Outdoor Research Foray Jacket
Source: Warranty Exchange
Gore-Tex works! Great design in the best OR tradition, and an excellent fabric.
- Waterproof. Really!
- Moderately breathable
- Pit zips down to the waist. Good temperature control.
- Taped seams and water-resistant zippers
- Inner pocket as stuff sack
- Longer back to keep you dry under a pack
- Pockets placed to allow easy access when carrying a backpack.
- Could be more breathable, but fine for most uses.
- Clammy if put on while wet, but quickly dries out.
- Lightweight, waterproof/breathable 3-layer 40D Gore-Tex Paclite fabric
- Fully seam-taped
- Water-resistant pockets and TorsoFlo zippers
- Hem to bicep pit zips
- 15 oz (L) weight
I love this jacket. It's been fine for dayhikes and I've been very comfortable in it, but I wanted to give it a real test before posting a review. In my opinion, a jacket is such an important piece of gear (second only to boots!) that I wanted to be sure I wasn't giving out the wrong information.
So, the Labour Day long weekend on the Berg Lake Trail at Mt. Robson:
- One day of steady drizzle while carrying a 40-lb pack for 21 km with an 800 metre elevation gain.
- An evening sitting around in the rain at a campsite and another with a chilly breeze blowing off the glaciers. No fires allowed!
- A second day with mostly sunshine, occasional showers, and temperatures from cool (+5°C) to pleasant (+15°C), while doing quick dayhikes with a light pack.
- Cold morning rain, then a long downhill slog carrying bunch of wet gear.
I couldn't have picked a better trip!
While my companions were soaked through in a matter of hours or even a few minutes, the Foray performed well in every case throughout the weekend. I stayed warm and dry the whole time in the rain, while they were coping with cold fingers and damp clothes. In addition, I never found I was getting wet from sweat. Just by opening the pit zips I could add enough ventilation to the natural breathability of the fabric to stay dry even when working hard on the uphills.
The cut is loose enough that I was able to wear a fleece under it while hiking, and I was confident enough of the waterproofing to wear a down sweater underneath the jacket on a chilly evening. With all the adjustments I was able to make with the pitzips and main zippers, it was easy to control temperature and make sure the insulating layers stayed dry, whether in the rain or just from sweat.
The only time I was uncomfortable at all was when switching from a fleece/jacket combo to just the Foray after a couple of hours of hiking. When I put the jacket on there were a few minutes when it felt a bit clammy on the inside, but that soon dried up and I was fine. Of course this is also a Paclite™ fabric, so it doesn't have the extra layer closer to the skin that would eliminate that. A fair trade for the lighter weight, in my opinion.
In fact, this is overall one of the most comfortable jackets I've owned. Relaxed fit, nice Velcro wrist straps instead of elastic, and Velcro at the neck, toggles on the hood and other drawstrings, extra ties on the zippers to make them easier to grab with gloves on, and a longer back to keep your butt dry. There is a Velcro loop at the back of the neck where the hood can be stowed as a collar, but I find I don't use it.
I like the pitzips — because they open all the way down to the bottom hem, it's easy to control humidity and temperatures. The hood has a nice stiff brim that seems to hold its shape, and there is an easy-to-adjust pull at the back to set the shape for a helmet or just a cap. Loose enough for easy movement but no flapping fabric, no rubbing anywhere, no tight spots, and a good fit.
One comment; like many OR jackets, the sizing is a bit on the large side. I usually take a Men's Medium but in the Foray I went to a Men's Small. If you're buying online check the sleeve length to make sure you get the proper fit.
In the time I've owned the Foray, I haven't seen any signs of wear, despite it spending some of its time bunched up in its vest-pocket stuff sack. If I shake it out, it seems to bounce back to its original shape without any trouble, and the wrinkles disappear quite quickly. The pockets are well positioned so you can get into them while wearing a pack, and I like the larger inside chest pocket - perfect for carrying maps and keeping them dry.
But maybe the most important think about this jacket is that I trust it. It did everything it was supposed to do, and it performed just like I expected it to. No smoke, no mirrors, just a real jacket for people who might have to trust their lives to it. And for everybody who thinks Gore-Tex is over-rated or too expensive, think again. I can't speak for every formula Gore-Tex uses, but I can personally vouch for the Paclite.
Outdoor Research has a great reputation, and their 'Infinite Guarantee' is second to none. If the zipper breaks (unlikely!) or the fabric tears in normal use, send the jacket back! You'll have a new one in the few days it takes to ship a replacement out. In fact, I got this as an upgrade to my old OR Revel — when I complained that the old one wasn't as waterproof as I wanted, they sent me the Foray as a substitute at no extra cost! Quite a nice bump in quality just to keep the customer happy.