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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: Marmot Variant Jacket

Ever wish to stitch additional insulation onto the front of your favorite mid-layer? Your wish is granted.

by: Will Rochfort

Marmot Variant Jacket by a big tree
Marmot Variant Jacket by a big tree
Marmot Varient (Courtesy Photo)
Marmot Varient (Courtesy Photo)

The Specs:
12 oz.
Men’s S-XXL, Women’s XS-XL
At first look, it appeared that Marmot carved an insulated vest in half and slapped it on the front of one of their mid-layers. Despite its initially peculiar appearance, this jacket quickly turned into my favorite layer for all of my winter pursuits. The aforementioned insulation sewn onto the front half of the Variant’s core is Marmot’s proprietary synthetic Thermal R Eco Insulation, which is made from recycled fibers. I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth it provided; I sported just a short-sleeve baselayer, an ultrathin shell, and the Variant in a snowstorm while cross-country skiing through Sequoia National Park, and my upper half was oblivious to the cold.

Aside from the front, the rest of the Variant is constructed from Polartec Power Stretch, which has been a staple material in my winter baselayers for several seasons. The Power Stretch has enough substance to protect from chilly breezes, enough stretch to be comfortable, and it wicks like a champ. Even after working up a serious sweat before lunch while slogging up a snowy two-mile stretch in Yosemite National Park, my upper half was completely dry by the time I finished spreading the jam on my PB&J.

Although the Variant performs exceedingly well during aerobic activities, you’ll want to augment with a more traditional puffy jacket if you plan on relaxing around camp or spending a lot of time cooking meals. Fortunately the fit is trim and very easy to layer under other pieces. I wore the Variant with a baselayer, a down jacket, and shell on a couple of occasions, and the combination didn’t make me feel like an overinflated party balloon.

I appreciated thoughtful features like a high (but not too constrictive) collar to keep out drafts, and the thumb loops made a sure seal for warmth between my sleeves and my gloves. Bottom Line: The Variant is versatile to cover the mercury range from fifteen to forty degrees, and I’d heartily recommend it as your go-to winter top for active winter trips.

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Reader Rating: -


Mar 04, 2011

When Sophia posted her comment there wasn't a second photo. That was added after she posted the comment.

Enjoy your active pursuits (probably alone).

Mar 01, 2011


Thanks for pointing that out. If you click on the number "2" at the bottom of the picture, it will take you to the second photo, which is a close up stock photo of the Variant Jacket. I hope that helps-


Feb 25, 2011

You had enough energy to type out that silly comment but two clicks and a scroll is too much effort to seek it out yourself. Doubt you'll be doing many active pursuits at that rate so don't worry you'll not need the jacket.

Feb 22, 2011

way to take a picture of a piece of gear for a gear review in which you can't actually see what that piece of gear looks like at all. brilliant.


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