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Hands-on Gear Review
Outdoor Research Foray Pants Review
Cons: Only one pocket, 3/4 zippers are not quite as easy to put on as other full-length zip models
Bottom line: Top-notch storm protection, articulation, and breathability, while still remaining light and compressible enough to bring on any trip.
The Outdoor Research Foray Pants topped the chart as our new Editors' Choice winner, taking home the prize of the best overall rain pant. The Foray performed well across the board but truly stood out in the two most important categories, weather resistance, and breathability. They offer a host of well thought out features, as well as some of the best freedom of movement, allowing you to participate in a slew of activities, despite any grim weather. If our testers could only have one rain pant for backpacking and hiking, with occasional mountaineering, biking, or general outdoor use, these pants are the clear winner.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Men's Rain Pants of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Foray, along with the Marmot Minimalist Pant, proved to be the weather resistant contender we tested. In fact, it performed fantastically in our side-by-side hose and shower tests as well as in real world use. We used this pant over a dozen days while hiking and backpacking in the damp Olympic National Park's temperate rain forests, where all of our testers were impressed with how well it kept us dry.
The watertight side zippers with internal storm flap proved effective even after five minutes of being sprayed with a hose; the Gore-Tex PacLite fabric is still showing plenty of life. The pocket never leaked and the 3/4 length zippers rarely creeped down unexpectedly. In the end, after extensive use, we felt that the Foray Pant did one of the best jobs of keeping us dry. Other options with a lower price point include the Outdoor Research Helium Pant, REI Talusphere Full Zip, Marmot PreCip Full Zip, and Columbia Rebel Roamer, and scored 8s out of 10s, versus the Foray's perfect 10 out of 10.
Comfort and Mobility
The Foray offered excellent mobility and some of the better range of motion among models we tested. This model achieves this with exceptionally well-designed articulation in the legs, along with a gusseted crotch that is comfortable and creates great freedom of movement without feeling restrictive. The only two pants that offered slightly better mobility was the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic, with its super stretchy fabric and excellent mobility-oriented design which was the best in this category, and the REI Talusphere Full Zip which also featured stretchy fabric (though not quite as stretchy as the Stretch Ozonic) and a looser overall fit.
When it came to crawling over logs, ducking under trees, and tip-toeing over Creeks, the Foray was only marginally more restrictive than the REI Talusphere and was still a better overall option over the others in the review.
Breathability & Ventilation
The Foray features 3/4 length side zippers which became our favorite during the testing period. We loved these zippers; they proved to be far more comfortable under a waist belt, as there is no bulky Velcro flaps or snaps to be trapped against our hips, causing subsequent discomfort with heavier loads. The other reason we loved the 3/4 length is because there were no Velcro flaps to come undone, which happened a bit too frequently with at least half the models we tested. When the Velcro flaps came undone, our pants would slowly fall down - a trait that was especially bad when wearing a backpack.
Overall, the 3/4 length zippers featured on the Foray allowed for excellent ventilation as long as it wasn't too rainy. As we mentioned more in-depth in our rain pants review, breathability is more important than ventilation for staying dry from the inside. Even if it's only raining moderately hard, opening your side vents will likely lead to your legs (and subsequently your boots) becoming wet as water will inevitably work its way into your pant legs. For those times when the weather clears, or its just on again, off again rain and you end up wearing your pants for extended periods of time, the 3/4 length zippers did an excellent job of directly moving moisture.
The Gore-Tex PackLight fabric featured in this pant, as well as in the Marmot Minimalist, was one of the most breathable fabrics we tested. The only model that was more breathable was the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic; its 2.5 Layer Dry Q Active Stretch air permeable fabric didn't require the wearer to build up a certain level of heat in order to begin to transfer sweat. The REI Talusphere Full Zip was comparable to the Foray in terms of breathability.
The Foray pants feature two loops in the cuff of the pant leg that can be threaded with small diameter cord to help seal the boot cuff, allowing it to fit snugly against your boot. This eliminates the need for gaiters, subsequently saving weight. Our testers found this small feature to be surprisingly effective. The elastic, coupled with the grippy texture of the inside of the cuff, helped to further increase the effectiveness of this feature.
We liked that the Foray's pocket doubled as a stuff sack; hile we didn't find ourselves using it frequently, it was a nice touch, with minimal to no weight expense. Our testers also liked that these pants offered loops for suspenders for those who might want them. The side zippers are slightly stiff at first but they do break in nicely. An added bonus is that they didn't work their way open, which resulted in the unzipping of the upper portion of the pant, nearly as often as other models. This model performed well in the features metric, taking home a near perfect 9 out of 10. Similar scoring models were the REI Talusphere and Marmot PreCip Full Zip.
