'All on board the Red Star for a magic mix of breathability, lightness, protection and a good spec albeit with a couple of minor quibbles'
Outdoors Magic: Light and decently breathable own-brand fabric, quality components, good venting options, layering-friendly fit.
Outdoors Tragic: Pocket bags sit below waist-belt level, hood brim could be stiffer.
Outdoors Grabbit? Marmot's own-brand NanoPro 3-layer fabric has good breathability and feels light but tough. The generous fit is layering friendly with plenty of space inside for winter insulation and the spec is good and thorough. We have minor quibbles over the deep, belt-fouling pockets and the slightly floppy brim, but overall this is a light, versatile, all-mountain jacket at a competitive price.
Waterproof mountaineering jacket | Nanopro™ 3 Layer Waterproof/Breathable fabric | 100% Seam Taped | Adjustable Hood with Laminated Moldable Brim | PitZips with Water Resistant Zippers | Water-resistant Zipper Pockets | Asymmetric Cuffs with VELCRO® Adjustment | Interior Zippered Pocket | Elastic Drawcord Hem | Angel-Wing Movement™
Full Review Below
Marmot Red Star Jacket - The Tech
At a suggested £220, the Red Star isn't exactly cheap, but bear in mind that an equivalent shell made from a 'name' fabric would almost certainly be around £100 plus more expensive. But does that mean you're losing out?
Marmot's own-brand NanoPro fabric in three-layer form here, is a carefully developed microporous membrane, which has pores which are 30% smaller than earlier Marmot waterproof fabrics and has - it says here - 'very small, very densely packed pores allow for enhanced breathability while maintaining excellent waterproofness'.
Go Harder, Stay More Comfortable
It's also air permeable, which in breathability terms, we've always found to be a very good thing. We've been impressed by the fabric in 2.5-layer versions, but this is the first time we've used the tougher 3-layer incarnation, which uses similar base technology, but with an inner backer fabric.
On top of the fabric, the spec is what you'd expect from a high-end jacket. The main-zip is free-flowing, and water-resistant YKK Vislon with moulded plastic teeth, other zips are YKK PU-backed water-resistant ones and there are venting pit-zips for additional cooling too.
Overall it looks and feels like a nicely made jacket with no short-cuts on components or construction. And while the fabric's not the heaviest out there, nor does it feel at all fragile.
Marmot Red Star Jacket - Performance
At just under 400g, the Red Star kind of hits the target as a lightweight all-rounder. It feels tough enough to give real protection, but not so heavy that you resent carrying it about. It's a proper mountain shell too with a helmet hood, pit-zips and all the technical trimmings.
Like fellow US jacket, the Black Diamond Helio Shell, the jacket has relatively generous fit that allows for plenty of under-shell insulation in colder conditions, but isn't loose or flappy. A good call for larger proportioned walkers and climbers. No issues with hem or sleeve lift either.
Breathe Baby, Breathe!
On the move, we were impressed with the breathability of the NanoPro fabric. We tanked up the first long hill of the day expecting the familiar hot, prickly fug, but it never really happened. And if you do push past that point, easy to use, pack-friendly pit-zips and rollable sleeves give effective venting options.
Not quite as effective as Polartec NeoShell, but definitely better than most and a good illustration of just far own-brand fabrics have come over the past few years. It kept us dry in a variety of different rains as well, from drizzle through to full-on deluge stuff. All good.
The hood is mostly good. It has enough adjustability to give good protection with a bare head, with decent peripheral vision and movement with the head plus lower facial coverage too. The upper cheek bones are little exposed from the side though and, in classic North American style of old, the hood peak is quite floppy.
Not an issue when teamed with a helmet, where it does a similarly impressive, unrestrictive gig, but without one, you'll maybe need to consider using a peaked cap if you want some more shelter from above. Marmot even produces its own version.
Our other minor quibble was with the pockets. The openings sit above belt level no problem, but the pocket bags are very deep and extend to below belt level. That means if you stash something, gloves, bars or whatever in the pockets then remove and refit a pack, the contents sit annoyingly under the pack waist-belt. Not a deal-breaker exactly, but potentially irritating.
Otherwise things work really well. The front zip has classic slick Vislon slickness to it and keeps the water out just fine. The pit-zips are fluid and smooth with glove-friendly pulls and the jacket's long enough to give a little added notional crotch protection if you're not wearing waterproof overtrousers.
Marmot Red Star Jacket - Verdict
A well-specced, lightweight, all-round mountain jacket that's well made and uses a very breathable own-brand fabric in the shape of Marmot's NanoPro. That makes it a good call if you move fast and run hot.
And when it's cold, there's plenty of space inside for extra insulation layers. Ideally we'd prefer a stiffer hood peak and the deep pocket-bags tended to sit under a waist belt for us. But otherwise it's a well-specced mountain shell at a competitive price that manage to be reasonably light with out feeling fragile.