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Outdoor Research Fanatic Jacket : Right as Rain

My buddy Mike "Samurai" Smith, whom I met at an 800-mile kayak race from Chicago to New York, is one of those "climb every mountain, paddle every river (often upstream)" kind of guys whose idea of a fun vacation is riding a whistle train in February to Frozentundraville, Canada and hopping off when a certain vast track of pristine wilderness whispers his name. Walking around in my Outdoor Research Fanatic jacket the past month, I've often thought of Mike.   Whenever he bought a new storm shell he'd head straight to the shower to see if it was as waterproof as advertised.

My Fanatic arrived on a raw, windy day in March. Striding to the gym, I cinched the single-pull hood adjustment snugly over my baseball cap and smiled as wind-whipped rain bounced off my head. As I waited at a red light, I eyed the rain drops grow fat on the sleeves, rejected as rudely as a goat trying to gate crash a black tie affair. Watertight--yet, I didn't have that suffocating-in-a-plastic-bag feeling that some waterproof jackets can give me.

That was just the first of many satisfying foul weather outings here in the Big Apple, where, lucky me, it's rained practically every other day this April. In fact, it's been dark, windy, and cold, so I haven't need a shower test.

The Fanatic jacket has a film laminate and a separate lining fabric that reduces internal condensation and improves comfort. At 11.1 ounces, it's OR's lightest storm shell. Completely waterproof, with taped seams, this breathable hooded storm shell has two large zippered side pockets, one that doubles as a stuff sack (nice), and a zippered chest pocket.

About Outdoor Research: The company was started by Ron Gregg, a physicist and hard-core mountaineer. In 1980 Gregg's climbing partner suffered frostbite on Alaska's Denali due to poorly designed gaiters. After the expedition (his friend was airlifted out), Gregg came up with the X-Gaiter and, in short, OR was born. Sadly in 2003, Gregg died in an avalanche while testing gear skiing in the backcountry of British Columbia. Dan Nordstrom, a skier, bike racer, and alpinist from Seattle, bought the company and function remains at the core of everything they design.  

The Fanatic Jacket is available in men's sizes S-XXL, and in four colors: Black, Oxide/Espresso, Sandstone Peat, and Abyss/Eclipse. Also available in women's sizes XS-XL, colors: Eggplant/Amethyst, Spring/Peat, Bluejay/Abyss, and Black.

Bottom Line :   Super lightweight, super rainproof, this jacket is ideal for street and trail.-- J.G. (April 09)

BUY ONLINE: $145.00

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.