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Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Review

For summertime rock climbing where cool winds and rough surfaces are expected, the durable and stretchy Ferrosi is a good performer at an affordable price.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $129 List | $89.73 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, great breathability, stretchy
Cons:  Limited weather protection
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Ryan Huetter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 20, 2018
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Weather Protection - 30% 3
  • Breathability - 30% 10
  • Mobility - 20% 10
  • Weight - 10% 10
  • Features - 5% 6
  • Style - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hooded Jacket is a long-time favorite among climbers and hikers thanks to its lightweight, thoughtful features and durability. As the second lightest jacket in this review, it is also the least expensive, making it an incredible value for the budget-minded adventurer. We tested this jacket over months applications from trail running to alpine mountaineering and found that the Ferrosi excelled in mobility and breathability, though was lacking in its ability to protect from wet weather. In these cases we tended to favor a softshell with a harder faced outer material such as the Arcteryx Gamma MX which sheds precipitation more effectively.

Other jackets such as the Rab Torque performed nearly as well in these metrics, offering additional weather resistance thanks to the inclusion of a hoo. However, the price of these close competitors was at least double that of the Ferrosi. Pair the Ferrosi jacket with a lightweight base layer, and you have a capable wind shell that will shed very light moisture and let you focus on your activity.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ferrosi Hooded Jacket is the second lightest softshell jacket that we reviewed, and we found that it was a capable performer in most conditions. This stretchy shell gives great performance in breathability and mobility, making it an excellent choice for active sports like trail running, mountain biking and climbing. It is not nearly as weatherproof as other models we reviewed, but for this durable jacket will hold up well to windy days high on an alpine ridge with the best of them, and as the least expensive jacket in our review, heartily recommend it with our Best Buy award.

Performance Comparison



Weather Protection


The Ferrosi Hoody is much less protective than shells with a specialized weave such as found on the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody, though we like having the option for a less water-resistant shell when we plan on using it during aerobic activities. The Ferrosi defends against the elements with a tight nylon/spandex weave and excellent DWR treatment rather than a membrane. That said, it is by no means windproof and scored much worse in this category than The North Face Apex Bionic 2, which has WindWall technology.


During heavy gusts, we certainly felt the breeze while wearing the Ferrosi, but it blocked enough wind to keep us from getting chilled. While cross-country skiing, it offered enough protection from light snow and spindrift to keep us dry. By incorporating a hood, this jacket allows you to seal out the elements even when wearing a climbing helmet (an averagely sized ski helmet won't fit).

We tested this jacket in the shower; we were surprised that it lasted for as long as it did before wetting through — a full 30 seconds in a downpour. It is not waterproof, only lightly resistant. But for cold, windy conditions, this contender is ideal to wear over a lightweight fleece, such as our award-winning favorite, the Patagonia R1 Hoody. What this model lacks in water resistance, it makes up for in breathability.

In light drizzle the Ferrosi's DWR treatment sheds water as seen on the front  though prolonged showers will wet through as seen on the shoulders.
In light drizzle the Ferrosi's DWR treatment sheds water as seen on the front, though prolonged showers will wet through as seen on the shoulders.

Breathability


We awarded top marks to the Ferrosi Hoody in this metric, and felt that this is the trait that most made us appreciate wearing it. The point of wearing a softshell jacket is to eliminate the stuffy feeling of wearing a hardshell that leaves you feeling wet and clammy after periods of high output, and the Ferrosi Hoody does a nearly perfect job at allowing perspiration to pass through. When reaching the end of a long climb on bikes or skis, we arrived drier than when wearing other jackets that had a thicker shell or an inner liner and were able to retain more warmth with less excess moisture to wick away body heat.


When the weather deteriorates, you can throw on a waterproof or puffy jacket depending on conditions. Finally, it's worth noting that after wetting out the shoulders in our waterfall test, the stretchy body and hood fabric breathed like a champ. Our tester was perfectly dry in less than 30 minutes of moderate activity. The jacket was worn over an R1 Hoody. If you don't need lots of breathability and prefer top quality weather protection for a softshell jacket, we recommend the Arcteryx Gamma MX, which is much more weather resistant and has better features.


Mobility


The most mobile jacket in our review, our Best Buy winner held its own in this metric, and we think it's a great pick for rock climbers, cyclists, trail runners and any other athletes who demand full range of motion from their garments. When reaching up with a harness on, the cuffs fall slightly; however, when wearing gloves, the wrist cuffs stayed in place and didn't fall thanks to the stretch of the material. There are good quality thumb loops that allow the wearer to keep the cuffs in place and gain a bit of protection; these perform better than the loops featured on the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody.


