The Marmot Precip ECO is a lightweight waterproof/breathable rain jacket made with recycled nylon ripstop with a PFC-free DWR coating. Weighing 10 oz, the Precip is inexpensive but fully featured and suitable for year-round hiking and backpacking. It has a fully adjustable hood, pit zips, velcro wrist cuffs and two side pockets, which I consider must-have features on rain jackets intended for hiking and backpacking use. While this Precip ECO model is new, the legacy of the Precip Rain Jacket isn’t. Now in its 20th year of production, the Precip is the most popular waterproof/breathable rain jacket used by hikers and backpackers by a large margin, for the simple reason that it’s a great value for a very reasonable price.
Specs at a Glance
- Gender: Men’s (10 oz size Med.), Women’s Fit (8.7 oz size Med.)
- Type: 2.5L Waterproof/Breathable
- Waterproof/Breathable Material: Marmot NanoPro (proprietary)
- Center back length: 28.75″ (men’s), 27″ (women’s)
- Center, side pocket, and pit zippers: YKK, all one-way and backed with waterproof zipper flaps
- Hem adjustment: Yes
- Pit-zips: Yes
- Velcro wrist cuffs: Yes
- Fit: True to size
The Precip ECO Rain Jacket is made with Marmot’s proprietary NanoPro waterproof/breathable laminate which is waterproof but pretty lackluster in terms of its breathability. That’s to be expected at this price point. Many companies, including Marmot, use proprietary non-Goretex laminates to reduce the cost of their economy jackets and because a waterproof/breathable layer is considered a check-box feature with consumers, regardless of its effectiveness.
The Precip ECO is still waterproof and all of its seams are seam-taped to prevent leaking. But condensation will still form on the inside of the jacket and you’ll still sweat inside on hot and humid days. This is true of any waterproof/breathable jacket, no matter how expensive it is.
The Precip ECO is a 2.5 layer jacket which is the least expensive style of waterproof/breathable jacket available. That terminology is incredibly confusing, probably on purpose, but it just means that the jacket has an outer nylon face, a thin waterproof/breathable layer in the middle, with a thin protective veneer on the inside—the half layer—to protect that waterproof/breathable layer. The middle waterproof/breathable layer is designed to vent water vapor in its gaseous form, through microscopic pores. It can’t vent liquid water, however, such as perspiration or naturally occurring condensation on the inside of the jacket, which is why your clothes may still feel damp when you wear a waterproof/breathable rain jacket.
PFC-free DWR Coatings
The Precip ECO’s exterior nylon fabric layer is coated with a chemical formulation called DWR, for Durable Water Repellancy, which makes rain falling on the jacket bead up and roll off. However, DWR rubs off with use since it’s just a chemical coating. This occurs whenever you wear the jacket, scrunch it up, or cover it with a backpack’s shoulder straps or hip belt, which is particularly abrasive to this coating.
When the DWR rubs off, the exterior nylon face fabric “wets out”, preventing water vapor from inside the jacket from diffusing through the waterproof/breathable layer. The jacket is still waterproof, although you’ll become increasingly wet inside as the water vapor condenses into liquid form. The jacket will still keep you warm though, preventing hypothermia, as long as you keep it zipped up in cooler weather.
For years, these DWR coatings were made with a fluorocarbon-based ingredient that made them “sticky” so they’d adhere to the outer nylon fabric longer. Unfortunately, its by-products were toxic and persist in the environment accumulating in animals, fish, people, and plants, a combination that makes them unacceptable. Governments around the globe have required companies to stop adding the toxic fluorocarbon-based ingredients to their DWR coatings, although US manufacturers are still phasing it out slowly.
The Marmot Precip ECO, however, is PFC-free (short for perfluorocarbons) making Marmot one of the first companies to stop use fluorocarbon-based ingredients in their DWR coatings. PFC-free DWR coatings can still be rubbed off by surface abrasion, especially when worn with a backpack, so you might not notice any performance difference in their ability to shed water if you’re a hiker or backpacker. Still, it’s important to support this shift to non-toxic DWR coatings and Marmot is counting on being one of the first manufacturers to adopt them.
