Cicerone's Joe Williams reviews the Marmot Ether DriClime Hoody, a jacket that isn't well known to many UK walkers, climbers and runners. The jacket – and its precursor the DriClime Windshirt – is probably the most used, loved, depended on and effective piece of mountain and outdoor clothing he has ever owned. Here he explains why.
Evening light at the Refuge de Tete Rousse under Mont Blanc. After a quick cup of tea, we left the hut to climb the mountain in a single push through the night, getting back down to Chamonix the next morning for opening time at the boulangerie
More than just a breathable windproof jacket
It is a very simple jacket, comprising an ultralight windproof shell with a thin wicking lining underneath. The lining is very fine fleece – it adds a bit of warmth, but not much. The combination of lining and windproof shell seems to draw moisture away from your body very effectively. There’s two uninsulated hand pockets, a chest pocket that doubles as a stuff-sack and an adjustable hood with elasticated trim that fits snugly around an un-helmeted head.
Marmot have been making this jacket for years in one form or another. My first version was bought in 2006 – a much simpler garment back then.
The DriClime Ether Hoody works as a great ski touring jacket. I'm wearing it here on the top of Skiddaw in the Lake District
Things I like about the DriClime Hoody:
- Good arm movement – doesn’t lift up out of a harness
- Lightweight for the versatility
- Comfortable – I wore it every day for a month on an expedition to Greenland
- Extremely breathable
- Nice to be able to pack away into its own pocket (with a carabiner clip-in loop attached)
- Water resistant – can keep off a rain shower, especially if you regularly re-proof it with Nikwax
Things I don’t like about the DriClime Hoody:
- Fabric is very thin and not particularly durable – if you like climbing and scrambling you will make a hole in it!
- Hand pockets are too low as they interfere with a harness or pack waist belt
- Hood must go under a helmet - isn’t stretchy enough to go over
The jacket can be worn as a midlayer, with a short or long-sleeved baselayer beneath for slower moving activities, or it can be worn next to skin for very high output sports. It’s best used for cold-mild conditions. I have used it for:
- Road running in temperatures of 2C and light rain
- Ski touring and uphill skiing in the Alps
- Winter mountain running in the Cairngorms
- Scrambling in Morocco's Anti-Atlas
- Hillwalking in the Lake District
- Rock climbing in Colorado
- Alpine mountaineering in Chamonix
- Walking the dog
I never set off on an alpine climb without the DriClime Ether Hoody. Here we descend a technical 3000m peak in the Italian Alps
There are many jackets on the market that are similar to this, such as the Rab Vapour-Rise series, and even the classic Buffalo. But I think the Marmot is the best because of its incredible versatility - you really can wear it for any activity in any season.
Case study: Poland’s Tatras mountains
I was running in the Tatras mountains in southern Poland, heading up from the treeline towards the peaks above. The air temperature was -5C and the air was thick with wet, freezing fog that I’d never experienced before. I pushed the pace through the deep snow, breathing hard and sweating. I was wearing the DriClime Ether Hoody next-to-skin, but despite the horrible conditions and thinness of the jacket I was quite warm and comfortable. I stopped to check if my sweat and the damp, freezing fog were soaking me through – a dangerous situation in these conditions. I discovered the inside of the jacket was bone dry, while moisture simply beaded on the outside fabric.
February in Morocco's Anti Atlas mountains. Despite the proximity to the Sahara, the temperatures at 2000m were cool. The DriClime Ether kept off the breeze, added a little warmth and protected my skin from the harsh sun