OUTDOOR RESEARCH (WOMENS) PARADOX JACKET
TEST SERIES BY ROSALEEN SULLIVAN
April 17, 2007
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Eastern Massachusetts, USA
5' 9" (1.75 m)
180 lb (81.60 kg)
My pace tends to be slow and steady, while enjoying one hot meal and the rest of my food as bars or "munchies." I am in constant search of ways to lighten up. I usually carry a hammock, down bag and jacket, hiking poles, and an alcohol or fuel tablet stove, etc., retooling gear to complement the current trip. I also make some gear. I especially enjoy backpacks over 3 day periods, but have made longer trips. Last summer, I backpacked from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to the Nantahala River in North Carolina, about 134 miles (216 km) of Appalachian Trail.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
December 1, 2006
Manufacturer: Paradox Jacket (women's) Style # 95665
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Manufacturer's Website: http://outdoorresearch.com
MSRP: US$ 89.00
Listed Weight: Avg. weight: 10.5 oz. (size M) (296 g)
Measured Weight: 15.2 oz (430 g) (size XL)
Other details: SIZES AVAILABLE: S, M, L, XL; COLORS AVAILABLE: Fireweed, Delphi, Coffee
|OR Paradox Jacket, coffee (Photo from Website)
Product Description (From the Website):
"The Paradox has a light ripstop shell that provides you with wind and weather protection. The soft lining keeps you feeling dry and comfortable throughout the day. It's the ideal shell for sunny days with a cool wind."
(More from the website indicating OR's design philosophy, as it applies to this type of apparel.)
"Women's Technical Apparel
Clothing should promote activity, not restrict it: that's the theme behind our women's line. OR apparel is designed to follow the lines of the body, not cut across them. It fits equally over your entire body, not tight in one place and baggy in another. It's natural to want clean, crisp movement and our goal is to provide you with that freedom.
Divided into lightweight wind shells, versatile soft shells, and full-protection storm shells, these pieces are the first line of defense against the elements."
Product Description (Tester Observations)
The Outdoor Research Paradox Women's Jacket that I received is a nicely appointed garment. I did expect a somewhat close fit from OR's technical apparel description, but it fits more snugly than I'd like, as winter is beginning here, and I anticipate a desire to use this jacket as a layer over fleece and/or down jackets. I can get a down "sweater" under it, as well as some thermal tops. From reading the website, I did expect a nylon or polyester ripstop jacket with a zippered front, two side pockets, and some sort of a soft lining. I did not find specifics on the website, but did find information on the sewn-in instruction tags. The shell is 52% nylon and 48% polyester, and the lining is 100% polyester. The care instructions direct the user to: Machine wash, cold, gentle cycle, no bleach, and to drip dry and iron on low. Features that I enjoyed discovering include short metal pull tabs on most of the nylon zippers (lightweight, flexible coil, durable, in my experiences), a "Napoleon pocket" (inside chest pocket with a side opening), zippers (and no Velcro!),
closures for the side pockets. The elastic cord around the bottom of the jacket intended to help seal out drafts is easy to draw tight with one hand. Two very nice touches are a fold of fabric over the top edge of the zipper, preventing it from rubbing my chin when I completely close front of the jacket and a strip of
grosgrain under the front zipper coil. I suspect that the ribbon will help reduce zipper snagging and abrasion. (Cool!) The polyester lining seems to be "brushed," giving the inner surface an extra-warm feeling. There is a small strip of hook-and-loop fastener on each cuff, allowing the wearer to adjust the
bottom edges of the sleeves, helping to seal out cold air. I am a bit intrigued with the outer shell's appearance. It has a definite sheen that reminds me of a "retro fabric," "sharkskin," used in men's suits many years ago. As I move the jacket, light bounces off at various angles, causing the jacket to seem to be
made in varying shades of dark brown. It appears that the manufacturer did pay the needed attention as the pattern pieces were laid out so the color would look right. I was pleased that OR designers kept extra fasteners, such as " back-up" Velcro strips, snaps, buckles, etc., out of this design (See site quotes.) I
also like my wind jackets to have hoods, but this design does not include one. I am a bit surprised that the actual weight is so much higher than the stated weight. While I expect a size XL to weigh more than a size M, this jacket is about 150% of the site-provided weight for a size medium jacket. This leads me
to wonder if the listed weight for a medium jacket is noticeably lower than the actual weight.
This jacket is available in four sizes, small, medium, large and extra-large, and three colors (my description), Fireweed (dusty rose pink), Delphi (bright light blue), and Coffee (dark brown).
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
February 13, 2007
I wore or carried the OR Paradox Jacket during three one-night trips on local trails here in eastern Massachusetts. Also, I have worn the jacket around town, at work, and during a recent trip to Las Vegas. Temperatures have ranged from below freezing to the 70's F (20 C). Wind speeds have been between fairly quiet to quite gusty. I have not been at any great altitude for this period. In fact, here at home, we are nearly at sea level. When our temperatures went much below freezing, I stopped carrying the jacket for most outdoor pursuits, as I was not warm enough in this light jacket.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My experiences with the Paradox Jacket are positive for the most part. I mentioned in my Initial Report that I found this was a close fit and that I don't have a lot of spare room to wear bulky clothes underneath it. For backpacking purposes, this jacket has been comfortable in light breezes and moderate temperatures, and repels light rain long enough for me to get under cover or pull out a poncho. Wishing to know if this jacket would take a quick dousing in rain, I stuck a sleeve under a fast running tap. The jacket did not wet through for several minutes.
