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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody Jacket > Test Report by Hollis Easter

Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody - Jacket

Test Series by Hollis Easter
Initial Report - 10 December 2009
Field Report - 17 February 2010
Long-Term Report - 20 April 2010

The OR Ferrosi Hoody is a thin, stretchy jacket made with "soft shell" material.

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OR Ferrosi Hoody in use

Reviewer Information:

The author
The author

Name: Hollis Easter
Age: 28
Gender: Male
Height: 6'0" (1.8 m)
Weight: 205 lb (93 kg)
Email address: backpackgeartest[a@t)holliseaster(dah.t]com
City, State, Country: Potsdam, New York, USA
Backpacking Background: I started hiking as a child in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. As a teenager, I hiked my way to an Eagle Scout award. I love winter climbing, and long days through rough terrain abound. The peaks have become my year-round friends. I also love climbing rock and ice.

I am a midweight backpacker: I don't carry unnecessary gear, but neither do I cut the edges from my maps. I hike in all seasons, at altitudes from sea level to 5,300 ft (1,600 m), and in temperatures from -30 F (-34 C) to 100 F (38 C).

Product Information:

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Year of manufacture: 2009
URL: www.outdoorresearch.com
Listed weight: not listed
Measured weight: 14.9 oz (422 g)
Size: Extra Large, also available in Small, Medium, and Large
Color: Black
MSRP: not listed

Product features (from manufacturer materials):

  • Durable, breathable soft shell stretch fabric shoulders (88% Cordura / 12% Lycra) with a DWR finish
  • Abrasion and wind-resistant, stretch-woven ripstop nylon
  • Spandex body and cuff panels
  • Dual-pull adjustable hood
  • Front zipper with internal chin guard, offset at neck for comfort
  • Two zippered hand pockets
  • Zippered Napoleon pocket
  • Drawcord hem adjustment

Initial Report - 10 December 2009:

Ferrosi from the front
Ferrosi from the front

The Outdoor Research (OR) Ferrosi Hoody is a lightweight soft shell jacket made with thin technical fabrics. I plan on using it as an outer layer when I'm hiking in the mountains this winter.

When I took the Ferrosi Hoody ("Ferrosi", for short) out of its box, I was surprised by its light weight and comparatively small packed size. "Could this really be an Extra Large?", I asked myself. Sure enough, it fits. It impressed me that Outdoor Research made a jacket that fit me and still compressed down smaller than my one-liter water bottle.

The fabrics are thin and very stretchy indeed. Outdoor Research advertises the Ferrosi as being good for scrambling, and I can see why: it's easy to reach in all directions while wearing the jacket, and I don't notice much resistance. Although the jacket fits quite close to my body, the stretchy fabric keeps it from feeling tight.

Here comes the thing that made me jump with glee: the Ferrosi's sleeves are actually long enough for my arms! As someone with giant arms, I am thrilled beyond measure to find a jacket that reaches to my wrists with room to spare. It's like finding a sartorial Holy Grail, in some ways. My attempts to measure the sleeves haven't led to any meaningful numbers (I'm not sure how to measure them), but I'll say that I wear dress shirts with 36/37 inch (91/94 cm) sleeves and the Ferrosi's sleeves easily fit my arm length. I am so pleased!

Ferrosi gets thumbs up!
Ferrosi gets thumbs up!

The hood on the Ferrosi fits quite tightly, to the point that I can't put it on if the jacket is fully zipped. If the hood is on and battened down, I get a bit of resistance when I turn my head fully to the side. The hood fits tightly enough that I can't get my climbing helmet underneath it, but the fabric is thin enough to allow me to wear the hood beneath my helmet.

There's a Napoleon pocket on the left breast, secured by a zipper. I found that the pocket would contain—barely—my sunglasses, but I think it's better used for smaller items like my lip balm or compass. There are also two slash handwarmer pockets down near the bottom hem, also closed with zippers. My hands fit comfortably inside them.

I like the fact that the only Outdoor Research branding on the jacket comes in the form of a subtly-embroidered "OR" on the left breast. I hate looking like a walking billboard, and I like it when manufacturers don't tart me up with a thousand brand names. Thanks, Outdoor Research!

I like the feel of the Ferrosi's fabrics, even on bare arms. There's a bit of elastic in the cuffs, which helps them to seal around my wrists. The main zipper curves to the right as I zip it up, ending up near my right jawbone in its fully-zipped position. I'm still getting used to this orientation, but I think I like it.

