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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Marmot Guides Down Sweater > Owner Review by Brett Haydin

Marmot Guides Down Sweater
Owner Review by Brett Haydin
December 2, 2011


NAME: Brett Haydin
EMAIL: bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE: 38
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)
CHEST: 42 in (107 cm)
WAIST: 36 in (91 cm)
SLEEVE: 33 in (84 cm)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.

Product Information & Specifications

Guides Down Sweater
Image courtesy of manufacturer
Year of Manufacture:  2010
Manufacturer: Marmot Mountain, LLC
Manufacturer's Website: 
MSRP: $165 US
Listed Weight: 1 lb 4.8 oz (590 g) for size medium
Measured Weight: 1 lb 7 oz (652 g) for size XL
Color Tested:  Black
Colors Available: Blue Ocean/Surf, Forest/Fatigue, Gargoyle/Slate Grey, Golden Yellow/Blue Ocean, Team Red/Brick
Size Tested: Extra Large (also available in small, medium, large and XXL)
Warranty: One year from purchase on defects in material or workmanship

Other Details provided by Manufacturer

  • DriClime Lined Collar and Chin Guard - Moisture Wicking Fabric for Comfort Around Your Neck and Face
  • Zippered Handwarmer Pockets - Soft Fabric to Warm Hands
  • Interior Zippered Pocket
  • Wind Flap Behind Front Zipper - Protects Against Drafts
  • Adjustable VelcroŽ Cuff - Adjustable Velcro Cuff
  • Elastic Draw Cord Hem - For Adjustability in Serious Weather
  • Angel-Wing Movement™ - Allows Full Range of Motion in Arms so Jacket Doesn't Ride Up
  • 27 1/2" Center Back Length for Size Medium

Product Description

fall hike image
Wearing the Guides Down Sweater on a fall hike
The Marmot Guides Down Sweater, hereafter referred to as the Guide or sweater, is a 650-fill down sweater with a full length zipper on the front.  650-fill refers to the down quality; 550-750 is considered very good and 750+ is considered excellent (and pricey!).  The down is held in place by 6 in (15 cm) baffles that run horizontally across the sweater, five in all.  The amount of the fill as well as its loft combine to give the sweater a "puffy" look.  The sleeves use a box wall baffle construction; essentially squares stitched into the fabric to keep the down equally distributed.  

The inside of the collar is lined with fleece as are two pockets for my hands.  The collar is 3.5 in (8.9 cm) wide and is also down filled.  The collar is lined with Dri-Clime, as well as the chin guard. According to the manufacturer, Dri-Clime is a moisture-management technology woven into the fabric that enhances the wicking properties.  It aids in spreading the moisture away from my body and out through the layers.  

The cuffs on the Guide are elastic and adjustable thanks to a Velcro tab.  The other adjustable component is the waist hem, which has an elastic draw cord in the pockets.  The draw cord is secured in place with a tethered spring release cord-lock in the corner of the pocket.  I like this because I can just tug on the cord to cinch it.  There is also another pocket in the interior (my right as I am wearing it) that is quite deep.  In addition to being a great storage location, the pocket doubles as a storage sack for the sweater.  There is also a fabric loop sewn into this interior pocket so when I have it stuffed I can hang it; on a hook or a tree branch.

All the zippers are YKK zippers.  There are several different zipper pulls used.  The exterior pulls are made of cord that is looped around the zipper and then held together by a rubber tab with either "Marmot" or the logo stamped on it.  It is attractive and functional since it provides a solid place to grab, even with a gloved hand.  The interior zipper does not have a pull attached to it.  The sweater's exterior is made from 100% Polyester ripstop DWR (Durable Water Repellent) nylon.  The interior is 100% Polyester embossed WR.  The DWR finish helps to keep the sweater dry in a light snow or rain.  

There is a Marmot logo embroidered into the back-right shoulder.  On the front left is "Marmot" embroidered into the sweater.  There are several tags in the interior of the Guide.  A patch with "Marmot" on it is sewn into the center back.  There is also a loop with "650 FILL" written on it to hang the sweater with.  Next to the hang loop is a sizing tag (mine says XL) as well as "Made in China".  On the lower right, there are five more tags sewn into the sweater interior.  One provides care instructions, two have fabric information, one states the down lot number and the last has a bunch of numbers, which I presume is some reference to a lot number; the batch of jackets created in the same manufacturing cycle.  

