Outdoor Research Virtuoso Jacket
4 out of 5 based on 1 user reviews.
|Warm, light, packs down small into it's own pocket.|
I compared a number of inexpensive down belay parkas this season, needing something to put over my other warm clothing. This was my pick of the litter. The pertex on the arms and shoulders is a great fabric that I am familiar with from my Rab sleeping bag. It's completely windproof, more so than gore-tex/eVent or similar waterproof/breathable laminates, keeping you warmer.
The fact that the jacket stuffs into it's own pocket, was the perfect length and cut to go over my other kit, and has cinches on the hood - a feature curiously lacking on many belay parkas, rendering the hood unusable without a helmet on, and relatively difficult to use in high winds - won me over.
|There's two cons I have for this jacket. One is that OR advertises two internal "shove-it" pockets, leading one to imagine the large mesh pockets found in most belay parkas... Turns out they're both zippered, and one is a small internal chest pocket barely big enough for half your hand, and neither is mesh. So don't count on your gloves or hat drying quickly in them. This isn't a feature that was at the top of my list because typically I have a pack on and the hip-belt goes over my parka, so I can just toss things inside it anywhere and they won't fall out.|
The other con is the zippers. They are terrible. Really, truly, terrible. I have tied strings onto all mine to make them semi-usable with gloves on. I figured I'd get used to their small pull-tab size, but I haven't yet. They are difficult to start, and have very high friction... they seal tight, but are hard to move with gloves.
|The closest contender on my list was the Sierra Designs Manic. The zippers on the manic are amazing. I could have used them with my down mittens on. And it has two real internal mesh pockets. But at 3.5 inches longer than the virtuoso it was way too long for me to put comfortably over a harness, and the extra length just made the jacket heavier and bulkier when packed than it needed to be. It also has no hood cinch, and I didn't trust the elastic to hold the hood over my helmet in the wind, when I'd need it most.|