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Outdoor Research Microgravity Review

This jack-of-all-trades jacket offers some of the best weather protection and durability for an air-permeable model
Outdoor Research Microgravity
Photo: Outdoor Research
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $249 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  Great storm protection, above average breathability, no clammy feeling, packs tightly into reversible stuff pocket, deep helmet-compatible hood, less crinkly
Cons:  Average freedom of movement, less stretchy than most other air-permeable models, fit, low handwarmer pockets could be more functional
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 10, 2021
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 14
  • Water Resistance - 30% 8
  • Breathability & Venting - 25% 8
  • Comfort & Mobility - 18% 8
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Durability - 5% 8
  • Packed Size - 7% 7

Our Verdict

Outdoor Research's Microgravity shell is a thicker, air-permeable model that boasts high versatility. Featuring a thicker face fabric and a 3L construction, it offers some of the best weather protection and durability of any air-permeable model in our fleet; it's also one of the most stormworthy. Its extra thickness does make it a little less stretchy than other air-permeable models, and it's also a bit heavier. At 14.5 ounces, it is around 2-3 ounces heavier than average, but that weight easily translates into outstanding durability, weather protection, and versatility.

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Pros Great storm protection, above average breathability, no clammy feeling, packs tightly into reversible stuff pocket, deep helmet-compatible hood, less crinklyTop-tier storm-worthiness, mobility and range of motion, hood design, long-lasting DWR, exceptional breathability, harness and hip-belt friendly pocketsGreat weather resistance, long-lasting DWR, breathable, pack-friendly pockets, helmet-compatible hood maintains good peripheral visionIncredible price, Gore-Tex, solid weather protection, excellent hood design, weight and packed volumeVersatile, durable, long lasting DWR, good stormworthiness, minimal clammy feel
Cons Average freedom of movement, less stretchy than most other air-permeable models, fit, low handwarmer pockets could be more functionalNo ventilation options, expensive, no easy way to clip to a harnessAverage weight and compressed size, bulky cutWets out quicker than other Gore-Tex models, two layer design isn't as long-lasting, clammy interiorHeavy, average packed size, mobility, and freedom of movement
Bottom Line This jack-of-all-trades jacket offers some of the best weather protection and durability for an air-permeable modelThis stormworthy and function focused model is exceptionally versatile, offering some of the best performance in our reviewTop tier weather protection and breathability, coupled with an excellent set of outdoor oriented features make this one of our favorite models for soggy excursions into the backcountryOne of the best values you can get for a piece of rain gear, this Gore-Tex model is packed full of functional featuresA durable jacket with function focused design that will keep most satisfied, without putting a hole in your wallet
Rating Categories Outdoor Research Mi... Arc'teryx Zeta SL REI Co-op Stormbolt... REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Patagonia Torrentsh...
Water Resistance (30%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Breathability & Venting (25%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
Comfort & Mobility (18%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Weight (15%)
6.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Durability (5%)
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Packed Size (7%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Outdoor Research Mi... Arc'teryx Zeta SL REI Co-op Stormbolt... REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Patagonia Torrentsh...
Measured Weight (Medium) 14.5 oz 10.9 oz 14.5 oz 12.5 oz 14 oz
Waterproof Fabric Material Ascentshell 3L 2-layer Gore-Tex Paclite Plus waterproof breathable laminate 3-layer GORE-TEX 2-layer GORE-TEX Paclite 3-layer H2No Performance Standard shell
Face Fabric and Layer Construction 100% nylon stretch ripstop 40-denier ripstop (N40r) Gore-Tex Paclite Plus 30-denier ripstop nylon Polyester 350-denier 100% recycled nylon, polycarbonate PU membrane, tricot backer
Pockets 2 hand, 1 chest 2 hand pockets 2 hand 2 hand 2 zippered hand pockets
Are lower pockets hipbelt friendly No Yes Yes No No
Pit Zips No Yes Yes No Yes
Helmet Compatible Hood (not only fits but not too tight) Yes No No No No
Stows Into Pocket? No No No No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Outdoor Research Microgravity strikes an excellent balance of storm protection and durability, especially for the weight. At 14 ounces, it is only a few ounces heavier than many of the products we tested. However, for the tiny bit of added weight, you'll receive better, longer-lasting weather protection, toughness, and overall versatility — all trade-offs we think the majority of users will appreciate.

