A great choice for outdoor-active women who need a waterproof jacket that is extremely comfortable to wear running, hiking, or during high-exertion pursuits.
- Fantastic weight for a three-layer jacket
- Good price
- Cut tight in the chest
The lightest, most streamlined jacket in the brand’s range, the 3L Outdoor Research Women’s Motive AscentShell Jacket is stretchy, extremely breathable, and no-frills. Outdoor Research used cinched binding on the cuffs and hood to seal out wind and rain. The chest logo and a stripe on the back are both reflective to enhance visibility on low-light days. The jacket packs into its pocket for storage.
Between the polyester layers, the electrospun AscentShell membrane, “breathes faster, weighs less, stretches more, and far surpasses the comfort of traditional waterproof membranes,” according to the company. That’s because the electrospun membrane is air-permeable. Under a microscope, it looks like a web, with space for sweat to escape without rain coming in.
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An imperceptible amount of air flows through the jacket to aggressively move moisture quickly from the inside out before you feel like you’re overheating or sweaty. Traditional waterproof jackets require body heat to push out moisture. Air-permeable membranes start transferring moisture before you start sweating. So, electrospun membrane jackets are most comfortable for high-output activities.
• Price: $199 (US) / £199 (UK)
• Sizes: XS–XL
• Weight: 272g / 9.6oz
• Waterproofing Technology: electrospun AscentShell
• Colors: Atoll / Black / Burgundy
In the field
If you want a stretchy, waterproof jacket that is extremely comfortable to wear running, hiking, or during high-exertion activities, the Motive Ascent Shell is a great choice. If you’ll be hanging out at your campsite or another activity that’s more sedentary, choose another shell.
I often get sweaty inside my rain jacket, which makes me just as cold as if I didn’t have a rain jacket on. This jacket moved moisture away from my skin efficiently, which kept me pleasantly warm, not overheated. The inside polyester layer is textured so it didn’t feel clammy.
Two hand pockets and an internal chest pocket held essentials. Water-resistant zippers were backed by a storm flap, which kept out wind and water. Stretchy binding at the sides of the hood kept it on when it was windy, without feeling restrictive. Outdoor Research’s website blurb claims it has a key clip and carabiner loop, but my sample jacket had neither.
Vermont-based writer, photographer and adventurer, Berne reports on hiking, biking, skiing, overlanding, travel, climbing and kayaking for category-leading publications in the U.S., Europe and beyond. In the field, she’s been asked to deliver a herd of llamas to a Bolivian mountaintop corral, had first fat-biking descents in Alaska, helped establish East Greenland’s first sport climbing and biked the length of Jordan. She’s worked to help brands clean up their materials and manufacturing, and has had guns pulled on her in at least three continents.
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