I’ve made MANY purchases for the 2010 backpacking season, including significant purchases of gear constructed of cuben fiber. I’ve not yet chronicled a single item thus far, due to the simple reason of not wanting to review anything I haven’t adequately tested . . . in the field. The first purchase that I feel able to properly review is the Marmot Super Mica, an ultralight jacket that I purchased in early February. This purchase was intended to fill a void in my UL collection for a full-featured jacket that I could don as both a windshirt and storm-proof jacket given its low stated weight of 9 ounces from the description @ Marmot
Introducing the Marmot Super Mica!
Prior to my purchase, I was intrigued with its manufacturing specifications, which fully met my needs:
Marmot MemBrain® Waterproof/Breathable Fabric
Micro-Stitched and 100% Seam Taped – for maximum waterproof protection
Gale-force Hood with Laminated Wire Brim
ERG Hood Adjustment System
Water-Resistant CF Zipper
PitZips™ with Water Resistant Zippers
Pack Pockets™ with Water-resistant Zippers
Duralite Zonal Reinforcements
Asymmetric Cuffs with Velcro Adjustment
Integrated Cooling Vents
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
The features are a significant upgrade over the prior generation, the Mica, in the areas of an upgraded hood with wire brim, reinforcements on the shoulder strap and hip belt areas, pit zips, and pockets that are placed above the hip belt area (that, I’ll note, also operate as additional vents).
I was happy to find, upon throwing this jacket on the scale that it weighed only 8 oz in size medium. At 5’9″and ~165 lbs, the jacket fits me perfectly and is suitable for layering over base and insulation layers as appropriate. This was key for me as I didn’t want too athletic of a fit given my intent to use this as my primary shell for backpacking.
I performed testing of this jacket with 3 separate packs, in myriad weather conditions including torrential downpours, heavy wind, and wind-blown snow, for greater than 60 miles of backpacking. I found the breathability of this jacket to be excellent, other than in my forearms. Given multiple venting options, I was able to address this by loosening the cuff appropriately. I found it to be extremely weatherproof as well, withstanding a multiple hour downpour with nary a drop inside. That said, the cuffs, the only area that isn’t fully seam taped, got pretty wet, but not enough to soak through (and it was raining really, really hard).
One of the tests that I performed was to walk through a waterfall in the trail to determine whether any water would penetrate the pack. I’m happy to say that the jacket passed this test with flying colors and other than a cold rush of water between my pack and the jacket, I escaped unscathed!
On top of Camp Smokey . . ..
- This jacket is expensive @ $200, but is extremely light and fully-featured providing a ton of options without a significant weight penalty.
- It withstood significant pounding from the elements (rain, sleet, snow, wind) while keeping me completely dry.
- This provides a level of function that I wouldn’t have with a poncho-tarp combination and is similar weight when combined with a UL tarp (to be reviewed separately).
- The hood is very adjustable and keeps the elements OUT. The wire brim is flexible enough to be used without a lid or visor.
- The pockets are easily accessible when using a hip belt.
- The rear of the jacket is slightly longer than the front, keeping one’s “coin slot” under wraps (if only Franken would buy one of these . . ..)
- We’ll see how the reinforcements fare over time, but at this point there’s no apparent wear.
I’ll plan to perform significant additional testing over the coming months, but at this point, in spite of the number of miles that I’ve put on it, the jacket still looks brand new.
EDIT: Given a comment below, I’ve added an additional photo of the Super Mica when loosely rolled up for storage.
Size when loosely rolled for storage