The Paradox has a light, brushed lining, but no filled interlining intended for cold weather. Not featuring pit-zips or other vents, this garment encourages me to be careful about having other clothing options or quickly adjusting layers to prevent perspiration build up. I have been pleasantly surprised when caught needing to move quickly but without a change of clothes to find that a light sweat did not cause me to feel wet or clammy as I have when wearing unlined non-breathable jackets.
With a light dressy sweater or my down liner jacket, I have been comfortable to about 40 F (4 C) for very light activities, walking about town, supervising playgrounds, etc. As mentioned, I can't wear it over bulky layers that I need when the temperatures drop much below freezing. Of course, this jacket wasn't advertised for cold weather, so I can't declare this as a problem.
I also have worn it indoors at work when the heat was not up to par. It has a crisp yet feminine presentation missing in my usual cold weather, trail-intended garb, so I did not feel self-conscious wearing the jacket in my workplace or around town.
This jacket was great for getting around in Las Vegas when the temperatures were between 40 F (4 C) and about 70 F (21 C). I wanted a jacket that could block wind, and look "town presentable." The "Napoleon pocket'" was perfect for most of my cash and credit cards, and the two zippered side pockets held my thinned wallet and a few personal essentials securely. Zippered pockets and no pocketbook present less of a target for pickpockets, and I was glad of this when a man close to me started to run through the crowd as I heard, "Stop! Las Vegas Police!" I could have been the pickpocket's victim instead of a bystander.
The jacket packs down easily for either my backpack or suitcase. It had an acceptable level of wrinkling when I pulled it out to wear. Some of my hikes along the Appalachian Trail have had opportunities for town stops. Other trips have been planned for areas requiring air travel and time in cities in addition to trail time. I think this jacket would be a good light layer that would work for my time on both the trail and in town. This could make for a reasonable weight trade off for my Pertex fabric wind breaker because of the distinctly different needs being covered by one jacket.
Likes and Dislikes
I have found more to like than to dislike about the Paradox Jacket. I am tall and large-boned for a woman and tend to gain some weight during the winter. I would like to see the sizes offered expanded or the jackets simply to run a little larger, allowing a heavier layer to fit underneath it. The sleeves were actually long enough for me, which isn't very common. My preferences lean towards jackets that are a bit longer in the body, but this cut is stylish and flattering, so I find no real fault there. I have come to really like the Napoleon pocket and the way the zippers on this jacket are small enough to be light and unobtrusive while standing up to use and being easy to manipulate
This concludes my Field Report for the OR Paradox Jacket. I anticipate that before the Long Term Report is due in 2 months, I will find an opportunity to wash the jacket and will report any effects that laundering or further wear might display. Further use of the jacket will be dictated to a large extent by weather conditions between now and the end of the test period.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Long Term Report
May 17, 2007
During these last two months of testing, I have used the Paradox Jacket for a few walks and short snowshoeing adventures here in eastern Massachusetts in temperatures close to freezing. This part of the country is mostly rolling coastal plain, and not much above sea level. Additionally, I did get in one weekend along the Appalachian Trail in eastern Pennsylvania, where the maximum elevation I encountered is listed as 1575 ft (480 m). We had snow flurries and there were large ice crystals in the ground where I hiked, leading me to estimate the temperatures to be in the low 20's F (-7 C) along the ridges that I walked. (This was a combination of projections of recorded valley temperatures and how the air "felt.")
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
As long as I moved briskly, and the temperatures were not too far below freezing, I was comfortable wearing this jacket over light sweater or "thermal shirt." While wearing a backpack, I was able to achieve some venting by opening the hook and loop tabs on the sleeves and unzipping the jacket. Pit zips would have been nice, but the brushed nylon lining did a decent job of wicking any sweat that developed.
The jacket could easily have gone longer without a washing, but I chose to pop the Paradox into my front-loading washing machine specifically to test how the jacket stood up to machine washing. I used warm water and Atsko Sport-Wash Atsko Sport-Wash. (I tested Sport-Wash last year and knew it would not interfere with the jacket's water-shedding abilities.) The jacket seemed to come through the wash cycle unscathed. Up to this point, if I noticed any spots on the jacket, I was able to remove them by wiping the area with a damp cloth. Now that the jacket has dried while hanging near a home heating vent, the seams appear slightly puckered.
After four months of off and on use, the Paradox shows no pilling of the liner fabric while the shell seems to be in perfect condition. I see no evidence of the several slight catches on branches or thorns that occurred during my time on trails. The pockets are intact ad the zippers and hook and loop closures are all functioning as new.
I found the Outdoor Research Paradox Jacket to be a flattering, comfortable, lightweight jacket, suitable for a range of activities from walking around town to hiking along a mountain trail. The jacket that I tested has help up well over the four month testing period. I suspect that I could have gotten even more use from it if the test ran over spring to summer or summer to fall than over the winter, because the cut was not roomy enough for me (I am at the end of the sizing scale) to fit a bulky winter liner jacket under it.
-Adjustable hook and loop closures on the sleeves
-Wind and water-resistant shell fabric
-Comfortable brushed inner liner fabric
-Zippered hand-warmer pockets and "Napoleon pocket"
-Storm flap under the zipper
Less Useful Features
-Tiny flap that covers the zipper tape can be mistaken (by feel) for the zipper itself. This can make for some fumbling as the jacket is zipped closed.
This is a nice looking jacket that I will probably reserve for wear around town. It is a flattering color for my redhead's skin tone and auburn hair. For trail use, I will likely go back to one of my lighter alternatives, such as an unlined Pertex fabric jacket or even my poncho for wind and rain protection. I can be an obsessive ounce counter, so this choice would be by no means a fault against the jacket.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
Read more gear reviews by Rosaleen Sullivan