The Outdoor Research Alibi is a climbing softshell that scores below average in our ratings. Two different fabrics are placed strategically to optimize resistance, durability, and breathability. The result is a well-rounded jacket that's good for general winter use, around town, and (if you don't mind the weight and a variety of unnecessary features) climbing. For several reasons, this jackets scores relatively low in our evaluation of 20 top-tier jackets.
Outdoor Research Alibi Review
Cons: Many unnecessary features reduce performance, hood is restrictive with helmet, heavy.
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Alibi is a heavy duty windproof softshell that's much more wind and water resistant than it is breathable. This makes the jacket best for outdoor activities in cold and windy weather.
The jacket scores low in this area. It is one of the least breathable softshells we've tested and it's poorly suited to aerobic use in all but cold and windy conditions.
Just below average here. We found that the arms were slightly more restrictive than other climbing softshells like the Patagonia Knifeblade and much more so than the Arc'teryx Venta MX.
24 oz. is a lot!! Many three-season down sleeping bags weigh the same amount. The implication is: it's harder for you climb because you're carrying more. If weight matters you could use a warm fleece like the Patagonia R3 and a waterproof hardshell like the Patagonia M10, which when combined weigh less than the Alibi and are warmer and more versatile.
We've never been impressed by the design of any Outdoor Research softshell features and the Alibi has perhaps our least favorite assembly of features. The philosophy appears to be: the more complex the better, rather than the minimalist philosophy that climbing gear usually holds to.
OR adds a "helmet liner" which is a funky little hood that you could use if you didn't have a hat or a hooded fleece, and wanted some insulation between you and your helmet. If we were to keep this jacket we would immediately cut this feature off because it's annoying (extra bulk in the hood area when not in use) in addition to unnecessary.
The TorsoFlo side vents are inferior to traditional pit zips because they don't vent the hottest part of your body-- the armpits. Opening them fully requires dealing with a snap at the waist, which is annoying. This is time consuming and often requires stopping moving. Wearing a waist belt makes the vents only moderately effective because the bottom zipper and snap are covered and you can't open them up fully. We also find the vents' dual zippers and snaps to be clunky and jingly. Overall, this is a very poor design and we're surprised that OR didn't ditch it several years ago.
This is the only softshell we've ever tested that has a two-way zipper. Again, this is unnecessary because a shell goes under your harness, not over it!!
The jacket looks great.
Around town, general winter use.
The Alibi is relatively cheap, but we think it's worth spending more money on a better jacket, or perhaps even less money on a better jacket; see the Patagonia Simple Guide Hoody.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale