Putting Outdoor Research’s Redline Jacket to the test…

So as you know, Outdoor Research sent me some goodies to try out and I had a lot to say about their Supercharger pants last time around. Of the four pieces they had me put to the Val in Real Life test, the pants were by far the most useful. But now it’s time to give you the rundown on my next OR goodie, the Redline Jacket.

The Demise of a Doubter…

Can I admit I was a skeptic? Can I also admit I’m a bit of an old-school grump when it comes to new-fangled gear and technical fabrics? If the Superchargers hadn’t shown me the error of my ways, the Redline Jacket was ready to take up the cause.

Testing the Redline Jacket at Overland Expo.

When I first pulled it out I thought there was no way it could do what they promised. It’s touted as being light, soft and stretchy, ultra-breathable and water-resistant. They promised it would keep out wind and moisture yet still not trap in the heat when you’re out for a run. I thought “Wow, is it going to set up camp for me and write my next blog post too?” Um yeah, turns out the Outdoor Research folks aren’t joking, the Redline really does a great job balancing breathability, warmth, and everything else.

I’ve taken it on all of my travels over the last few months just to be sure I gave it a full dose of Val testing. Granted most of the time I’ve had it, the weather just hasn’t warranted its use so I don’t have nearly as much testing and abuse to share as I did the Superchargers but here’s the low-down as I see it.

Ripstop nylon in action…

The first real test was during a run in the dry, cool Coconino National Forest of Arizona and sure enough, it kept me warm but not suffocating. Arizona is notoriously windy and the Redline kept it at bay with flying colors. Without the jacket I wasn’t able to maintain a decent temperature and I went into shivers. With it I was perfectly comfortable.

On top of Great Sand Dunes, quite comfy in the hefty winds.

I got the same results hoofing it up Great Sand Dunes as well. It proved to be a great light layer that kept me comfortable instead of having to use something bulkier. Even just around camp at Great Sand Dunes, the wind would kick up and all I had to do was throw in this little beauty to feel cozy. I much preferred moving around camp and cooking in this minimal layer as opposed to my other bulkier ones. I was thoroughly stunned by the wind resistance but it never felt stuffy.

The rip-stop nylon fabric is touted as water-resistant although I didn’t get much opportunity to field test that feature during my travels. When temperatures were appropriate for the jacket it was either bone dry or pouring rain which this jacket isn’t designed for. I did conduct some quick at-home tests though and found the fabric did a great job under both a light spraying with a spray bottle as well as a full stream of water from the kitchen sink. Since this isn’t designed to be a rain shell, the water did come through at the seams. Not surprising of course but I wanted to understand the mechanics of this jacket and just what constituted the label of water-resistant.

As I mentioned in my Supercharger review, I’m an average-sized middle-aged mom of two. The fit of the medium size Redline Jacket is wonderful for my particular body-shape. There’s plenty of room at the waist and enough shoulder clearance that I don’t get caught under the armpits, a particular problem area for my build. There’s also just enough room at the hips that it stays down, not getting caught up over them and then bunching up at the waist like many cuts will do, but also not so much room that it allows air in. In addition, the fabric is ever-so-slightly stretchy. That’s a great bonus for bending and moving around in general (think geocaching, macro photography, etc…) but also for getting in a stretch comfortably without having to hike up your sleeves.

Other details…

There are lots of great little details about the Redline:

Close-up of zippers.
Close-up of zippers.

  • It easily packs into the chest pocket for a compact way to tote it around. I loved clipping it to my pack while shooting in the Smokies so I could grab it without having to dig around but it’s so minimal and stuff-able I found I could shove it just about anywhere.
  • The elastic in the cuffs runs through underneath half of the wrist and kept the long sleeves from slipping down over my hands but remained loose enough to be comfortable. This works well since I happen to like my sleeves a little longer to be able to tuck my hands inside when I need to.
  • The Redline is equipped with an elastic adjustment at the bottom. A toggle at the right hip allows you to get a snugger fit if you need but for my size I didn’t.
Close up of hip toggle and cuff elastic.
Close up of hip toggle and cuff elastic.

The stink test…

In terms of laundering, it’s a very low-maintenance piece. Even after many uses it didn’t smell vile like many of my other pieces normally would after that kind of treatment. And being me, of course I had to push my luck with it! On one particularly hectic travel day, I packed it into it’s handy little stow pocket immediately after a run, shoved it in a duffle bag… then forgot about it for several weeks.

After that run, the weather had shifted and I didn’t need a jacket for the rest of our Overland to TBEX expedition. When I got back home and started sorting our through our thoroughly disgusting gear I was horrified. I wish I could say I planned to put it to that level of testing but I didn’t. What I can say is that it washed up like champ, no signs (or smells!) of the abuse I put it through.

Improvements…

I have very little I would change about this jacket. I happen to be a fan of hoods so if I had my way, there would be one that you could tuck away into a zipper pouch along the neck. That would be ultra-groovy.

And another personal preference is slightly larger zipper-pulls. The existing ones are fine and I’m guessing most people find them perfectly functional. Huge ones obviously wouldn’t be appropriate for this minimalist jacket but I don’t have the nimblest of fingers so I just like them on the larger size.

Redline Jacket riding piggy-back. I like clipped on my pack for easy access but it squishes down into just about anywhere.

Big picture…

Flat out, I love this jacket. It did exactly what they said it would and it’s now one of my go-to layers for everything but particularly running. Given what I’ve seen of the Redline so far, I think it will be a great addition to my Tough Mudder training gear as the Georgia weather cools and I get to break it out again.

FYI…

Outdoor Research provided me with these items free of charge to review. My opinions and experiences are my own and they may vary from yours.

And now for your moment of green…

The Redline Jacket made it quite easy to continue playing in the sunset at Great Sand Dunes even as the temperatures dropped and the winds picked up.

Comments

  1. Best. Review. Ever. What a talented, thorough piece! There are so many layers to you Val! That is too cool.

    1. Thanks Patrick! I do like to put my gear through the paces. 🙂

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