This award winner is an excellent and exceptionally versatile rain jacket; boasting a high level of durability and ventilation, the Foray earned one of the higher scores of our overall evaluation metrics, providing the user with top-tier storm worthiness, and respectable breathability. If it was slightly lighter, it would be in the running for our Editors' Choice award. With all that said, at 16 ounces, to say it's heavy is a stretch.
This model is an excellent all-around shell, featuring some of the best durability, ventilation, and storm worthiness. While hardly light, it is still reasonable enough for most backpackers and is an excellent option for those that are hard on their gear or frequently find themselves traveling cross-country on trail-less terrain.
A five day trip with nonstop rain and cool temps can take a slice out of the fun factor, but with the uber stormworthy Foray, it doesn't have to be a negative experience. During one trip of our real-world testing (on a rainy, five day trip in Washington's Olympic mountains), as well as in our shower and hose tests, the Foray kept us almost completely dry and was one of the absolute best performers in this metric and in the review overall.
Garden hose to the face and wrists? Check. The Foray can handle it. All of these jackets do a good job keeping you dry in your average rainstorm. But models with adjustable cuffs and well-designed hood adjustments are superior in howling rainstorms or when working with your hands overhead in the rain.
The Foray use Gore-Tex with Paclite technology laminated to a beefy 50D polyester exterior to keep the water out. This, coupled with a nicely stiffened front brim, ensured a near-impenetrable shield from the rain that came pouring straight down from the sky. The three-way hood adjustment seals around the face well.
Only the Marmot Minimalist, REI Drypoint, and the Arc'teryx Zeta SL were able to keep pace with the Foray and earned similar scores for water resistance. The Minimalist and Zeta SL's designs offer fewer seams in the shell along the shoulders, and the waterproof hand pockets and traditional pit zips provide more infrequent potential leak points down low. The Foray's wrist cuffs, with elastic on the inside of the wrist and a Velcro cinch on the back, sealed out water as well as any cuff. All said, the Foray kept us bone dry every time we wore it, and we expect it to continue to do so for a long time.
The OR Foray uses Gore-Tex with Paclite technology for its weather resistance, along with a 50D external face fabric, which was among the most durable in the review.
The DWR on the older versions of this jacket didn't last as long as the newest model we've tested here for 2018. The Foray, as well as all other models using Gore-Tex, received an update to their DWR which extends durability and is claimed to be more environmentally friendly.
One of two unique side-vents featured on the Outdoor Research Foray. These two vents (one seen here completely unzipped) offered by far the best ventilation of any jacket we tested.
Breathability & Ventilation
The Foray and its Gore-Tex withPaclite technology (the new name for what used to be simply Gore-Tex Paclite) offers above average breathability, though it can be improved upon.
We tested each model via a series of side-by-side breathability tests. Even with this model's massive vents closed, its Gore-Tex with Paclite technology fabric proved among the most breathable models we tested.
While more breathable than many models in this review and better performing than classic Gore-Tex, it isn't as breathable as the new wave of air permeable proprietary polyester based membranes, such as the ones used in the Outdoor Research Interstellar, or Rab Kinetic Plus, nor is it as breathable as Gore-Tex Active.
Most of the new wave air permeable fabrics don't need much of a temperature differential to breathe well, something that can't be said about the Foray, or many other models in our review. Fortunately, the Foray still breathes better than two-thirds of the models in our review, and to say it breathes poorly would undoubtedly be an overstatement.
The Gore-Tex fabric that this model uses is quite breathable, though not air permeable. However, as long as its wearer is working hard (which is normally the reason people need their jacket to breathe), it moved moisture in a similar fashion to many of the air permeable models we tested.
What the Foray does have is a broad range of ventilation possibilities. It uses "TorsoFlo", the name for Outdoor Research's full-length zippered vents, which run the whole length of the wearer's torso, under the arm to nearly the wearer's elbow. This design creates the most significant "pit vents" of any rain jacket we tested. They also separate into a poncho if you need complete ventilation for times when it pours rain, and then the sun pops back out, increasing the temperature with high humidity (and you aren't sure if it's about to start storming again in the near future).
