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Outdoor Research - Axiom Jacket

posted Jan 6, 2014, 2:13 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Jan 23, 2014, 4:08 AM ]
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The Outdoor Research Axiom Jacket is a Hard Shell designed for all outdoor activities for which lightness and breathability are key factors. Go Out Project is constantly seeking for new weather-protecting garments that offer the best compromise between weather protection, breathability, and lightness and the Axiom jacket, which uses the Gore-tex® Active membrane, seemed very interesting in this respect. We got the chance to test it's true performances out there and here we report the results of our tests.

Technical Description

The Axiom jacket is entirely constructed with a 3-layer laminate fabric that uses the Gore-tex® Active membrane. 
This jacket features:
  • Zippered chest pocket
  • One-hand adjustable drawcord hem
  • Two zippered hand pockets set above hip belt or harness
  • Internal front-zip stormflap
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  • Fully taped seams
  • Adjustable cuffs with velcro
  • Sleeves with preformed elbows
  • Adjustable helmet-compatible hood
  • Left hand pocket doubling as stuff sack
Material: Gore-Tex® Active 3-layers,100% nylon 20D

Weight: 382 g (size L)

Our Test 

We tested the Axiom for more than 6 months over spring/summer/fall for skiing, hiking, climbing, trail running, and mountain biking
We had the chance to test it in extremely varied weather conditions: from summer showers to light snow, from windy conditions on glaciers to dry and calm sunny days. We mostly used it in combination with a midweight baselayer or a lightweight baselayer
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plus a thin insulation layer (e.g. lightweight fleece or down/Primaloft jacket).

First Impressions
Some of the first comments of our testers: 
  • "Surprisingly soft and very light!"
  • "Very comfortable! When climbing, I can feel that it follows my movements without bothering me."
  • "Since the first moment you wear it, you immediately realize how comfortable it really is! Despite being a Hard Shell, its fabric is soft to the touch, unlike the typical "cardboard-feeling" of most waterproof laminated jackets."
  • "The Axiom has a minimalistic and clean design, it uses high-quality materials, and shows great care down to the tiniest of the details, which makes it, without any doubt, a top-level manufacture."

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Lightness & Packability

Axiom's fabric is very thin and light. The jacket weighs only 382 g (in size L) and it can be folded and packed into its left hand pocket, shrinking to a very small volume. It is the perfect emergency weather-protecting garment to have always handy in your backpack in case of sudden weather changes.

Comfort
The level of comfort is impressively good for a Hard Shell! The fabric is very pleasant to wear and, unlike most other hard shells, is not "noisy", but smooth and soft to the touch. You never notice any undesired chafing. The key factors for the extremely good comfort are the lightness and softness of the fabric. You can barely notice you are wearing it, which means you can fully concentrate on your performance.

Cut & Fit
The Axiom is a well designed jacket with a very clean, minimalistic look. One of the things we really appreciated is that it has no exposed seams on the shoulders, critical spots that are most subject to rub and wear when carrying a backpack. The fit is
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"regular", not too tight not too loose, and the jacket fits very well a slim, athletic body. The hood has a minimalistic design: quickly and easily adjustable with a single drawcord on the back of the head. It fits quite well when wearing a hat or a helmet. However, without a hat or a helmet, we found it more difficult to make it fit properly and to keep it in the right position. The visor on the hood is also a bit floppy. The velcro adjustments on the cuffs close properly only when wearing thick gloves or some other thick midlayer. Otherwise, unless you have forearms like Popeye, a long extra bit of velcro strap will hang out in the air, with no possibility to attach it to the cuff (see photo gallery below).  

Weather Protection
Always very protective: the Axiom offers maximal protection against rain, snow, and wind. When the weather turn bad, the Axiom has nothing to fear. Even in the most exposed, windy situations it has always offered a perfect shelter: never a drop inside and no cold drafts anywhere.     

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Breathability
We already had the chance to test other Gore-tex Active jackets and
our experience is that it is more breathable than other membranes (for example, the Gore-tex Pro), but less breathable than a soft shell fabric. What you may notice is that it typically takes longer to reach the point of discomfort due to excessive water vapor condensation. Of course, as any other membrane it functions at its best in combination with a good moisture wicking base- or mid-layer. The patterned surface of the lining effectively helps to spread moisture and sweat, therefore favoring the evaporation process. 

Durability
Despite its lightweight the fabric is tough and protective enough. The tear and wear resistance is good, especially if considering the weight of the garment. After months of use, the jacket still looks almost new! The DWR treatment, as usual, disappears relatively rapidly, already after the first few weeks it has vanished completely. So, a frequent reactivation of the DWR is needed, but this is quite common, especially on softer and more flexible fabrics.

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Versatility

Thanks to its lightweight, high packability, good weather protecting capability, and fairly good breathability, the Axiom can be used for many different outdoor activities. It can actually be considered a perfect allrounder, great for many outdoor uses in bad weather conditions: for climbing, skiing, hiking, mountain biking, etc..

Our Verdict

The Axiom Jacket is well suited to all those situations in which rain and wind leave no escape and, at the same time, intense physical effort is required. If combined with the right base- and mid-layers, the Axiom is a real 4-season garment, that can be used in a wide range of temperatures. Very comfortable, very light, and easily packable, it is the ideal companion of many outdoor adventures.

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 Lightness  9/10
 Comfort  9/10
 Fit & Cut  7/10
 Weather Protection  8/10
 Breathability  8/10
 Versatility  8/10
 Durability  8/10
 Total Score  8.1/10

PROS 
+ Very light and packable
+ Good breathability
+ Good weather protection 

CONS 
- The design of the hood can be improved
- DWR treatment requires frequent reactivation

Testers: Daniele Geremia, Italo Balestra, Marco Martino 


Daniele Geremia testing the Axiom in Val Setus


Italo Balestra testing the Axiom on Devil's Peak


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