High-quality rain gear can truly make or break a trip into the outdoors. As any outdoor aficionado understands, comfort in the outdoors is all about layering. In this article, we will take a deep dive into an ideal outer layer for rough conditions: the Outdoor Research Foray jacket. Whether a rain shell is used to keep you dry in a summer deluge or seal in warmth on a winter jog, the right shell can be a "swiss army knife" garment that keeps you outdoors longer.
These days, there are many high-quality and affordable rain gear options on the market. With all the choices available, it's often hard to sift through the features and price points. We have broken down the features of the Outdoor Research Foray jacket and created a point-by-point comparison with some other top quality shells on the market.
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What Is the Outdoor Research Foray Jacket?
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The Outdoor Research Foray jacket is a lightweight, waterproof and breathable rain-shell jacket designed with outdoor sports in mind. It's got a slim, athletic, fit which will appeal to backpackers as well as cyclists and spring skiers. It's not the single lightest rain shell on the market, but it still boasts impressive weight statistics and would be a welcomed addition for most backpackers out there today. This shell fits securely into the "lightweight" category and has a number of comfort features absent from many garments categorized as ultra-light.
The Foray includes every bit of the quality one would expect from Outdoor Research. They have been an industry leader in the backcountry space for years, becoming well known for offering equipment right at home on a mountainside or a city sidewalk. This rain shell was definitely designed with the outdoor enthusiast in mind, but it also features a simple enough look to fit in during a casual night on the town. . . was certainly to design.
A Gore-Tex PacLite lining is at the heart of this versatile shell, providing top quality waterproofing with excellent breathability. PacLite is amongst Gore's lightest waterproof/breathable membranes. This can create both pluses and minuses. The downside is that PacLite won't provide the same extreme waterproofing over time that you might find with a heavier membrane like Gore-Tex XCR. PacLite is also frequently laminated to thinner denier fabrics, so you will sacrifice some durability and abrasion resistance.
All that said, PacLite is far more breathable than Gore's heavier-weight membrane options, making it a perfect membrane for products like the Outdoor Research Foray jacket. This type of waterproofing will definitely keep you dry in an extended rainstorm, but it's also excellent at releasing perspiration as you work up a sweat on the trail.
TorsoFlo Vent System
Breathability and ventilation are truly the focal points of this jacket. The main design feature of the Foray jacket is Outdoor Research's proprietary "TorsoFlo Ventilation" system. This is essentially a long zipper running from the waistband hemline to the armpit. This allows the jacket to open fully on either side, allowing air to circulate directly into and around the user's core area.
The TorsoFlo system takes the traditional "pit zip" vent design and ramps it up, allowing the jacket to dry from the inside outward. This helps minimize reliance on the PacLite membrane's breathability. These oversized vents can be a huge benefit, especially in areas with high humidity but cooler ambient temperatures. It's easy to work up a sweat in muggy temperatures, and with the Outdoor Research Foray jacket, you will still be dry when you stop moving and start cooling off.
The Dry Factor
The Outdoor Research Foray jacket provides elite water protection in comparison to some other rain shells in this class. The Gore-Tex PacLite material on this jacket is laminated onto 50-denier ripstop nylon. This material is quite robust when compared with some ultralight offerings. It is also constructed with maximum water protection in mind. The hood offers a reinforced brim that will divert downpours away from your face and neck. The hood also has a three-way adjustable shock cord system, so you can take control of visibility and comfort even in a storm.
Another key feature in the overall "dry factor" of this coat is the wrist enclosures. They have a traditional elastic band sewn into the wrist with a velcro band wrapping behind. There's nothing earthshaking about this design, perhaps, but like most Outdoor Research products, the craftsmanship is exceptional. These cuffs provide a watertight and comfortable enclosure that will keep you dry without a lot of unwanted fiddling with them.
All of this high-end water protection comes at a cost, however, as the Foray is on the heavier side of its competitors. The shell weighs in at 16 ounces, which is still light for the average user. Those extra ounces over a lighter jacket could be a deal breaker for committed ultralight and long-distance hikers, however. The tougher 50D nylon also sacrifices some breathability you may find in a lighter PacLite garment.
We found that the extra long TorsoFlo vent zippers more than compensated for a bit less breathability. This shell can even be zipped completely open and worn like a poncho.
Outdoor Research also balances out the increased weight with some comfort features that should appeal to the everyday user. They include large, easy-to-grab zipper pulls that feel strong and well made. Another nice comfort feature is a micro-fleece lining along the main zipper that rises up through the collar, creating a soft contact surface with the face.
High-quality cord locks on the hood also provide easy one-handed adjustments. This can be a necessity when negotiating your rain shell with a heavy backpack on. These cord locks can be accessed from inside or outside the jacket. and the hood also folds and stows inside the collar when not in use.
The Outdoor Research Foray jacket is really about the small details. Touches like an outer hanging loop can be huge benefits when backpacking in the rain, and a stowaway pocket helps the jacket stash into any pack or suitcase with ease.
How It Compares
We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
Outdoor Research Foray Jacket
- Comfort: The TorsoFlo vents and added comfort features on this jacket provide all-day comfort in difficult conditions.eevide all-dav pr provide all-day
- Water Resistance: The Gore-Tex PacLite membrane and 50D nylon line should keep you bone-dry.
- Design Quality: The Foray shell reflects Outdoor Research's stellar reputation for practical, appealing outdoor clothing design.
- Breathability: The Foray relies on the TorsoFlo vents to make up for some lost breathability.
- Price: $128.97 - $277.46
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The North Face Apex Flex GTX Jacket
- Comfort: This jacket should be supremely comfortable in cooler weather, but it might be too hot in warm temps.
- Water Resistance: The Gore-Tex Flex material is both highly waterproof and very comfortable.
- Design Quality: The Apex Flex boasts high-quality comfort and protection for cooler weather, but it's bulkier than some jackets in its class that offer comparable performance.
- Breathability: The Flex material breaths surprising well for a heavier garment.
- Price: $420 .
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The North Face Apex Flex GTX jacket combines a Gore-Tex waterproof layer and durable water repellent (DWR) outer finish with a stretch nylon shell. This produces a very comfortable and versatile rain shell that moves with you. It's lightly insulated inner lining could also make this jacket an ideal layer for winter running. The flexible fabric and light insulation do add some weight, however, and this jacket is significantly less packable than some of its competition. It is also heavier, weighing in at 27 ounces. This could rule the Apex Flex out as an ultralight layer or as a good choice for hot and humid treks.
Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket
- Comfort: The ultralight design will feel nice throughout a full day on the trail.
- Water Resistance: H2No membrane and recycled nylon fall slightly short of competitors for water resistance.
- Design Quality: The Torrentshell earns our top rating of 5 stars for its 100% recycled nylon design.
- Breathability: This jacket is a thinner shell overall, providing greater breathability.
- Price: $120
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Patagonia's Torrentshell rain jacket is made from 100% recycled nylon material. This makes it not only an ideal choice for those needing top-notch performance but those who are environmentally conscious, too. It is very light, coming in at only 12 ounces, and features Patagonia's H2No waterproof/breathable membrane.
This jacket makes an ideal choice for those who need solid water protection while also minimizing their global footprint. Unlike some jackets in this class, the Torrentshell may sacrifice some water protection if exposed to prolonged and heavy rain conditions.
Marmot Minimalist Rain Jacket
- Comfort: The simple, well-conceived design is good for s gsignor all-day wear.
- Water Resistance: The Gore-Tex PacLite lining is competitive with that of any jacket on the market for this trait.
- Design Quality: The simple design leads the way on this aptly named rain jacket.
- Breathability: The simple and lightweight design sacrifices a touch of breathability.
- Price: $189.
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The Marmot Minimalist jacket lives up to its name as a lightweight and simple rain shell. It easily outperforms many jackets in its class. What the Minimalist lacks in flash, it gains in quality components and sleek aesthetics. The Minimalist has a burlier-feeling outer layer than some jackets at this price point and a heavier duty main zipper. It lacks a stuff pocket, so it may not be as packable as some other shells, but the Gore-Tex PacLite lining will keep you dry in the rain for a truly long haul.
The Outdoor Research Foray jacket is an excellent choice for anyone looking to stay dry in the backcountry... or look great and be comfortable in the supermarket parking lot. It's more expensive than some other shells in this bunch, but you get what you pay for. In our opinion, the greatest benefit of the Foray jacket is its TorsoFlo vent system. These full-length zippers take this jacket's breathability to another level and make it a piece you can truly pull on in the morning and keep on all day.
The one downside to the Outdoor Research Foray jacket is that it is slightly heavier than some of its competitors. At 16 ounces (a pound), it is still an incredibly light shell. This weight disparity, however, could be crucial to someone hiking over long distances like the Appalachian Trail. For this application, a user may be happier with something like the Patagonia TorrentShell, which will save four ounces in the pack. But for most users, the Foray will feel like a very light, easily packable rain shell.
Our bottom line: If you're in the market for a top quality rain shell that is versatile, highly waterproof and super durable, the Foray may be your best option. While slightly heavier than some other choices on the market, we feel the comfort and versatility offered by the Outdoor Research Foray jacket are more than worth it. With the Foray jacket, you're not only gaining a top quality piece of rain gear but also benefiting from Outdoor Research's stellar reputation for service. This could be a jacket that serves you well for years to come.