Roads Rivers and Trails

Dream. Plan. Live.

Tag Archives: Kayla


Gear Review: Outdoor Research Aspire Jacket

by: Kayla McKinney

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Aspire Jacket

I first purchased my Outdoor Research Aspire jacket in 2014 and have worn it extensively since. I have taken it on many trips, in a wide variety of conditions, and therefore I feel credible enough to give you my review of the jacket!

*Note: The women’s version of the jacket is the Aspire, and the men’s version is the Foray. This review can be applied to both versions of the jacket. One main difference: the Foray has a zippered chest pocket, whereas the Aspire has a zippered arm pocket. There is also a shell pant version of the Aspire and Foray.

Let’s begin with a quick run down of the facts and features of the jacket:

Feature Facts:

This jacket is primarily meant to be a hard shell, meaning it is highly water, wind and weather proof. You want to use it as your outside layer to protect you from the elements.

Fabric: GORE-TEX® with Paclite® product technology 2L, 100% polyester 50D plain weave

Weight: 13.7oz / 388g (for size medium)

Awesome Features:

Fabric Performance: Waterproof, Breathable, Fully Seam-Taped, Laminated Construction, Windproof.

Design Features: Fully Adjustable Hood, YKK® AquaGuard® Zippers, Internal Front Stormflap, Hem-To-Bicep TorsoFlo™ Venting, Zip Arm Pocket (chest pocket for the Foray), Zip Hand Pockets, Left-Hand Pocket Doubles as Stuff Sack, Carabiner Loop.

Functional Details: Double-Separating Center Front Zipper, Pocket Placement Above Harness, Hook/Loop Cuff Closures, Elastic Cuffs, Elastic Drawcord Hem.

Personal Use and Favorite Features:

So yeah those are the facts but let me tell you about my personal experiences with this jacket and why I think it’s a good choice as a versatile, comfortable, completely dependable hardshell:

So protected while trekking across the Fimmvörðuháls pass in Iceland, June 2016

So protected while trekking across the Fimmvörðuháls pass in Iceland, June 2016

I have worn this jacket in every season, and in every type of weather condition. I am a small, light weight female, 5ft 6in, whose primary outdoor interests are backpacking and rock climbing. I tend to be more sensitive to cold, and don’t sweat as much as my peers. This jacket suits me perfectly because it has been reliable in all weather conditions, meaning I did not get wet to my skin when I hiked all day in the rain, nor did I sweat excessively inside the jacket because of the efficient and well placed ventilation zips! The jacket has zippers from the base of the armpit all the way to the end of the jacket, and can be unzipped from the top and/or bottom. Unzipping from the bottom up allows for “poncho-style ventilation” if you need more than just the armpits unzipped. It’s breezy without letting the rain/snow/hail/dirt/whatever come inside. The pockets are placed high enough that you can wear a harness and still have pocket access. The storm hood is highly adjustable and can be cinched on both sides, and the back, with a visor-like cover for comfortable face protection. They were so nice to even put a soft fleece layer near where the jacket rests on your chin. Basically, the jacket is versatile enough to maintain ideal body temperatures in varying conditions.

Protected in foggy weather in the Gosaukamm, Austria, August 2016

Protected in foggy weather in the Gosaukamm, Austria, August 2016

Another awesome aspect is that the jacket folds into it’s own pocket, on the left side, into it’s own zipped up bag with a carabiner loop. It is easy to stuff and can be stored in a pack easily.

Fit and Other Uses:

The jacket is also lightweight and comfortable to wear, and doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a thick trash bag as I’ve experienced with shells in the past.  It can be cinched on the sides for a closer fit, but is also roomy enough that I can fit several layers underneath the jacket as well. I wear it as a lifestyle jacket in the fall and spring as well because it blocks the wind and is fairly warm as a light jacket on its own. I also wear it on evening bike rides, or almost every time I ride my moped to protect me from the wind.

Long-Term Durability:

Olivia and I both rocking the Aspire on the summit of Mt. Marcy, in New York, late November 2015. Purple may be the coolest color version of the jacket, just saying.

Olivia and I both rocking the Aspire on the summit of Mt. Marcy, in New York, late November 2015. Purple may be the coolest color version of the jacket, just saying.

I have almost worn this jacket for two years now, and I have treated it with Durable Water Repellent, DWR, treatment twice. The jacket was initially created to be waterproof, but with excessive use, dirtiness and aging, this coating can fade. As with any waterproof clothing, I recommend treating your jacket after significant use. I have not seen any rips, tears, broken zippers, or any type of warranty related issue. The jacket is still in high quality shape. But if a problem ever did arise, Outdoor Research has an incredible warranty. It is known as the Infinite Guarantee, which insures and protects your gear forever and regardless of the issue. In my opinion, it is the greatest warranty in the outdoor industry and speaks volumes of the integrity of Outdoor Research as a company and gear producer. For more information and exact language of the Infinite Guarantee refer to this link.

Overall, I highly recommend this jacket to anyone in need of a reliable, versatile waterproof, windproof hard shell that they want to last them in many conditions and over many years.

I would share photos of the countless times I’ve worn this jacket in the rain, but I have never wanted to take my camera out for a photo in such conditions, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

For more information on the Aspire jacket, visit the Outdoor Research website page: