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October 2020 Issue
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Outdoor Research Microgravity AscentShell



Our Rating:

At a glance
Plusses: Three-layer comfort and durability, breathability, lightweight.
Minuses: Best performance is limited to alpine environments.

Weight: 414g (m), 338g (w)

Features: A three-layer alpine jacket made from OR’s nano-spun AscentShell fabric that is not only waterproof and breathable but air-permeable, meaning it allows air to pass through the fabric to speed moisture wicking. It has a helmet-compatible hood with rear and side drawcords for a customised fit, it uses waterproof zippers, thus doing away with storm flaps, and has four pockets – two chest and two handwarmers, one of which it can be stuffed into. 

Fit: It’s designed to be worn in alpine environments, so it hangs to the waist and the fit across the chest, body and shoulders is tight with flared cuffs to accommodate gloves. 

Comfort: Three-layer construction and superb breathability make this jacket comfortable in a range of conditions – especially when you’re on the move and likely to build up a sweat. Unlike other jackets that require pit-zips to dump heat, the air-permeability of this jacket kept me at a comfortable temperature for longer. 

In use: Hiking through rainstorms on bush-enclosed tracks is not the ideal testing ground for this jacket, but it handled the humidity here well, even though I perspired on uphill sections. On exposed trails, buffeted by the winds and pelted by rain, the jacket came into its own. It enclosed me in a comfortingly tight grip and provided easy protection from the elements. Despite being close-fitting, I still comfortably wore a mid-layer beneath and underarm stretch panels ensured freedom of movement.

The jacket doesn’t billow or flap in any way to obstruct vision or hearing when in high winds.

The air-permeability of the jacket is not something I was conscious of during activity, but afterwards, I realised I had gone further, faster in more comfort than I do with a traditional rain jacket. The numerous mesh-lined pockets help here, too.

The hood is huge and best used with a helmet. Pulling it tight while not wearing a helmet scrunched up the fabric and deformed the peak so that it proved tricky to maintain a good field of vision. 

Value: It’s getting pricey, but for a super-breathable and hi-tech jacket designed to handle the extremes of alpine environments, you might think it should cost more. 

Verdict: If your adventures lead you into the alpine zone, this jacket is worth your consideration.