By Rick Shandley
Ama Dablam is a jagged seven meter peak (6, 812 meters/22,349 feet elevation) in the Himalaya mountain range, and it’s also an 800 Fill Power Goose Down Marmot jacket. Weighing approximately 600 grams or slightly more than one pound, including the attached hood, we can assure you the Marmot Ama Dablam down jacket delivers excellent warmth, torso coverage, mobility, and value.
With the short days of late fall creeping into the chilly days of another Rocky Mountain winter, the Ama Dablam get high marks in all of the characteristics mentioned above. With any combination of base layer clothing you might choose for a single day or multi-day trek, this Marmot Ama Dablam delivers the kind of warmth only high-quality 800 Fill Down can offer.
Although every individual is different regarding when it is time to slide into a down jacket, I started wearing the Ama Dablam when morning and evening temperatures got in the mid-30’s and several early mornings with mercury drops into the teens (13 degrees) and a few single digit mornings (8 degrees). These are the temperatures you can expect on early morning alpine treks or crawling out of the tent as day breaks to start the coffee. Below zero temperatures with added wind chill are scenarios we have not worn this Marmot jacket in, but most likely we’ll see these conditions as winter sets in, and we have full confidence the Ama Dablam down jacket will do a great job with appropriate base layers, level of activity, and wind parka.
The attached hood is also down filled and snugs up with adjustable elastic drawstrings on either side of the face and at the back of the hood. You’ll appreciate the full-length, snag resistant, zipper that includes the hood to create a solid protective barrier around your neck and lower face. Having the attached hood is also a requisite component for a serious back country down parka. Even with a wool cap or other head wear, when temps get icy, that down hood is a serious part of the jacket.
All zippers worked very well in cold conditions, often with glove liners on the hands. The zippered hand warmer pockets are lined with fleece-like material and double nicely as cargo pockets. Although the Ama Dablam is more of a backpacking, climbing, bouldering, mountaineering jacket design, we don’t feel limited by the four pockets we have to work with.
You get a Napoleon style chest pocket on the upper left side of the chest for all you right handed folks, and an inside chest pocket to store your Derringer or use it as the onboard stuff sack that easily accommodates the entire jacket into a compact, packable, bundle. Although this down filled heater jacket does pack down just fine into its own pocket, we went ahead and used an stand alone stuff sack to protect this Cobalt Blue Ama Dablam inside the back pack; simply because this is truly a good, solid, down jacket, that will last years if you look out for it.
Ama Dablam is cut to cover your lower back and lower waist. The adjustable drawstring allows you to cinch it down snug to prevent cold air from drafting in. When wearing nylon mountaineering pants, wind shell pants, or any type of leg base layers and snow/wind/rain leggings, the ability to seal up your upper torso at the waist and leg transition area can be critical to staying warm and flexible; this Marmot jacket serves this purpose great. For as much flexibility and weather protection as the Ama Dablam offers, you’d expect it to weigh slightly more than a pound and twenty ounces. But it doesn’t, this down jacket is warm and lives up to its billing, that’s it. What more can you ask? Your initials monogrammed on the cuffs?
Straight forward, Velcro adjustable, cuffs can be cinched up or loosened with heavy gloves on. Simple is perfect, and there’s plenty of wiggle room built into the jacket sleeves and cuffs if you are wearing winter-warm gloves and several base layers. Marmot’s trademark Angle-Wing Movement means this jacket is cut to allow you a full-range of motion without the jacket riding up your spine.
The super light outer fabric is 100-percent Polyester Ripstop nylon that’s water resistant and designed so the down fill will not escape through the material. It’s not fun watching those little down feathers poke themselves out of any piece of down filled equipment, and you can hardly poke it back in. Lining material on the inside of the Ama Dablam jacket is also water resistant nylon.
Color choices are Cobalt Blue (as tested), Dark Granite, Black, Red, and two shades of green. We liked how Marmot used contrasting colors and piping for accents. And in our assessment period it was/is clear that the Ama Dablam jacket can be a strong piece of your cold weather outdoor gear kit. Although the Ama Dablam has been in the Marmot lineup for some time, it has proved to be a strong insulator for hanging out at alpine lakes, high trail and mountain passes, including late season backpacking trips where afternoon winds can drop the temperature precipitously.
At an MSRP of $250, you can absolutely count of getting your money’s worth with the Marmot Ama Dablam jacket. Yes, you’ll find a dozen online merchants selling for less. That’s not the point. The Marmot Ama Dablam is a solid, premium quality down fill jacket. You can count on it in the back country, and that’s you reason to own it.