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KUHL Parajax Review

A lightweight jacket loaded with features like zippered pockets, cut in a European-style
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kuhl parajax wind breaker jacket review
Credit: Backcountry
Price:  $109 List
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Manufacturer:   KUHL
By Aaron Rice ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 3, 2019
  • Wind Resistance - 30% 7.0
  • Breathability and Venting - 30% 7.0
  • Weight and Packability - 20% 7.0
  • Fit and Functionality - 10% 6.0
  • Water Resistance - 10% 5.0

Our Verdict

The KUHL Parajax is a wind jacket that cuts weight without cutting features. Unlike other single-layer nylon options, this jacket includes zippered hand-pockets and mesh venting across the back to help prevent any buildup of heat or perspiration. A lightweight jacket that packs down well and does a good job of keeping you protected from the elements, the Parajax hits the mark for a piece that can be happily stashed in any pack. It is slightly more costly than similar jackets, but considering the additional features, this jacket is certainly one to consider from a brand known for building quality outdoor gear.
Reinforced seams
Mesh venting across back
Zippered hand-pockets
Overall a slim fit that constricts athletic movements

Our Analysis and Test Results

One important thing to note about this jacket is the design. As with many of KUHL's products, the Parajax follows the lines of a slim-fitting, European cut. A medium was a little too small for a 5-foot, 10-inch, 165-pound, skinny mountaineer's frame — our recommendation is to size up. While this jacket was not too small to put through our rigorous field testing, its overall tight-fit did inhibit some movement, particularly while rock climbing.

Even through our experience, we believe this jacket is well-mapped for an athletic build; with a few slight adjustments, the Parajax could easily gain back the points it loses on fit. We found that this jacket is very comfortable to wear running and ski touring. Magically, it even still supported layers underneath, thanks to a tall and comfortably sized collar. With built-in venting and lightweight nylon construction, this jacket is a good option for high-output activities both in the city and mountains.

Performance Comparison

kuhl parajax wind breaker jacket review - after a long climb into the foothills of santa fe, this jacket...
After a long climb into the foothills of Santa Fe, this jacket provided the perfect amount of wind protection for our speedy descent.
Credit: Jill Rice

Wind Resistance

The lightweight The Parajax impressed when it came to wind resistance. In our first side-by-side comparison in a cold, summit wind, there was a noticeable difference in this jacket thanks to its reinforced seams — it is also nice to have hand pockets to keep our hands warm.

kuhl parajax wind breaker jacket review - we found this jacket was perfect for late afternoon rides, and is...
We found this jacket was perfect for late afternoon rides, and is easily packable to stuff into our small riding packs. Here, we're testing side-by-side with the Patagonia Houdini.
Credit: Jill Rice

Upon further side-by-side testing, our investigation revealed that overall the Parajax does not perform quite as well as similarly built options, with slightly more wind penetration particularly in sustained winds.

Breathability and Venting

Out on trail runs, the feel of the Parajax was very comparable to the other single-layer nylon options, feeling only slightly more congested due to its slim fit. But the material did not feel clammy through the arms — and when things really did get sweaty, elastic cuffs allowed for the arms to easily be pushed up.

kuhl parajax wind breaker jacket review - a hidden vent across the shoulders of this jacket helps dump heat in...
A hidden vent across the shoulders of this jacket helps dump heat in a place where it typically builds up, and the extra material of the flap also helps shed rain rolling off the hood.
Credit: Aaron Rice

On ski tours, this jacket did a good job of managing heat over longer periods of exercise. A well-placed mesh vent across the top of the back helps dump heat and perspiration that rises from your core, that otherwise could easily be trapped in this tight-fitting jacket.

Weight and Packability

The designers at KUHL chose to build the jacket with a superlight material — a single-layer nylon weighing only 30 grams per square meter, comparable to the material used in the lightest jackets in this review. This provided the freedom to incorporate more features than other ultralight options, while still keeping the weight low at 5 ounces.

kuhl parajax wind breaker jacket review - smaller and lighter than a water bottle, this is a great jacket to...
Smaller and lighter than a water bottle, this is a great jacket to always have stashed in your pack just in case a little weather rolls in.
Credit: Aaron Rice

We found that the Parajax easily packed down for storage in the small pocket of our mountain bike hydration-pack, excellent for those evening rides when the temperature dropped as soon as the sun fell below the horizon.

Fit and Functionality

This jacket gains points in functionality when you consider features included in the Parajax that its competitors lack: zippered hand pockets; a mesh-lined vent across the back; and a seam-overlay of grosgrain ribbon for added durability. A very thoughtful point is sewing the inside seams of the hand pockets to the jacket itself — thus creating two additional stuff pockets! Considering that this jacket only weighs 1 ounce more than jackets with only a single chest pocket, all of these additions are impressive for such a lightweight package.

kuhl parajax wind breaker jacket review - coming up a little short with the hood pulled up over a helmet. if...
Coming up a little short with the hood pulled up over a helmet. If you plan to use this jacket rock climbing, consider sizing up to allow for more comfortable movement.
Credit: Jill Rice

But the points that this jacket gains in functional design, it loses when it comes to fit. From the first time trying it on, it was apparent that the Parajax leans heavily on the European-style of tight-fitting athletic apparel. This jacket worked great when it came to leg-powered activities like running or even mountain biking, but was constricting for any activity that required freedom of upper body movement. If you are a climber, we highly suggest sizing up.

Water Resistance

The Parajax receives middle-of-the-pack scores when it comes to water resistance. At the end of our hose test, our arms were still relatively dry, but the jacket had soaked through in spots on the chest and back.

kuhl parajax wind breaker jacket review - despite its overall slim fit, we were happily surprised to find that...
Despite its overall slim fit, we were happily surprised to find that you could still layer a synthetic puffy underneath this jacket, thanks to a comfortably large collar.
Credit: Jill Rice

Thanks to its lightweight construction, the Parajax did dry out on the clothesline in an impressive 36 minutes; the extra brushed nylon of the elastic hems stayed wet for longer, but not enough where we wouldn't be comfortable stashing it back into our packs.

kuhl parajax wind breaker jacket review - a thoughtful feature not found on very many jackets: one extra line...
A thoughtful feature not found on very many jackets: one extra line of stitching attaching the bottom of the exterior pockets to the inside of the jacket creates a perfect stuff pocket.
Credit: Aaron Rice


For those who appreciate a slim European-fit, the Parajax is a stylish option as a streetwear jacket that is still worth its weight in the mountains.

However, a higher retail tag reflects this fact. If you place value in the style of streetwear, then the extra cost is merely a matter of fashion.

kuhl parajax wind breaker jacket review - if you appreciate streetwear-inspired outerwear, you'll dig the...
If you appreciate streetwear-inspired outerwear, you'll dig the fashionable points of this jacket, like the grosgrain ribbon overlay -- a practical addition as it also protects the jacket's seams.
Credit: Jill Rice


A solid wind jacket, the Parajax is the type of layer that does everything well but does not necessarily excel in any one category. Maybe it was the overall tight fit, but we felt a little too restricted in this jacket to really flush out its full potential. With some minor tweaks in design, this could be an incredibly functional jacket that brings together thoughtful features not found in other lightweight wind jackets.

Aaron Rice

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