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Outdoor Research Interstellar - Women's Review

If you are an avid climber who frequently encounters drizzly weather, this would make a great addition to your archive of must have gear
Outdoor Research Interstellar - Women's
Photo: Outdoor Research
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Price:  $300 List | $164.42 at Backcountry
Pros:  Protective hood, comfortable, great for dynamic movements, waterproof
Cons:  Expensive, zipper catches easily on storm flap, no pit zips
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Maggie Brandenburg & Katherine Elliott  ⋅  Nov 13, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 13
  • Water Resistance - 30% 8
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Breathability - 20% 6
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Weight and Packability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Whether you tend to find yourself wearing a harness or pedaling up steep hills, the Outdoor Research Interstellar will be there to shield you from the elements, keeping you dry and comfortable. Sporting its exclusive Acentshell technology and incorporating a 20D mechanical stretch ripstop face fabric, you will not be disappointed in this jacket's ability to shed water while on the move. The Interstellar also features Dynamic Reach underarm panels and a trim, flexible fit to allow for a better range of motion. This alone makes it a superior rain jacket for those who tend to find themselves in a harness more often than not. Lacking a couple of key features left this model just shy of receiving an award.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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73
Star Rating
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Pros Protective hood, comfortable, great for dynamic movements, waterproofWater resistant, wind resistant and breathable, dual direction whole side/pit vents, dual direction main zipperExceedingly water resistant, great fit, comfortable fabric, good zipper design, very durableIncredibly stretchy, comfortable, breathable, long arms, not crinklyExceptionally packable, lightweight, impressively waterproof, easy to move in
Cons Expensive, zipper catches easily on storm flap, no pit zipsVery difficult to pack into its pocket, sleeves a bit short, main zipper difficult to match upNo pit zips for dumping excess heat in a pinch, doesn't pack into a pocket, expensiveThin, hood not great coverage, not windproofNo vents or hand pockets, lack of everyday features
Bottom Line Climbing in inclement weather is never fun but lucky there's a cure for thatIn spite of its relatively large packed size and weight, this jacket will meet every other expectation you have for a rain shellOffering impressive protection from the elements in a very comfortable and well-fitting jacketYou'll pay more for the stretchy fabric of this model, but it just might be worth it if you partake in a lot of aerobic activitiesA solid packable rain layer that will keep you dry but doesn't have a lot of everyday comfort features
Rating Categories Interstellar Aspire Arc'teryx Zeta SL - Women's Stretch Ozonic Helium Rain Jacket
Water Resistance (30%)
8
9
9
7
8
Comfort (25%)
7
8
9
8
6
Breathability (20%)
6
8
5
8
8
Durability (15%)
6
9
9
7
6
Weight And Packability (10%)
6
6
4
6
9
Specs Interstellar Aspire Arc'teryx Zeta SL... Stretch Ozonic Helium Rain Jacket
Measured Weight 9.2 oz 11.4 oz 9.4 oz 9.4 oz 5.6 oz
Number of Fabric Layers 3 2 2 2.5 2.5
Material Ascentshell 3L 100% nylon 20D mechanical stretch ripstop with 12D backer Gore-Tex with Paclite technology 2L, 100% polyester 50D plain weave 40D ripstop (N40r) Gore-Tex New Paclite Plus, DWR treatment Dry.Q Active Stretch 40D 2.5L (100% nylon) Pertex Shield, Diamond Fuse 30D ripstop nylon
Pockets 2 hand, 1 chest 2 hand, 1 chest 2 hand 2 hand, 1 chest 1 chest
Pit Zips No Yes - dual direction No Yes - dual direction No
Pit Zip Length (in) N/a 21" N/a 13" n/a
Helmet Compatible Hood Yes Yes No Yes No
Stows into Pocket Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Carabiner Loop in Stow Pocket Yes Yes No No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

A combination of technical performance and a highly breathable membrane make the OR Interstellar a great choice if you tend to find yourself climbing or biking in stormy weather. Throughout testing, we found this model to lack a couple of essential features, which keeps it out of reach of the award's circle.

Performance Comparison


The Interstellar helps to keep you dry and moving.
The Interstellar helps to keep you dry and moving.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Water Resistance


The Interstellar features exclusive Acentshell technology that is highly water-resistant yet breathable. It's worth noting the DWR finish began to deteriorate toward the end of testing, leaving us a little more waterlogged than we would have liked. The hood is very protective, having a wide, stiff brim to shield your eyes and a stiff wire on the front edge to hold whatever shape you prefer no matter how tight you pack it.