Performance Comparison


The Microgravity is an excellent, all-around, do-everything model...
The Microgravity is an excellent, all-around, do-everything model. It's one of those jackets that is just plain good at nearly any outdoor activity and will excel at a wide range of activities but folks who will get the most out of it will be using it more aerobic ones.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Water Resistance


The Microgravity uses AscentShell fabric for its weather protection, Outdoor Research's proprietary air-permeable waterproof membrane. Unlike many other air-permeable shells out there, the MicroGravity is a 3L construction, making it more durable. It features a thicker face fabric, which took longer to wet out in an extended rainstorm, and it felt less cold in windy conditions.

The Microgravity offered the best storm protection of any...
The Microgravity offered the best storm protection of any air-permeable model we have ever tested and is certainly a step up from the older interstellar which it replaces. While it wasn't quite as good as the absolute best models in weather protection it wasn't too far behind either while offering the typical advantages of air-permeable models. One aspect worth noting is this jacket doesn't feel as "warm" when it's windy if you are standing around but does breathe exceptionally well as a small amount of air is constantly passing through.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

In our side-by-side hose and shower tests, the Microgravity was one of the more stormworthy models and boasts incredible weather protection, especially for an air-permeable model. We liked the low-profile watertight zipper, with minimal internal storm flap; it's a super-effective combination, which keeps the water out, and allows for a greater level of comfort, alongside less bulk.

This model's three hood cinch points sealed out the elements and...
This model's three hood cinch points sealed out the elements and accommodated a wide range of headwear and head sizes.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Hood Design
The hood is deep and fits over most bike or climbing helmets; it offers

plenty of adjustment to cinch down, even if we did not have anything covering our head. The hood moved with us as we looked side-to-side, and maintained better peripheral vision. It also felt less claustrophobic the most other models in our fleet.

This hood is big enough to fit over a helmet but just barely...
This hood is big enough to fit over a helmet but just barely. Depending on how bulky your climbing or bike helmet is, you may want to consider wearing your hood underneath your helmet.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Breathability and Venting


This model uses Ascentshell, which is Outdoor Research's proprietary air-permeable waterproof membrane. The fact that it's Air-Permeable means that it maintains a relatively consistent level of breathability, regardless of the user's activity level or outside weather factors. This is due to a small amount of air, which is always passing through the fabric.

The Microgravity is one of the more breathable models. Its...
The Microgravity is one of the more breathable models. Its air-permeable fabric means there doesn't have to be a big temperature differential to work and it keeps working even once you've stopped moving. While it doesn't have any traditional vents most nearly all of our testers didn't find that to be a super big deal and if you really need you can dump a little heat by unzipping its mesh-lined pockets.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

In our stairmaster and real-world hiking tests, the Microgravity was one of the more breathable options out there. It wasn't quite as breathable as thinner, similarly priced air-permeable models, likely due to its slightly thicker materials and 3L construction. However, these are likely the reasons why it is the most stormworthy air-permeable model we tested; this was most noticeable when we'd stop for breaks after long, hard pushes in the rain, where this model would feel less cold. It likely felt less cold due to a lack of breathability.

The Microgravity is a good all-around outdoor jacket. It provides plenty of breathability for hiking, backpacking, or ski touring, with the bonus of it being one of the more stormworthy options. For folks wanting something for truly high-output or aerobic activities, we might look for something that is less bulky and more breathable (albeit less stormworthy); however, this model suits the majority of people.

We tested all the models in a series of side-by-side breathability...
We tested all the models in a series of side-by-side breathability tests and the Microgravity was one of the most breathable jackets in our review. It is also among the "cozier" and least clammy feeling models we tested.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Comfort & Mobility


The Microgravity offers average mobility and range of motion. Like other air-permeable models with polyester membranes, it does features some stretch, but is less than other jackets with similar construction. It will perform just fine for most outdoor pursuits; however, if mobility is a priority, we would look towards articulated models, like the Arc'teryc Zeta or the REI Co-op Stormbolt GTX.

When we reached forward or above our heads, the sleeves didn't pull...
When we reached forward or above our heads, the sleeves didn't pull back. When we reached upwards, the hem (the bottom of the jacket) hardly moved.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

One major plus was its interior material is cozy feeling. It also feels notably less clammy than many models in our fleet. It is also a lot less crinkly than the 3-layer Gore-Tex models.

