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Outdoor Research Ferrosi Hoody Review

The 2017 Ferrosi Hooded Jacket
Best Buy Award
Price:   $129 List | $89.93 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Superb breathability, lightweight, stretchy
Cons:  Pockets are covered by harnesses and hip belts, not very water resistant, hood could be bigger
Bottom line:  The most versatile and less inexpensive than most, this model is the best option for smaller budgets.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research

Our Verdict

A previous winner of our Editors' Choice Award, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi fell short of the new champion, the Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket. While the KnifeRidge is more water resistant and has a superior set of features, we still think the Ferrosi is an award-winning product. Finishing second in scoring overall, it now claims our Best Buy Award for incredible performance with a list price $300+ cheaper than the KnifeRidge. Its excellent versatility stems from a high level of breathability while still offering decent protection from wind and moisture. It's lightweight, too, and the stretchy fabric makes this model mobile enough to keep up with all kinds of body movements when climbing, skiing, running, high alpine scrambling, and more.

Although the Ferrosi blocks weather far worse than the KnifeRidge ($450), it is much more breathable. The Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Shell lands between the Ferrosi and KnifeRidge in both weather resistance and breathability making it a good compromise between the two; it retails for $199. To understand more about the different types of softshells and how they work, check out our Softshell Buying Advice article.

In the market for a layering piece?
Outdoor Research Ferrosi Jacket
Find the same great performance without the bulk of a hood in the Ferrosi Jacket. For a reduced price of $99, the Jacket makes for a great mid-layer in your alpine clothing system.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Softshell Jackets for Men


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jeremy Bauman & Ross Robinson

Last Updated:
Tuesday
July 18, 2017

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The Outdoor Research Ferrosi is one of the most versatile softshells we tested, and it held its own in a myriad of conditions…from rock climbing trips to Joshua Tree National Park and Indian Creek, to ice climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park and backcountry skiing across the Front Range of Colorado and on Mount Shasta. The key to its stellar performance is the combination of super breathable nylon/spandex used in the body and durable nylon on the sleeves. Further, it is uninsulated and works well over a t-shirt or lightweight fleece. Expect this jacket to breathe well enough to keep you dry on the inside and weather resistant enough to shed snow and the occasional sprinkle with ease. For us, this is what a softshell should do. If we expect truly nasty weather, we forego the softshell altogether and reach for a fully waterproof shell.

Performance Comparison


Our testers loved the lightweight mobility this jacket offers when climbing long granite cracks in the Sierras.
Our testers loved the lightweight mobility this jacket offers when climbing long granite cracks in the Sierras.

Weather Protection


The Ferrosi is much less protective than shells with wind- and water-resistant membranes like the Patagonia KnifeRidge. The Ferrosi defends against the elements with a tight nylon/spandex weave and excellent DWR treatment rather than a membrane. That said, the Ferrosi is by no means windproof and scored much worse in this category than the Patagonia Adze Hybrid Hoody, which has Polartec Windbloc 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 ice climbing, the jacket offered enough protection from snow and spindrift to keep us dry.


When one of our testers jumped under an icy waterfall with the jacket, he quickly confirmed that it wasn't waterproof. However, we were surprised how long the jacket repelled the frigid torrent. If there's a high chance of water falling on you, we'd reach for a different shell. But for cold, windy conditions this jacket is ideal to wear over a lightweight fleece (such as our award-winning favorite, the Patagonia R1 Hoody). What this jacket lacks in water resistance, it makes up for in breathability.

The Best Buy winning Ferrosi lacked the weather resistance to keep our tester dry  but the superb breathability let him dry out quickly. Shown here is the 2015 model.
The Best Buy winning Ferrosi lacked the weather resistance to keep our tester dry, but the superb breathability let him dry out quickly. Shown here is the 2015 model.

Breathability


Breathability is what makes this jacket shine. Breathability and weather protection are inversely related, so given the Ferrosi's somewhat poor weather resistance, it makes sense that it would offer good breathability. In this case, we think that better breathability yields a more comfortable and versatile shell. This also means that you won't have to take the Ferrosi off when charging hard uphill and that you'll still benefit from some protection from wind, snow, and very light precipitation.


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 still 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 weather protection, we recommend the KnifeRidge which is much more weather resistant and has better features.

The thin  breathable fabric is ideal for keeping early morning chills at bay without overheating.
The thin, breathable fabric is ideal for keeping early morning chills at bay without overheating.

Mobility & Fit


While it wasn't the most mobile jacket, our Best Buy winner held its own in this metric, and we think it's a great pick for rock climbers. 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.


The Ferrosi pairs with a lightweight fleece such as the Patagonia R1 Hoody like a dream, but if you want to layer much more, consider sizing up as sizes seem to run a little small. Several of our reviewers in between a size Small and Medium found this jacket to be a perfect fit. Finally, the hem was longer than many of the softshells in the review, and more importantly, it stayed put under our climbing harnesses.

