Marmot West Rib Parka on test: 35 days in Alaska ” Alaska

During the spring climbing season in the Alaska Range, I had the opportunity to test Marmot’s West Rib Parka, one of the largest and thickest parkas I’ve seen.

My trip included a personal climb of Mt Huntington followed by a 25 day patrol with Denali Climbing Rangers. As a volunteer for the Denali Rescue Volunteers program, I patrolled the West Buttress Route on Denali.

This was the perfect trip to put the West Rib Parka to the test: 35 days on a glacier during the Alaskan spring climbing season.

In summary: The Marmot West Rib Parka ($600 MSRP) proved warm for my extended stay in Alaska’s High Ranges, and I only had a few complaints.

The trip

For the first part of our trip, two friends and I flew into the East Fork of the Tokositna Glacier. We establish a base camp for 10 days at the foot of the west face of Mt. Huntington. Less than ideal weather allowed us only two climbing trips and many more days at our base camp.

For the second leg of the trip, I prepared with the Denali Climbing Rangers to join them on a 25-day search and rescue patrol in West Buttress. This was part of the Denali Rescue Volunteers program.

Our itinerary was to climb from base camp to 14,000ft camp for about a week before acclimatizing there for 10 days. We would then advance to a 17,000ft camp followed by a successful summit day thanks to the fantastic weather during this spring Denali season.

I had the opportunity to use the West Rib Parka for all 25 days of Patrol. I was pleasantly surprised by the west rib‘s comfort and warmth, but found a few flaws. Below are my thoughts after spending 35 nights at the West Rib Parka.

Rating of Marmot West Rib Parka

Climb with the Marmot West Rib Parka
(Photo/Christian Black)

Specifications and Features

The Marmot West Rib Parka has a Pertex Quantum Ripstop nylon outer shell that protects the overlapping 3M Thermal R 40g synthetic insulation. It has an inner lining of 3D WarmCube 800 goose down. The square WarmCube chambers prevent the down from slipping. This combination of a down interior and a synthetic outer layer protects the down from soaking through in humid conditions. Marmot designed this system to offer a balance between water resistance and packability.

A roomy cut is designed as an outer layer for winter outings, and Marmot adjusts the hood to fit over a helmet. But it has a cinch drawcord to perfect the fit with or without a helmet. An included stuff sack makes the West Rib compact in a climbing bag and allows you to attach it to one dishes on technical climbs.

The West Rib Parka has two large zippered handwarmer pockets and two very spacious zippered chest pockets that are accessible from the outside. Two inner mesh pockets fit a pair of gloves, a Nalgene, or anything else you need to keep warm.

I found this spacious hand warmers Side pockets and the large breast pockets are extremely practical. In the breast pockets I kept odd necessities such as: B. an extra pair of sunglasses, a headlight, a battery pack or a small camera. They disappeared into the jacket’s airy structure, staying warm and protected while remaining easily accessible.

Climbing with the West Rib Parka from Marmot
(Photo/Christian Black)

The double center zip allowed me to pull the zip up from the bottom to access my belay loop – a favorite feature. However, I found the choice of zipper on the West Rib Parka disappointing. The small zipper pull kept getting stuck on the pull tube and was finicky. This was worse with cold hands or gloves.

I found the hybrid insulation felt synthetic jacket but a little lighter and more packable. This was due to the internal 3D WarmCube panels. We were mostly in freezing temperatures so I didn’t experience any really wet conditions to test the water resistance of the outer plastic layers.

However, I assume this parka would fit nicely into a Pacific Northwest climbing environment. The generally wet conditions and technical ice routes with dripping water could get you thoroughly soaked down jacket.

comfort and warmth

Warm West Rib Parka
(Photo/Christian Black)

The West Rib Parka is as safety parka for alpine/ice climbing and mountaineering in winter. It is intended to be worn over climbing clothing.

The generous cut of the west rib achieved this fit well while still offering adequate freedom of movement. I found this parka exceptionally warm for the conditions on technical ice routes on Mt. Huntington and the 20,310 foot summit of the Denali West Buttress Route.

While ice climbing in the shade in low double digit temperatures on Mt. Huntington, it was always a respite at the Marmot West Rib. I was wrapped in warmth while waiting at the booth. At Denali’s West Buttress we had an unseasonably warm and clear season. I didn’t have a chance to test the parka in a full storm. However, at a 17,000 foot camp in single digit temperatures, I never felt cold during the coldest parts of our trip.

I found the Pertex Quantum outer shell to be excellent at keeping the wind out on the few days that we were windy. Aside from the small main zipper, my only other wish for the parka was a slightly longer cut in the back (I’m 6ft, 150lbs) to cover more of my hips.

weight, durability and packability

Durable west rib parka
(Photo/Christian Black)

At a verified 1 pound 14.3 ounces in unisex medium, the West Rib Parka is not one of the lighter belay parkas. It is heavier than down parkas but more packable than fully synthetic parkas. The West Rib offers a good balance of packability and weight while offering improved performance in wet environments.

The inner and outer fabrics are much thicker than ultralight parkas, increasing the overall weight. However, this gave peace of mind that the jacket would not snag, rip, or otherwise tear easily on climbing excursions using sharp rock or ice tools.

During all my testing of the Marmot West Rib Parka I never noticed any snags or tears in the fabric on either side. And that despite shouldering ice axes or climbing mixed pitches in a parka.

Marmot West Rib Parka: Conclusion

We test the Marmot West Rib Parka
(Photo/Christian Black)

Designed to face any wet or cold high mountain conditions, the Marmot West Rib Parka is an excellent choice as a Quiver of one jacket. It was light and packable enough for day trips and versatile and roomy enough for true expedition climbing or wet environments.

The generously sized pockets provide ample space to keep all items easily accessible. And the helmet-compatible hood and double-zip main zip worked well for technical climbing goals.

The West Rib Parka could be improved with a larger, less fiddly front zip. It was frustrating trying to zip up the jacket gloves or cold hands, and it affected the overall quality and usability. And for me a longer tail would have been desirable.

Despite these drawbacks, I was generally impressed with the warmth, comfort, and features of the West Rib Parka. And its durability never made me doubt its ability to withstand harsh conditions.

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