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UKC Gear, Dec 2007
© Geldard Collection
UKC Gear, Oct 2007
The water flows down the next pitch like a blanket. I plunge my hand through the torrent, the water pushing hard and seeping up my sleeve. We glance back toward the car park, an hour away. The wind whips across the slab, lifting an uppercut of freezing water on to my chin. Rock climbing in Snowdonia in December - madness? Probably, but I got a chance to test the Marmot Exum shell layer. The question is: Did I stay dry?
I've not had the opportunity to take either the jacket or the trousers out winter climbing... yet. I've used them in pouring rain, bright sunshine, gale force winds and hail storms. They've had a thorough beating and so far they're still cutting the mustard.
The fit is excellent, the hood superb – it's very well designed; turning with your head, making sure you don't miss out on all those mountain panoramas. The pockets are nice and high – perfect for harness wearers (I usually have some flapjacks in there when I'm out instructing – it's handy to be able to whip them out on belay ledges, before the students arrive!). All the pocket and arm-pit zips are the waterproof variety – keeping my flapjacks in perfect condition.
The sleeves are great, a good length and cut, with ergonomic shaped ends and Velcro wrist tabs. The main zip (which isn't a water-proof zip), is covered by a good sized external baffle that again sticks down with Velcro and this is backed up with an internal baffle. A pretty good water-proof system that didn't let any rain through to my mid layers. The Velcro on the outer baffle is made in small tabs, not a continuous strip - obviously saving a few grams. Snow can clog Velcro though, so I'll be interested to see what happens there.
Made from Goretex 'Pro Shell', which is in part how Marmot have shaved off so much weight, the Exum is a mixture of normal and rip-stop fabric. The 'Pro Shell' was 100% water-proof, which is what I was expecting from a company as experienced as Gore. It shed water really well – beading rain on all the panels and fabrics. The jacket has pull cords and toggles in the usual places and the nice finishing touches that you'd expect from a top of the range garment; Dri-clime fleecy lining around the chin and so on.
UKC Gear, Dec 2007
To be fair, when Marmot asked for my sizes and I said “Long and skinny, legs like a sparrow”, they warned me that the trousers might not be a perfect fit. They were a bit wide in the leg for me, and a little short. I'm 6'2”, with a 34” leg, and I weigh about 2.5 stone, so it's no surprise. Like with any garment - it's best to try things on.
So my only real concern is the zip baffles. I'll state now that they kept me totally dry, but the baffles themselves don't stick down with Velcro – instead, they are held over the zip by their own stiffness. I was a little worried that after floundering around in snow, there might be a bit of leakage.
The 'braces' were nice and lightweight, simple to use and not too fancy. The trousers came in black, with again a mixture of rip-stop and normal fabric. The snow gaiters looked pretty much perfect, with a great Velcro feature for getting them over winter boots. They have an emergency 'drop seat' feature, for dropping something off in those awkward pre-route moments.
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