The Ferrosi is not particularly warm, which I actually like. When I'm hiking, I almost never want an insulating layer on my upper body—as Colin Fletcher put it, I rarely perspire, preferring just to sweat instead. I'm looking forward to having a water-resistant shell that breathes. And breathe it does! From wearing it around town, I find the Ferrosi breathable enough that I don't notice sweat accumulating beneath it, even when I wear it indoors. It's comfortable enough that I've sometimes worn it all day at work, without realizing that I was still wearing it.

Check out that sleeve length!
Check out that sleeve length!

I don't yet have an opinion about whether the Ferrosi is wind-resistant. I do know, though, that it's no longer warm enough for about-town wear now that the temperatures have dropped well below freezing. I look forward to wearing it on the trail!

I noticed a few thread-ends poking out from the seams of the Ferrosi jacket, but otherwise the construction quality is very high. There's one small thing I really appreciate: it has a stitched loop for hanging the jacket up. I really like the Ferrosi so far!

Ferrosi on Mount Morris
Ferrosi on Mount Morris

Field Report - 17 February 2010:

During this period, I wore the Ferrosi Hoody for seven days of field use. I also wore it frequently as an outer shell until the weather turned cold, and I still wear it often around my office. I love it—it fits well and does its job.

Field Conditions:

Ice climbing on Azure
Ice climbing on Azure

November 29, 2009: Lyon Mtn and Catamount Mtn

Temperature:Wind:Elevation:
35 F (2 C) up to 15 mph (24 kph) 3,820 ft (1,164 m) and 3,168 ft (966 m)

Two friends and I set out for an early-winter hike on two northern peaks in the Adirondacks. We did a loop climb of the new and old trails on Lyon Mountain, for a total distance of approximately 9 miles (15 km). We then proceeded to Catamount, a smaller peak that blends hiking and scrambling. We made it through the rock chimney and over some exposed rock, but we were stymied by verglas on the upper summit. We decided that discretion was the better part of valor and, tails between our legs, retreated. We'll be back. Total distance on Catamount was approximately 4 miles (6 km).

December 6, 2009: Mount Arab and Mount Morris

Temperature:Wind:Elevation:
10 F (-12 C) up to 21 mph (34 kph) 2,545 ft (776 m) and ~3,200 ft (~975 m)

We ran up Mount Arab to warm up for the day's exploration of the disused ski slopes on the flanks of Mount Morris, one of the higher peaks in the northwestern Adirondacks. Standing on the summit, I looked out at Santanoni Peak and remembered the life of my friend, Dan Wills, who had died in a plane crash on Santanoni a few weeks before. It felt right to honor his memory from a mountaintop. Total distance was about 8 miles (13 km).

December 19, 2009: Cascade and Porter Mtns

Temperature:Wind:Elevation:
5 F (-15 C) to -19 F (-29 C) up to 22 mph (35 kph) 4,098 ft (1,249 m) and 4,059 ft (1,237 m)

We celebrated the last weekend before official winter climbing season with a trip up some of the easier High Peaks. The temperature on the summit was amply cold to furnish icicles in my new beard. We saw lots of people and had some gorgeous views! Total distance was around 7 miles (11 km).

December 21, 2009: Ice climbing at Azure Mtn

Temperature:Wind:Elevation:
0 F (-18 C) up to 15 mph (24 kph) not relevant

A friend and I went to scope out the early-season ice on the south flanks of Azure Mountain, our favorite local ice-climbing venue. Conditions were thin but climbable; we had a great time. Total distance was about 2 miles (3 km).

Layering on Rocky Peak Ridge
Layering on Rocky Peak Ridge

December 31, 2009: Cross-country skiing at Clarkson University

Temperature:Wind:Elevation:
32 F (0 C) none not relevant

My first day of cross-country skiing in 15 years was a blast, if a trifle awkward. We did some moonlit skiing, with headlamps to light the way when the trees were too thick for moonlight. We skied about 2 miles (3 km).

January 1, 2010: Cross-country skiing at Clarkson University

Temperature:Wind:Elevation:
32 F (0 C) none not relevant

Every year, our local outdoors club has a New Year's Gathering to ski or snowshoe the trails at Clarkson University. Emboldened by the previous evening's skiing, we decided to venture off-trail into the woods around the campus. Lots of fun, although some of the terrain was a bit too advanced for me.

