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On a typical day in Mawsynram, India, locals contend with an astonishing 1.3 inches of rain. If you do the math, that’s an annual total of 40 feet of precipitation, making their town the wettest place on the planet.
Or at least the wettest place outside of Marmot’s rain room. In this spare facility deep inside the Kansas headquarters of sister brand Coleman, Marmot product managers subject new raingear to quantities of precipitation that put Mawsynram to shame.
During a recent visit, we watched Coleman’s testing coordinator dress several mannequins in new shells and carefully snug the hoods before turning on the spigots. The rain room is a purpose-built space, about 20×20 feet with high ceilings. Shower heads dot the ceilings and walls, sensors track flow rate, and floor drains capture and recycle the water. To ensure apples-to-apples testing, the mannequins are carefully positioned to get an equal drenching.
Over the course of two days, we witnessed repeated tests of multiple shells (watch the results below), with Marmot’s new EVODry Eclipse Jacket going up against several similarly priced competitors. The goal was to see which jacket wetted out first.
“Wetting out” is what happens when rainfall overwhelms the ability of a jacket’s durable water repellent (DWR) coating to shed moisture. When that occurs, water stops beading and rolling off the surface (like it does on your car’s windshield), and instead starts to saturate the fabric. While this doesn’t necessarily result in leaking—quality jackets still have a waterproof laminate underneath to block water—a saturated outer fabric will not breathe as well. That prevents your perspiration vapor from escaping, which leads to clamminess inside the jacket.
In the primary test, the testing coordinator gradually increased rainfall from a steady Smokies shower to a full-on Olympics soaker. After six hours, the EVODry jacket was the only one still beading. The team then cranked up the flow to a whopping 11 inches per hour—more than double the rate of a monsoon—and it still didn’t wet out. In total, the Eclipse Jacket withstood 25 inches of rain over a six-hour period.
The Marmot team also conducted a Bundesmann water repellency test, in which they drenched the Eclipse Jacket in rain nearly six times as heavy as a cloud burst, and 21,000 times heavier than light rain. After 60 minutes—the standard testing period—the jacket was still going strong.
Brian Loveless, Marmot’s outerwear manager, credits the company’s new DWR technology, which is used in its new EVODry raingear for men and women. Unlike most DWRs, which are sprayed on or washed in when the fabric is made, the EVODry DWR is bonded with the yarns at the molecular level, so it never wets out or wears off. That leads to unprecedented performance in the rain room—and out in the real world.
Loveless chuckles when asked about his fondness for testing prototype technologies and materials. “I really like breaking things. We’ve done everything from putting products out in the field for
multiple weeks at a time to dragging them behind a truck, down a gravel road, to test for durability. For the rain room test, we took the usual protocol to an extreme, and we didn’t even get to a point of complete failure. We were shocked.”
Stay dry in the wettest conditions with Marmot’s EVODry – rainwear reinvented at the molecular level. www.rei.com