The Ferrosi Hoody works very well when worn over a sun shirt or an light fleece like the Top Pick winning OR Deviator Hoody. We found that when layered as such, the athletic fit was perfect and was snug but not too tight. If you often find yourself between sizes or wish to layer a thicker midweight fleece below the Ferrosi then consider sizing up one size.


Weight


This jacket is the second lightest softshell jacket in our review, and not by much. Only .05 ounces (1.4 grams) lighter than the Arcteryx Psiphon FL, so close that we awarded them the same top score in the weight category. At only 0.79 pounds, these jackets are much lighter than the rest of the competition, with only the Ascendant Hoody coming in closely behind. Pairing the Ferrosi with an ultralight rain jacket that weighs less than seven ounces yields a super versatile clothing system that weighs just ounces less than many of the other softshells that we reviewed! Because this softshell jacket weighs so little, it is easy to work into a wide range of clothing systems. You can pack this for an extended alpine trip or get a new PR on your local Strava circuit.


This jacket stows away into one of its hand warmer pockets with plenty of room to spare. It wasn't designed for it, but it's possible to stuff the Ferrosi into its more compact chest pocket, too.

Features


This is a simple jacket that eschews rich features for clean lines, minimal extras and light weight. The hooded version tested here is our favorite of the Ferrosi line, and we prefer the extra ounce of weight in order to have more protection. There are only two adjustment cords, rather than three, so this best fits over a hat or a low-profile climbing helmet.


We have long complained that the zippered handwarmer pockets are too low on the body of the Ferrosi to be comfortable or useful when used with a climbing harness, a backpack hip belt, or a waistbelt hydration pack. Since this jacket is more of an athletic garment with less casual crossover than a model like the Mountain Hardwear Touren, we would hope that future iteration of this jacket move the pockets up a few inches to be more compatible with these accessories


There is just one offset elastic cinch on the right side of the hem while most jackets have two. However, we found that the single cinch worked quite well. Finally, we love the simple elastic wrist closures that keep the cuffs secure. They fit easily over lightweight gloves but are not bulky when we used with larger, gauntlet style gloves. Another great feature this affords is that the cuffs stay put on your forearms if you pull the sleeves up. For lightweight softshells, the elastic wrist closures are an excellent design choice.

Absent from earlier versions of this jacket, the 2018 Ferrosi tested here features some of the highest quality thumb loops we've come across. Far from just a giant hole cut-out, these loops consist of two layers of fabric that overlap to prevent air from creeping in when your thumb isn't taking up that space. They are also comfortable, and with double-stitched seams, appear unlikely to break down quickly. We appreciate this attention to quality and detail from Outdoor Research in a world rife with uncomfortable and poorly constructed thumb loops.


A Note on Durability
In 2014's iteration of this review, the Ferrosi won our Editors' Choice award and was our favorite softshell. As such, one reviewer kept it and continued using and abusing it. After a year of tough use, a couple of small durability issues arose. First, the sheath of the hem cinch broke, revealing ratty looking rubber strands. This was easily fixed by isolating this section with a knot. Second, a couple of the stitches along the side of the jacket began coming apart (likely from scraping up brutal chimneys). We don't think these small issues significantly detract from the awesomeness of this jacket and consider them normal wear and tear for a lightweight piece.

Style


Though the jacket isn't warm enough to be very useful around town, its mountain style points were quite high.


We probably took more pictures of this jacket than many of the others directly because it looked picturesque at every turn. The fit also contributed style points. It is very tailored and refined. If you plan on layering heavily under this jacket, be warned: it's snug.


Best Applications


This jacket could be considered an ultralight softshell jacket, or a heavy-duty windshirt. It is best suited for athletic mountain sports where breathability and mobility are necessary, and for weather conditions that require wind and light protection from precipitation. Extremely useful as a spring-summer-fall outer layer for alpine climbing, trail running or mountain biking, we also loved this jacket for its breathability when engaging in high-output sports like cross-country skiing in the winter time, though in general, we liked a heavier weight jacket for cold weather conditions.

Value


For the incredibly low price of $129, Outdoor Research created a high-scoring jacket. If you want this jacket without a hood it can be had for $99. With this combination of low price and great performance, we couldn't help but give this jacket our Best Buy award.

Conclusion


At its core, a softshell jacket is a hybrid piece that is meant to fill the gap between hardshell jackets and fleeces. The Ferrosi Hooded Jacket fills this gap wonderfully and is a joy to wear over a base layer or light fleece. Several reviewers purchased jacket after the conclusion of our review. While other softshells might be a touch more breathable and others more weather resistant, this jacket strikes a fantastic real-world balance packed into a super lightweight piece. If you want excellent breathability coupled with some protection from snow and moisture, this jacket is an excellent addition to your kit.



Ryan Huetter