Marmot Chinook Jacket (2003) Review
(This is an excerpt from my BackpackGear Test review, fully viewable at: http://www.backpackgeartest.org/.
Since I wanted to share the info as widely as possible, I had to hand my copyright over to them.)

 

Summary
I'm a long-distance backpacker focused on function and weight. Finding the 2003 Marmot Chinook Jacket was the end to an important gear search. None of my past windshirts came together like the Chinook: It is lightweight, has a hood, full zip, and chest pocket and can serve well in a light rain.
The hood is roomy enough for a hat. The full zip gives me the flexibility that a half-zip pullover can not. The chest pocket is big enough to keep liner gloves and a thin cap at hand.

At 3.4 oz, the Chinook's feather weight has no correlation to its superb combination of features and design.

The Marmot Chinook Jacket is a lightweight, fully breathable, hooded, full-zip windshirt. Mine is Viper Green, a color I was not sure about when I saw it on the Web, but which I like in-person. It’s more yellow than it is green, and it’s a loud, but not entirely unnatural, color. The polyester fabric is thin, silky, a little shiny (or reflective, like some silks), and feels great against the skin.

     The pocket has a two-sided metal zipper pull and can easily accommodate my lightweight fleece hat and a pair of liner gloves. The grosgrain loop on the inside of the pocket can be used to attach keys, etc. The jacket can be stuffed into its chest pocket. The resulting pouch can be zipped shut, and the grosgrain loop (now on the outside) can be used to attach the pouch to something else.
     The hood is very well designed. It’s roomy enough for a hat, and with my Patagonia Vented Broadbill Hat, the hood falls where the brim begins. (The hood itself does not have a brim, not a shortcoming in my assessment.) The hood then wraps around the face and ends where the zipper closes below the chin. There’s adjustable elastic cord around the opening of the hood, with a foam ‘lock’ on each side. In all, it’s a great fit.
     When you are not using the hood, it can be rolled up and held in place with a small 4”x .5” (102mm x 12.7mm) strap that has both parts of a plastic snap toward the end. It’s designed so that you can snap the end of the strap around the traditional loop in the center of the shoulder of the jacket (what we used to call the fruit loop on shirts) to secure the hood. When you are not using the strap (i.e., when you are using the hood), you can tuck it into a tiny open-top pocket on the inside of the neck of the jacket, a very nice detail that adds no bulk and that people with long (snaggable) hair will appreciate.
     The top of the non-metal zipper (under the chin) has an enclosure that keeps the zipper parts from snagging on whiskers (or skin). There’s a flap behind the length of the zipper to cut wind that comes through the zipper, and the flap is wide enough to stay out of the zipper.

Much of my point of reference for the Chinook is my previous windshirt, the Patagonia Velocity (2001 or so), which is a perfectly fine windshirt, but does not have a hood, plus it tips the scales at 5.4 ounces.

Comments about using this piece of gear as part of a system
A full length zipper offers the ability to wear the jacket backward, and therefore can be put on without removing your pack. A half-zip pullover windshirt, while possibly tenths of an ounce lighter, can't be put on backward.
     A windshirt combined with a lightweight Merino wool crew shirt provide the same function as a Marmot Dri-Clime, but they can also be used separately, a big advanage in my book.

Here's how a windshirt fits into my standard layering system: hiking shirt, lightweight Merino wool crew, windshirt, thick insulating layer, raingear.

Lightweight Gear Disclaimer: This is a delicate, durable piece of gear.

What do I mean by that? The Marmot Chinook is skillfully designed and made of high quality materials, but the nature of ultra-lightweight construction and materials requires special handling. If you are a lightweight backpacker, this is true of most of your gear.
      If you are new to lightweight backpacking, be aware that this jacket is a specialized tool to help you be comfortable in a wide range of circumstances. All it asks for in return is a gentle (but not unreasonably so) touch. The zipper will fail more easily than a giant zipper on a 3-pound Gortex parka because it’s a smaller, lighter weight zipper. Handle the zipper to avoid snagging the fabric and don’t yank when you do snag it. Be gentle and you'll have a piece of gear that lasts.

 

  

 
Viper Green is in here somewhere
©John E. Brennan 2002

Likes:
Very lightweight
Great hood design and details
Usable chest pocket

Dislikes:
Prominent non-removable Marmot logo/branding
Excessive packaging
I can’t afford two; one for around town and one for backpacking trips

Manufacturer: Marmot
Find ‘em: http://www.marmot.com
Listed weight: 3 oz (85gr) (size unspecified)
Weight as delivered: 3.4 oz (96gr) (Medium)
MSRP: $100

©2003 backpackgeartest.org