Outdoor Research, in combination with Polartec, has created a bombproof, fully featured softshell called the Outdoor Research Lodestar Jacket. The jacket has an array of features and specially mapped fabrics to create a thermo-regulating shelter for your upper body. Designed for the alpine adventurer, this jacket seems capable of holding its own in a wide variety of conditions.
Weight: 27.1 oz / 768 g (L). The medium on my personal scale comes in at 25.6 oz / 727 g.
Material: This is one of the key areas where this jacket stands out. In what Outdoor Research calls “Hybrid-Mapped” construction, the combination of Polartec Power Shield Pro and Polartec Power Shield High Loft create protection from wet conditions and wind while providing the core and forearms with extra insulation.
Fit and sizing: The fit is athletic. I’m 5′ 9″ and 170 pounds, and a size medium is just large enough to layer with a thin base layer and jacket similar to the Outdoor Research Cathode Hooded Jacket. Sizing up would provide the ability to add extra layers in extremely cold conditions. It is also trim enough to not get snagged on equipment, and can easily layer under a belay jacket.
Unique features: The zippers on this jacket are nothing less than phenomenal. The advent of waterproof zippers resulted in an increase in snagged zippers once upon a time, but the zippers on the Lodestar Jacket are large and very smooth. There is an internal front-zip storm flap that keeps wind and moisture from entering through the zipper.
The zippers really stand out in the pits. Both pit zips are double zippered and can be opened from the top or bottom and allow a greater flexibility of temperature regulation during high-exertion activities. The large zippers allow for a no-fuss, very smooth operation in the pits. Most pit zips in other jackets are very easy to open, but become a nuisance to close when the temperature drops or the wearer becomes static. The Lodestar is the exception.
Application: This jacket was built with the alpine and ice climber in mind. For a soft shell, this jacket excels in very wet conditions. The outer fabric is very smooth, allowing rain and snow to fall right off. In rain, snow, or high winds, this jacket is fully capable of replacing a waterproof, breathable hard shell.
- Hybrid construction
- High loft in areas you need and none where you don’t
- High-quality zippers
- Freely articulating hood that is oversized for a helmet, but works just as well without
- Long enough to stay tucked into a climbing harness
- Single-hand hem and hood adjustment
- Stretches and moves with the body
- Easy airflow adjustment
- None apparent at this time
Bottom line: The Outdoor Research Lodestar Jacket is one of the better-built jackets that I have had the pleasure to use. The Power Shield Pro fabric feels like it will last for many climbing seasons without needing repair or replacement. I look forward to testing this jacket during some winter alpine offwidth climbing to really test its standout potential.
I have been caught in numerous rainstorms in the last month, and I have remained bone dry on the inside. If you are looking for a jacket that has the potential to survive many seasons of abuse and protect you from extreme elements, this may be your go-to, do-it-all jacket.
Look for an upcoming long-term review of the Outdoor Research Lodestar Jacket.