What's the best-fitting hard shell for someone who's tall?

I am looking at replacing my Marmot shell after ten years of use. As was the challenge last time, I am having a hard time with fit. I am 6'3" and most sizes that fit are XL, which means I have the proper arm length; however, it is too big around the torso. The misconception is that tall is big when tall is often fit. Do you have any recommendations for a shell that will give proper fit without sacrificing performance and durability?
Ottawa, Ontario

Dec 17, 2010
Outside Magazine
The Stretch Ascent

The Stretch Ascent


That's a tough one, Daniel. And it's not limited to XL sizes. I'm a medium in most things, and sometimes I could fit two of me in what passes for a "medium." It's a byproduct of our expanding selves. Clothing makers have to design for the average fit, not the skinny end of the bell curve.

That said, not every jacket is cut the same. I don't have a database handy that delineates the design of every jacket out there, but you'll come across jackets that are labeled as having an "athletic fit" or something such as that. That means it's cut trimly.

Patagonia is perhaps the most helpful company in this regard. They accompany their Web-based clothing descriptions with a line that says "This garment has a Slim Fit," or "This garment has a Regular Fit." For instance, Patagonia's very fine Stretch Ascent Jacket ($299) has a Slim Fit, meaning you should find it comfortably sized for a tall-but-not-bulky guy such as yourself. And it's a very fine jacket, with proprietary 2.5-layer (meaning it has a textured interior, not a third layer of fabric or a mesh scrim) waterproof/breathable fabric that stretches, a roll-away hood, waterproof zips, and much more.

Arc'Teryx also is helpful in this regard. Their Beta AR ($450), for instance, has an "Athletic Fit," so it too will not be real roomy inside. And it's a top-flight jacket, as the price would indicate,, with a Gore-Tex Pro Shell, beautifully cut cuffs and other components, chest and internal pockets, and so on. Really a nice piece.

If your Marmot fits you well you are apt to find their current stuff does as well. Try the Marmot Exum Jacket ($425), their full-featured alpine jacket make with Gore-Tex Pro Shell. It has all the stuff you want, including taped construction, water-resistant zippers, internal pockets, the works.

Hope that helps!

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