Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Gear Box: Great Gear From Outdoor Research
Outdoor Research is one of those outdoor gear companies that you don't hear a lot about, and yet they continually turn out high quality gear at affordable prices. Earlier this summer I was sent some of their apparel to test out, and after putting the clothing through its paces, both in Australia and the Badlands of South Dakota, I can honestly say that I'm highly impressed. Not only did the gear hold up nicely and perform well, it also looked good too. The following are some thoughts on each of the items.
The Fanatic is an ultralight weight rain shell that can slip into a pack and you won't even know you have it with you, that is until you need it most. Weighing in at just 11 ounces, the Fanatic stuffs into its own pocket, making it even more compact and packable. I carried this jacket with me in both Australia and South Dakota, and it came in handy in both places, where sudden storms had me very thankful I had it along. Not only did the Fanatic keep me warm and dry, but it was also breathable, which meant I stayed comfortable in both the rainforest and the cooler Black Hills. The lightweight shell is a perfect trail companion for warmer weather hikes, and a worth addition to your gear closet.
The Contour is another ultralight piece of gear that is well designed and of extremely high quality. It makes a perfect light jacket for cool, not cold, days on the trail, and it even serves as a great shield against light rain. Unlike the Fanatic, the Contour is not water proof, but still provides adequate protection none the less. It also serves as a great mid-layer under a warmer shell too. Personally, I love the fit of the Contour, as it is doesn't restrict movement in the least, but remains form fitting and comfortable as well. This is another impressive piece of gear, and a looks as good wearing it around town as it does on the trail.
Of all the gear items that OR sent me, I think I've worn the Sequence Tee the most. It helps that they conveniently sent it to me in burnt orange, which makes it a very popular here in Austin. The shirt is made of "Dri-Release" fabric that helps to wick moisture away from your body and keep you comfortable and dry in all kinds of weather conditions. The shirt was very comfortable in both warm, dry conditions and cooler wet ones, ranging from the outback of Australia, the Badlands of South Dakota, and the Texas Hill Country. I have a number of similar wicking shirts in my closet, and the one thing that has continually impressed me about this one, is that it has been worn a number of times, and been through the wash, and yet it still looks brand new. It's also very versatile, making an excellent travel shirt that not only performs well on a hike, but earned compliments when I wore it around town too. The Contour is as good as anything similar offered by other outdoor brands, and you'll probably find it at a more reasonable price as well.
Equinox Convert Pants
To complete my Outdoor Research ensemble I also tested a pair of Equinox convertible pants. We all probably own a similar pair pants that make the transition to shorts with a quick twist of a zipper, and the Equinox don't vary much from the formula. They are, however, of the same high quality as the rest of the OR gear that I tested, and after wearing them on a number of occasions, they remain like new. I appreciated the lightweight nature of the pants, which also fits in with the rest of the gear, and makes them easy to pack and a logical choice for any type of travel. The quick dry fabric was also appreciated when caught out in the rain, and these pants remained super comfortable to wear under all conditions.
As you can tell, I was highly impressed with everything that OR sent my way. The gear performed remarkably well in every environment and weather condition I threw at them, and for me, that is the hallmark of a great product. Outdoor Research may not have the flashy, more well known name of some of their competitors, but they offer great products, and good prices, that meet or exceed just about anything else in their class. The company is in touch with what their customers want and need, and they are clearly designing products that perform well in the outdoors. What more could you ask for out of your gear and the company that makes it?