Marmot 8000m Suit Review
After having compared a number of down suits on the market, I decided on the Marmot 8000m Suit. It has an excellent combination of features that puts it above most other suits on the market. Marmot really put a lot of thought into making the suit simple and user friendly, all while keeping it lightweight and minimal.
Marmot uses Primaloft in the calves and back panel to help keep those areas warm while being compressed by gaiters and a backpack, with 800 fill down in the rest of the suit. The outer fabric is an ultralight 10 denier with Cordura reinforcements in all the right places. The zippers are water resistant, yet smooth and easy to operate. They give a feeling of confidence, and seem unlikely to freeze or otherwise fail. The front zipper is exposed, unlike some suits that have a velcro storm flap to cover the zipper and prevent it from freezing. I find these storm flaps annoying and awkward to use, especially with mitts on, as you need to be able to get inside your down suit often for food, water, camera, etc. Feathered Friends and North Face do have a much better storm flap system than the velcro Mountain Hardware variety, but personally I just prefer having an exposed front zipper.
There are four outer pockets, two Napoleon-style and two of the thighs. The two chest pockets are very large and you'd have little trouble sticking your summit day mitts into them and the lower pockets have a bit of '3D-shaping' to them, making them surprisingly spacious and easy to use. They are also angled to match the angle of your harness, so they'll always be accessible.
The hood is very large and will easily fit over a climbing helmet. But for times when you don't wear a helmet, there are three points of adjustment to make the hood more manageable. There are two elastic adjusters on each side of the front, one elastic adjuster on the back, and one velcro tab on the back to pull the hood back so it isn't hanging in your face. I have a Marmot Mica hardshell with this same velcro adjuster tab and it works amazingly well. It is by far my favorite hood management method, and I'm glad Marmot decided to include this feature on their down suit.
The suit has pit zips and leg zips, like any decent suit should. They work well and the zippers are smooth to operate. One thing that some people might not like is the fact that the leg zip doesn't extend all the way to the ankle, instead stopping just below the knee. This means that you cannot expect to be able to put the suit on mid-climb, as you'll need to remove your outer boots (at a minimum) to get the legs on. But typically suits are donned in camp before you need them, and simply adjusted for temperature control as you go. But the lack of a zipper along the calf reduces the stiffness and bulk there, meaning the leg fits nicely into your gaiters. Besides, once you have your boots on, this zipper would be inaccessible anyway.
The legs zips are really just one long, four-way rainbow zip that doubles as bathroom access. This zip is highly adjustable and offers excellent ventilation. The zips can be pulled all the way down to the knees, leaving a more-than-adequate opening for when nature calls. But Marmot has taken this to the next level. Inside the rear flap, there is a small strap to hold onto while taking care of business, no big deal -
a lot of suits have this, but Marmot also added a small snap closure to the lower zipper pull on the main front zipper. This small strap can be attached to this zipper pull, making high-altitude bathroom breaks a truly 'hands free' experience.
The cuffs use a combination of elastic and velcro, which is really the ideal setup, as just having one or the other always leaves something to be desired. Marmot did include a microfleece wrist gaiter, though no thumb loop on the gaiter itself. Thumb loops are useful for eliminating gaps where warm air might escape, but the added material across your palm can make it more difficult to operate your ascender and other gear. They did include a small snap closure inside the cuff to attach your gloves to so you can take them off without the risk of losing them. Most down suits have some type of glove attachment point, but this is the best attachment method I've seen as it keeps the cord tucked inside the cuff, meaning one less thing to get snagged! You might think this snap would rub on your wrist or otherwise become irritating, but I didn't even notice the snaps until I did a thorough inspection of the suit for this review - after I'd worn it several times.
Moving to the inside of the suit, we find the one feature that truly sets this suit apart - the softshell bib. Down suits always have some type of suspender system to help manage the weight and bulk of the legs, and so you can take the top of the suit off when conditions are warm. Most are just a basic pair of straps (often black) that can be difficult to locate in the dark and easily get tangled.
Marmot's softshell bib is easy to locate, easy to get into, does an excellent job of supporting the weight of the suit, and provides more weather protection than a simple pair of straps would. The bib also houses two interior zippered pockets - the only zippered pockets inside the suit. This does keep items closer to your body (read: warmer), though if you layer something over the bib, but under the suit, it could make these pockets less accessible. On the bib is a small patch describing what materials were used in the suit and a "This 8000m Suit belongs to ______" line where you can write your name. This is a nice detail that helps make the suit feel extra special.
There are two interior mesh water bottle pockets in the usual place. Inside each water bottle pocket is a strap which you can attach things to (like a camera) so they don't accidentally get dropped. At the base of the softshell bib are two elastic drawstrings to reduce bulk around the waist, and right next to those are two small loops which provide another place to attach important items. On each side of the bib (about where your hip bones would be), there are two yellow snap closure straps which correspond to two small blue loops on the outside of the suit. These are used to reduce bulk and help manage the bulkiness of the suit when you have the top around your waist.
If I were to make any changes to the suit, I might add one or two more zipper pulls to the main front zipper, making it a 3 or 4-way zipper. This would give more ventilation options and allow you to wear your harness under the suit without leaving a gap for heat to escape. And it would be kinda nice to have the thumb loop on the wrist gaiter. At least then you'd have the option to use it or not. But either way, those are really my only two complaints, and those are very minor things.
Overall this is a very well designed and well constructed suit. It has an amazing feature set, making it one of the best suits on the market today. For those in the market for a down suit, I highly recommend it.