Marmot Venus Jacket Review

With 800 fill-power down and weighing less than 12 ounces, does this attractive and warm jacket ultimately put fashion over function?

Overall Rating: Below Average

The Marmot Venus Jacket is a very attractive, well constructed and warm jacket for day use, but I would not take it backpacking. It’s designed with fabrics and features that put it on the heavy side for the warmth it provides. The stylish quilting and anatomical fit of this jacket (typical for the women’s version of many lightweight down jackets) put fashion ahead of function, and that’s not my preference for backpacking.

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by Janet Reichl |

Introduction

Marmot Venus Jacket Review - 1
My niece Jenny models the Marmot Venus Jacket on a cold January day at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah.

The lightest ultralight down jacket from Marmot is the Venus (the Zeus is the men’s version). The Venus Jacket barely meets our criteria for a three-season ultralight jacket: its insulated with high-loft down, has a lightweight shell with a DWR finish, has a minimal feature set (see the feature list in the specifications table at the bottom of this review), and weighs less than 14 ounces. It certainly is stylish and warm, but is it suited for backpacking?

Description

I tested only the Venus in size medium, and this review is restricted to that jacket. My jacket weighs 11.7 oz. I measured the jacket’s double-layer loft at 1.25 inches (single-layer 0.65 inch). Marmot does not specify the amount of down in the jacket. I looked at the men’s Zeus Jacket at a local outdoor store. It has wider horizontal quilting that doesn’t compress the down as much, and the men’s jacket clearly has more loft.

Marmot Venus Jacket Review - 2
The Marmot Venus Jacket (left) is the women’s version; the Zeus (right) is the men’s version.

Marmot Venus Jacket Review - 3
The Venus Jacket is insulated with 800 fill-power down and has sewn-through construction in a stylish pattern. The small down chambers prevent down shift but also compress the down more than the men’s version. The shell and lining fabrics are 1.2 and 1.8 oz/yd2 respectively. The center back length is 1.75 inches longer than the front. The sleeves have Marmot’s patented Angel-Wing construction that allows one’s arms to be raised without the jacket riding up (right).

Marmot Venus Jacket Review - 4
The front zipper is reverse coil with a metal pull-tab and a cord/plastic tab extension. There is a 1.25-inch-wide storm flap that is folded over at the top to create a chin guard. The five lines of parallel stitching on the non-insulated flap give it some body and prevent it from getting caught in the zipper.

Marmot Venus Jacket Review - 5
The cuffs have 0.5-inch elastic in the hem.

Marmot Venus Jacket Review - 6
There are two inside drop pockets (left) that are very convenient for drying gloves, or for keeping a variety of smaller items warm and handy. The front of the jacket (right) has two zippered hand pockets that are situated between the quilted front and the interior drop pockets and are made of the same fabric that is used for the jacket lining. Both pocket zippers have a cord/plastic pull extension that is a smaller version of the one on the main zipper. The right pocket zipper is reverse coil (as with the main zipper). The left pocket zipper, however, is installed with the teeth to the outside and it has a double pull-tab to allow closing the pocket with the jacket stuffed in the pocket.

Marmot Venus Jacket Review - 7
The jacket can be stuffed into the left hand warmer pocket where the zipper has an extra pull-tab on the inside. The stuffed size is approximately 8.0 x 5.0 x 3.5 inches. I doubt I’d ever use this feature because it stuffs quite tightly (compressing the down more than I’d like) and it takes a while to get the jacket in.

Marmot Venus Jacket Review - 8
At the bottom hem, there is a 1/8-inch elastic drawcord. On each side, where the hem approaches the front opening, the cord exits from inside the hem through a grommet, passes through a cord lock, and then goes through another grommet in the inside corner of the handwarmer pocket, where it passes through a nylon washer and is tied off. I’m not sure what the purpose is for the nylon washers. They both developed a cut through the radius and will probably soon fall off. The left picture shows the left side of the jacket from the inside. The right picture shows the left hand warmer pocket turned inside out (as it would be when used to stuff the jacket). The arrangement shown in these pictures is duplicated on the right side of the jacket. The drawcord is about 6 inches longer than it needs to be, but it can be easily shortened.

Performance

Marmot Venus Jacket Review - 9
I tested the Venus Jacket in late summer, fall, and winter while backpacking, day hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter camping and hiking.

