I am a rain jacket addict. I've been through like 6 jackets in the last three years. But its because I strive for perfection. I finally found a truly waterproof-breathable jacket of awesomeness in the Mountain Hardwear Carnic, but I wanted something a lot lighter, as that weighs over a pound. So I restarted my search in ultralight shells. So here is my review of the Marmot Essence.
I have had the jacket for about two months, and used it in four or five storms. I have been really impressed so far. Firstly, the construction is super cool. I really bought this jacket because it was the lightest waterproof jacket I could find. That part of the deal it definitely lives up to. It packs down incredibly small. It also fits really well. I am a tall 6'6", but only about 180lbs. I like getting an XL in jackets like the Carnic, but for the Essence, I wanted a tighter fit. The sleeves and body are just long enough, but they are long enough. Secondly, the performance of the jacket so far has also been excellent. It has been perfectly waterproof despite the incredibly thin material. And for my main concern with most jackets, the breathability has been good. It is not breathability of my three layer Carnic, but much better than cheaper 2.5 layer jackets with the white laminate inside.
I rate this jacket a four out of five because the performance is great, but not ground-breaking and the durability will be tested over time I'm sure. But overall, I love this jacket and it will spend many days in the bottom of my pack, and hopefully not too many storms. If you are looking for the lightest of the light as a backup jacket or emergency shell, this is the ticket.