Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Trim fit, lightweight.
Cons: Top hood adjustment is hard to loosen even without gloves, hand pockets are low and get covered by a pack's waist belt, cuff openings aren't large and don't fit over large gloves.
Best Uses: Better for hiking than climbing, but with either a pack's waist belt covers pockets hand pockets.
The Outdoor Research Axiom is a moderately lightweight, fully-featured hardshell jacket better suited to hiking than climbing. Our testers found the Axiom's materials (Gore Active Shell) to perform well at high output aerobic activities. The Jacket's design leaves some room for improvement: its hand pockets are set low and get get covered by a pack's hip belt and the hood can be restrictive when worn over a helmet.
Our top rated lightweight shell, the Arcteryx Alpha FL, has more refined features, such as a reinfornced shoulder and hood area, an exceptionally comfortable helmet compatible hood, and a larger external chest pocket. The Alpha FL also weighs less than the Axiom.
We recommend the Patagonia Super Pluma for all types of foul weather activities and the Arcteryx Alpha SV for expedition climbing, or anyone who wants the most durable hardshell. The Rab Stretch Neo offers the best bang for your buck.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Outdoor Research Axiom is a lightweight and simple Gore Active Shell jacket.
We tested six other lightweight hardshells that are either made either made with Active Shell or fall into the same weight class. The Axiom ranks in the upper half of these.
Unfortunately, the jacket has several significant drawbacks that contribute to our so-so rating: (1) The hood is not helmet compatible. With the zipper closed we found it to be restrictive when looking up and too the sides. (2) The handwarmer pockets sit low, by your waist, and are covered by a backpack's hipbelt. Further, the pockets have mesh backing, which makes them better for hiking than climbing because ice and snow inevitably enter the pockets and melt- which get's you wet.(3) The rear hood adjustment cord is difficult to loosen even without gloves. Consequently, we found that other Active Shell jackets perform at a higher level in general, and especially for winter activities.
The Axiom's best application is hiking, but the jacket's hand pockets sit low and are obscured by a backpack's hip belt. Although you do have access to the chest pocket it would be better if you also had access to the hand pockets when hiking.
For backpacking some of our testers prefer lighter waterproof breathable jackets such as the Outdoor Research Helium 2 which weighs a mere 6.4 ounces, packs into a miniscule ball, and costs one third as much as the Axiom. An Active Shell jacket will be more durable and more comfortable than the Helium 2's Pertex Shield+ but for the majority of hikers a lightweight rain shell may be a better option.
See how the Axiom compares to the other twenty hardshells we tested in our Hardshell Jacket Review.
— Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 14, 2012
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