When Outdoor Research offered to send me their new Axiom lightweight shell for a review, I jumped at the chance, even though I knew it had a lot to live up to. After all, not only is it the latest and greatest creation from one of my favorite gear companies, the Axiom has already earned Gear of the Year awards from both Outside magazine and National Geographic Adventure. To say my expectations were set high is an understatement, but after using the shell for a few weeks I can safely say that it not only lives up to the hype, it actually exceeds it.
Weighing in at just 13.5 ounces (382 grams), the Axiom is made from the newest fabrics from Gore-Tex. Normally that would tell me two things, first the jacket will perform very well in bad weather, and two it’ll probably cook the wearer in the process. Gore-Tex is well known for its ability to repel moisture but it is equally well known for how warm it can get underneath. That simply isn’t the case with this new, 21st century, version of the fabric however and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Axiom maintained the great performance in inclement weather but gained the ability to breathe freely as well. So much so that Outdoor Research was able to save weight simply by eliminating pit vents altogether.
Lightweight and breathability aren’t the only elements that this new Gore-Tex fabric brings to the table. It also has a higher level of elasticity that allows for more freedom of movement while hiking or climbing. I always appreciate outdoor apparel that doesn’t impede motion, particularly when you need it to work well under the most demanding circumstances. Thanks to this newly developed fabric, the Axiom can keep you dry and moving swiftly no matter what the weather throws at you.
New Gore-Tex is only half of the equation however and Outdoor Research has incorporated some great design choices to make the Axiom stand out as well. For instance, the jacket features three zipped pockets, each of which can be accessed even while wearing a backpack. As you would expect, the adjustable hood has been built to fit over a helmet and the zippers are high quality and weather resistant.
The Axiom makes a great jacket for any number of outdoor activities from peak bagging and trail running to cross country skiing and backpacking. Its combination of light weight, excellent fit and fantastic performance in inclement weather have made it the new standard that all other shells will be compared to. OR prices the Axiom at $375 which is a relative bargain compared to much of the competition as well.
If you’re in the market for a new lightweight shell, there seems to be one clear-cut choice at the moment. The Axiom performed above and beyond my expectations and I have a feeling it will do the same for you.
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