The Marmot Precip ECO Rain Jacket has an adjustable hood with side neck toggles so you can reduce the size of the face opening and block windblown rain from entering. The hood comes with a front bill and there is a velcro tab on the back of the hood that you can adjust to raise or lower the bill to keep it out of your eyes. Still, you’ll probably want to wear the hood with a billed cap if you wear glasses to protect them from rain.
While the hood volume is large, it’s not hugely oversized like jackets purposely designed to accommodate skiing and climbing helmets, so you can get a decent fit if you’re just a hiker and backpacker. I prefer jacket hoods where the volume of the hood can be adjusted with an elastic pull cord, but the lack of one on the Precip Eco isn’t a showstopper, because the hood volume is more reasonably-sized than on many other rain jackets.
When the hood is not needed, it can be rolled away into a high collar. The interior of the collar is unlined around the neck and but still comfortable when fastened tight. There isn’t a garage (a small flap) for the front zipper at the top of the collar though, so there’s a chance your mustache or hair can get caught in it.
The Precip ECO comes with pit zips to help prevent you from overheating. I prefer buying waterproof/breathable rain jackets and hard shells that include these zips because venting body heat is most reliable way to reduce perspiration. All of the rain jackets and winter shells I use when I’m not testing gear have pit zips or torso-zips for this reason.
The Precip ECO’s pit zips have one way-zippers, with storm flaps to prevent water from dripping into them. They’re easy to reach and unzip while wearing the jacket and do a good job at dumping excess heat without letting in additional moisture when it’s raining. I keep my pit zips open all of the time and only close them when I get chilled.
Velcro Wrist Cuffs
The Precip ECO arms have velcro wrist cuffs that you can cinch closed to prevent heat loss. This is an important way to keep your hands warm in cooler weather, They also prevent cold rain from dripping down your arm and wetting your mid-layer. If you’re overheating, you can also undo the wrist cuffs and slide the jacket sleeves up your forearms to vent additional warmth. The velcro cuff will help keep them in place so they don’t slide back down.
Side Pockets/Interior Pockets
The Precip ECO has two zippered side pockets, both mesh-lined, so they can also be opened to vent body heat. The pockets are quite tall and can hold gloves, hats, or snacks. They can also be used as a stuff pocket to store the jacket when not in use. The side pockets are not hip belt compatible, however, and will be covered if you’re wearing a backpack.
Comparable Hiking and Backpacking Rain Jackets
|Make / Model||Adj Hood||Pit Zips||WP/BR||Avg Weight||Price|
|Marmot Precip ECO||Yes||Yes||Yes||13.1 oz||$100|
|Outdoor Research Helium II||Yes||No||Yes||6.4 oz||$159|
|Frogg Toggs UL2 Rain Jacket||Yes||No||No||5.5 oz||$20|
|Patagonia Torrentshell||Yes||Yes||Yes||12.1 oz||$129|
|Frogg Toggs Xtreme Lite||Yes||No||No||7.6 oz||$45|
|Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket||Yes||Yes||No||7.2 oz||$99|
|Columbia Outdry EX Eco||Yes||No||Yes||13.0 oz||$199|
|The North Face Venture 2||Yes||Yes||Yes||11.5 oz||$99|
The Marmot Precip ECO Rain Jacket is a comfortable waterproof rain jacket that can serve double duty as a winter shell. It’s less expensive than many comparable jackets because it uses Marmot’s proprietary waterproof/breathable membrane and isn’t as richly featured as a premium jacket. I do like the fact that it has pit-zips which are good for releasing excess body heat and arm sleeves with velcro cuffs to help seal in heat around your wrists. The hood is also adjustable, reasonably sized and can usually be worn without a billed cap.
If you’re in the market for a new rain jacket, it’s worth comparing the Marmot Precip ECO with the REI Rainier Rain Jacket. Both jackets are nearly identical in design and features. I prefer the Precip ECO even though it is priced a bit higher because the hood is not as oversized, it’s lighter weight, and fits more true to size.
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