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REPOST: OWNER REVIEW: Marmot Oracle Jacket: Graham

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  • Ben Jamin
    OWNER REVIEW Marmot Oracle Jacket Reviewer Information: Name: Ben Neilson Age: 29 Gender: Male Height: 6 1 (185 cm) Weight: 170 pounds (77 kg) Email address:
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 27, 2005
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      Marmot Oracle Jacket

      Reviewer Information:

      Name: Ben Neilson
      Age: 29
      Gender: Male
      Height: 6' 1" (185 cm)
      Weight: 170 pounds (77 kg)
      Email address: djbenno (at) hotmail (dot) com
      City, State, Country: Seattle, Washington State, USA
      Date: February 28, 2005

      Reviewers Background:

      I have been backpacking since a young boy with my family. As I grew
      up, I learnt with the Boy Scouts how to pack a 50-pound (23 kg) load
      for an overnight trip. Now, many years later I have made the jump to
      lightweight backpacking with my current weekend (3-day) load, with
      food, fuel, and water, averaging 15 pounds (6.8 kg). Most
      backpacking trips are solo high-mileage trips (with 20-30 miles [30-
      50 km] per day common) with high-elevation gains. Trips cover
      elevations from sea level to 14,000'+ (0-4400 m) all seasons and
      variable weather conditions. I am also an active rock climber, peak
      bagger, snowboarder, backcountry and alpine skier, and snowshoer,
      preferring off-trail route finding and scrambling.

      Product Information:

      Manufacturer: Marmot
      Year of Manufacture: 2004
      URL: http://www.marmot.com/
      Listed Weight: 17 oz (482 g)
      Weight as Delivered: 18.0 oz (510 g) for Men's Large
      MSRP: USD $150

      Field Information:

      This report is based on six months of ownership, with trips averaging
      once a week. I used the Oracle jacket throughout the summer and into
      autumn primarily in rainy conditions in the Pacific Northwest. As
      seasons changed, rain gave way to snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain,
      and every form of weather imaginable. Activities for these trips
      ranged from light backpacking on maintained Forest Service trails, to
      snowshoeing, and climbing, (peak-bagging), predominantly off-trail
      through thick Pine, Douglas Fir, Alder, and devil's club. An
      unusually mild winter and low snowfall totals presented more of a
      challenge this winter, and travel required struggling with much more
      slide alder and Devils Club (Oplopanax horridus) than is typically
      experienced. Temperatures in which the Oracle was used ranged from
      0 degrees F (-18 degrees C), to 65 degrees F (18 degrees C).
      Elevations generally ranged from 1,500' to 7,000' (460 m to 2100 m
      for the non-Imperial measurers out there).

      The Quick Summary:

      The Marmot Oracle Jacket for 2004 is one of the most breathable and
      comfortable pure hardshell jackets I have used. The trim, athletic
      fit is ideal for my body type. Marmot's use of "Angel-Wing" sleeves
      and stretch panels elements in key areas greatly contributing to the
      jacket's mobility. Chest pocket zippers that snag on the pocket
      lining and a hood that is always falling over my eyes are the only
      negatives I could find.

      The Details:

      I acquired the Oracle jacket, by Marmot, in August 2004 as a more
      streamlined replacement for the venerable Marmot PreCip Jacket. I
      was specifically looking for something with no zipper flaps, for a
      quieter user experience in high-wind conditions, and also to lighten
      it up a bit. The Oracle is listed as a "Lightweight, highly
      breathable, created with a fusion of new technologies including
      durable stretch fabric in key movement areas." The Oracle weighed 5
      oz (140 g) more than my Men's Large PreCip. I generally try to make
      weight improvements with each piece of gear purchased, so this
      observation was a bit troublesome at first. Once I donned the
      jacket, however, I had an immediate change of heart. The trim-
      fitting Oracle is unusually comfortable to wear, for a hardshell
      jacket. This major increase in comfort and fit is due, in part, to
      Marmot's use of waterproof stretch fabric panels, incorporated in key
      areas, and also can be attributed to the "Angel Wing" design, which
      allows me to raise my arms above my head without the bottom hem of
      the jacket lifting well above my naval, as many lesser-engineered
      jackets do. This improvement in fit and comfort was easily noticed
      during active pursuits, like climbing with trekking poles, or
      scrambling on steep terrain, where I'm always reaching overhead for
      the next handhold.
      Like the popular PreCip jacket, the Oracle uses Marmot's proprietary
      laminate waterproof/breathable technology called Precip Plus and is
      100% seam taped for waterproofness. It has a hood that rolls away to
      store in the collar, so that it's fully out of the way when not
      needed. It also has an elastic draw cord hem for adjustability in
      serious weather. Other positive features include a zippered stash
      pocket on the left bicep (which I never found a need for), and the
      innovative use of stretch fabric to seal off the wrists/sleeves, like
      a rubber gasket in a way, that effectively sealed out 100% of snow
      and rain. The trim flapless zippers contributed to the svelte fit
      and feel of this jacket. Mesh "Aero Pockets" help to increase
      ventilation when the chest pockets are open and they have a clever
      stretch mesh bag for cargo expandability. The lack of pit-zips means
      opening the two vertical chest pockets for additional ventilation.
      There is not much concern with losing items from the interior mesh
      chest pockets when they are open, as they are very deep.
      The first bit of criticism I have about this jacket involves these
      same chest pockets, as the zipper has a tendency to jam nearly every
      time in the mesh material from the expandable pocket lining. After
      this first happened, I returned to several retail stores to compare
      other Oracle jackets on the shelves and make sure I did not receive a
      defective jacket, but every jacket I saw had the same issue, so it
      appears to be a very poor design implementation. Another complaint I
      have with the Oracle jacket is the hood design. It's made to
      accommodate a climbing helmet, which is a useful feature, and when
      not wearing a helmet, volume can be reduced (in theory) by
      the "Cranium Cord Adjustment", an elastic cord with a toggle mounted
      at the center of the back of the neck/skull. No matter how I
      adjusted the combination of hood draw cord, and Cranium Adjustment
      Cord, I could not get the hood to stay out my face and eyes.
      I was also able to test the limits of durability for this fabric, as
      I acquired several small rips in the fabric from heavy off-trail
      abuse. I use "abuse" here because most sane individuals would not
      use this jacket in such a manner. Rips were in the forearm/elbow
      area, and were a result of, on several occasions, coming in contact
      with tree branches at a "higher-than-optimal velocity". The rip-stop
      nylon base material used for the Oracle thankfully prevented these
      small rips from becoming gargantuan tears. I was also pleased with
      how the Oracle fended off prickly devil's club on several trips,
      while the prickles went clear through my winter gloves and pants.

      Marmot has just released the 2005 version of the Oracle and they have
      made some major changes. I have not purchased a 2005 version, but I
      did a thorough evaluation in a retail shop. Marmot claims 50% better
      breathability for this generation of PreCip fabric compared to
      previous versions. After trying on the jacket, I noticed a few
      changes. Gone are the snagging chest pockets with which I had such
      an issue, replaced by two torso pockets situated lower, and farther
      back on the body of the jacket. This would seem to decrease airflow
      through the jacket, but further testing in real world conditions
      would be required to make any specific conclusions. This change
      clears up the snagging zipper factor, my biggest issue with the 2004
      version. The other feature I did not like with the 2004 Oracle was
      the hood adjustment system. This remains unchanged on the new 2005
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