#ORInsightLab: Maximus Jacket

29Jan14

2014.01.07-12_ gatton - costa rica - cloudbridge _lewis-0391

 

Your hardshell jacket is one of the most important layers when you head to the mountains. It is your security blanket when things get nasty. It is your protection from the elements. To this end, the Maximus Jacket from Outdoor Research does not disappoint… at all.

This was the one piece I hoped I would get the opportunity to test. And I can sum up the experience with a few words starting with the letter B…

IMG_7687 BURLY: Compared to my previous hardshell (the First Ascent Rainier StormShell), the Maximus feels bulletproof. It is absolutely water and windproof. I have had this jacket in warm downpours, freezing rain, snow, wind and all things that Kentucky can throw at me… usually all in one day. The hood is sized to accommodate a helmet and the zippers and adjustment pulls are weatherproofed and easy to use as well. It is a little stiffer and heavier (at 20.6oz) than my FA StormShell, and it may not pack down quite as small, but the level of protection vastly outweighs the difference.

BREATHABLE: I am incredibly impressed with the new GORE-Tex PRO material. While it feels like a suit of armor on, it breathes as well as my North Face softshell. Just to repeat… this is a badass hardshell that breathes like a softshell. Case in point: I recently returned from photographing a study abroad class in Costa Rica. We traveled from the coast to the cloud forest and back to the coastal rainforest in a few weeks. To see how mountain gear fared in the tropics, I brought along this jacket and the Valhalla pants (more on those later) to see how they did, specifically with breathability in mind. I wore the Maximus nearly everyday in the cloud forest.

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It got clammy inside only once when I was hiking up a steep hill in direct sun at 78-degrees F. The rest of the time, it perfectly regulated the moisture on long hikes near Cerro Chirripó. But if you get warm, OR’s venting system is there for you. Forgoing traditional pit zips, the Maximus sports full-length side zippers to regulate temperature. I didn’t understand it for a while. But it clicked on the main trail through Cloudbridge Nature Preserve. Open up the sides and it allows air to fully circulate through your torso and dump excess heat. Brilliant.

BEAUTIFUL: I get lots of compliments on it at the office from non-outdoorsy co-workers. So, yeah, it’s a pretty sharp jacket.

BUDGET: It’s not a bargain bin purchase, but it is worth every penny. The $500 price tag pushes it up in the Arc’Teryx and Patagonia range, and it can hold it’s own against the competition. You expect ridiculous quality at that level and OR delivers with the Maximus.

OTHER THOUGHTS: I appreciate the details that OR put in: embroidered logos and lettering, two chest pockets (with headphone port) that you can access from the outside & inside, articulated shoulders and trim waist to seal in warmth. Needless to say, I give the Maximus 5/5 stars.

 

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