Updates to the Discovery Bib
Since our last shred sesh with this ski bib, Marmot has overhauled it. The new bib, pictured in blue, has updates to the pockets and material. The latest bib has two back pockets (instead of the previous one) and only one thigh pocket (instead of the previous two), and that thigh pocket now has a storm flap. The chest pocket has swapped sides and is now on the right side. This year's Discovery is made of polyester stretch weave instead of the previous bib's nylon fabric. Compare the two below; the updated Discovery is shown first, followed up by the bib we tested.
We're excited to check out the new version, but until we can get a pair out on the slopes, the review to follow still tells our account of the previous bib.
Hands-On Review of the Discovery Bib
These are our top scoring true bib pants. Full bibs are a polarizing product. Those that like them, really love them. Those that don't see the advantages outweighing the drawbacks are plenty and are passionate in their stance. Overall more people seem to prefer "regular" pants. For those that prefer bibs, though, we made a thorough comparison.
Deep snow and fast action. Skiing isn't always like this, but when it is, bibs can help keep out the drafts.
The Discovery Bibs are made with Marmot's proprietary "MemBrain" fabric, stitched together with sealed seams and accessorized with pockets, fly, and vents that open and close with waterproof zippers. The result is weather resistance that works and that extends well above your waist. You choose the bib style for its weatherproofness, so we are thankful that the construction of the Discovery keeps out the weather.
The other bibs, the FlyLow Baker, are just as weather protective. The stiffer fabric lends an even greater perception of protection, especially in wind, whether that wind is created by nature or by your movement through the atmosphere. The Salomon Chill Out Bib is called a "bib," but it is more accurately described as a pair of pants with fancy suspenders. The weather protection of the Salomon isn't as good as the Marmot. The Spyder Dare comes in the same suspender configuration as the Salomon. Its weather protection is compromised by pockets and pocket seams that aren't entirely sealed. The Marmot Discovery does better than the Spyder in keeping the weather out.
The Marmot Discovery keeps drafts and the chill out of that vulnerable jacket/pant interface, even on bitter lift rides.
Fit and Comfort
The most notable comfort factor of the Marmot Discovery Bibs is the bib part. Many folks find them to be very comfortable, but many do not. If you are a bib person, you'll dig it, but if not, you won't. The lining fabric is soft, and the exterior fabric is quiet. The range of motion is adequate, but you will notice some binding when backcountry booting or when stretching to warm up. The fit of the Marmot Discover seems to run a bit large. If you are on the fence between two sizes, choose the smaller option.
The closest comparison is to the FlyLow Baker Bib. Of these two, the Marmot is quite a bit more comfortable. The FlyLow doesn't have the smooth lining or quiet shell fabric of the Discovery. The Baker has a much more utilitarian feel. The fabric is stiff, and the interior is a little rougher, whether against bare skin or a base layer.
The cut and fit of the Marmot Discovery is a little looser than is currently fashionable. If you are between sizes, size down.
Ventilation in the Marmot Discovery is provided exclusively by two long, exterior leg vents. These vents open wide, with no mesh backing them up. When needed, these vents dump heat quite effectively.
The only better pant venting configuration we have seen is the dual leg vents of the FlyLow Baker Bibs (also present on the FlyLow Chemical Snow Pants). Two vents per leg are more than twice as good as one. Dual vents allow cross ventilation and allow for air to swirl up and down as well. The next best is the long, mesh-less, external vents of the Marmot Discovery. The vents on the Discovery are the same as those on the Top Pick Patagonia Descensionist and the Editors' Choice Arc'Teryx Sabre.
The external vents of the Marmot Discovery are great. Tons of air can be exchanged.
The Discovery Bib is pretty neutral in styling. Sized appropriately, the cut is not baggy nor trim. The color selection is pretty muted and neutral.
The FlyLow Baker Bibs make a more bold statement. It is difficult to point to exactly how, and maybe it is just in the branding, but the Baker Bibs seem to suggest "core" skiing lifer. While the Marmot Discovery says virtually nothing. We like the understated look of the Marmot.
For backcountry skiing, as seen here in Grand Teton National Park, the bib of the Marmot Discovery is a little overkill. You have to really like bibs to choose them for backcountry skiing.
These are uninsulated shell pants. The only warmth they provide is against the convective cooling of wind and via the air space created between the hanging lining and the shell layer. The result is moderate warmth, but really no insulation.
The Discovery Bibs are similar in warmth to the Patagonia Powder Bowl and the Best Buy The North Face Freedom. Both of these are also shell pants with a separate hanging lining. The Top Pick for Warmth Spyder Dare, with its puff insulation, is quite a bit warmer than these bibs. The Discovery provides greater protection against the cold than the FlyLow Baker Bibs, though.
There are six pockets on the Marmot Discovery Bibs. Every one of them is sealed with a zipper. The main handwarmer pockets have fuzzy backing. The bib is a feature of its own, and we like that the straps are relatively narrow, soft, with small buckles. The front zippered opening on the Discovery Bibs lets you get them on and off, lends a little ventilation, and serves mainly as a zipped fly for bathroom relief. The Recco reflector built into the Marmot Discovery aids in avalanche rescue in very specific circumstances.
Few pants have more pockets and features than the Marmot Discovery. At the other end of the spectrum, even our Editors' Choice Arc Teryx Sabre has fewer pockets. There are only three. The Sabre, though, also has a Recco reflector.
We like it when pants have super long inner cuffs. The Marmot Discovery has these.
If you dig bibs, these are for you. If you think you might dig bibs, these are good ones, and relatively inexpensive for what you get. You can try these without it being too painful on the wallet. If you know you are one of those that doesn't like bibs, steer clear and consider a different choice.
With a jacket over them you can't tell that the Marmot Discovery is a bib.
The Marmot Discovery Bibs aren't the best value around, but for the degree of protection you get, the price is right. None of the less expensive options we tested for 2019, for instance, offer fully sealed seams and zippers.
Not everyone likes bib pants for skiing. Those that do are a devout bunch, and that passionate crowd will like the Marmot Discovery Bibs. Those that are on the fence about bibs can give these a try for a relatively non-committing price and still count on excellent performance.