Gear Review: Outdoor Research Furio Jacket

The choices:

At the end of August last year, I decided that I needed a new jacket for hiking and backpacking. I had little to no faith in my Keela Stashaway Jacket in terms of ability to keep out the rain, my Keela Munro jacket was simply too heavy for anything other than winter use and my old Berghaus Cornice jacket was too big for me, so I’d given it away to my old man.

I decided I wanted a jacket that was going to keep me dry, was durable enough to survive all day with a heavy pack, and was light enough to avoid weighing down the pack. In the end, I found three jackets which had a Gore-tex Pro Shell/Paclite mix, which I figured would work for me. They had the more durable Pro Shell at the harder wear points (shoulders and back), and Paclite for the rest of the body. The three jackets were the Haglöfs Electron, the Arc’teryx Theta SL and the Outdoor Research Furio. All of the jackets had their inherent benefits. The lightest (advertised) weight is the Theta SL, the heaviest, (by quite a large margin!) the Furio. The most durable is the Furio, though the Electron is the only one which has Pro Shell to the hips, as well as shoulders and back.

In the end, I chose the Furio for one simple reason. Price. It has the cheapest RRP of them all (£240, at the time of purchase, compared to £285 for the Arc’teryx and £320 for the Haglöfs), and I managed to pick mine up from Field and Trek for the bargain price of £115! (They’re currently selling for £150 on Field and Trek)

I genuinely didn’t know what to expect from the jacket before it arrived, as I’d not really known OR for anything other than gloves and headwear. OR Jackets, etc, tend not to be big business in the UK. I was pleasantly surprised when the jacket arrived. It looked to be exceptionally well made, and looked very robust.

Features:

The jacket is made from a 70D Paclite body, with 70D Pro Shell reinforcements to the shoulders and arms. It comes with a fully adjustable, helmet compatible, hood, 5 mesh pockets (4 external, 1 internal), with water resistant zips, water resistant front zip, with internal stormflap, etc, etc… you get the idea.

The main features of this jacket over the others is the TorsoFlo™ side zips. Instead of regular pit-zips, these come right the way down to the hem of the jacket. In theory, this should mean that you could use the jacket similarly to a poncho, to drape over your rucksack, but I find that in practice, it’s just a bit too small for this. It’s not going to fully cover anything, so you or your gear would end up getting wet. It does, however, give that little bit more flexibility in terms of venting, compared to most jackets… particularly when you consider the pockets can all be used for venting, too!

On the pocket front, the pockets are not exactly large. They’re big enough to hold a pair of gloves in, or the like, but don’t be expecting to fit an OS map into any of them. The lower pockets do also get cut off a little by a hip belt, too, but that’s not a particularly big surprise. It’s no real loss for me, either, as I tend to use the chest pockets, anyway.

The internal pocket comes with a little media port, allowing you to keep your phone/mp3 player inside, and feed the headphones through (see pic below), which I reckon was a nice little touch (I’ve certainly made use of it when walking to work!).

Performance:

The biggest plus point of this jacket is also its biggest drawback. The 70D fabric is more or less bombproof. I work voluntarily as a Warden on a local nature reserve, and I’ve worn it there, when walking through woodland covered in bramble bushes. The Furio shrugs off those thorny problems with no problem at all. They didn’t even leave a mark on the jacket (Though I don’t plan on deliberately testing this again – I’ll be sticking to using another jacket when working on the reserve!). Long story short – if you’re likely to be going bushwhacking at all, the Furio is the jacket for you. However… the thicker, stronger fabric also means more weight and less packability. On my scales, the jacket weighs in at 580g, which is 200g more than the advertised weight of the Theta SL. For me, that’s a small price to pay for a jacket that I know I’ll be able to rely upon for many years to come. For others, it will potentially be a deal breaker.

The TorsoFlo™ zips work quite well, and the jacket does vent better than most, particularly when you open the pockets, too. The only real drawback is that the hem drawcords are never going to be as tight as you’d like, as the bottom of the side zips will open up.

In terms of waterproofing, I’ve had plenty of chances to use it, both on the hills, and on the daily commute to work, and it’s held up with no problems at all. The DWR sheds water really well, and the zips do an excellent job of keeping the rain out. I was wearing the Furio on the walk to work during the storms a month or so ago, and I stayed dry inside the jacket, despite heavy rain and gale force winds!

The hood works really well, and moves well with your head. The peak isn’t the best in the world, but it definitely manages to keep the worst of the rain off your face, even in driving wind, so it’s not bad.

Conclusion:

I actually love this jacket! It has its flaws, but what jacket doesn’t?!

As a jacket you can pick up for any use, whether backpacking, climbing, hiking or for the commute to work, it’s perfect. It really is a jacket for all tasks. It’s my current Go-to jacket whether I’m going into the great outdoors

Yes, the weight is more than that of the competition, but that’s offset by massively increased durability, and I suspect increased longevity, too (assuming the jacket is properly maintained and looked after)

For 3 season use, I suspect this will be my jacket of choice, though I have to admit, it probably is a bit overkill for the summer months. Based purely on how well this jacket has performed for me, I suspect I might just go to OR for a summer use jacket, too! (I’m looking at the OR Helium, at about 200g… super lightweight, and ideal for summer use!)

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