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January 18, 2010

Marmot Lightweight Long Sleeve Crew Top Review

Considering the product that is the focus of this review, it feels a little awkward to say this … but for me, the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “marmot” is the critter, not the company.

Marmots are big fat squirrels that live abundantly throughout the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They are especially prevalent in Yosemite National Park, and have absolutely no inhibition about approaching you, whether you’re strolling through the valley floor or grabbing a snack atop some rocky outpost in the midst of a 10-mile hike. They’re so bold and persistent that they’ll practically tug on your socks if you're slow to offer a piece of sandwich crust or trail mix - and as my wife can attest, they're almost never content to get just a single bite. They inhabit one of the most beautiful places in the world, and never have to work a day in their lives for food; if ever there was a member of the rodent family who seems to have the Good Life figured out, it’s the marmot.

So I guess it makes sense that an outdoor clothing and equipment company would use as its namesake a critter who is completely at home in the mountains – because Marmot's mission is for its customers to feel exactly the same way. The company was founded by two UC Santa Cruz students who started a “Marmot Club” of members who had climbed glaciated peaks together. They also created prototypes of apparel and equipment that would eventually be sold as the initial offerings of the Marmot Company in 1974.

After the founders made an early connection with the developers of Gore-Tex material, Marmot became one of the first adopters of Gore-Tex in the outdoor equipment industry. They are also heavy proponents of Polartec performance fabrics, one of which is the primary material in the baselayer top I’ve been testing this winter.

Marmot's Lightweight Long Sleeve Crew is made from Polartec’s Power Dry fabric, a super-thin material that is highly effective at pulling moisture away from your skin. (And if the name sounds familiar, that’s because the same material is used as a secondary component in the Cloudveil vest I reviewed last week.) It’s a normal-fitting (not form-fit) top with a tag-free neckline, and the Polartec fabric has a 4-way stretch capability for improved comfort and fit. All the seams are made with flat-lock construction, but this was the source of the only drawback I experienced in field testing: the seams of the shirt felt slightly rough on the exterior when wiping sweat off my face. Comfort against my skin wasn’t an issue, so when I wore this shirt under a full jacket, the seams weren’t a problem at all – but under a vest, I had to be a bit careful.

The Power Dry material also features Cocona technology: coconut shell carbons embedded into the fabric for improved wicking ability and natural odor control. Cocona technology is becoming more prevalent lately, with a handful of manufacturers now incorporating it in their apparel construction. From personal experience, the odor control aspect may be slightly overbilled – it’s nowhere near as effective as merino wool, for example – but the “funk factor” after a hard workout is somewhat diminished compared to old-school tech shirts that I own.

Overall, this long sleeve crew provided nice insulation for its weight, and would be a good baselayer for a variety of outdoor activities. It retails for $42 from the company website, with a good selection of colors and sizes discounted to $30 at REI.com.

*Product provided by Polartec
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at


Jo Lynn 1/18/10, 10:15 PM  

I love Marmot!

Thanks for the REI plug. ;)

RBR 1/19/10, 7:18 AM  

I am a little embarrassed to say I have bought many Marmot products because of their association with the aforementioned 'rodent of leisure'. They are truly adorable creatures!

"they’ll practically tug on your socks if you're slow to offer a piece of sandwich crust or trail mix" Hilarious! Thank you for that this morning!

Always looking for a good cold weather running shirt. Thanks for the review!

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