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Outdoor Research Archangel Review

Reliable weather protection with casual styling
Outdoor Research Archangel
Photo: Outdoor Research
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Price:  $699 List | $698.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Sturdy, real weather protection, mobile athletic fit, pit zips
Cons:  Heavy, expensive, mediocre features for the weight
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 31, 2020
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 15
  • Weather Protection - 30% 9
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Mobility and Fit - 20% 8
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 7
  • Features and Design - 10% 7

Our Verdict

If you're riding lifts at the resort, weight doesn't matter. But when you're "earning your turns" or climbing technical terrain, ounces can take on great significance. The Outdoor Research Archangel ignores this reality. At 19.4 ounces for a size large, this hardshell is among the heaviest in this review. Even though we love the Archangel's burly weather protection and excellent mobility, shoppers should know that there are other jackets that match can its performance at a lower weight or more affordable price. Still, this hardshell could be a good choice for people that like its styling and don't balk at the additional weight.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $698.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$450.00 at Backcountry$285.00 at Backcountry$249 List
Check Price at REI
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
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Star Rating
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Pros Sturdy, real weather protection, mobile athletic fit, pit zipsUnrivaled weather protection, decent venting options, perfect fitLightweight, form fitting, great storm hood, superior construction quality, reasonable priceCheap, ultralight, solid weather protection, impressive breathabilityStretchy, light, very packable, affordable, quite breathable
Cons Heavy, expensive, mediocre features for the weightExpensive, not ultralight, mediocre breathabilityCrinkly and noisy, very little ventilation, few pockets, short front hemNo internal pockets, poor ventilation, unreliable hood drawcordsHand pockets are a bit low, hood is a bit shallow with a helmet on, fragile
Bottom Line Reliable weather protection with casual stylingA serious hardshell for serious adventuresThis hardshell is an alpine climber’s dream, and is really great for skiing as wellAn affordable hardshell that can get the job doneThe best choice for highly aerobic activities where mobility and breathability are key
Rating Categories Outdoor Research Ar... Mammut Nordwand Adv... Arc'teryx Alpha FL REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Outdoor Research In...
Weather Protection (30%)
9.0
10.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
Weight (20%)
4.0
6.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Mobility And Fit (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Venting And Breathability (20%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Features And Design (10%)
7.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Outdoor Research Ar... Mammut Nordwand Adv... Arc'teryx Alpha FL REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Outdoor Research In...
Pit Zips Yes Yes No No No
Measured Weight (size large) 19.4 oz 16.0 oz 11.8 oz 11.0 oz 11.2 oz
Material Gore-Tex Pro 3L, 70D nylon 3-layer 100% nylon Gore-Tex Pro Gore-Tex with N40p-X face fabric Gore-Tex Active 3L AscentShell 3L 100% nylon 20D stretch ripstop with 100% polyester 12D backer
Pockets 2 hand, 1 internal 2 front, 1 internal 1 external chest, 1 internal chest 2 hand 2 handwarmer, 1 chest
Helmet Compatible Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hood Draw Cords 3 3 3 3 3
Adjustable Cuffs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Two-Way Front Zipper Yes Yes No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The ideal use for the Archangel might be sidecountry skiing because...
The ideal use for the Archangel might be sidecountry skiing because weight is less important and this jacket won't look too technical when you're riding the lift.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Weather Protection


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 Archangel has three hood drawcords for adjustmentment. They're...
The Archangel has three hood drawcords for adjustmentment. They're effective at getting the fit right whether you're wearing a helmet or not.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Weight


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.

This 6'2" tester was delighted with the fit of a size large Outdoor...
This 6'2" tester was delighted with the fit of a size large Outdoor Research Archangel. With long arms and a skinny frame (170 lbs), he was particularly pleased that the wrist cuffs and waist hem stayed in place through a variety of movements.
Photo: Jack Cramer

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.

Most of the Gore-Tex Pro material uses 100% nylon face fabric...
Most of the Gore-Tex Pro material uses 100% nylon face fabric. However, the panel across the upper back (seen here in black) includes 10% polyurethane fibers that add stretchiness and improve mobility.
Photo: Ian McIlheney

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.

Long pit zips are a welcomed feature on the Archangel because its...
Long pit zips are a welcomed feature on the Archangel because its waterproof Gore-Tex Pro fabric doesn't breathe especially well.
Photo: Jack Cramer

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.

Unfortunately, there is a small gap at the edge of the zipper on the...
Unfortunately, there is a small gap at the edge of the zipper on the pit zips and hand pockets. Frozen precip isn't likely to get in, but liquid water can.
Photo: Jack Cramer

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.

Value


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.

The Archangel has an internal chest pocket. Although it's large...
The Archangel has an internal chest pocket. Although it's large enough for most smartphones, the mesh lining means that there's no protection from moisture inside the jacket.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Conclusion


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