Marmot Troll Wall Jacket Review
Reviewed by Jon Griffith
Everyone’s got a favourite layering system and invariably it seems to totally switch around every few years or so as climbers sway to and forth from hardshells to softshells. For the moment I’m a hardshells man- I’m not going to preach to the softshell converted here, but if you are in the market for a new hardshell then the Troll Wall Jacket is definitely worth a look at.
In a nutshell what anyone is looking for in a hardshell is something with the water and wind proof ability of a bin bag but breathability of a sieve, oh and of course its got to last years of rough abuse but weigh as light as a feather. Not an easy task to achieve, but we are now bombarded with words such as Gore-Tex, eVent, Pertex that seem to assure us that we can sweat like a pig in torrential rain running up a fell but yet stay nice and dry. Of course we all know that the perfect artificial membrane hasn’t been invented yet and to be honest I don’t know enough about how membranes are made to even begin to say which one is best. But I do know from a lot of trial and error that good old Gore-Tex is definitely one of the best.
The Troll Wall Jacket uses the top of the line Gore-Tex membrane which has the great eye catching name of Gore-Tex 3-Layer Pro Shell. It’s nothing new and I am sure that the vast majority of climbers have used some item of clothing with this emblazoned on the side- but whilst it may be nothing new it does work. I’ve used the jacket in every conceivable weather in the mountains. From full on Scottish thaw and gale winds to alpine north faces where speed is of the essence, this jacket has kept me dry and protected from the wind but allowed me to push on up big ice fields without arriving at the belay 500m later dripping in sweat. It even has arm pit zips for extra ventilation (a feature I never seem to remember to use). Don’t get me wrong, it’ll never be as good for breathability as a softshell, but when I’m climbing I’m a sweaty person and I can really tell the difference between a good and bad shell.
On the Nant Blanc face, having just romped up the lower ice fields, © Will Sim
As for durability this jacket has been pretty impressive. It really does look like new and it’s been through the wars climbing speaking. I received it last November and it’s accompanied me on everything from tree skiing to tight mixed granite chimneys. There have been times when I’ve been positive that I had ripped it when thrutching my way up some winter climb but somehow its gotten away scratch and tear free. The waterproofness of a shell tends to be the first thing to go but so far it has yet to show any signs of this happening, which is a good thing as its very hard to get the shell back to its original state. None of the usual wear ‘areas’ have started yet- ie cuffs, velcro etc – and after this much use that’s something that stands out.
About to engage into some serious thrutching on a very dry Pinnochio, Mont Blanc Tacul. © Tim Emmett
One of the things I have noticed with Marmot ‘tops’ is that they don’t fit very snug. Basically it makes you look like you have grown a nice pair of breasts which whilst are good company at the belay are less useful when actually climbing as fabric just gets in the way. Ok, it’s not a major issue but it’s worth trying the jacket on before you buy. Another thing that every clothing manufacturer seems to be guilty of is deep pockets- again it’s a personal preference thing but I want pockets that stop before my harness starts. This way I don’t get stuff riding underneath my harness. I understand that the vast majority of people would prefer deep pockets over smaller ones but there is no harm in having both.
Otherwise the hood is, as usual with Marmot, excellent. Great clearance with a helmet on and it doesn’t impair any visibility. The chin/ mouth protector (ie when you fully zip up the jacket it extends up to your nose) is great too and when the weather turns foul you can really use this jacket to its intended purpose. With waterproof sealed zips this jacket can take the brunt of the bad weather without you feeling too much of it. Its even got a removable snow skirt if you are that way inclined.
At £300 this is no dog walkers jacket. It’s designed to be used in some of the worlds harshest weather conditions and toughest adventures and to that extent it is great. It’s lightweight (567gr) and very robust and does everything a top of the range hardshell should do and maybe even more, though I’ve yet to work out what that is yet. I’ve been really impressed with this jacket especially how well it has lasted and with that in mind would really recommend it to anyone who has a special taste for thrutching up Scottish climbs or scratching their way up Alpine granite cracks. I have a special knack of destroying all my clothing as soon as I get it but so far this jacket has remained indestructible under my use and when I consider how long it is going to last, the £300 price tag becomes a bit more amenable.
Enjoying the best of Scottish weather, © Gavin Pike