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Merrell Women's Marielle Jacket : A Shell for the In-Between Season

When the thermometer reads 40 degrees and I don't know if the dismal rain outside is going to turn to sleet, snow, or wind, which jacket do I grab off your coat rack? More and more, I find myself reaching for the Merrell Women's Marielle Jacket.

The Marielle Jacket is, at first glance, a waterproof outer jacket with a women's specific cut and a glossy, subtly-patterned jacquard fabric reminiscent of 800 thread count luxury sheets. This rich fabric gives it a refined look that sets it apart from other shells that look more obviously like outdoorsy rain jackets.

The more time I spent with the Marielle jacket, the more I discovered that I could rely on it in a lot of different situations and activities. I wore it to brunch with a girlfriend on a gloomy day. I instantly loved the fuzzy-lined front pockets and collar, as well as how effortlessly it shed the drizzle. While on a casual jog, I noticed a nice feature of the pit zips; they're lined with a light grey mesh, so I don't mistake them for pockets.

On my boyfriend's birthday, we went for a fast hike up the "M" trail, a steep local hike to a giant letter M above the gateway to the Bridger Range. When I got warm on the way uphill I used the pit zips to vent, and stayed at a comfortable temperature. On my way down, I zipped everything up, cinched down the hood, and stayed warm all the way back to the car.

This jacket fits true to size with enough room for layering. I found the jacket to be a little bit roomier and heavier than I would have liked for more aerobic activities, such as a longer run, but perfect for walking, hiking, and casual bike riding.

Merrell's Marielle Jacket is available in Perfect Plum (this is the color I tested, which looks exactly as it sounds), Sangria, Oyster, and Black in sizes XS-XXL. (Men - check out Merrell's Altair Insulated Jacket and Drago Jacket). Merrell also makes the Marielle with a lightweight.

Bottom Line: A tough waterproof and breathable shell in disguise as a sophisticated jacket. Full of features to help me stay comfortable and dry while spending time outside in all sorts of elements. --L.B. (Nov '10)

BUY ONLINE: $149 click to shop. Shop at Altrec.

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.