Outdoor Research Paladin Jacket
In a phrase, reliable performance. The Outdoor Research Men's Paladin Jacket delivers a durable, athletic-friendly and fully waterproof design with the flexibility to open it up for breathability, or cinch it down to close you off from the elements.
- This fella holds up as a full strength rain jacket.
- Not at all heavy by typical athletic / backcountry standards.
- Compact by typical standards.
- Fully and professionally taped seams.
- Fully adjustable hood that supports usage of a climbing helmet.
- Back of jacket covers the butt when sitting: no sit-pad needed!
- There's something about my jacket that is allowing moisture to bleed through at the neck. I'm still looking into it.
- Heavy by "ultralight" standards.
- Not compact by "ultralight" / minimalist standards.
Campers should love it. Hikers should love it. Even the pickiest Mountaineer should, at the least, appreciate the design and construction.
Here's some basic info to start:
- I am 5'10" with a "barrel" chest (not a thin guy's frame). I typically wear a size 44 jacket. With a few jackets I wear size Large, though XL is more common. For the OR Paladin Jacket, size XL is the sweet spot for me... not too long, not too short. Not too wide, not too thin. And, it's an outstanding athletic cut in the torso. Good stuff. Now, if you have a very thin build, you might not like how it fits.
- Weight: 15.37 oz (not heavy by typical outdoor standards, though horribly heavy compared to UL standards)
- Waterproof material: yes - this jacket holds up to prolonged squalls. Top marks here.
- Taped seams: yes - very high (durable) quality taping.
- Water permeable / breathable layers like Gore-Tex: no - doesn't need it.
- Breathable material: no
- Breathable design options: yes
- Will hood accommodate climbing helmet? yes
- Waterproof zipper? Let's call it highly water resistant to be exact. In practice, it's waterproof as I've never had water get through it and I've had it in solid downpours on many occasions.
- The manufacturer website indicates that the pockets are designed specifically for pack and harness compatibility. I'm not entirely sure what they mean here, except that I'm clear that Outdoor Research knows the ropes as it relates to Climbing sports. I'm sure they're right.
For what it is, Outdoor Research designed the Paladin to be light weight. I really do think they succeeded if you value durability and performance over weight savings (there are much lighter rain jackets in the 3-4 ounce range).
I would think of this jacket as something you'd buy because you want "bomber" waterproofing that allows a full range of athletic movement, some breathability options, a mountaineering friendly design, and durability that's designed to last without any babying on your part.
Real world example of Paladin "light weight" vs. Ultralight "light weight":
If you're a hiker needing to move through the bush for a bit of bushwhacking, a typical, ultralight rain jacket is pretty likely to rip as you move through the bushes unless you take very good care as you move. Sure, it's 4 ounces, but you're hiking for it rather than having it perform for you. Choices choices. I've pushed through some pretty dense brush with the Paladin and there are no rips. I'm not saying it couldn't tear, but it has held up to everything I've given it - and I have not been ginger with it.
Packable and Compact:
I pack my jackets in their own sleeve to stow them in my pack. This one packs right up using that method: nice and tight. However and as I mentioned in my "Cons" section, this is not small enough to qualify for Ultralight or Minimalist stowability. If I'm taking my 34L pack, this jacket has to stay at home.
I have a common men's frame with a size 44 chest. The XL fits and looks great with base and thermal mid-layers in place. Yet, the jacket looks attractive and fits any activity with or without the layers (I would have guessed that it would look and feel too big / baggy without the layers in place). I was surprised when my wife asked me to wear it on one occasion because she thinks I look good in it. That's not a phrase I'd predict regarding a rain jacket, but there it is.
I'd like to add a word about complaints I've read (different websites) regarding this jacket's fit in the upper arm / shoulder. I've read more than one review that indicated that the upper arm / shoulder is cut too small (described as restrictive). These same users indicated that when they tried on a larger size to solve the issue, the rest of the jacket became far too big.
I have no doubts that this happened to them. However, I am using the same "older" design of this jacket and I have not had the same experience at all. As I've noted, I have a wide chest. Further, my arms and shoulders are bulky. If anyone would have shoulder issues with the cut of this jacket, I would think it would be me. I have to say, not only does it fit great, but I get full range of motion during athletic movement while wearing layers (the true test).
Last but not least regarding this issue, the newest Paladin is a new design. If you buy your jacket new from the manufacturer to make sure you're getting the newest design, I seriously doubt you'll have issues. If you want to make sure you're getting the new design, make sure the jacket has pit zips (mine does not).
A picture is worth 1,000 words. Try to see the detail of the taping in this picture and you'll see just how well this has been put together. It's not just that the tape is in place; note the type of tape that was used. The quality details are there.
Holding up to the wind:
When it's raining, you just can't ignore how a hood performs in the wind. It seems like many jackets don't have the correct adjustments to cinch the hood down properly to your face during wind. This one most certainly does. Highest marks here.
There isn't a whole lot that I'd say negatively about this jacket. As I mentioned in my "Cons" section, I have experienced some water bleeding through the material at the back of the neck during heavier downpours (perhaps where the pack meets the jacket?). It's only happened twice, and only while wearing a pack. I'm keeping an eye on this to see if I can figure out what's happening. I'll update if I figure it out.
Given how many times I've worn this jacket in downpours, I'm pretty pleased that I've only had two marginally negative experiences... and I mean marginal.
Hope that's all helpful. Happy adventuring and get out there!
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $200
A great, no-nonsense rain shell from OR. Lightweight and truly waterproof.
- Very waterproof
- Awesome warranty
- Hood can be awkward during normal use
- Not warm (layer!)
- No built-in storage
If you're looking for a basic rain layer for outdoor activities, this is a great option. It'll keep you dry during even the strongest rain and is sort of lightweight. However, it won't keep you warm by itself (but is super layering-friendly) and the hood is awkwardly large without a helmet, but still does its job.
Also, as this is a climbing-oriented jacket, it's weird there's no pack-up-and-clip-to-harness bag included. I just bought a cheap stuff sack and use that.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $95
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