Marmot Spire 2009

The Spire is one of Marmot’s new jackets that benefit from an excellent new hood design. It is made from Gore-Tex Performance Shell to keep the price down but is essentially the same as the Marmot Troll Wall, which uses Gore-Tex Pro Shell and has a price tag of £300. Unlike any other jackets here it has a removable snow skirt too, so you’d expect it to be good for winter.

Design
The Spire is a very simple and clean design with just the features you need.  The main difference between this jacket and others is the removable snow skirt, which can be zipped out if not required. The body length is quite short and so there is no waist drawcord, but there is a hem drawcord to lock out draughts. As this jacket is designed for mountaineering, there are pit zips to reduce condensation build-up without having to remove the jacket or open the front zip. The two chest pockets do not get stormflaps, and the pocket lining has a series of small holes to aid breathability. The hood is particularly good with a large stiffened and wired peak, but it cannot be rolled down or secured at the collar. The design is clearly directed towards mountaineering and functional use on the hill.

On the hill
I loved the simplicity of the design, but I made it even simpler by zipping out that snow skirt straight away. It would be of use in powder snow though of course. The short design was instantly noticeable compared to others here, especially in the wet and cold months of November and December in the Lakes. However when I took this jacket for some roped scrambling on the Coniston Fells the ability to easily wear a harness was a real bonus. The large chest pockets are readily accessed while wearing a rucksack, but these can potentially leak as they don’t have external stormflaps and the pocket lining is punched with holes for venting. Unsurprisingly, the pockets leaked easily. However I did like the hood, which easily encased my climbing helmet when scrambling and fitted equally well on my head. In fact the hood is the best feature of this jacket and it’s one of the best around.

In the lab
Hood leaked around face and water ran down the neck into the jacket. Also the pockets leaked easily as expected, leading to wet areas on chest.

Outer Gore-Tex Performance Shell
Inner none
Fabric waterproofness extremely waterproof
Fabric breathability very breathable
Sizes S-XL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)
Weight 748g (men’s L)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 60
Stockist details – tel. (015395) 63616; www.marmot.com
Verdict
Use the Marmot Spire for winter and alpine mountaineering, and it will excel. But in typically wet UK walking conditions it lacks length and water resistance, which makes the price seem high.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine March 2009