Insulated jackets and vests used to make you look like a bloated snowman. These days materials have evolved, resulting in garments that retain heat while displacing moisture all while offering an improved aesthetic. The unique hybrid design of the Variant Jacket from Marmot drew me to it; part puffy jacket and part active wear piece, it boasts an athletic fit that’s more sophisticated than the baggy pieces of days past.
As a multi-sport mid layer, it’s great around town and on random adventures. I’d feel comfortable wearing it doing anything from casual rides, to running on cold days, to climbing at the gym. It has a bike-friendly fit with adequately long sleeves and the trim silhouette keeps it from billowing at speed. Thumbholes in the sleeve are nice when things are brisk and gloves are nowhere to be found.
The synthetic insulation uses polyester to keep warm even when wet, and the Polartec Power Stretch sleeves and back wick well minimizing sweaty back syndrome. The active fit works best paired with a technical top underneath (like a Giro Merino Polo or an Ibex wool tee, two current favorites) though you could size up if you wanted to wear additional layers underneath. It isn’t water resistant though, so take that into account as you’ll want pack a shell in say, a multi-day scenario.
Two side pockets and an inside chest pockets are secured with zippers and offer security for stuff like snacks and the like while active.
I’m 5’10”, weigh about 163lbs. and wear a 38 jacket. I chose to go with a small, but could have sized up to a medium for a more roomy fit, without the jacket looking huge on me.
It’s a nice all around jacket for an active lifestyle, and functions well as a mid layer. It’s not so warm when standing around, but best when actually doing things. Between the wind block front and the hybrid fabrics it’s nice when moving.
It’s available in a number of color options as well. I usually choose the all black option, but decided my closet was full of enough black pieces. The blue option I chose is eye catching, and I’ve had more than a few of my co-workers ask about it.
The Variant Jacket lists for $170. Check it out