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The Stretchman Jacket from Marmot is a lightweight (360 grams) softshell style jacket. I have been testing it for the last few months.
Jack Geldard climbing a classic 7a+ in the Stretchman Jacket at a windy Freyr, Belgium
UKC Gear, May 2010
© Alan James
Like a typical man, I opened the packet, put the jacket on and started wearing it, without knowing anything about its features or properties.
A bouldering trip down the Lleyn Peninsula in March saw me getting rained on pretty heavily. The jacket beaded really well. "Flippin 'eck" I thought, "this softshell is as waterproof as all my hardshells." It was a few weeks later when I started to research the technical features of the jacket that I realised it is fully waterproof.
That I had been wearing this jacket for several weeks, and had experienced the fact that it was waterproof, but still not realised it was a full 'waterproof shell' speaks volumes - and is a very good thng. It doesn't feel like a bin-liner, it feels comfortable. The super stretchy (it's not called the Stretchman for nothing) fabric, the ergonomic cut, the softshell feel, all add up to a very wearable garment.
The waterproof fabric is called Membrain 2.5 and is Marmot's own waterproof, windproof and breathable fabric.
Marmot's own lightweight waterproof / breathable technology. A lamination technology that rates a whopping 20,000mm in waterproof performance and 20,000 gr in breathability.
Requiring neither lining nor 3-layer construction like many similar lamination processes, MemBrain® Strata™ products are by far the lightest, most breathable garments in their categories.
Marmot's proprietary 2.5 layer MemBrain® Strata uses micro non-organic particles on the inside of the lamination to increase durability and provide a dry touch instead of that clammy feeling you get from some other products.
The back print pattern is carefully designed to achieve the maximum durability and breathability. Abrasion tests rate 4-5 times better than regular MemBrain® (which is why regular MemBrain, as well as all 2-layer laminates require a separate lining).
Compared to 2.5 layer coatings in the market, our 2.5 layer lamination is about 100% more breathable. In addition, laminated stretch fabrics stretch more and have a softer hand than 2.5 layer coated fabrics.
The jacket has reflective logos. You can see rain beading on the fabric.
© UKC Gear, May 2010
No alpine icefall cragging for me unfortunately, but as I have switched from winter climbing to rock climbing as the weather has improved, the Stretchman has taken over as my jacket of choice. I have worn it for cragging, guiding, hill walking and to the pub of course.
I have been out doing a few rock climbing guiding days in North Wales in less than ideal weather and where I would usually be fully togged up in a hard shell, I have been more than happy with the Stretchman.
The jacket is tailored to fit well when climbing. The 'angel wing movement' design from Marmot means the sleeves don't ride down too much when you reach high, and the back of the jacket stays put in your harness too.
This is a stretchy jacket. Really stretchy. It's hard to describe, but when I pull the jacket apart sideways it stretches over 5cm.
The Build Quality:
Is high. The seams are taped, the zips are bomber and everything looks, feels and handles like it is well made. The jacket is made in China.
I have had the jacket for around four months and used it continuously. I have no doubt that the stitching and zips are well up to the job and will last well. As with all lightweight fabrics, I think it won't last as long as a full-on heavy softshell top.
Spot on. The jacket is still beading water well and is water and windproof.
Well designed. Fits well, adjusts snugly and goes over a helmet. The brim isn't wired, but is pretty stiff and works well. A good compromise between light-weight and usability.
A lightweight, waterproof and windproof stretchy jacket. Great for UK cragging and icefall climbing. It looks good, fits well and is very comfortable. A recommended cragging jacket.