Outdoor Research Foray Jacket: A Great Rain Coat For Photographers

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Outdoor Research Foray Jacket

Waterproof: Yes
Breathable: Sure
Shell Material: Gore-Tex Paclite w/ 50D Polyester Face Fabric 
Hood: 3-way adjustable hood w/reinforced brim
Pockets: (2) zippered hand pockets, (1) zippered chest pocket
Size: Medium
Fit: Slightly Generous, room for layers, good torso/sleeve length
Claimed Weight: 15.5 ounces
MSRP: $215

Everyone needs a good rain jacket, especially people that like to spend time outside. Sometimes it rains and that should never keep you from getting outside and having some fun. Recently my wife and I spent some time in Iceland doing some backpacking and exploring and my experience there gave me some new perspective on my current jacket and I now feel ready to pass judgement. 

Keep in mind I am a 6’1″ male who weighs ~155lbs, has relatively narrow shoulders and wears size 32/32 pants. I buy dress shirts most often in the small size, but can occasionally get away with a medium. 

Anyway, here’s what I think… 

 

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This isn’t my first foray with the Foray Jacket from Outdoor Research. I owned one previously and this older version used water resistant zips for the pit/torso flo zips and had a different face fabric that in my experience repelled water for much longer than the current fabric. However, the older jacket’s fabric was also stiff and loud, and I was never happy with the way it fit. One day I found a deal on another jacket that fit really well and ended up selling my older OR Foray. 

However, during the first few times I used the other jacket in inclement weather I immediately missed the torso flo zips. These zippers are Outdoor Research’s version of pit zips and they run all the way from the bicep to the hem of the jacket. The awesome thing about this configuration is that if you unzip the zippers starting at the jacket hem you can turn the Foray into a sort of high end poncho. This provides much more breathability that typical pit zips while not sacrificing any weather protection. Anyway, after a few months I sold the replacement jacket and purchased the current version of the Outdoor Research Foray… and that is the jacket I will be talking about during the rest of this review. 

 

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When I received my new Foray jacket I noticed a couple of things. First, the face fabric had been updated/changed. OR was still using Gore-tex Paclite as the waterproof laminate, but the outer fabric was now much softer and quieter. At first I thought this was a good thing, but the first time I had it out in the rain I noticed that the fabric would wet-out very quickly. I’m not sure if this is because OR’s DWR is inadequate in some way or due to something else. It hasn’t been an issue for me, but I do feel it’s worth noting. 

Second, OR changed the zippers used on the pit/torso flo zips. They used to be nice water resistant zippers. On the current jacket they moved to smaller regular zipper hidden under a flap. Again, I haven’t had any issues with the zippers at this time, but they are a little tougher to zip/unzip and I do worry about their durability as they appear to be a smaller gauge than the old zippers. 

 

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Besides the fact that I think OR downgraded this jacket… It is a really great rain jacket and I’m glad I own it. I’ve spent a lot of time in this jacket and so far it’s never let me down. On our trip to Iceland my wife and I were constantly exposed to rain and wind and rain and wind and rain and wind. During the day I would wear a light wool L/S top and wear the Foray like a poncho with the front untucked from my pack waist belt. This provided a ton of ventilation and kept the rain on the outside and me dry on the inside.

The jacket cuffs use a combination of elastic and velcro. This allowed me to get a nice secure fit around my wrists to keep blowing rain out, but still let me push my sleeves up to dump some heat when I started to warm up.

The hood was also very comfortable and easy to adjust. It stayed put even in 30-40 mph winds and was able to be pulled tight enough to keep driving rain out, but still allow me to see what I was doing. I have zero complaints about the hood.   

The pockets are well placed, easy to access with a pack on and a comfortable place to put your hands when it’s cold. They’re also mesh lined which keeps them from retaining any water, and they have zip closures to help keep your crap safe. 

The Foray also fits quite well. The sleeves and torso are long enough, and there is enough room for layers, but not so much room that it feels too big. Also, I like the color. 

If you’re a photographer I think you will really like this jacket. Being able to wear it as a poncho is super handy when hiking or traveling in rainy weather with a camera. I will often wear my camera under my jacket and with the torso flo zips unzipped I am easily able to flip the jacket up, take a few frames, and then cover up again all in a matter of seconds. I find myself taking advantage of this functionality all of the time whether hiking in the White Mountains, or wandering around town. It was this reason that made me come back to OR and the Foray jacket. Having easy access to my camera, while keeping it well protected from the elements is something that I don’t know that I will be able to live without in the future. I only wish OR utilized the torso flo zips in more of their jackets. I would love a higher-end shell with torso flo, but until then the Foray will have to do… and what it does, it does nicely. 

 

 

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