Outdoor Research Interstellar - Women's Review
Cons: Expensive, zipper catches easily on storm flap, no pit zips
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Our Analysis and Test Results
A combination of technical performance and a highly breathable membrane make the OR Interstellar a great choice if you tend to find yourself climbing or biking in stormy weather. Throughout testing, we found this model to lack a couple of essential features, which keeps it out of reach of the award's circle.
The Interstellar features exclusive Acentshell technology that is highly water-resistant yet breathable. It's worth noting the DWR finish began to deteriorate toward the end of testing, leaving us a little more waterlogged than we would have liked. The hood is very protective, having a wide, stiff brim to shield your eyes and a stiff wire on the front edge to hold whatever shape you prefer no matter how tight you pack it.
We love the feel of the soft, stretchy fabric. It's comfortable enough to wear against your skin; this soft interior does feel a bit "sticky" against base layers, though not so much that it's an issue. Strangely, for an active jacket, this was one of the few that we felt could use a little more room in the shoulder area, particularly when we wanted to wear it over a fleece. We also consistently struggled with the main zipper getting caught on the storm flap underneath. It's such a large-toothed zipper that it catches pretty easily if the stiff storm flap underneath is at all laying over the zipper.
Its large, helmet-compatible hood keeps you dry in even the strongest of downpours. One notable feature of the hood is the newest addition of the Hood Lock. This small hook on the adjustment toggle at the back of the helmet can be hooked onto a small fabric loop at the base of the hood to take in some of that excess material when you're not wearing a helmet. This is an excellent idea for a feature, as the hood without a helmet is cavernous. However, we find it in practice to be less than ideal.The Hood Lock easily comes unhooked from the loop while you're wearing the jacket, letting the hood fall back over your eyes. We also had some difficulties with the hook catching the elastic cord from the hood, making it incredibly difficult to loosen the hood with cold, rained-on hands. The hood also cinches from both sides, but the drawstrings are located on the inside of the collar; they lay against your cheek, making it a touch difficult to access when your jacket is zipped up.
AscentShell is an exclusive Outdoor Research technology that uses an electrospun waterproof-breathable membrane, which is key to its breathable functionality. It boasts a high caliber level of breathability, and this jacket strongly relies on the ability to breathe rather than the vent. While not always able to be accessed in a downpour, we do value pit zips, and the lack of underarm vents left the Interstellar just a smidge behind the competition. Fortunately, the Interstellar sports incredible breathability that helps to make up for the lack of pit vents.
The Interstellar's 20D mechanical stretch ripstop face fabric is soft, flexible, and rather thin. Although we did not encounter any rips or tears throughout the testing process, we are not convinced of the longevity of the delicate nature of the fabric. And while the moderate stretch of this jacket makes it easier to wear, it does mean the DWR finish needs to be reapplied all the more often as it wears out quickly. We also tested the latest version of this jacket in a light, powdery blue, which unfortunately stains all too easily.
Weight and Packability
The Interstellar weighs in at 9.2 ounces, putting it in the middle of the pack. One of the features we have found to be very necessary with rain jackets is the built-in stow pocket. The Interstellar doesn't disappoint; it packs down to a reasonably small size and stuffs into its left-hand pocket, making it easy to stow away. And while some jackets we tested feel like cramming an overpacked suitcase at the end of a two-week vacation, the Interstellar is refreshingly painless to pack away.
With one of the highest price tags of the bunch, this is not a jacket for the budget-minded individual. However, it will not disappoint if you are looking for a trusty rain jacket to partner up with while out pursuing your climbing endeavors.
If a high price point is not the main concern for you and you're in the market for a solidly protective rain jacket for your climbing or mountaineering adventures, this is a great choice. Its dynamic stretch and spacious hood make it a great companion for staying dry while still moving around - or up - in a downpour.
— Maggie Nichols & Katherine Elliott
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