January 9, 2010: Rocky Peak Ridge and Giant Peak

Temperature:Wind:Elevation:
5 F (-15 C) up to 20 mph (32 kph) 4,420 ft (1,347 m) and 4,627 ft (1,411 m)

We ascended two gorgeous High Peaks on one of the first clear days this winter. Both peaks are steep, and we ascended them via the steep Zander Scott trail. Ice bulges in the deep col between the peaks made us glad for the ice axes we brought. On the summits, we had clear views of hundreds of peaks in New York, Vermont, Ontario, and Quebec. What a stunning day!

Commentary:

The Ferrosi Hoody is my new favorite winter hiking jacket. It's thin enough that I don't overheat, but it keeps the snow off and provides a little bit of insulation and protection from windburn. I wore it all day on most of my trips, and it was usually still dry at the end of the day (so I wore it at night, too).

I do not find the Ferrosi to be particularly windproof, so I usually don a different jacket when the wind begins to bite. Since I am always carrying extra layers in the winter, this has not posed any problems for me. The jacket seems adequately water-resistant; I usually brush snow off my sleeves and shoulders, but I stay dry inside the jacket.

I adore the Ferrosi's breathability! It's the first soft-shell garment I've ever owned, and I'm hooked on it. I like the fact that it seals out the snow while allowing my sweat to evaporate. I would never have suspected that a jacket this thin would become my winter favorite, but I love it.

Durability has been good so far. Despite some rough treatment hiking through trees, the jacket shows no signs of wear. I wish I could say the same about my knees.

Ascending Giant Peak
Ascending Giant Peak

Summary:

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody is a versatile, durable, comfortable jacket. I wear it indoors and outdoors, and it looks appropriate in the mountains and in town. It's very thin, which makes layering easy; it stretches to allow freedom of movement even in intense activities like ice climbing. Although it isn't really an insulating garment, it helps prevent heat loss due to convection, and that provides just the right amount of insulation for me.

Long-Term Report - 20 April 2010:

Shortly before the publication of my Field Report, I sustained a major overuse injury to my right knee. The resulting trifecta of patellofemoral syndrome and injury to my quadriceps and patellar tendons has kept me out of the mountains and in the physical therapists' office for the last few months, which means I have nothing that I would call "field use" to report during this period. I have worn the jacket frequently around town and at work when temperatures allowed, and have worn it on brief walks in the woods when my knee was... well, capable of bearing weight.

As temperatures have warmed in northern New York, I've been reminded of the versatility the Ferrosi offers. When I'm outside, the jacket keeps me comfortably warm as long as I'm moving; when I come inside, I often forget to take it off. Given how much time I've spent wearing it, I am impressed by the fact that it doesn't smell, either—score one for Outdoor Research's fibers! The fabric moves with me comfortably, and it never seems to get in the way. I still enjoy the close-but-stretchy fit of the Ferrosi.

I've grown a beard in the last few months, and I have noticed that the zipper of the Ferrosi sometimes eats my beard, causing a brief yelp. It doesn't happen often, but it certainly draws my attention when it occurs! I think the troublesome beard/zipper interaction comes from the fact that the Ferrosi's zipper curves around to the side, rather than running straight up my torso. This makes it hard to keep the zipper away from my face while closing it. It isn't a huge problem, but it's worthy of note if you're a facially-furred Ferrosi fancier as I (now) am.

I haven't had any durability concerns at all, despite the many days I've worn the Ferrosi. I'm impressed—I expected a soft-shell jacket to be less tough. Back when my knee was working, I wore the Ferrosi through some fairly vicious underbrush, and it shows no signs of wear.

Basically, I love the Ferrosi. It fills a very important niche in my gear closet: a lightweight shell that's breathable and not particularly insulated. It isn't the most windproof jacket I've worn, but I typically carry a hard shell or windproof insulating layer for that. I can wear the Ferrosi comfortably in a wide range of temperatures, and it keeps the snow off. It's reasonably good in quick rain storms, too. On the whole, I think it's a great jacket, and I plan to continue wearing it.

All dressed up with friends
All dressed up with friends

Likes:Dislikes:
  • Comfortable
  • Nice fabric
  • Stretches when I move
  • Long enough arms!
  • Subtle logo
  • Has loop for hanging
  • Breathable fabric
  • Excellent durability
  • Napoleon pocket a bit small
  • Hood a little small
  • Not very windproof

I thank BackpackGearTest.org and Outdoor Research for allowing me to test the Ferrosi Hoody.



Read more reviews of Outdoor Research gear
Read more gear reviews by Hollis Easter

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody Jacket > Test Report by Hollis Easter



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