The next jacket is the Outdoor Research Axiom. This jacket won Gear of the Year awards from both Outside Magazine and National Geographic Adventure for 2012 and did so because it is a great, all around jacket. I have not had the opportunity to use this jacket yet. For a review from somebody who has used the jacket, check out:
I just hope to share my observations based on fit and features. This can be dangerous because I have a few pieces of gear that did not impress me too much initially, but after using them, they have become some of my favorite pieces. There are other pieces that I own that I was really excited about initially, but have become closet fillers only because in use, they're just not as good as I was expecting.
So, use this post to get an idea of what the jacket offers for features, and get a slightly better idea of how it fits, and then check some other reviews for an idea of how the material breathes and the jacket functions. From everything I've read, the jacket works great in real-mountain applications.
Specs and Features
- Made with Gore-tex Active Shell membrane and 20d nylon stretch face fabric
- One zippered external chest pocket, backed with mesh, with a headphone port
- Two zippered handwarmer pockets that are just high enough to stay out of the way of a harness and backed with mesh for additional breathability
- Single-pull adjustable hood
- Velcro cuff closures
- Single-pull hem drawcord
- 13.5 oz
The Outdoor Research Axiom Jacket in Black/Lemongrass Color
Has one chest zippered pocket that is backed with mesh. The pocket is actually larger than the yellow outline.
Two zippered handwarmer pockets that are high enough that they mostly stay out of the way of a harness and hipbelt. These too are backed with mesh, which would allow one to dry damp items like gloves, or vent a little when working up a sweat.
A single drawcord around the hem seals out the elements.
It's hard to see in this picture, but there is a lot of mesh on the inside. There are no pit zips in this jacket (apparently because Active Shell is breathable enough that they're not absolutely necessary), so the mesh-backed pockets do allow for a little bit of venting if one is really working hard. Gore-tex has put a weight limit on any item that uses Active Shell. So, OR decided to go with handwarmer pockets instead of pit zips. Doing both would have put them above the weight limit.
A better look at the mesh next to the Gore-tex membrane.
This is the back of the chest pocket with a headphone port.
Fleece-lined storm flap at the chin
Single hood pull battens down the hatches surprisingly well. The drawcord extends around the back of the head and partially around the opening of the hood.
I am 6'2" and about 185lbs and this jacket in a size Medium fits me nicely. There is just enough room for a light midlayer, but it doesn't feel big and baggy over just a baselayer. My father-in-law, who is the same height and weight as me, wears a large because he has broader shoulders than I do. So, if you have broad shoulders, I would size up one size from what works for me. The sleeves are cut on the long side. Short sleeves are occasionally a problem for me, especially when I start reaching above my head with the jacket tucked in my harness.
The hood cinched with the since drawcord on the back. It cinches well enough to keep the hood on in nasty conditions, with and without a helmet, but a couple drawcords around the opening of the hood would be nice to really seal it off. But, OR's goal was to keep this light and simple. I think the single drawcord is effective.
The hood is a nice fit with a helmet. Again, the single drawcord is enough to keep the hood on in nasty conditions, but it doesn't necessarily seal out everything.
The cut isn't perfect for climbing, but it's pretty darn good. This jacket pulls up more than the Rab jackets I checked out, but quite a bit less than the La Sportiva Stormfighter. When I tried it on under a harness (which I didn't get any pictures of), it didn't pull out of the harness when I raised my arms.
OR Axiom in Lemongrass color.
The OR Axiom, of the jackets I tried on, is now the jacket I am most interested in using in the field. The fit is a little more of an all around fit than the Sportiva Stormfighter (the Stormfighter is definitely a backcountry skiing-specific fit, not a climbing fit), and active shell has gotten great reviews so far. This jacket uses a 20 denier face fabric, which feels soft and supple, but could lack the durability of the heavier fabric found in the Rab Stretch Neo. Again, I haven't used this jacket in the mountains, but I would be very surprised if it didn't live up to the hype it has received.