When fresh, this jacket is impressively waterproof. However, its...
When fresh, this jacket is impressively waterproof. However, its stretch makes the DWR finish wear out a bit faster and it needed reapplication during our testing.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Comfort


We love the feel of the soft, stretchy fabric. It's comfortable enough to wear against your skin; this soft interior does feel a bit "sticky" against base layers, though not so much that it's an issue. Strangely, for an active jacket, this was one of the few that we felt could use a little more room in the shoulder area, particularly when we wanted to wear it over a fleece. We also consistently struggled with the main zipper getting caught on the storm flap underneath. It's such a large-toothed zipper that it catches pretty easily if the stiff storm flap underneath is at all laying over the zipper.

Its large, helmet-compatible hood keeps you dry in even the strongest of downpours. One notable feature of the hood is the newest addition of the Hood Lock. This small hook on the adjustment toggle at the back of the helmet can be hooked onto a small fabric loop at the base of the hood to take in some of that excess material when you're not wearing a helmet. This is an excellent idea for a feature, as the hood without a helmet is cavernous. However, we find it in practice to be less than ideal.

The Hood Lock easily comes unhooked from the loop while you're wearing the jacket, letting the hood fall back over your eyes. We also had some difficulties with the hook catching the elastic cord from the hood, making it incredibly difficult to loosen the hood with cold, rained-on hands. The hood also cinches from both sides, but the drawstrings are located on the inside of the collar; they lay against your cheek, making it a touch difficult to access when your jacket is zipped up.

The hood clip, in theory, takes up some of the excess space in this...
The hood clip, in theory, takes up some of the excess space in this cavernous hood when you're not wearing a helmet. In practice, it comes unhooked so easily during wear that it's basically useless.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Breathability


AscentShell is an exclusive Outdoor Research technology that uses an electrospun waterproof-breathable membrane, which is key to its breathable functionality. It boasts a high caliber level of breathability, and this jacket strongly relies on the ability to breathe rather than the vent. While not always able to be accessed in a downpour, we do value pit zips, and the lack of underarm vents left the Interstellar just a smidge behind the competition. Fortunately, the Interstellar sports incredible breathability that helps to make up for the lack of pit vents.

The AscentShell fabric is reasonably breathable for how thick this...
The AscentShell fabric is reasonably breathable for how thick this jacket is, but without any additional venting options, your only choice is to unzip the top. You can also see how easily the light blue color picks up stains.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Durability


The Interstellar's 20D mechanical stretch ripstop face fabric is soft, flexible, and rather thin. Although we did not encounter any rips or tears throughout the testing process, we are not convinced of the longevity of the delicate nature of the fabric. And while the moderate stretch of this jacket makes it easier to wear, it does mean the DWR finish needs to be reapplied all the more often as it wears out quickly. We also tested the latest version of this jacket in a light, powdery blue, which unfortunately stains all too easily.

Velcro adjustments help you find just the right cuff fit to keep...
Velcro adjustments help you find just the right cuff fit to keep your hands free but your wrists dry.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Weight and Packability


The Interstellar weighs in at 9.2 ounces, putting it in the middle of the pack. One of the features we have found to be very necessary with rain jackets is the built-in stow pocket. The Interstellar doesn't disappoint; it packs down to a reasonably small size and stuffs into its left-hand pocket, making it easy to stow away. And while some jackets we tested feel like cramming an overpacked suitcase at the end of a two-week vacation, the Interstellar is refreshingly painless to pack away.

Not the most compact jacket, the Interstellar is fairly simple to...
Not the most compact jacket, the Interstellar is fairly simple to fit into its own pocket when you're not using it.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


With one of the highest price tags of the bunch, this is not a jacket for the budget-minded individual. However, it will not disappoint if you are looking for a trusty rain jacket to partner up with while out pursuing your climbing endeavors.

Conclusion


If a high price point is not the main concern for you and you're in the market for a solidly protective rain jacket for your climbing or mountaineering adventures, this is a great choice. Its dynamic stretch and spacious hood make it a great companion for staying dry while still moving around - or up - in a downpour.

The large, helmet compatible hood comes equipped with a wired brim...
The large, helmet compatible hood comes equipped with a wired brim, allowing it to hold its shape, keeping us dry when the rain started to fall.
Photo: Bligh Gillies

Maggie Brandenburg & Katherine Elliott