As fellow Seattleites, Outdoor Research has had ample opportunities to test out rain jacket designs, and we love what they've come up with in the Foray: a do-it-all rain jacket that's lightweight enough for hiking and backpacking but can still hold its own for some spring skiing. The OR Foray is a direct competitor to the popular Marmot Minimalist, sharing the same Gore-Tex waterproof laminate and soft touch interior. However, the jacket is differentiated with a number of features, including their side zips that open up the jacket for unparalleled levels of breathability. Below we break down the Foray's TorsoFlo side zips, waterproofing and breathability, fit, and more. To see how the Foray stacks up against the competition, see our comparison table and article on the best rain jackets.
Ditching the flap over the main zipper in favor of a water-resistant version is a nice upgrade at this price point, but the truly unique feature on the Outdoor Research Foray is its full-length side zips, which extend the standard pit zips all the way to the bottom hem. When fully unzipped, this creates a poncho-like opening for awesome venting on the trail—a great way to dump excess heat while still retaining a mostly waterproof coverage. While wearing a pack, the side zips and their storm flap are noticeable under the hipbelt but don’t create pressure points.
One notable compromise in the full-length size zips is that the hem adjustments only affect the area behind the zipper's bottom stop—the cinch cord only covers the back of the hem. What it results in is a slightly uneven look, with the front side of the hem smooth and the back bunched up. It's not a deal breaker, but we were always aware of the slightly odd fit.
The 2.5-layer Gore-Tex Paclite construction is reasonably lightweight and stuffs easily into the left-hand pocket (which has a two-sided zipper for securing). Over the past couple years, it's held up extremely well with essentially no signs of wear. On the trail, breathability is pretty good for a waterproof jacket, even without resorting to opening up the side zips. It does fall short of the class-leading Arc'teryx Zeta LT (see our in-depth review) and Outdoor Research Realm (check out the in-depth review), which use high-end 3-layer designs. If you're working hard, the Foray's lining can feel clammy against the skin.
The Foray's fit is slightly baggier than the Marmot Minimalist, but is very functional with or without a midlayer jacket underneath. Sizing is true and as expected, so no need to size down. The Foray has a long back length thanks to a significant drop hem, which brings some extra coverage if you plan to take the shell for some spring skiing (we did, and it works great for occasional use as long as you don't need a powder skirt). And although we like the large hood and how well it cinches down, we weren’t crazy about the single drawcord toggle on the back of the hood. It’s difficult to pinch, making loosening the hood a pain.
|Outdoor Research Foray||$215||15.13 oz.||2.5L Gore-Tex||Hiking/daily use||Yes||Yes|
|Marmot Minimalist||$200||15.13 oz.||2.5L Gore-Tex||Hiking/daily use||Yes||No|
|REI Co-op Drypoint GTX||$249||10.5 oz.||3L Gore-Tex||Performance/daily use||No||No|
|Outdoor Research Realm||$279||10.9 oz.||3L AscentShell||Performance/hiking||No||Yes|
|Arc’teryx Zeta LT||$425||11.85 oz.||3L Gore-Tex||Performance/hiking||No||No|
Our overall impressions of the Foray are very positive, enough so that we rank it highly in our annual round up of the best rain jackets. Its venting system makes it desirable in a number of outdoor activities, and while weighing exactly the same as the Marmot Minimalist on our scale (to the gram!), it feels a bit nimbler and multi-sport ready (for more on the Minimalist, see our in-depth review). Performance falls short of the premium Arc'teryx Zeta LT and OR's own Realm, but so too does the price. Its packed size and weight doesn't make it a go-to lightweight option, but the extra ounces afford you a good feature set and sturdy build. All things considered it’s an excellent quiver of one rain jacket for the backpacker, spring skier, and daily wearer.
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