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.
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Marmot Snazette: Snazzy Functionality
Posted on: March 11, 2008
Weight: 21 ounces
Functional enough to withstand three weeks of high-altitude desert and mountain exploration, yet snazzy enough to sit down to tea with the King of Mustang, the Marmot Women's Snazette performed royally on a recent trip across the Himalaya.
Mustang, considered a lost Tibetan kingdom, is one of the last restricted (and least visited) areas in Nepal. The region is a part of the Tibetan plateau and sits in the rain shadow of Dhaulagiri and the Annapurnas. A fierce wind whips across the plateau, and temperatures fluctuate from bitter cold at night to downright balmy during the day. The Snazette Jacket was exceptionally versatile—ideal in most temperature and weather extremes—and it was my layer of choice during our visit to Mustang.
The Marmot Softshell fabric is extremely wind resistant and breathable. During ascents of exposed mountain passes, the fabric's tight weave blocked wind beautifully but kept me toasty and dry by allowing moisture from my core to escape. As an insulating layer it was warm and eliminated the need to carry an additional layer, which kept my pack light. Though the dry conditions did not allow me to test its water resistance, it spent a frozen night out on a laundry line strung between our tents and dried quickly in the intense, high altitude sun.
The stretchiness of the Softshell fabric also proved quite comfortable on a thirty-hour flight, an eight-hour bus ride, sightseeing in Kathmandu, three weeks of high-altitude trekking and daily yoga sessions. Best of all, it shed dirt and dust and did not absorb odors like other synthetic materials, making it stylish and suitable for impromptu meetings.
Its limitations are few. However, pit zips and a hood would increase its functionality. The short cut fits well over a harness but otherwise exposed my mid-section when I raised my hands over my head during morning sun salutations. The slim fit is feminine and sexy, and though I normally wear a medium, I found it somewhat tight through my back and shoulders. The pockets are roomy enough to stow a hat, gloves and a snack, and are placed vertically, which makes them easily accessible.
Back home in southwest Colorado, the Snazette has proved equally useful on desert climbing trips and backcountry ski outings on the elusive early season snow near Red Mountain Pass. Overall, the Women's Snazette performed exceptionally well for a wide range of activities and environmental conditions. And despite six weeks of solid use in harsh conditions, it still appears brand new.
Pros: Versatile as a layer; wind resistant and highly breathable; comfortable stretch material; sexy.
Cons: Lacks pit zips and hood; short cut may ride up; slim fit through the shoulders.