Those used to more traditional "hardshell" fabrics will easily...
Those used to more traditional "hardshell" fabrics will easily notice the difference with this model especially if they partake in more aerobic activities.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Pocket Design

For being such a great jacket for general outdoor pursuits, it is a little bit of a shame that Outdoor Research didn't raise the lower-hand pockets a little bit more or remove them altogether. Our testing team loved the two chest, Napoleon style pockets, but the lower hand pockets weren't our favorite.

The handwarmer pockets are low, which is comfortable for walking...
The handwarmer pockets are low, which is comfortable for walking around town but they are useless with a pack or harness on. For such an outdoor-oriented jacket, this is one of the few things we were disappointed in. At least Outdoor Research used very low gauge zippers on this model, which didn't pinch our hips, even with the weight of a six-day pack on (not in this photo).
Photo: Ian Nicholson

They were inaccessible with a backpack on, but were low enough profile that they didn't really pinch much under a backpack. However, they aren't as well-positioned or designed as other models that are meant for backpacking, hiking, mountaineering, or ski touring.

At 14.5 ounces, this model is slightly heavier than average but only...
At 14.5 ounces, this model is slightly heavier than average but only barely and the 2-3 extra ounces it weighs are certainly made up for it with increased durability and better-than-average good storm protection. Plus at 14.5 ounces it is still plenty light enough for most human-power activities.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Weight


Weighing in at 14.5 ounces, this model is slightly heavier than average. However, you get a ton of performance benefits for only 2-3 ounces of weight. Compared to a majority of models that are only a few ounces lighter, the Microgravity is far more stormyworthy and durable — all while offering above-average breathability and a nice feel. These are all trade-offs we think most people will find worthy if they're shopping for an all-around jacket.

This model stows away into a reversible pocket that pulls double...
This model stows away into a reversible pocket that pulls double duty as a stuff sack. Unlike a lot of other models, the stuff sack actually does a good job of actually "compressing the jacket" and while it means we have to spend a little more effort getting it put away for the frequency we do it we are glade it helps make it smaller.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Packed Size


The Microgravity compresses nicely into its left lower-hand pocket, which doubles as a stuff sack and offers a clippable carabiner loop. The Microgravity's pocket is a pretty tight fit, which all of our testers loved; this is because we don't actually use the stuff pocket that frequently, and when we do, it's nice to have it actually compress the jacket, even if it takes a little extra effort to stuff it in.

The Microgravity compressed down next to a 1-Liter Nalgene for size...
The Microgravity compressed down next to a 1-Liter Nalgene for size reference.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

This jacket will pack down enough to keep most backpackers and hikers more than happy.

This model was pretty average for compressed size but its...
This model was pretty average for compressed size but its slim-fitting stuff sack helped it pack down slightly smaller than average. The Microgravity can be seen on the far right next to a number of other models in our review.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Durability


The Microgravity features a 3L construction that uses a 100% nylon 45D stretch ripstop face fabric, a 30D knit backer/internal fabric, and a polyester-based (Ascentshell) membrane. The 45D face fabric is thicker, more abrasion-resistant, and just plain tougher than average. This makes it suitable for off-trail travel, extended trips, or for folks who are simply hard on their gear. Its 3L construction helps it maintain its breathability and weather resistance longer than most 2.5L options. In our real-world testing, we found the DWR and its ability to resist wetting out was longer-lasting than many models in our review.

Checking being slightly more expensive than most proprietary...
Checking being slightly more expensive than most proprietary air-permeable models but being generally more storm-worthy and better performing overall but being inline or slightly less than a number of Gore-tex models the Microgravity is slightly more expensive than average but easily offers the performance and feature set to justify the price.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Value


The Microgravity is similar to other jackets that offer a comparable construction and feature set. It is slightly more expensive than other air-permeable models, but falls in line with the performance of jackets that use name brand materials, like Gore-Tex. The Microgravity easily justifies the price by offering some of the best feel, durability, and weather-resistance of any air-permeable model; it's also easily compresses down.

The Microgravity is a sweet all-arounder that will do very well at...
The Microgravity is a sweet all-arounder that will do very well at any number of outdoor actives. It's light enough for day hiking or mountaineering, and breathable enough for more aerobic activities like ski touring and backpacking where you might be wearing you shell for extended periods of time.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Conclusion


The Outdoor Research Microgravity is a versatile, all-around jacket. It strikes an excellent balance of weight and packability, alongside storm protection and durability; not many models can match the versatility for its weight. The Microgravity is excellent for self-proclaimed "heavy sweaters" or folks who run warm in general, thanks to its steady levels of breathability and its air-permeable design.

Ian Nicholson