When I was a kid, I had a Members Only windbreaker—pretty cool for the time. It had no distinguishing features, but California is cool at night, so you can need a little jacket even in the summer. After that, I soured on windbreakers—not water-resistant enough for the rain, not warm enough for really cold weather. What was the point?
Then came Marmot’s Atomic Jacket, revolutionizing my opinions of lightweight jackets by dropping an A-bomb on all the others I’ve worn. The Atomic is a very breathable, somewhat water repellent jacket for high levels of activity. It seems to best go over a short sleeve shirt, and it’s lined with both “bi-component” wicking material and has active vents for when things get, well, active. Marmot’s Angel-Wing Movement™ promotes great range of motion.
The Atomic is the perfect jacket for outings where the day starts cool but temps are expected to rise (or the other way around). It sheds a damp morning with ease and moves and grooves with you to keep the bite of wind chill at bay on those days when you’re active and moving and yet need a light covering layer. Think of it as your perfect jogging, trail running, sailing, or other active pursuit jacket any time the temperature is questionable or it’s windy.
I loved the external and internal chest pockets—perfect for a wallet or mp3 player. Other jackets let me down on these, but for me this was a big plus. The side pockets didn’t hamper a pack’s waist belt too much but obviously aren’t optimized for that. The jacket’s cut is great, comfortable, and it indeed breathes and wicks wonderfully. Light misting rain is no problem, but anything more than that would make me look for a shell with a hood like Marmot’s $100 PreCip Jacket.
Overall, I found the Atomic a wonderfully versatile jacket, but I did have a potential caveat. Somewhere in shipping, our tester was slashed about belly-button level, and this raised questions among our editors about the nylon shell’s durability—you might pay a penalty in durability for the Atomic’s flyweight breathability.
At $135 on Marmot’s website, the Atomic’s light weight and breathability come at a relative premium for a windbreaker. That said, if you look at Marmot’s technical lineup you see their progression from super-minimalistic Trail Wind Jacket at $70 to $400 mega-jackets, you’ll see the Atomic is a versatile, multi-role jacket at a relatively value-oriented price. Say goodbye to those bad Member’s Only memories and hello to the Atomic age!