Field Use

I purchased the Marmot Guides Down Sweater in December of 2010 as my first down jacket.  My hiking and backpacking takes me high up in the Colorado Rockies, often over 14,000 ft (4,267 m) where temperatures can dip to -15 F (-26 C) or lower not including wind chill factor.  Even with windproof shells, fleece layers just weren't sufficient so I needed an upgrade!  I have used the sweater faithfully for the past year on well over 20 trips backpacking from 1-3 nights each.  Most of my trips have been in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, but I have also used the sweater in Utah, New Mexico and Wisconsin.  Elevations ranged from 500 - 14,400 ft (152 - 4,389 m) with temperatures anywhere from -10 to 50 F (-23 to 10 C).  It was probably warmer on some trips, but I didn't wear it when it was warm!

In addition to a layering system for hiking, I used the Marmot Guides Down Sweater as insulation on some overnights in lieu of a sleeping bag.  I was testing a unique wearable-bivy-jacket-combination for another manufacturer.  I spent approximately nine nights with this configuration.  

General Impressions

packed size
Packed inside stow-away pocket
I love my Marmot Guides Down Sweater.  It is comfortable, warm and light; what more could I ask for in an insulating layer?!  The Guide has accompanied me up dozens of mountains and kept me warm faithfully the past 11 months.  Generally speaking, we see wild temperature swings in Colorado; especially at higher elevations.  Many of my trips take me to campsites between 11,000 and 12,000 ft (3,350 and 3,660 m) where morning temperatures can be 15 F (-9 C) only to rise to 60 F (16 C) or higher in the afternoon.  Because of this, I even take the Guide with me well into the summer.  

The sweater provides  excellent warmth to weight ratio.  Even though I start out wearing the jacket in the morning, I can compress the jacket down to a manageable size for a day pack, summit pack or back into my multi-day pack.  The picture to the left shows the compressed and packed size compared to a ruler.  I remember one chilly morning high up on Mt Elbert; the highest peak in Colorado, where the morning temperature was 10 F (-12 C).  On that trip, I put on the Guide and was warm enough with just a base layer underneath as I broke down camp.  

I have found that the sweater is great to wear even when I need a wide range of motion.  I have snowshoed quite a bit in this sweater, always with trekking poles.  Whether I was tripping over my own two feet or reaching out with a pole, I never felt like my movement was restricted at all.  While climbing Kit Carson Peak in Colorado, I also had to do a fair amount of hand and foot scrambling which wasn't a problem either.  The weather was mostly too warm for the jacket, but it did cool off as a storm started to threaten.  I put the sweater on and was toasty warm again!  The image at the top of this review is of me on top of Mt Huron in Colorado in a similar scenario.  

I really like the fleece-lined pockets and collars.  While the interior fabric is nice, the fleece makes winter weather much more tolerable.  The zippers continue to be easy to operate.  The zipper pulls are still intact and going strong.  The only problem that I have had at all with durability was last winter while bushwhacking through a forest.  There were a number of trees that were blown over and created a major obstacle for me.  I should have taken my snowshoes off, but I didn't.  As a result I went crashing into a tree that poked a hole in the fabric.  It was a relatively small puncture that only went through the exterior fabric, so a little patching tape and it has held up well.  I've crashed through my fair share of trees since, and taken small tumbles down scree slopes and the Guide has held up just fine since.

I mentioned that I used the jacket in part as sleeping gear this past year.  The product I was using at the time allowed for standard insulating fabrics to take the place of a sleeping bag.  One particular night was colder than expected; a low of 35 F (2 C).  Despite the cold, I stayed more or less warm.  In fact, it was my legs that were cold, not my upper body, and I think a lot of that has to do with the lack of down pants.

I admit that I hate stopping to shed layers, especially in the winter when I need to do it the most.  As a result, I probably wear the Guide longer than I should while hiking.  Despite this, I haven't had the post-hike chills from excessive perspiration ever while wearing this sweater.  The back of the sweater is subject to more moisture since it is next to my pack, but still I feel like the jacket does a great job of shedding moisture.  While I have worn it under a shell as well, I can easily pull it out and let it dry off as needed.  

On especially gusty days, I do feel the wind blowing through the sweater.  Marmot makes no claims that this is windproof, only that there is some protection from drafts.  I don't have any problems with drafts, just heavy winds!  Of course, a shell worn over the Guide is a simple solution and I always bring some form of a shell.  My only complaint is that adding a shell can really cause the heat to get trapped and more perspiration.  On one final note, I have used the jacket as a pillow from time to time.  Because the stow-away pouch is made completely of polyester, it does tend to slide around a bit.  However, it is quite comfortable as a pillow!


I am very happy with the Marmot Guides Down Sweater.  It has become my "go to" layer in cooler weather because of its light weight and warmth.

  • Lightweight
  • Warm
  • Easy to pack
  • Doubles as a comfortable pillow
  • Wish the exterior fabric provided more wind protection

Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Marmot Guides Down Sweater > Owner Review by Brett Haydin

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