pullover made especially of knit, crocheted, or woven wool, cotton, or synthetic yarn; one that sweats, especially profusely; or something that induces sweating." Again note the use of the term "jacket" in defining sweater. An on-line definition from the Clothing and Textile Industry touted the sweater as "a relatively heavy garment intended to cover the torso and arms of the human body and typically is supposed to go over a shirt, blouse, t-shirt or other top. Sweaters tend to be, and in earlier times always were, made from wool (typically of sheep, though possibly of alpaca or other type), however, they can be made of cotton, artificial fabrics or some combination thereof." This definition also did not exactly fit the Flurry. Having exhausted my resources, and having expended considerable thought on the matter, I have concluded that in a general sense, a sweater is used as an outer layer of insulative clothing which can and often is also used as an intermediate layer under a weather resistant outer shell. This general definition also holds true for a jacket. In short, I suspect it has more to do with the weight of this particular article of clothing being both sweater and jacket weight. Thus, in a general sense, the Flurry is both a sweater and a jacket and I suspect the reader who made it to this ingenious conclusion understands now why this discussion was relegated to a footnote!
Read more gear reviews by Michael Wheiler
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