Monthly Archives: December 2012

Marmot Crystalline Rain Jacket Review

The biggest item I asked for this Christmas was a rain jacket and boy did I get a good one!  It wasn’t much of a surprise since I found one heck of a deal on Sierra Trading Post, plus I am on their mailing list so I got a sweet coupon in my email to top it off and was standing there when it was ordered.  I was quite surprised when I realized the jacket I had originally wanted but didn’t think I could afford was on sale so cheap that I got to have it after all!  I originally knew that if I went with a rain jacket instead of some of the other alternatives I wanted the Marmot Crystalline jacket, but at $150 I wasn’t sure it was the best weight to cost ratio.  So I did my research and settled on a second choice of the Golite Malpais Trinity Jacket which has been at the low price of $80 since Golite pulled their products off retail shelves and went to a pure online only store.  They are two very similar jackets and they weigh very close to the same amount, in fact the Marmot weighs slightly more, but there was just a couple things that put the Crystalline at the top of my list.  First is that, while it is very hard to test perfectly and there is no official standardized method of testing, the Crystalline is rated a little better in waterproof and breathability.  Secondly Stick’s review of the GoLite Tumalo Pertex 2.5L Storm Jacket revealed that the cord locks were not actual plastic cord locks on the hood but pieces of foam.  From all the pictures I could see it was the same on the Malpais Jacket as well.  Since I have moved to an area that can be very windy and is definitely likely to have snow and very cold rain, I knew I wanted a jacket that had cord locks I could count on for sure.  Now in the defense of Golite, I have never gotten to see their cord locks up close so I have no idea if they hold in hard wind or not, but I personally wasn’t happy taking the risk.

Like I said though, I didn’t think I could afford the Marmot jacket I really wanted, but when sale ads would pop up, I’d look just in case.  You can’t imagine my surprise when I saw the Marmot Crystalline on sale and I knew I had a %40 off coupon for any item, including sale items.  I clicked on it, knowing for sure the only size they would have left is extra small, when lo and behold the only size they had was large!  I quickly checked to see how much off it would be with my coupon and then adding the shipping back on, sitting at the bottom of the cart page was the most beautiful number I had ever seen… $68.74!  Almost a full $20 less than the Golite jacket would have been with shipping.  I may not have been allowed to open the box until Christmas morning, but it was almost like Christmas had come early anyway.

First some facts about the jacket.  It is made from Marmot’s proprietary 2.5 layer MemBrain® Strata fabric, which is a lightweight 2.5 layer waterproof breathable fabric.  It is seam taped with a water resistant front zipper.  The hood has that great little volume minimizer, aka a piece of velcro and it is a big enough hood to fit a helmet underneath or a puffy hat.  The large comes out to 6.7 oz on my scale and it stuffs into the left hand pocket.  Now to tell you what I LOVE about my new rain jacket!

1. No Pit Zips – The number one thing on my list that I for sure didn’t want, pit zips.  I know, I know, everyone wants pit zips, right?  Well I’ve had them on previous jackets and frankly all they do for me is bruise my arms and sides.  Maybe it’s because I’m a girl or maybe it’s just the way I hike, but I hold my arms too close to my sides for pit zips to be effective.  I just don’t get any real air flow and depending on what kind of zippers they use, the zipper pulls seem to knock against each other often enough to make a hike uncomfortable and I lose a portion of my fluid motion and momentum.

2. Velcro Wrist Closures – Something I have found is that elastic is great when it’s a wind jacket, but something more adjustable is worth the extra weight on a rain jacket!

3. The Fit – I love the way this jacket fits!  Whether I just have a shirt on or my winter base layer, fleece and synthetic vest on, it just fits.  It isn’t too bulky when I just have a shirt on, it doesn’t ride up with all my layers on or compress my insulation and the hood doesn’t fall into my eyes and does stay with my head so that when I turn my head I’m not trying to look at the world through the side of my hood.

4. The Color – I got this jacket in the Berry Bright color.  Now this is the last thing on my list of loves, mostly because it just doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t affect the way the jacket works and honestly I didn’t have much choice since it was the only color left, but knowing I will be hiking in hunting areas and bear areas, I prefer a bright color for my shells that will clearly define me as human.  I will say, if you do care about color, the Berry Bright looks darker in person than it does online.  It is the same color but just about two shades darker.

As much as I love this jacket, nothing is perfect so I will also list the things that I’m not crazy about.

1. The Pockets – The pockets are not mesh and therefore not venting.  It would have been nicer to have mesh pockets instead of pockets made out of the same material as the rest of the jacket especially since there are no pit zips, but it is a minor thing.

2. The Length – It is a good length all around, until it gets to the back.  The back center length is listed as 26.5″ and it is accurate but It would be really nice if it were closer to 28″ instead.  It comes just shy of covering my whole bottom which would have been nice.

Thanks for reading!

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Merry Christmas and More

DSCN5938I’ve been super busy since getting off the Island and rejoining normal society.  We had to move out here in such a hurry and then we could only take some of our stuff with us on the island, so since we have gotten back I’ve been going through all of our things and stripping it down to just the essentials.  Since this new job of ours has technically rendered us homeless, we have decided to take our penchant for going light one step further.  That’s right, we’re going ultralight in our life!

I started with my clothes.  I’ve gotten everything I own down to one large suitcase and a garment bag and that even includes all my backpacking clothes too!  I now own eight short sleeved shirts, eight long sleeved shirts, eight tank tops, four pair of pants, four pairs of shorts, a couple of hoodies and my backpacking insulation and shells.  Of course that doesn’t include my dress clothes, shoes and accessories but you get the idea.  Our goal is to get everything down to just 3-4 suitcases, our two backpacks and about 8-10 medium boxes of house stuff that will sit in my mom’s storage for our eventual return to normal housing someday.  For all the fun and interesting things that I’m trying out I’ve started a second blog for all my non backpacking activities!

While we are here in Northern Arizona, we are looking forward to getting to try some winter car camping and day hikes.  I’d love to be able to do some backpacking but contrary to popular belief it gets quite cold where we are since we are actually in the High Desert.  It was 20 degrees this morning when I woke up and we don’t have sleeping gear for those temperatures for backpacking, yet.  Even so we are having a lot of fun exploring our new environment, well it’s old to me since I grew up just a few hours south of here in Phoenix, but we’re having fun anyway 🙂

One of the many other things I’m doing is putting together my Backpacking Christmas List.  We all have one and this year I’m pretty excited about some of the stuff that is on mine!

1. Golite Malpais Trinity 3-Layer Liteshell Rain Jacket – Not only is this an amazing 3 layer waterproof breathable rain shell that only comes in around 6oz but Go Lite works really hard to make their products and their production process as environmentally friendly as possible, making this rain shell one that fits all of my wants!

2. Mont Bell Dynamo Wind Pants – These pants are on my list to replace my current Sierra Designs wind pants and it’s not easy to understand why.  This one little purchase will save me over 6 oz alone.

3. Black Rock Down Hat – This one is a no brainer!  As the most favored hat of the Ultralight Community in general this one just had to make it on my list this year.

So what’s one everyone else’s Christmas list?

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