Since I am short (5 ft 2 in) with large hips, I needed to get a medium jacket to fit over my hips. This jacket extends about 2 inches below the widest point of my hips. With the size medium, the arms are too long, but that doesn’t bother me because I like withdrawing my hands into the sleeves. For me, the jacket is generously sized throughout except at the hips, where it is snug. The generous sizing allows me to wear extra clothes underneath. I found it fits well over the Montbell Ex Light Down Jacket and the combination is very warm.

In my field trials I found the jacket to be quite warm in the following situations:

  • when actively hiking on cold days
  • when in camp with a thick base-layer or thin jacket under it
  • when snow camping with it worn as a midlayer under another insulated jacket
  • when worn in my sleeping bag to extend the sleeping bag’s warmth

I found the Venus Jacket to have good wind resistance. The collar is snug around my neck and seals well. I found the cuffs and hem (without using the drawcord) to be adequately snug around my wrists and hips. The shell fabric is quite durable and does not snag easily. It’s also quite downproof (only an occasional feather came through).

Being that the jacket is snug in the hip area, I have no use for the bottom drawcord. Were I to tighten it, the jacket would just ride up to my waist. I felt it was overkill and not at all needed; in fact, it was in the way.

Marmot Venus Jacket Review - 10
I did not have an opportunity to test the Venus Jacket in a rain or snow storm, so I did a one-hour indoor “puddle test” (left) to test the shell’s water resistance. Some water leaked through the seams, collected on a tray that I had set underneath, and wetted the jacket lining (right). I dried off the water inside and out and re-weighed the jacket. The end weight was the same as at the start, so the water wasn’t absorbed into the chambers. As shown in my “puddle test,” the Venus Jacket’s DWR repelled water well, but water readily soaked through the seams.

Comparisons

The following table compares specifications of jackets similar to the Marmot Venus. All jackets have premium down insulation, sewn-through construction, and a full-length front zipper. Manufacturer data shown are for a women’s size Medium.

Jacket Shell Fabric Insulation Features Weight oz (g) Cost (US$)
Marmot Venus 1.2 oz/yd2 polyester 800 down Two zippered hand pockets, two inside drop pockets, elastic cuffs, drawcord hem 12.0 (340) 150
Eddie Bauer First Ascent Downlight Sweater 1.06 oz/yd2 polyester 800 down Two zippered hand pockets, two inside drop pockets, elastic binding on cuffs and hem 9.2 (261) 169
Mountain Hardwear Nitrous 1 oz/yd2 polyester 800 down Two unzippered hand pockets with flap, zippered chest pocket, elastic cuffs, drawcord hem 10.0 (283) 220
Patagonia Down Sweater 1.4 oz/yd2 polyester 800 down Two zippered hand pockets, one inside zippered mesh pocket, elastic cuffs, drawcord hem 11.3 (320) 200

Compared to similar jackets, the Marmot Venus Jacket is mainly competitive in cost. The feature set of all four jackets is similar and down quality is the same. All of the jackets listed have stylish quilting and an anatomical fit. The women’s Eddie Bauer First Ascent Downlight Sweater has larger rectangular quilting and it’s also quite a bit lighter.

Assessment

The shell and lining fabrics at 1.2 and 1.8 oz/yd2 are heavy compared to other three-season down jackets, not nearly as light as the 0.8 oz/yd2 fabrics in seriously lightweight jackets. Also, the feature set goes a little beyond minimal; the zippers have metal pull-tabs and the hem has a bulky elastic drawcord system typical of mountaineering jackets.

The Venus Jacket in size women’s Medium has a trim fit, as is typical of women’s jackets. It is clearly sized, styled, and fitted for women. In other words, it puts more emphasis on a trim fit and anatomical styling (women don’t want to look like a marshmallow!) than it does on warmth and performance. I have an issue with the women’s version of many lightweight down jackets. Because of their stylistic quilting, they are more about fashion than performance. The extensive quilting tends to compact the down more to make the jacket look trimmer, rather than let the down fully expand. The First Ascent Downlight Sweater is an exception, it’s styled and fitted but its larger down chambers do not suppress the down. My advice, if you want a jacket for warmth and performance in a backpacking situation, is to consider the men’s version first. Or look for a women’s jacket that puts function before fashion.

