Marmot Super Mica
This was the first time I'd used the
, and I was a little cautious about it's waterproofing abilities - it's only 8oz (246 g) and uses a proprietary fabric (MemBrain). As we sludged through the storm I was very impressed. My bare arms felt a little clammy against the material, but when we got to the car and I took it off, I was nearly bone dry underneath. There were a couple of slightly damp patches on the shoulders, but I put that down to the contact points of the backpack. It was certainly nothing to be worried about anyway.
The jacket has a nice reinforced coating on the shoulders and hips (Duralite Zonal Reinforcements, as marmot calls them), perfect for backpacking. Although it is slightly heavier than the standard Mica jacket, the extra weight comes mainly from the pit zips, which are a feature I wouldn't want to be without. The MemBrain material seems to breath extraordinarily well - perhaps not quite as well as eVent, but close - but I like to have the flexibility of venting through the pits and the mesh lined pockets.
Actually, the mesh lined pockets did let some raindrops in - the zip opens downwards, leaving a bulging hole ready to accept water. That could be remedied simply by reversing the opening direction. This would have the advantage of allowing the pockets to be half opened.
I did, however, have one major disappointment with the coat. Mine is white - I chose it because I though it would cheer me up in the rain. However, after just four hours walking in the rain, the shoulders, back, and hips became rather unpleasantly stained brown. I hoped this would come out in the wash, but it didn't. Now the coat makes me look like some kind of sweaty forest pervert, which, after just one use, is very disappointing.
I called Marmot about this, seeing as they offer a lifetime warranty on al their products. Sadly the warranty rep I spoke to was less than helpful. She simply repeatedly reminded me that the coat was white, something which I was well aware of. Of course a white coat needs mroe care, and can be expected over time to get more dirty. Over time, though. Not after one use. The reinforced shoulder and hip sections indicate it was designed specifically for UL backpacking, so it should be able to stand up a little better to the demands of the activity. I hoped the stains would be removed by washing, but even following Marmot's online washing instructions, this was not the case.
I've returned the coat to Marmot to see what they can do, and hopefully get a replacement black version. Let's see what kind of service they provide.
As it stands, I heartily recommend the coat for it's waterproofing, breathability, light weight and functionality, but avoid white (unless you really want to go for that sweaty-pervert-in-the-forest look).
-- Update --
Marmot got back to me very promptly and agreed that the staining was abnormal. They've sent the coat to product development to be checked out, and ordered me a black one.
Nice work, Marmot!
-- Update 2 --
My black replacement arrived after a few weeks. The delay probably had something to do with Outdoor Magazine giving it a gear of the year award, as I noticed it was sold out everywhere online. It obviously had a roll on effect while they had more made and shipped over from Vietnam.
The new black version seems to be fine. It should perform as well as the white. I'm not sure how long those 'zonal reinforcements' will last under a pack, but only time will tell.
The weird discoloration of my white Super Mica could well have been some interaction between the materials of the Vapor Trail and the jacket. I'd only used the Vapor Trail for four or five days, so it might have had some residual coloring in the shoulder straps. Nevertheless, it's not what you want. I will certainly be thinking twice before buying any white gear again. Maybe it was stupid of me to think that going into the forest looking like a surgeon would be a good idea. But I just wanted something different, and the white one looked, well... cool!
If you really want a white one, and you plan to only use it around town ('you' being those of you who can afford to drop $200 on a UL jacket that you only want to use on the way to the gym) then I'd say go for it.
As for me, I guess I'll have to get used to looking like a ninja in the forest again - which beats sweaty-pervert-in-the-forest every time.
-- Update 3 --
I think they've stopped selling white!
It's still my go-to rain jacket, keeping me reliably dry every time.
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