The OR Tantrum II is our favorite choice for active uses such as running, peak bagging, or mountain biking. It is made of 20D mechanical stretch nylon that moves and stretches as you do, a stark contrast to the common nylon windbreaker. Not only does stretchy material mean that it fits and moves better, but we also found it to be far more breathable than its competition. In the past, we recognized the Tantrum as our Top Pick for Biking and Running, and it could easily still hold those titles, although gone is the lower back pocket and strap for carrying it pack-less. This new version stuffs into its chest pocket with a clip ring. The only downside to this fantastic wind jacket is that it is terrible in the rain, so only bring it to places where you don't expect to get wet!
Outdoor Research Tantrum II Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Stretchy nylon, comfortable, very breathable
Cons: Soaks up water like a towel, sleeves a tad short
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Tantrum II updates the older version of the Tantrum but retains its use of 20D mechanical stretch nylon. Like all stretch outer clothing (which we love!), this one comes with big advantages in mobility and breathability, and corresponding dips in wind and water resistance. We have found these exact trade-offs to be prevalent in many other stretch garments as well.
For those who are wondering about the changes between the original Tantrum and this version, the most significant is the removal of the lower back pocket and waist strap. While we liked this feature in the older jacket, it made it uncomfortable to wear the jacket with a pack. The new version stows in a mesh-lined chest pocket, which comes with a little plastic clipper. The new version is a little lighter than the old, which is probably due to this design change.
While the Tantrum II is plenty effective at repelling the wind, it isn't quite on the same level as the Rab Vital Wind Shell, which features a far tighter nylon weave but isn't stretchy. Despite using 20 denier nylon, like most of the competition, this jacket feels a bit thinner. It is noticeably more permeable when we manually blew air through it during testing.
In practice, we found it does a plenty effective job though. It uses elastic bands to hold things in place around the hood and on the cuffs, which worked well for us in all but the strongest of winds. You can tighten the hem with a drawcord that easily seals out the air from below, but that leaves a cord dangling. In short, this jacket isn't the top scorer for this metric, but it's plenty adequate at its job.
Breathability and Venting
We have already pointed out that the stretch nylon fabric is more air permeable, and therefore more breathable than most of its testing competitors. We found it to be the most breathable jacket in this review.
However, breathing vapor transfer rarely works until a significant amount of heat and sweat is accumulates inside the jacket. Ventilation can often be a far more effective way of shedding heat in the first place.
The Tantrum II has few features besides the front zipper to allow for ventilation. It does have a mesh-lined chest pocket, but the mesh points the wrong way to be super effective at generating airflow. We often needed to keep this pocket closed to protect our phones anyway. While the Tanturm II is very breathable, our testing showed that the Smartwool PhD Ultra Light Sport Hoody is better at preventing heat buildup, and thus received a slightly higher score.
Weight and Packability
Our size large jacket weighed 4.6 ounces, which is a fair bit less than the older version. While it's not quite as light as either the Patagonia Houdini or the super light Mountain Hardwear Ghost Lite Jacket, it is the lightest of the rest.
This jacket stuffs into its single inside-out chest pocket. We love how small this package ends up being, making it easy to carry nearly anywhere. We wouldn't hesitate to haul it around on long hikes or big climbs. It has a loop with an included clip in case you aren't carrying a biner. The only downside is that half of this stuffed package is mesh, which may catch and tear easier than if it was nylon like the rest of the jacket.
Fit and Functionality
We ordered our normal size large for testing and found that it was sleeker and fit a bit closer to the body than most. We love this because that is how we normally wear a windbreaker, right on top of a t-shirt. When we need extra warmth, we often just throw another jacket over the top.
The sleeves are a bit short, but they also have thumb keeper loops to hold them in place when needed. The stretchiness of the material does a good job of covering up any fit related critiques that we have. In terms of features, there are very few to mention. The single chest pocket and hem drawcord are about it. There is no adjustability in the hood or extra pockets for the hands or extra items. Much like the Houdini, this jacket keeps it simple.
Far and away the worst attribute of this jacket is its water resistance. We were lucky not to get rained on while out on any of our testing missions, so we gave it a quick spin in the shower to gauge its merits. While we admit that there were a few beads of water that fell off this jacket, evidence of a DWR treatment, it pretty much just soaked in water like a sponge.
If you want a windbreaker that will give you some measure of protection if it starts raining, we recommend checking out The North Face Flyweight Hoody, which did the best in our water resistance testing.
The attributes of this jacket make it ideal for aerobic, active pursuits. We like it while biking and running. It is also a good choice for peak bagging, climbing, sailing, or simply hiking, just bring a rain jacket along as well if precipitation is in the forecast.
This jacket retails for $109, placing it firmly in the middle of the price spectrum. Since we it has a wide range of uses and performs favorably compared to the competition, we think this is a good value.
The OR Tantrum II is a lightweight, stretch nylon windbreaker that breathes better than most, but has a poor tolerance for precipitation. We think it is optimally suited for aerobic sports. Indeed, it was our first choice on days that we left the house running or riding.
— Andy Wellman