While we found the Paclite fabric breathes well when all closed up, ventilation is where this jacket really shines. With the huge TorsoFlo vents, you can even wear it over a small pack, either poncho style, or with the hem attached but vents fully open.
Comfort & Mobility
The Foray offers a healthy helping of comfort - thanks to Outdoor Research for not shaving off weight by eliminating classic comfort features. Our testers appreciated the small touches found on this model, like the micro-fleece "hood" for the main zipper at the chin.
The Foray offered some of the best mobility and range of motion of any jacket we tested. The only jacket that offered slightly better mobility was the Zeta SL.
Small features, like the zipper pulls having large plastic fobs that are easy to operate with or without gloves, do not go unnoticed. We also appreciate the cord lock adjustments for the hood; one-handed operation snugs them up from the inside, but the unique design also allows exterior adjustment once fully zipped up.
The Foray's overall mobility and range of motion are above average. The torso stayed put as we lifted arms overhead, and we never felt restricted in our movement in this jacket. The hood fits over a helmet, but like most other jackets, it limits side to side movement a little.
The comfort and mobility of the Foray are exceptional. The body would stay put when we lifted arms overhead, and we appreciated the large zipper pulls.
Our size medium test jacket tipped our digital scale at just a hair under 16 ounces, just a fraction heavier than the Marmot Minimalist (15 ounces). The Minimalist uses a little heavier polyester face fabric but makes up for the heavier fabric by incorporating fewer features. The long zippers that create the Foray's separating TorsoFlo core vents add some weight, as does the roll away hood feature. All in all, we're quite happy with the compromises Outdoor Research makes about this model's weight.
The Foray is one of the most durable products we tested; it's very wind resistant and great at keeping out blowing rain. It also boasts the largest ventilation features of any jacket we tested!
In our testing, we've found that 2.5 layer models that pair light nylon ripstop fabrics (with proprietary waterproofing) are lighter, if less durable. The Best Buy award-winning Marmot PreCip weighs in at 13 ounces and the similar Patagonia Cloud Ridge tips the scales at 14 oz. If you want something lighter other than the 11 oz Arc'teryx SL, and to a lesser extent the REI Drypoint GTX, you will make some sacrifices in storm worthiness, though it's amazing how light some models are nowadays. For example, the Patagonia Storm Racer is a mere 6 oz, the Outdoor Research Helium II 6.5 oz, and the Black Diamond Fineline 7.5 ounces.
The Foray is among the most durable jackets we tested. It features burly, polyester face fabric with the Gore-Tex Paclite laminate, but has more zippers that could lead to trouble over time. The Foray is backed by a lifetime guarantee. If multi-year durability is your focus when choosing a rain jacket, the Foray and Marmot Minimalist are two excellent options. The Marmot Minimalist is the best rain jacket if you seek a model that functions as a lightweight hardshell for cold weather adventures, while the Foray is the best choice if you want the ventilation ability of a rain jacket, paired with burly Gore-Tex Paclite fabric for rough cool and warm weather adventures.
The Foray features decent packability, especially when compared to burlier $400-$600 Gore-Tex models. Compared to the jackets in our review, which tend to be on the smaller and more compressible end of the spectrum, it is marginally less packable than average. The Foray packs into one of its lower pockets, and while not as compressible, you get a beefier (more durable) face fabric and the most ventilation capabilities in the review.
Somewhat of a surprise considering its relatively heavy weight, the Foray packs away nice and small when stuffed into its pocket. A clip-in loop is a convenient feature for technical use; clip it to your harness or secure it to your backpack for quick access. Due to its features, it doesn't pack down quite as small as the similarly designed and priced Marmot Minimalist, The North Face Dryzzle, or Arc'teryx Zeta SL; it only packs down to around 10-20% less compressed size.
