The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
The rest of the MS Team
Marmot jacket makes any adventurer a Super Hero
Posted on: June 2, 2006
Ever since I got the Marmot Super Hero Jacket, I've worn it every day on the hill, and quite often off the hill. I've gotten more compliments on the jacket than on any item of skiwear I've ever owned (except maybe my neon green Obermeyer pants, but that's another story), and it's by far one of the most practical pieces I've ever had. Now that doesn't happen too often. The only piece that can compete in my mind is my dad's bright blue, early 1980s Gore-Tex wind shell, which I snagged from him when I was young and naive and going to Patagonia without a clue as to what to bring. I tend to be sentimental about my outdoor gear, keeping stuff for way longer than its useful life because of the memories of adventures I've had in a particular jacket or hat or boots. Dad's Gore-Tex parka (which is so old it doesn't even have a brand tag) withstood Patagonian winds, driving rain and sudden snow squalls. It was reliable in every way – except that it was unbreathable and butt-ugly. This Super Hero jacket has all the qualities of a keeper – and it looks great to boot. Using the latest, greatest soft shell technology, it's windproof, water-resistant, breathable, minimalist and gorgeous.
The Super Hero jacket is actually made of four different fabrics, strategically placed, to give you different levels of protection where you need it. So the body is windproof, water-resistant Gore Windstopper Scuba soft shell fabric, and the shoulders and outside arms are reinforced with Gore Windstopper Tasset fabric, while the underarms are breathable knit. They call this Mosaic Zonal Construction, and I'm hooked.
With spring's fickle weather patterns, this is the ideal jacket to have. It held up against gale force winds on an exposed hike at 11,800 feet at Snowmass in late March. Since it was over 50 degrees at the base, I was dressed in minimal layers, but my Super Hero jackets kept the wind out. It held up in cold, rain, snow, fog and nearly summer-like conditions on the mountain. On hot sunny spring days, when you're sweating bullets by the end of the run but your sweat chills on the way up the chairlift, it kept me dry and comfortable. And in the backcountry, its versatility, great articulation and that breathable underarm fabric makes it essential for all conditions. The Super Hero jacket is, in fact, designed to be used for most outdoor activities in almost every season, from casual fall hikes to cool season bike rides to Himalayan expeditions. Hence the name, Super Hero.