Gear Closet: Outdoor Research Redline Jacket

This spring Outdoor Research is introducing some great new technical apparel designed specifically for trail runners. Yesterday I shared my thoughts on the new Throttle running shorts, giving them high marks for their quick drying properties, overall comfort and versatility – all important qualities for any piece of active gear designed for warm weather use. But spring weather is anything but predictable and just when you think things are looking good, Mother Nature throws us a curve and conditions take a turn for the worse. That’s when you’ll be glad you have the new Redline jacket in your gear closet, providing a super lightweight shield from the elements.

Available in four colors, the Redline is bright and easy to spot, even in low light conditions. The jacket weighs a mere 4.6 ounces but performs like a much more substantial shell, easily protecting the wearer from rain and wind. Made from lightweight ripstop fabrics, the Redline breathes nicely allowing for moisture to quickly and easily wick away, helping to keep the wearer more comfortable on longer runs.

With a close fitting cut, this jacket has been made to hug the body without restricting motion in any way. It features elastic cuffs that can extend to protect the hands and a surprisingly large chest pocket, which also serves as the stuff sack when you want to reduce the Redline’s footprint for storage in a pack or large pocket.

A recent cool snap in the spring weather here in Texas gave me ample opportunity to really put the Redline through its paces. I wore this jacket both on the trail and on street runs and found it performed above and beyond my expectations. Most of those runs involved cooler temperatures, high winds and even a little rain that varied from a fine mist to a light, yet steady downpour. In all cases, I stayed comfortably dry and sufficiently warm throughout my workout. I was particularly impressed with how well it served as a wind shirt, keeping me from being buffeted from constant gusts that brought an unexpected chill to the air.

Despite its lightweight and very thin fabrics, the Redline is surprisingly durable. On more than one occasion while running a trail I thought that I had snagged it on a branch or bristly plant, surely shredding it wide open. At the end of the run, when I examined the jacket, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was the Redline intact, there wasn’t even a mark on it. Outdoor Research is so confident in their products that they actually give them all a lifetime guarantee, and after testing out this jacket, I can understand how they can afford to do that.

As with the Throttle running shorts that I reviewed yesterday, the Redline jacket is a nice piece of gear that can be used in other outdoor excursions as well. It would make a nice shell for day hikes when the weather can turn unexpectedly bad, although it isn’t fully water proof, so it is important to understand its limitations. But for breezy days with mild weather conditions or light rain, it is a great option.

The Redline jacket carries an MSRP of $85, a price I thought was surprisingly affordable considering the performance it delivers. In fact, not knowing what the jackets price was before I tested it, I would have guessed that it was considerably more. Any trail runner will appreciate how well the Redline performs and they’ll be glad they have one in their wardrobe when they set out for a long run in spring or fall conditions.

This is another great piece of gear from Outdoor Research that only adds to their reputation as one of the best gear companies around today.

Kraig Becker