The Marmot Whisperlite jacket packs down to the size of a pair of thick socks. Stef Kerek has been testing it in some traditional Lakeland weather conditions over the past few months.
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The start of the summer was brilliantly dry, but I knew it was a little too good to be true. At least I've got to thoroughly test the Whisperlite in some traditional Lakeland weather conditions recently! Other brands such as Haglofs and Montane produce some great lightweight jackets, but when the Whisperlite arrived I was really impressed by its combination of convincing sturdiness, straight-forward simplicity, women-specific cut and weight: just 218g.
The fabric is super lightweight, reliably waterproof, wind resistant and breathable Gore-tex Paclite, and the Whisperlite is designed accordingly for those who want to move light and fast and/or if space is an issue in the rucksack. I took it straight out mountain biking over the little fell of Loughrigg.
Biking over Loughrigg, Lake District
stef_k, May 2010
© Stef Kerek
So far so good. The Whisperlite performed exactly how a lightweight waterproof jacket should; it kept me warm yet dry while moving, and I barely noticed it. I don't like a heavy jacket in the summer months nor any restriction in movement. I didn't have either of these problems with the Whisperlite, and it was very comfortable. The design of the body was long enough so as not to ride upwards, which I find a common problem with jackets, and it also has a good waist draw cord.
Over the last few months I've used the jacket extensively for walking, scrambling and climbing. The smart but simple features include a water resistant front zip and pockets, which keep both wind and rain out and eliminate the need for storm flaps. The 'gale force' hood has a snug fit over my helmet and a laminated wire rim for the peak, which effectively keeps the rain out. In addition the front zip can be zipped all the way up to my nose. All the panels of the jacket are micro-stitched with 100% taped seams to stop rain and wind. These panels add to the freedom of movement that the jacket offers.
I didn't feel clammy in the Whisperlite jacket when biking or walking in to climbs; the fabric breathes very effectively, and laser drilled holes in the inner pocket fabric encourage further outward movement of moisture. Although unfortunately I do find these let moisture into my pockets from my body, making my phone steam up or tissues go soggy!
Disappointingly I found the Whisperlite sleeves to be ill fitting; these were at least a good inch too short and even more when outstretched. For me this detracted from the shaped and elasticised wrist cuffs which I really liked otherwise; they were great when climbing because they were less faff than Velcro and wouldn't slip down if rolled up. Maybe my arms are just too long, but I didn't enjoy cold wrists or wet layers.
The Whisperlite is designed for moving light and fast and, although lightweight, it doesn't lack in performance; it breathes very effectively and keeps me dry. Although not warm by itself when you're moving slowly, it is with a good layering system. I'd rely on this jacket for summer multi pitch in the southern Alps or places alike when weight really is an issue, so long as the temperatures aren't Baltic. I personally find myself relying on kit like this in such environments because I can't physically carry loads of gear into big climbs with glacial approaches. A fantastic lightweight jacket that is also technical.
About Stef Kerek
Stef Kerek lives and works in the Lake District, Cumbria. She enjoys traditional climbing and when possible trips to the Alps or warmer countries than England. She likes getting out on the hill generally whether running, biking, walking, it's all good peace and space for her.
When she worked in gear shops it was always dangerous because rather than selling clothes, she spent all her time and money trying on and buying kit.
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