Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: The Maximus is a high quality shell but doesn't have any specific features that stand out, as posrticularly great, from the other 18 jackets tested.
Cons: Mesh backing to hand pockets lets in meltig snow and wind, bulky boxy fit is less ergonomic that other top tier shells, Torso Flow side vents are inferior to pit zips because they don't vent as well and can be hard to open with a pack on.
Best Uses: All purpose
The Outdoor Research Maximus uses high quality Gore-Tex Pro Shell, but has a feature set and fit that are inferior to many other shells tested. We therefore, prefer other shells and can recommend the following options.
Stepping into the medium duty category, the 14.1 oz Patagonia Super Pluma is out highest rated all-purpose hardshell. Go for the Super Pluma if you demand handwarmer pockets and want one shell for skiing, hiking, climbing, and everything else.
For the most durable and versatile piece of mountain climbing body armor choose the Arcteryx Alpha SV. This shell represents the ultimate in simplicity and function, and boasts a slew of well-refined climbing specific features. The Alpha SV is ideal for climbing mountains that cross multiple climates: start low by bushwhacking through dense, wet forests and finish up high on technical ice and snow. The Alpha SV is much more durable than the Maximus. It’s also more durable and has more room for layering than any lightweight shell or the Super Pluma.
The Arcteryx Alpha FL is our top rated fast and light hardshell for climbing, ultralight hiking, and for use as an insurance piece. The Alpha FL weighs a mere 10.7 oz. and utilizes Gore's Active Shell membrane, which dumps expels moisture vapor faster than Gore Pro Shell; it’s best for high output activities, but it’s not as versatile, durable, or as warm as the Super Pluma, Super Alpine, or Alpha SV.
For those on a budget we recommend the Rab Stretch Neo. Available for around $350 this jacket is nearly half the price of the Arcteryx Alpha SV, weighs nearly the same amount, and has nearly the same feature set. It's an excellent value.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Maximus is Outdoor Research's top-tier hardshell. It uses Gore Pro Shell, has two high-set handwarmer pockets and a helmet compatible hood.
The jacket is versatile in that it's made of good materials and has a fit that accommodates layering without being too bulky. But the shell falls below average in our rankings. First, its cut is simple and not particularly ergonomic. As you can see in our photos the jacket has straight tubular arms. Other shells, like the Patagonia Super Pluma and Alpine and Arcteryx Alpha SV have articulated elbows that feel more comfortable. Second, the Maximus has mesh-backed pockets that let in melting snow and ice. Solid pockets, found on almost all other hardshells, are better. And finally, our testers found the Maximus' Torso Flow side vents to be inferior to traditional pit zippers because they're not as easy to open on the go, and don't vent as well. Their main advantage is that they can be fully opened and used poncho style for high output hiking in vertically falling rain. That, however, requires unbuttoning the bottom and unzipping the sides, which can't be done while wearing a waistbelt.
A men's medium Maximus weighs 18.3 ounces on our scale. This is 4.2 ounces heavier than our highest rated all-purpose shell, the Patagonia Super Pluma, and 1.3 ounces heavier than the Arcteryx Alpha SV, our highest rated bomber mountaineering shell- which is better in every respect except price- than the Maximus.
Although the Maximus is $50 cheaper than other high quality shells (like the Patagonia Super Pluma) we believe that it's well worth the additional cost to get a better fitting and better featured shell.
— Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 26, 2012
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