Ultralight Rain Jacket
Marmot Crux Jacket
$275, 7.5 oz, (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
Your relationship with your rain shell can feel a little dysfunctional at times: on again, off again. On numerous trips from early March through May, from backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop—including an unusual, full day of rain showers and wind—to dayhiking in the Tetons and Zion National Park, trekking the Kepler Track in New Zealand’s notoriously wet Fiordland National Park, and backpacking five days down Paria Canyon on the Utah-Arizona border, I found the ultralight Crux good for trips where you’re cycling between wearing it and carrying it.
Why? Unless you deliberately pursue really wet adventures, your rain jacket is something you bring “just in case.” Thus, I usually want something that’s light and packable while still protecting me from rain and wind. Plus, you can get surprised, as three friends and I did on a 34-mile backpacking trip on the Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop—a place that sees very little rain—when I wore the Crux for most of a rainy first day. I also wore it for parts of three days on the Kepler Track, including in intermittent rain on the first day’s relentless climb to Luxmore Hut, and didn’t get overly wet from the outside or inside.
At under eight ounces, the Crux stuffs inside the left pocket and packs down to the size of a grapefruit. Fully seam-sealed, its proprietary NanoPro Membrain waterproof-breathable fabric repelled all precipitation that hit it and breathes moderately well: It got damp inside from perspiration at times, but would largely dry out from body heat when I wore it (for wind protection) during lulls in the rain, which is certainly good enough. The fit allows adding a warm layer underneath and the sleeve design keeps the jacket from hitching up when I lift my arms.
The hood is fully adjustable, with drawcords in front and a hook-and-loop strip in the back, and a laminate brim adds a little stiffness to keep rain off your face. Zonal reinforcement fabric on the shoulders protects from backpack wear and tear. It lacks pit zips, but two big, mesh-lined front pockets with water-resistant zippers (positioned above a waistbelt or climbing harness) double as vents. Elasticized cuffs and a drawcord hem help keep wind out, and the length extends to just over the top of your butt.
While I’d probably want a rain shell that’s a little more technical and breathable for severe weather or sweat-factory conditions, the Marmot Crux Jacket is quite functional for trips where you need a good jacket sometimes, but otherwise want it to disappear inside your pack.
BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to purchase your Marmot Crux Jacket at moosejaw.com.
See my “5 Pro Tips For Buying the Right Rain Jacket for the Backcountry” and all of my reviews of outdoor apparel and rain jackets that I like.
See also my stories “The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun” and “Buying Gear? Read This First.”
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.
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