This competitor pack down smaller than average among models in our review. Far smaller than most Gore-Tex shell pants on the market, these pants were more packable than the Marmot PreCip Full Zip Pants or the REI Talusphere Full Zip and comparable to the Marmot Minimalist Pants. The only contenders that packed down smaller were the Outdoor Research Helium Pants and the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic. It's worth noting that the Outdoor Research Helium Pants are roughly half the compressed size of the Foray.
The Foray weighs in at 12 ounces. On the lighter side of rain pants in our review and certainly on the lighter side of Gore-Tex pants overall on the market, the Foray offers a minimal design but not as much expense to its performance. For example, it doesn't feature classic external double storm flaps; instead, in an effort to save weight, it features watertight zippers and a smaller internal storm flap. Throughout our testing, we did not notice any problem from this slightly lighter design.
Overall, the Foray pants offer up a respectable weight. If you are looking to cut as many grams from your pack as possible, check out the mega light Outdoor Research Helium Pants; they don't feature side zips, nor are they as durable, but are nearly half the weight, clocking in at 6.5 ounces. If you want something a little lighter but still fully featured, the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic is 10 ounces but still features full-length side zippers and a mega stretchy fabric (as well as the best freedom of movement in the review).
We were impressed with the toughness of these pants and found them to be one of the more durable options we tested. They certainly proved tough enough for extended outings in inclement weather if your trip involves a good bit of off-trail travel. Built with 50D polyester fabric, the Foray is bomber among lighter weight rain pants.
Its 50D fabric is heavier than average among the thicknesses of the fabrics in this review and the Polyester material offers superior toughness to nylon. We easily think that these pants are more durable than the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic or the Marmot PreCip Pants, but are comparable to the Marmot Minimalist Pants.
Ease of Use
After extensive use, our team LOVED the 3/4 length zippers; while they weren't quite as easy to pull over boots and trail running shoes, compared to other models with full-length zippers, we were able to use them with larger volume boots (like those for mountaineering) without much difficulty. However, we thought this was a small inconvenience in exchange for not having a Velcro flap that annoyingly comes undone or pinches us under a backpack's waist belt. The Foray features one back pocket; most of our testers didn't mind, preferring to more commonly use their jacket pockets to carry items.
The Foray pants are an excellent all-around rain pant. Perfect for hiking or backpacking whether as a just-in-case option or for week long excursions that you know are going to be soggy. The cuffs are not big enough to fit over most ski boots, making them a poor option for backcountry or downhill skiing or snowboarding. This pair of rain pants fit over single mountaineering boots, but they may have a hard time fitting over the cuffs of higher volume double mountaineering boots, especially if your feet are on the bigger side (bigger than a size US 12). For most general outdoor use from backpacking, to snowshoeing, to mountaineering, these pants are awesome.
At $175, the Foray pants are reasonably priced, but are not cheap. There are certainly heaps of more expensive Gore-Tex Pant pants on the market; in that regard, these pants aren't a terrible value. They are more expensive than popular models like the Marmot Precip Full Zip Pants, $100; in exchange, you receive a superior fit, better breathability, and fantastic storm worthiness while weighing less than most options. They are much closer in performance to the Marmot Minimalist Pant, which also happens to be close in price ($165). The Marmot Minimalist is slightly lighter, a touch more durable, and is able to pull double duty as a ski pant. The Foray offered marginally better mobility and freedom of moment with the convenience of easy on, easy off, 3/4 length side zippers.
Conclusion and the Bottom Line
The Outdoor Research Foray was our Editors' Choice for overall rain pant. We felt this contender offered the best balance of weather resistance, breathability, and ease-of-use oriented features, while still checking in at a below average weight. It is best for backpacking, snowshoeing, or mountaineering, but because of its tighter fitting cuffs (which are nicer while hiking), they don't pull double duty for downhill skiing or snowboarding very well. However, they do offer bomber construction, fantastic freedom of movement, and top-notch storm worthiness. If you like this pant, but wish it could be used for occasional skiing and snowboarding, we would check out the Marmot Minimalist, which is similar overall, but has wider boot cuffs that will work better for ski boots. If you like this contender but want something as light as it gets, check out the Outdoor Research Helium Pant, which is our Top Pick for the best light weight rain pant. We also love the stretchy fabric and top-notch breathability of the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic, our second Editors' Choice award winner, as another solid all-arounder.
— Ian Nicholson
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