The first of Gore-Tex Active Shell jacket we could get our paws on. Minimal weight with full-on weatherproofing- that’s the aim at least.
Brand: Outdoor Research
Model: Axiom Jacket
Owned for: 1 year
Used for: Hiking, trekking, cycling
More info: www.outdoorresearch.co.uk
Arriving as a test sample late in 2011, the Axiom was the first jacket tested to use Gore-Tex’s latest (at the time) technology- Active Shell. And the first to make it home for a longer dressing-up session.
First impressions were surprising to say the least. From a distance (it could be my patchy eyesight) it looked like another full-weight shell. On closer inspection, with it on my back the weight of the thing was the first thing of note. It may not technically be the lightest waterproof in the world, but I tend not to bother about a few grams here or there when it comes to staying dry outside (328 grams is the stated weight on the OR website, gear pedants).
Despite the weight being comparable to a something like a Gore-Tex Paclite jacket, the inner lining has the tough 3-layer make-up you’d expect of something harder wearing. The matte finished, quiet face fabric also belies the hardwearing mountain feel too.
The feel and weight pushed it into first place for a long-term trekking/backpacking trip to Patagonia I had planned. It coped pretty well in the more than blustery conditions in and around Torres del Paine, keeping the wind and rain out well enough. The great breathability of the Active-Shell meant that it was easy to wear as a straight-forward windshell for most of the trip, and helped keep the wind-chill down whilst preventing too much of a sweaty build-up inside. The stretch nature of the fabric and lack of underarm venting (superfluous with the Active Shell) makes it a great all day wear.
In a proper downpour, the fabric did well enough, although after leaving it too long between washes, the DWR coating did wear off, and moisture managed to soak in, particularly around the cuffs and sections of increased wear on the shoulder under rucksack straps.
The hood is not the best either, with a single draw cord adjustment at the back and a relatively flimsy peak. Having said that though, it can be adjusted enough to keep the wet out, just not with such a seal or adjustment as you would expect from a full-on (heavier) shell.
+ Very Breathable
+ Soft finish fabric
- Hood isn’t great.
- Gets dirty quickly (probably because it’s bright orange)
An incredibly lightweight shell with pretensions of being a full-on winter shell. Works well in a range of conditions in all but the worst weather. Great for hiking and trekking as well faster moving forays and, dare I say it, a bit of bad-weather trail running.