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Outdoor Research Archangel Review

Offers reliable weather protection with casual styling that weighs a hefty amount
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
#3 of 10
  • Weather Protection - 30% 9
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Mobility and Fit - 20% 8
  • Venting and Breathability - 20% 7
  • Features and Design - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Outdoor Research advertising claims that the Archangel is "built for big-mountain ascents." However, at 19.4 ounces for a size large, we must politely disagree. Most people that climb big mountains obsess about the weight of their gear, and Archangel's weight leaves it as one of the heaviest jackets in this review. Still, there are plenty of things to like about the Archangel. Its mobility is outstanding and that's bolstered by above-average weather protection and durability. We think these qualities make it a worthy choice for ice climbing or side-country skiing. But for any activities far from the trailhead, there are other jackets that can provide similar performance while being lighter and more affordable.

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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 fitAwesome weather protection, fits great, very mobileCheap, ultralight, solid weather protection, impressive breathabilityLightweight, inexpensive, easy to tighten drawcords
Cons Heavy, expensive, mediocre features for the weightExpensive, not ultralight, mediocre breathabilitySkin pockets a bit too narrow, small ventilation zips, unreliable wrist cuffsNo internal pockets, poor ventilation, unreliable hood drawcordsGlossy internal fabric, poor mobility, hand pocket zippers not waterproof
Bottom Line Offers reliable weather protection with casual styling that weighs a hefty amountA serious hardshell for serious adventuresA solid hardshell that thrives in bad weatherAn affordable hardshell that can get the job doneCloser to a rain jacket than a hardshell
Rating Categories Outdoor Research Ar... Mammut Nordwand Adv... Dynafit Radical REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Mountain Hardwear E...
Weather Protection (30%)
9.0
10.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Weight (20%)
4.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Mobility And Fit (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Venting And Breathability (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Features And Design (10%)
7.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Outdoor Research Ar... Mammut Nordwand Adv... Dynafit Radical REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Mountain Hardwear E...
Pit Zips Yes Yes Yes No No
Measured Weight (size large) 19.4 oz 16.0 oz 15.4 oz 11.0 oz 11.4 oz
Material Gore-Tex Pro 3L, 70D nylon 3-layer 100% nylon Gore-Tex Pro Gore-Tex Pro with C-Knit backer Gore-Tex Active 3L Gore-Tex Paclite 2.5L 100% nylon w/ DWR coating
Pockets 2 hand, 1 internal 2 front, 1 internal 2 side handwarmer, 1 sleeve, 2 internal stash 2 hand 2 hand, 1 chest
Helmet Compatible Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hood Draw Cords 3 3 1 3 1
Adjustable Cuffs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Two-Way Front Zipper Yes Yes Yes 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. Keep in mind, however, that the stretchy panel of fabric across the upper back and shoulders is only 40-denier, so it might not hold up to wear from backpack straps as well as the rest of the jacket.

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. That may not sound like much in the grand scheme, but it equates to 63% more mass.

We believe this difference should essentially eliminate the Archangel from consideration for wilderness applications in sunny winter locales like the Colorado Rockies or Sierra Nevada, where you usually 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 such a significant 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


One area where the Archangel exceeded our expectations was mobility and fit. Most of the jacket is made with 100% nylon fabric, except for a small panel of fabric across the upper back and shoulders. The Gore-Tex Pro material here includes 10% polyurethane fibers to give it some stretchiness. 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 awesome for weather protection, it's not the most breathable material. All hardshell shoppers should be aware of this issue because it illustrates a tradeoff that seems to apply to most waterproof-breathable fabrics: the tradeoff being that the more waterproof a fabric is, the less breathable it will be.

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 allow underarm venting. These zips are also noticeably long to enhance airflow. Another feature to boost venting is a 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 incorporate 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 probably won't get through the small opening, but liquid water could 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. The zippers that don't fully seal are particularly disappointing at this price — 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 great weather protection and exceptional mobility. It also looks nice. But if you analyze things more critically, some problems appear. 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 resort 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. The Archangel could still be a good choice for ice climbing or sidecountry skiing, but that niche seems too small to justify the hefty price tag.

Jack Cramer

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