In 2018, our lead tester received a new batch of running jackets, and the competition for our Editors' Choice Award was kicked up a notch from previous years. We quickly learned that not only did the Tantrum absolutely wreck this year's competition, but it also topped our previous winners. In the end, we replaced our bike commuting jacket, alpine climbing jacket, and running jackets with the Outdoor Research Tantrum II.
We tried incredibly hard to find a situation that challenged the Tantrum II. This was a difficult task as Outdoor Research seems bent on raising standards in outdoor equipment.
The previous Outdoor Research jacket we tested was the Boost. It was equipped with a large, thin, stretch panel in the back that dumped body heat and moisture. The issue was to attain such breathability, precipitation would pass through the material easily. The Tantrum II has found the balance we were looking for; the "Movement-Mirroring" stretch fabric not only moved with us but was breathable enough to keep us from being drenched from the inside.
After heavy rain or intense activity when the jacket did become saturated, the thin 20 denier fabric dried exceptionally fast. While most of the running jackets we tested offered decent breathability, the Tantrum II found an incredible balance between breathability and the other testing metrics, which is a delicate balance to attain.
Like all jackets tested in the running jackets category, none of them are a good substitute for a real rain jacket. What they are is an excellent lightweight solution when you are heading out for a few hours, and there is a chance of precipitation, wind, or enough of a chill in the air to necessitate an extra light layer. The Tantrum II is loaded with features to keep you comfortable in inclement weather. The 20D mechanical stretch ripstop fabric performed well in wet weather and remained comfortable, even when areas of the fabric became permeated by moisture.
The Tantrum II is also equipped with a semi-rigid lip on the hood to keep rain from hitting your face, as well as elastic on both sides. This creates a snug but comfortable fit when the hood is up and allows for a bit of expansion if you're wearing it over a helmet. This was especially appreciated when we took this jacket out on adventures that strayed away from simply running. The Tantrum also features full circumference elastic wrist cuffs and thumb loops, which keep the sleeves right where they should be. Even during our 35mph downhill bike wind test, we didn't feel any wind encroaching through the sleeves. Finally, the waist has a full circumference elastic drawstring which keeps the waist from blowing up or bouncing around. Basically, every opening where you are exposed to the elements has something in place to buffer the effects of whatever you face.
Comfort and Mobility
The Tantrum's movement-mirroring stretch fabric is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comfort. Each seam that comes in contact with a sensitive part of your body is guarded with a softer, less abrasive fabric; this includes the elastic bands on the hood and wrist cuffs. This feature has been carried over from previous Outdoor Research running jackets, and we're pleased it was retained. We never found ourselves fidgeting with the Tantrum or trying to make it more comfortable as we ran or rode; it simply sits in a comfortable position on our body.
Able to jump logs in a single bound. Like the tunic of a kung fu master, the Tantrum II allows for full unimpeded range of motion.
We discovered that a great test of comfort was using this jacket in myriad situations. From running, biking, hiking, and climbing, it offered a fantastic range of motion and never made us feel restricted. When you take into consideration the various arm positions and constant movement required for each sport, this is impressive. Though you can barely tell the fabric stretches when manipulating it with your hands, there is a massive difference between the Tantrum and the contenders made of non-stretch fabric.
At 4.2 ounces, this jacket is sufficiently lightweight to hardly notice in your pack. While it isn't nearly as light as the lightest Montane Featherlite 7 the Tantrum is an infinitely more useful and durable jacket. The Tantrum packs down into its own zipper chest pocket, which makes the packing and unpacking process extremely simple.
While the stored jacket appears large it is very uncompressed. The stuff pouch could be compressed much further if needed.
Outdoor Research has opted for a looser stow pocket, allowing for a larger packed size while making the work of actually stuffing the jacket in very easy. We were able to stuff the Tantrum into its pouch quite easily and did not have to slow down when removing it whilst running.
At 118 grams or 4.16 ounces, the OR Tantrum isn't the lightest jacket in the field. It is, however, the most balanced jacket we tested meaning it is a combination of portability, weather resistance, breathability etc.
Day and Night Visibility
Ultimately, the Tantrum II wasn't as visible as the top performer in this metric, the Arc'teryx Incendo, instead offering much higher than average day and night visibility. We tested the alloy/lemongrass color scheme and never felt like we were camouflaged from oncoming traffic or other trail users. The OR emblem on the chest is made of reflective tape, and it is incredibly bright. Our only complaint would be the necessity of having something reflective on the back of this piece as well as some reflective material on the wrists. During our testing, jackets such as the Arc'teryx Incendo, which was equipped with wrist reflectors, were the easiest to see and avoid.
The Tantrum II is one of the most versatile jackets we have tested in the running jacket category. We used this award winner on long runs, alpine climbing, and cycling and felt that it was well-suited for all of our pursuits. As a running jacket, it performed fantastically in light drizzle, heavy wind, and cold conditions. In addition to its performance while we were running, it packed away into a reasonably small pouch, making it convenient to always have on hand for bike commuting. All in all, this jacket is well-suited for running as well as a wide variety of outdoor pursuits.
For $109, we essentially replaced our running jacket, climbing wind layer, and commuting jacket. Even if this jacket was the most expensive of the testing field, we'd tell you it was an excellent value. As it stands, the Tantrum II is just a bit more expensive than the average of all models we tested, making it incredibly affordable. We can't recommend this jacket enough, and the $109 price tag makes it an outstanding value.
Over three years of testing running jackets, we seldom have found a jacket that does everything and does it well. The Outdoor Research Tantrum II provides a well-formulated balance between protection, comfort, and usability. Even if running isn't your primary activity, this jacket will be an excellent addition to your outdoor equipment wardrobe.