Outdoor Research Archangel Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Sturdy, real weather protection, mobile athletic fit, pit zips
Cons: Heavy, expensive, mediocre features for the weight
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
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|Pros||Sturdy, real weather protection, mobile athletic fit, pit zips||Unrivaled weather protection, decent venting options, perfect fit||Lightweight, form fitting, great storm hood, superior construction quality, reasonable price||Awesome weather protection, fits great, very mobile||Extremely durable, superior weather protection, great hood, easy to manipulate zippers|
|Cons||Heavy, expensive, mediocre features for the weight||Expensive, not ultralight, mediocre breathability||Crinkly and noisy, very little ventilation, few pockets, short front hem||Skin pockets a bit too narrow, small ventilation zips, unreliable wrist cuffs||Heavy, bulky, overkill for many, no handwarmer pockets, expensive|
|Bottom Line||Casual styling and serious weather protection||Our favorite hardshell for serious adventures||Stands out among some stiff competition with its simple and solid design||Turns out a company known for skis and bindings also makes a great jacket for touring||An expensive shell with exceptional weather protection|
|Rating Categories||Outdoor Research Archangel||Mammut Nordwand Advanced||Arc'teryx Alpha FL||Dynafit Radical||Arc'teryx Alpha SV|
|Weather Protection (30%)|
|Mobility And Fit (20%)|
|Venting And Breathability (20%)|
|Features And Design (10%)|
|Specs||Outdoor Research...||Mammut Nordwand...||Arc'teryx Alpha FL||Dynafit Radical||Arc'teryx Alpha SV|
|Measured Weight (size large)||19.4 oz||16.0 oz||11.8 oz||15.4 oz||18.4 oz|
|Material||Gore-Tex Pro 3L, 70D nylon||3-layer 100% nylon Gore-Tex Pro||Gore-Tex with N40p-X face fabric||Gore-Tex Pro with C-Knit backer||3-layer Gore-Tex Pro N100p-X|
|Pockets||2 hand, 1 internal||2 front, 1 internal||1 external chest, 1 internal chest||2 side handwarmer, 1 sleeve, 2 internal stash||2 external chest, 1 internal chest, 1 sleeve, 1 internal mesh stash|
|Helmet Compatible Hood||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hood Draw Cords||3||3||3||1||3|
|Two-Way Front Zipper||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The foundation for the Archangel's weather protection is 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric. This is the most common fabric among jackets in the hardshell category and also our reviewer's favorite. We've consistently found this material to be fully waterproof and sturdy enough to stand up to some abrasion.
The Gore-Tex fabric in high wear areas also incorporates 70-denier nylon face fabric. Seventy-denier means that it's woven with denser fibers than average, and we believe this makes the material more durable than many other jackets.
The biggest drawback to the Archangel is its weight. At 19.4 ounces for a size large, it's 7.5 ounces heavier than the lightest hardshell that offers similar weather protection. In the grand scheme, that may not sound like much, but it equates to 63% more mass.
We believe this difference should essentially eliminate the Archangel from consideration for backcountry applications in sunny winter locales like the Colorado Rockies or Sierra Nevada, where you often end up carrying a hardshell more often than wearing one. In wetter climates, or for side-country skiing, the extra weight shouldn't be seen as a huge disadvantage.
Mobility and Fit
Another area where the Archangel exceeded our expectations was mobility and fit. Most of the jacket is made with 100% nylon fabric, except for a panel across the upper backer. The Gore-Tex Pro material here includes 10% polyurethane fibers that make it stretchy. The result is a jacket that conformed to movements better than many others. We were particularly impressed with how well the wrist cuffs and waist hem stayed in place while bending over or extending our arms overhead.
Venting and Breathability
Although Gore-Tex Pro fabric is for weather protection, it's not the most breathable material. All hardshell shoppers should be aware of this trade-off because it seems virtually inescapable among all waterproof-breathable fabrics.
The Archangel has a couple of features to compensate for its deficiency in breathability. The first is a pair of pit zips to enable underarm venting. These zips are also noticeably long for extra airflow. Another feature to boost venting is two-way main zipper. This can make it a little easier to shed heat without undoing your backpack waist belt.
Features and Design
Despite its considerable weight, the Archangel has a modest feature set. It includes three zippered pockets — two in a hand warmer position and another on the inside of the chest. The handwarmer pockets have some netting to separate them into two compartments. We believe this netting would be more useful if it were sewn inside the jacket to create drop pockets for stashing a pair of gloves for ski skins.
Under close inspection, we're not huge fans of the YKK Aquaguard Vislon zippers used for most of this jacket's closure. Although the large plastic teeth are easy to operate, they aren't fully sealed at the ends. Snow won't get through the small opening, but some water can certainly get in during a heavy downpour.
This jacket is among the most expensive in the category. That might be fine if it performed the best, but we don't believe that it does. Particularly disappointing at this price are the zippers that don't fully seal — kind of inexcusable for a technical hardshell. All in all, we consider this jacket to be a poor value compared to its peers.
There is plenty to like about the Archangel. We think it provides outstanding weather protection and exceptional mobility. It also looks great. But if you analyze things more critically, some problems become apparent. Its high price and sizeable weight seem unjustified when you consider its modest feature set. At the same time, the lack of features diminishes its usefulness for frontcountry skiing or other winter activities close to the trailhead. Instead, this jacket occupies an unfortunate middle ground — too heavy for the backcountry, too minimalist for the frontcountry.
— Jack Cramer