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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Marmot Plasma Parka > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Marmot Plasma Parka
By Raymond Estrella
OWNER REVIEW
March 10, 2006

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Orange County, California, USA
GENDER: M
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: www.marmot.com
Product: Plasma Parka
Style #: 5016
Year manufactured: 2004
MSRP: $325.00 (US)
Weight listed: 27 oz (765 g)
Verified weight: 31.7 oz (899 g)
Color reviewed: Blue
Colors available: Black, Real Red
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.”
Similar products owned: Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Parka and Phantom Jacket. Marmot Down Sweater.

Product Description

The Marmot Plasma Parka (hereafter referred to as the Plasma or jacket) is a light weight, down filled Parka. Mine is dark blue. It is not being offered in this color at this time.

The outer shell is made of “Pertex Quantum N-090 Ripstop” nylon. Here is Marmot’s information about it, “lightest downproof by construction fabric available. 20 denier nylon yarns in a tight construction make this fabric the most downproof for its weight in the ultralight weight fabric category. Weight: .9oz/sq yd (25g/sq m)”

The shoulders, elbows and inside cuffs are reinforced with the company’s proprietary Balance N-310 MemBrain fabric, which utilizes a water-proof breathable PU film laminate. This material is black.

The jacket uses off-set baffle construction in the body, to keep it from having any cold spots around the torso. But they use sewn-through stitching on the arms and the hood to cut the weight down, and make it more packable.

The 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.” It is my feeling that means that they let the armpit drop a little lower than is the norm. My Down Sweater is made the same way.

The hood is detachable. It attaches by means of a zipper to the outside bottom of the Cadet-style collar. When attached the collar acts as a draft stop for the connection. The hood weighs 3.5 oz (99 g) and makes me wonder if that is the reason for the weight difference between stated and measured. The hood has a snap closure at the very bottom, and three Velcro closures spaced evenly up to the face opening. To either side of the hood is a cord lock holding an elastic draw-string that allows me to pull the hood face opening to an almost fully closed position.

The insulation used for the Plasma Parka is 800 fill goose down. The individual pockets of down are up to 3 in (7.6 cm) thick, and when the parka is laid flat it lofts up to 6 in (15 cm). I have noticed no appreciative loss of loft over the course of the past two years.

The inside is lined with “Pertex Quantum N-090 Taffeta”, the same material as the shell, but a taffeta finish.

Centered inside of the jacket, where the collar meets the body, is a flat nylon hang loop with the Marmot “M” and “800 fill” on it. 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 five consumer tags with a material list, down lot number, some other mystery numbers, and cleaning 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, and can be tightened from the inside. But to loosen them again I must access the locks inside of the parka proper.

The Plasma has one inside pocket at chest level on the left side. It closes with a vertical zipper, and is quite spacious. The two hand-warmer pockets on the outside of the parka have no closures; instead they have a diagonal, shingled over-lay. Here is a picture with the hood off, and the pockets covered.

Plasma no hood. It is hot in here.


The pockets are partially lined with fleece, which is on the side to the outer shell. The inner facing portion of the lining is nylon.

An YKK double slider, two-way zipper runs full length in the front of the parka. The right side of the zipper has been attached to the body 1.5 in (3.8 cm) from the edge, to create a draft block. A piece of stiff nylon is sewn next to the zipper here to keep it from snagging. The upper zipper pull has a flat nylon strap attached to make it easier to use while wearing gloves or mittens.

The Plasma came with a 1.6 oz (45 g) black nylon stuff sack. Here is a picture of it in the sack.

Stuffed

Field Conditions

In California (where I do most of my hiking) this parka has been to Mt. San Jacinto, where it got down to 9 F (-13 C) in February ‘05. The highest point it has been worn was at 10,600’ (3,180 m) in the White Mountains. I brought it to Mt Shasta, but only wore it in camp at Lake Helen at 10,000’ (3,000 m) elevation. It was 13 F (-11 C) when we started climbing. I wore it in a storm near Lee Vining CA with blowing snow, temps in the 20s (-4+/- C) and 30 - 40 mph (48 – 64 km/h) winds. I had it on a winter snow shoe and sled trip on BLM land east of Independence.

In Minnesota the Plasma has seen -24 F (-31 C) and 40+ mph (64+ km/h) winds in winter. I have worn it in freezing rain, sleet, blowing and falling snow there.

Observations

I bought the Plasma Parka in November of 2004, just in time for the winter hiking season in California, and to take to Minnesota on my monthly trips there. It packs down small enough to fit into my carry-on bag. That way I have a very warm coat when I get there from California. The Minnesota use is for everything, trips to the store, shoveling snow, etc. The California use is hiking related only. I have been using it for two winters now.

I had been impressed with Marmot’s down sleeping bags, and I already owned one of their Down Sweaters when I bought this coat. (See review). While I found it to carry a hefty price tag, the Plasma did not disappoint. This is a very nicely crafted coat. And it is very warm. Even in frigid Minnesota my body stays warm with this parka on. I can not say the same about the rest of me. (Do they make Plasma Pants? No.)

The pockets were a concern at first. I was afraid that not having zippers or at least Velcro closures, would result in things falling out, but that has not proven to be the case. Here is a picture with the hood on, and the pocket “shingles” pushed aside.

Hooded, it is very hot in here...


I do wish that the pockets were fully lined with fleece, although it is not as big a concern as another of my coats, as I am usually wearing gloves when conditions call for the Plasma Parka.

Although only the MemBrain areas are called waterproof, the Quantum fabric’s DWR has proven to be highly effective. In California I have only been in snow with it, but in Minnesota I have worn it in freezing rain and sleet with no wetting out of the shell. As a test I ran the sleeve under water, and saw no absorption. Water does collect at the threads where it is sewn through, and will soak in eventually at these points. My experience in snow storms has been that the down insulates so well that I did not have enough heat loss to allow snow to melt on the shell. A shake or hand slap is enough to knock the snow off.

The zipper works smoothly. It does not snag and is easy to get started. The double ended two-way function is nice for accessing the nether regions. By unzipping the bottom portion a bit it also keeps the coat from bunching up while sitting.

As mentioned earlier, Marmot says that it has “Angel-Wing Movement” that is supposed to allow a greater range of motion in the arms without bunching up, but I see no difference when compared to my other down coats and parkas.

While writing this report I took the hood off for the first time. While I had it off the coat I put the hood on my head by itself, and got the idea to try it in my sleeping bag in place of my normal fleece balaclava. If I can get another winter trip in this year I will update this review with my findings. It may have to wait until next winter though.

This is a very nice coat, and I am very satisfied with it. I have found nothing negative to say about it. I look forward to many future winters of use from my Plasma Parka.

Pros: Warm, light weight, packs small.
Cons: Expensive, pockets not fully fleece-lined.

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

Read more reviews of Marmot gear
Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Marmot Plasma Parka > Owner Review by Ray Estrella



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