Of the pants made with high-end brand name fabric, these are easily among the lightest and most compact. The Outdoor Research Foray offers the proven protection and breathability of Gore-Tex at half the weight of many other Gore-Tex options. The fabric is soft and has a subtle amount of stretch, making it quieter when in use. These are the pants you want for carrying in your pack or on long thru-hikes. Whip 'em out when it gets gnarly, but leave them stowed away in most cases.
Outdoor Research Foray Pants Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, stormworthy, quiet fabric, good breathability, 3/4 length side zips, effective elastic cuffs
Cons: No zip fly, one marginally useful pocket, DWR didn't last as long as other models and needed to be retreated more frequently
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Outdoor Research's Foray pants are an ultralight pair of rain pants constructed from Gore-Tex Pactlite fabric and are one of the lightest on the market. They feature just the right fit and set of functions. If you want excellent weather protection and will carry your rain pants more than you will wear them, these are the best on the market.
Up there with the other Editors Choice, the Foray nearly maxes out our weighted scoring matrix. We design our scoring rubric to reward products that perform well in the ways most people will use them. With rain pants, people will wear them when it's raining but will also end up regularly carrying them in their pack. The ratio of each depends on your climate, your tolerance for wet legs, and your ability to go out in wet weather in the first place.
Our test team dug further and found that people are split in their rain pants usage. Across the country and world, about half will carry their rain pants more than they wear them while half will wear them the majority of the time. These are the top-scoring pants for those that carry them more than they wear them. They are light and compact but compromise some durability and usability. The Foray is the pair of pants for those that need excellent protection but also need a compact and lightweight carry.
Outdoor Research started their clothing line with excellent waterproof gear and continues that tradition. The Foray pants are up there with the top performers in our review. Over a long day of real-life "wintry mix" in New York's Adirondacks, we had no issues. Another tester opted to use these pants for a five-day ski traverse with rain every single day and couldn't have been happier. Our comparative "shower test" showed that the water repellent coating on the Foray holds up better than most. The zippers are waterproof and didn't allow any water in, even under direct showerhead pressure.
Each pair we tested is made of fabric with coatings that will not transmit liquid water. The fabric of the OR Foray is fully waterproof, as in water will not find its way through the material. Pants distinguish themselves in their construction and zippers; those with a more rigid fabric simply "feel" more protective, especially from the wind.
In these ways, the Foray pants are excellent. The seams are sealed, the long zippers are resistant to even pressurized water, and the cuffs and waist are secure but straightforward. None of the pants we tested suffered any significant leakage.
Comfort and Mobility
Here the Foray excels. We dig the soft and quiet fabric. The fabric is also a little stretchy, and the cut is close but not confining. The pants taper at the cuff to minimize flapping in windy conditions.
It is a little more work to get these narrow cuffs over bulkier footwear like ski boots, but as long as they are lighter, more minimally focused boots, it isn't a problem. Of the Gore-Tex pants we tested, the OR Foray, along with the Arc'teryx Zeta SL are the softest and quietest. Once "broken in," the differences are lessened.
Breathability and Venting
"Name brand" waterproof-breathable fabrics seem to breathe better than "in-house" variations. It is more expensive for Outdoor Research to license and use Gore-Tex in the Foray pants, but the result is breathability that surpasses almost all of the self-branded fabrics.
Venting of the Foray is accomplished by 3/4 length zippers that separate from the bottom and have different zipper pulls to also ventilate from the mid-thigh. This venting is excellent for some conditions. For the most part, especially with pants like the Foray that are easy to take on and off, it is often better to remove your shell pants when venting is required. Opening the vents while it is raining will get you wetter from the outside. Leaving your rain pants on while it is not raining, even when vented, could turn out to be much warmer than simply taking them off. We don't weight "venting" very highly in our scoring, as we find it more conducive to take them off if you need a high level of venting.
The other Gore-Tex products in out fleet breathe primarily the same as the OR Foray. The Arc'teryx Zeta SL and Marmot Minimalist are all made with Gore-Tex and breathe better than most budget-oriented models. The most breathable pants in our review are the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic whose air-permeable fabric transfer moisture better when you are aren't working hard and is comparable when exerting yourself. For those truly debating between our top two performers the Foray and the Zeta SL, it's worth noting that the Zeta is one ounce lighter, but the Foray's side zips are longer.
One pocket, suspenders attachments, and a drawstring waist round out the list of features on the OR Foray. We don't look for a ton of features on our lightweight shell pants. In fact, the suspenders attachment is a little strange, and we have a hard time envisioning the user that might employ such a modification.
None of the pants we tested are heavily featured, and we like it that way.
Given the amount of protection this model offers, the OR Foray packs down incredibly small. Squishing down to just a little bigger than a 12 ounce can of La Croix, the Foray is easy to bring along on most sorts of adventures.
Many of the pants we tested are similar in size. The Best Buy Marmot PreCip, for instance, is just a hair bigger, while the Arc'teryx Zeta SL is just a touch smaller. The only pant that is significantly smaller is our Top Pick for Weight and Packed Size, the OR Helium; they are even tinier and take up only half the volume.
The OR Foray weighs 10.2 ounces. At this mass, especially given their comfort and protection, it is difficult to leave them behind if there is the slightest chance of wet weather on your excursion.
There are certainly lighter and decidedly heavier rain pants available on the market. The Top Pick Outdoor Research Helium (6 oz) is only 2/3 the weight of the Foray. The other Editors' Choice, the Zeta SL, is an ounce lighter and provides comparable performance; the Zeta does not have any pockets, offers slightly shorter side-zips, and costs a little more.
Durability is a two-pronged consideration. First, how well will the fabric hold up to mechanical abrasion and punishment? This is a function of fabric thickness and composition. The fabric of the OR Foray is pretty middle of the road for weight focused rain pants. Next, how long will the pants maintain their performance characteristics under various pressures? We look for lasting effects in terms of breathability, absolute waterproofness, and surface water repellency.
The waterproof membrane of the OR Foray is protected by fabric layers on both sides. It will maintain its waterproofness for as long as the fabric holds up. Breathability is a function of cleanliness; keep your gear clean, and it will breathe better. Finally, the durable water repellant used on rain pants varies in quality. Our shower test, supported by anecdotal evidence, suggests that the DWR of the OR Foray will last a bit longer than average.
The DWR of Patagonia clothing has long been exceptional and shows in all of our outerwear tests. The Patagonia Torrentshell pants are no exception. Their DWR exceeds that of the OR Foray and most other pants in our test.
These are the pants for the discerning user that wants emergency and occasional use rain pants but demands excellent weather protection in case their week-long trip turns out being damp. The full side zips make them appropriate for mountaineering and backpacking; they are small enough to take as a just-in-case layer for day hikes, and their cuffs will just barely fit over ski boots.
These aren't inexpensive, nor are they particularly durable, but they are hardly fragile. The performance, breathability, and packability are excellent, but you pay for it.
The OR Foray will serve the half of the hiking and climbing population that mainly carries rain pants for occasional use, using them on occasion. There are much less expensive options out there to fill this same niche, but these less expensive options do not perform as well as the Foray - primarily in regards to their breathability and all day stormworthiness.
— Ian Nicholson & Jediah Porter