Bottom line, the Venus Jacket is a very nice jacket for day use, but I wouldn’t take it backpacking. Its heavier fabric, zippers, and hem drawcord simply make it weightier than other choices.

Specifications and Features

Manufacturer Marmot (http://marmot.com/)
Year/Model 2009 Venus Jacket (men’s model is the Zeus)
Sizes Available> Women’s XS to XL, men’s S to XXL
Style Hoodless jacket with full front zip
Fabrics Shell is 1.2 oz/yd2 (41 g/m2) polyester ripstop with DWR
Lining is 1.8 oz/yd2 (61 g/m2) polyester with DWR
Insulation 800 fill-power down
Construction Sewn through with stylish quilting, Marmot’s patented Angel- Wing arm construction.
Loft Measured double-layer loft is 1.25 in (3.2 cm)
Features Down-filled stand up collar, full height #5CN YKK coil zipper with one slider and storm flap under zipper, two zippered side pockets, two interior drop pockets, elastic cuffs, elastic drawcord hem with two adjustors, 1.75 in (4.4 cm) dropped tail, chin guard, stuffs into left hand pocket
Weight Size women’s Medium tested.
Measured weight: 11.7 oz (332 g)
Manufacturer specified average weight: 12 oz (340 g)
MSRP US$150
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.


Citation

"Marmot Venus Jacket Review," by Janet Reichl. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/marmot_venus_jacket_review.html, 2010-04-06 00:05:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Marmot Venus Jacket Review


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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Marmot Venus Jacket Review on 04/06/2010 14:09:56 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Marmot Venus Jacket Review

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Marmot Venus Jacket Review on 04/06/2010 21:05:00 MDT Print View

Goofy quilting patterns reduce a garment's quality. To the garment makers out there, please stop using them.

Marco A. Sánchez
(marcoasn) - M

Locale: The fabulous Pyrenees
Re: Marmot Venus Jacket Review on 04/07/2010 03:51:42 MDT Print View

Another mass market piece of gear.

One more reason to support cottage industries and MYOG.

. .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Re: Marmot Venus Jacket Review on 04/07/2010 10:35:44 MDT Print View

And Marmot used to operate out of a garage, hand-making state of the art gear.

Mike McHenry
(mtmche2) - F
Re: Marmot Venus Jacket Review on 04/07/2010 16:34:03 MDT Print View

In 50 years I wouldn't be surprised to see GG or MLD selling "mass market" pieces of gear. Thats just how businesses grow I guess.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
any clo or warmth measurements on 04/08/2010 12:39:36 MDT Print View

are there any clo or warmth measurements ...

id like to see those prior to trashing it ... hmmmmm

Lori Pontious
(lori999) - M

Locale: Central Valley
Re: Marmot Venus Jacket Review on 04/09/2010 18:57:07 MDT Print View

I have and really like this jacket - I do wear it around town and to work as well as "in the wild." I use it for about the same temp range as I do the Montbell Thermawrap - between 50F and freezing, usually with a base layer under it, sometimes with a windbreaker or rain shell over it. I didn't appreciate the funky quilting pattern after I saw the men's jacket (I like the men's jacket better) but it's still a nice enough economical down jacket.

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Marmot Venus Jacket Review on 04/12/2010 22:10:01 MDT Print View

I find that I prefer men's designs in everything now. I'm so tired of the cutesy fashion statements of women's outdoor clothing! I want something practical and comfortable that also has some room to it. Too many of the women's clothing are too short, too tight, and just not practical. I've noticed a trend with the manufacturers of women's outdoor clothing and that is that they seem to be catering solely to the 20-somethings. So many of the hiking pants are the kind that ride below - and some are way below - the waist. And why are there so few choices in length of hiking pants? Men seem to be able to get hiking pants no matter how large the man is and they can get them in many more lengths than we women can.

This jacket is pretty, but I don't really care about "pretty" when I'm backpacking.

rhonda rouyer
(rrouyer) - F

Locale: deep south
Works for me on 04/26/2010 22:18:40 MDT Print View

I have this jacket and love it. Big enough to layer under and slim enough to layer over. I'm all about layering. I did backpack with it this fall when the temps were just above freezing and found it to sufficient in camp at night and comfortable with my pack. For colder temps I would add a gore tex wind/rain jacket. It works for me.