The stretchy fabric and longer fit of this jacket make it a great climbing jacket  despite the sleeves sliding back slightly with arms raised.
The stretchy fabric and longer fit of this jacket make it a great climbing jacket, despite the sleeves sliding back slightly with arms raised.


Weight & Packed Size


This jacket gets mad points for its small size and weight. At 12.8 ounces, it is the second lightest we reviewed just behind the Black Diamond Alpine Start that weighs 8 ounces. Pairing the Ferrosi with an ultralight rain jacket, such as the Marmot Essence that weighs 6.2 ounces, yields a super versatile clothing system that weighs just 19.5 ounces - less than many of the other softshells that we reviewed! Not only that, but doing so will cost you $330, which is still $120 less than the Patagonia KnifeRidge (which weighs 19 ounces). Because we view softshells as a niche product, the minimum weight penalty of the Outdoor Research Ferrosi lets it work its way into our clothing systems more frequently than other heavier softshells.


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.

The Ferrosi is lightweight and packable  making it an easy choice to bring along just in case. Here it is  stuffed into its own hand pocket  but it can compress to about half this size in your pack.
The Ferrosi is lightweight and packable, making it an easy choice to bring along just in case. Here it is, stuffed into its own hand pocket, but it can compress to about half this size in your pack.

Features


Overall, the features of this product were implemented well. The hood has two external brim adjustments that can be used with gloves on, but you must use two hands to do so. This system was easy enough to use but wasn't as easy or intuitive as jackets like the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol that can be adjusted with one hand. There is not a back adjustment, but we didn't find this to be an issue since the hood itself is constructed with the same stretchy material as the bod. This allows the hood to easily contour over helmets of all shapes and sizes…or no helmet at all. One small gripe is that we wish there was more chin coverage.


The zippered hand warmer pockets were our least favorite feature of the jacket. We prefer high pockets that can be used with a climbing harness or backpack hip belt. Because this jacket is too thin to be a good casual wear jacket, we think this was a poor design choice.

The hood of the Ferrosi fits well over the climbing helmet of this tester. It's stretchy  staying in place without being too tight.
The hood can fit over a helmet  but doesn't feel too large to wear over a hat or simply on its own.
The hood is simple to cinch down during inclement weather. We'll let you decide how it affects the style.
 

There is just one 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, we think that elastic wrist closures such as these are an excellent design choice.

The clever design of the thumb loops on the 2017 version of this jacket are robust and don't create a large gap for chills to penetrate.
Our reviewers found the thumb loops to be ergonomic and comfortable over long periods of time without digging into our hands.
Elastic cuffs and softshells should go hand in hand  as they do with the Ferrosi.
 

Absent from earlier versions of this jacket, the 2017 Ferrosi we tested features some of the highest quality thumb loops we've come across. Far from just a large 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. But you should be aware that this jacket won't last forever if you regularly abuse it as we do.

Style


Look good  feel good. Our reviewers were happy to step in front of the lens while wearing this flattering jacket.
Look good, feel good. Our reviewers were happy to step in front of the lens while wearing this flattering jacket.

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 simply because it looked picturesque at every turn. The fit also contributed style points to this jacket. It is very tailored and refined. If you plan on layering heavily under this jacket, however, be warned: it's snug.


Best Applications


This jacket excels at high-output adventures in 50 degree and colder environments. When the temperatures drop below 0, however, we recommend seeking a jacket that offers more warmth and weather resistant. This jacket works very well for rock climbing in the spring and fall, backcountry touring, cross-country skiing, spring snow climbing, or summer alpine climbing on windy ridges. It also works well for ice climbing in cold, dry environments, but we usually prefer ice climbing in hardshells or super protective softshells like the Patagonia KnifeRidge for the added protection. Overall, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi is one of the most versatile softshell jackets that we tested and has a home on our shoulders year round.

The stretch and mobility made this the perfect jacket for rock climbing in 50F temperatures.
The stretch and mobility made this the perfect jacket for rock climbing in 50F temperatures.

Value


For the low price of $129, Outdoor Research created a high-scoring softshell. With this combination of low price and great performance, we couldn't help but give this jacket our Best Buy Award.

This jacket is so versatile  many of our reviewers instinctually grabbed for it before the others for a wide range of activities.
This jacket is so versatile, many of our reviewers instinctually grabbed for it before the others for a wide range of activities.

Conclusion


At its core, a softshell jacket is a hybrid piece that is meant to fill the gap between hardshell jackets and fleeces. The Outdoor Research Ferrosi 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 may 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.

The jacket was breathable enough on the skin up  and provided adequate wind resistance on the way down. Temps were around 34F.
The jacket was breathable enough on the skin up, and provided adequate wind resistance on the way down. Temps were around 34F.
Jeremy Bauman & Ross Robinson

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Most recent review: July 18, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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