Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ultimate Direction: Marathon Shell Jacket Review

Fall season definitely brings a lot of excitement to runners and outdoor enthusiasts. But this season poses some challenges as well, especially if you do your run or other activities in a higher elevation where temperature can suddenly drop without notice, you don’t want to be caught unprepared as help might never come as quickly as you’d like. I don’t live in a high elevation like some of you but weather here in Northern California could sometimes be unpredictable too.

One of the best ways to keep you safe and enjoy the run (whether you’re in a high elevation or not) is to make sure you have the proper gear. I found this gear from Ultimate Direction, the Marathon Shell Jacket that doesn’t weigh as much and performs like a champ.

Ultimate Direction is based in Boulder, CO and founded by Bryce Thatcher. UD (as known by most) is in business since 1985 and has established a very good reputation because of their high quality. Hydration system is their “bread and butter” and Ultra Marathoners around the world have tested and proven that UD equipment are top notch. What makes their products great is their direct relationship with athletes…UD gears and apparels are designed by athletes for athletes.

This is my second time reviewing UD products. I have reviewed the Groove Stereo with Bottles back in Spring and you can read my in-depth review by clicking here.

So let’s dive in with the Marathon Shell Jacket.

·      36gsm 20D HexNylon
·      Weight: 3.3 ounces / 94 grams

·   Half-zip for men and full-zip for women
·   Back vent provides optimal airflow and cooling
·   Packs into its chest pocket and can be attached to a waist pack or belt when not being worn
·   Ergonomic shoulder construction enhances range of motion
·   Self-bound seams give superior durability

Fit and Functionality
The Marathon Shell Jacket is a true lightweight wind breaker / water resistant jacket that basically weighs nothing. I’m 5’- 6” with a 40” chest size and a broad shoulder. Similar to the rest of the jackets I have tested, the medium size that I requested is true to the industry size standard and this jacket fits me well.

It is made of 20D HexNylon which is an ultra-light material that literally weighs 94 grams. 94 grams! It almost feels like you’re not wearing it. I thought cyclists are only the weight weenies when it comes to gears…I was wrong. No, it doesn’t tear like a paper if that’s what you’re thinking, the 20D HexNylon is similar to a ripstop material that is super durable and flexible at the same time.

The Marathon Shell is packed with lots of features that will help you make your run, hiking, trekking or even a walk a lot more fun and safe. So let’s tackle the features from top to bottom:

Almost 2" of collar 

1.)   One thing that stands out on this jacket is the length of the collar when it is fully zipped. It’s about 2” in length that pretty much covers and protects my entire neck and nape from the cold wind.
2.)   Most of the jackets I have tested were full zip, but not this one. I’m not sure what’s the reasoning behind it since the women version is a full zip. That being said, you have to pull it up from the back collar if you want to take it off, something that I’m not used to when it comes to jacket, but this is not really a big deal.
Inside mesh panel
3.)   Going on the inside, there is a mesh panel on the shoulder and back areas that serves a dual purpose, for proper ventilation and to avoid the flap at the back side from sticking to the body.
4.)   At the back side of the jacket, there is a flap to cover the interior mesh panel that provides a vent for fresh air to come in.
Front and back reflective materials
5.)   Written on flap is the brand name “Ultimate Direction” that serves as a reflective material.
6.)    Down at the front bottom is the “UD” logo that serves as a reflective material. 
Large chest pocket and turns into a very compact size 
7.)   There is a breast pocket on the left side that serves a dual purpose. It can fit even the big phones like Samsung Galaxy and iPhones. This also serves a sack where you can stuff the entire jacket into it, making it super compact. It's about the same size of a 10 oz flask.
8.)   There is an elastic material sewn inside the cuff to keep it in place. The stretch is not overly tight but enough to go over on top of the gloves and hold it on place.
Back side is a bit longer
9.)   The back side of the hem was intentionally made a bit longer to protect your butt from dirt, mud or from water spray when use in cycling.

My Verdict
I have used the Marathon Shell Jacket on some cold mornings with just a light shirt underneath and it kept me warm without the feel of overheating. I tend to sweat a lot on my runs but the materials let my body to breath and kept my core temperature at bay. The jacket performs well and this is no surprise from a brand like UD. The Marathon Shell Jacket is an excellent option if you’re needing some lightweight protection, to shield you from wind and some light precipitation. It is breathable and has a soft feel over the skin.

There’s one thing that you really have to appreciate with this jacket, it is ultra-light and portable. It has a built in pocket where you can pack the entire jacket into it and it has a strap that you can attach it to your hydration system or just stuff it in your running shorts.

With all the features this jacket has to offer, it comes with a decent price of $99.95. The Marathon Shell Jacket is worth a serious look and guaranteed it will not disappoint.

Thanks again for reading and make sure you have the proper gears when going for a run on this kind of weather.

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