Fitting for the price point, this is one of the most featured products we tested. The hood of the 2.5 layer Gore-Tex Paclite jacket sports multiple adjustments. The large stiffened brim has a sleeve of soft fabric on the underside, and the elastic cord (for cinching up the face opening) is sewn into the center of this sleeve, creating an independent adjustment for each side of your face. Soft fabric lines the inside of the face opening all the way around, and the cord locks can be adjusted from either the inside or outside - a brilliant feature. A second elastic cord is sewn in at the temples and adjusts at the back of your head. Also, a Velcro tab on the back inside of the collar serves to hold the hood in a rolled away position, should you choose to do so.
This model's hood fits over most bike and climbing helmet reasonably well and still cinches down to fit over a variety of head sizes. It's one of the better models to maintain peripheral vision for its user, even with the jacket cinched up.
This jacket has a small, comfortable micro-fleece patch on the chin and a fabric hood for the zipper, which protects your chin. A hanging loop is sewn into the back of the neck, or you can choose to use the outer loop on the outside back of the neck (used for securing the rolled hood) for hanging.
This model offers three cinches that can all be operated with one hand to customize how closed down the hood is (though you need two hands to loosen it). The only thing we didn't love is that the two cinches that operate the opening of the hood are pulled on from the inside of the jacket, which means you need to unzip it in order to tighten or loosen it.
This model has pit zips on steroids; they extend all the way to the bottom hem of the jacket and separate, creating a poncho-style jacket. While we rarely do this, opening the pit zips nearly down to the hem is incredible. A small storm flap protects these zippers; the sizeable zippered hand pockets are lined with mesh for additional ventilation, as is the Napoleon pocket on the left chest. The jacket quickly stuffs away into the left-hand pocket, and there's a clip-in loop when stuffed. Both the main zipper and the chest pocket zipper are of the waterproof type, and all the zipper pulls on this jacket have fantastic ergonomic shaped plastic pulls.
Another photo of this model's full-length side-zippers, which allow for top-tier ventilation.
The wrist cuffs seal nicely on this jacket with a velcro tab. They also have elastic on the inside of the wrist and are lined with a soft fabric for comfort. Due to the separating pit-zips at the hem, the elastic adjust cord only passed through the rear of the hem; note that there are cord locks on both sides, just behind the separating zippers.
From the waterproof zippers with great pulls to the well-sealing adjustable wrist cuffs, we feel this jacket offer the best combination of function and comfort of any we tested.
If you want a do-everything rain jacket that can stand up to abuse, this is a great choice. It's comfortable in both freezing temperatures and warm weather and breathes well enough when fully zipped up in the cold, while venting better than any other jacket for warm and wet weather. We might prefer an ultralight model for most fast and light missions, but this requires sacrificing durability and some storm worthiness. The Foray is great for trips where its durability and storm worthiness are valued over the fact that its 4-5 ounces heavier than average and 10 ounces heavier than the lightest models. It's robust enough for occasional downhill skiing days or sea kayaking trips and is perfect for stormy ski touring days.
Not only did the Gore-Tex Foray seal out all the wet snow during this three-day trip through Colorado's Black Ridge Canyon Wilderness, the awesome ventilation meant Brandon never needed to take it off to stay cool enough when faced with big climbs out of the canyons.
At $215, the Outdoor Research Foray is just on the spendier than average side for a rain jacket; however, it offers numerous features and durability that we feel justify the price. It's also one of the least expensive models to be constructed with Gore-Tex. If you like the Foray but don't feel like you need the full-length ventilation zippers, check out the Marmot Minimalist, which is $15 less and has more standard-style pit-zips. While spendy, it is nearly $100 less than our Editors' Choice winner the Arc'teryx Zeta SL ($300) but was comparable in many performance categories.
If you're seeking a durable rain jacket with great ventilation and top-tier weather protection; the Outdoor Research Foray is an obvious contender. It will keep you dry through all kinds of pouring rain or blowing sleet and offers more ventilation than any other jacket. Its durability makes it exceptionally versatile, though it might be a little overkill for folks who can get away with a lighter, more packable model, that might not be as weather resistant.
We love the Foray. If you want a durable rain jacket with class-leading ventilation features, it's a great option.