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OR Mithril Jacket : Bad Weather? Bring it On!

When I visited the Outdoor Research website and found the OR Mithril jacket under the heading, "Storm Shells," I knew I'd found the perfect jacket for Seattle's wet, windy winter.

Made out of a waterproof, breathable laminate, my Mithril soft shell jacket has kept me warm and dry on many power walks and hikes this winter. I love this jacket because I get the best elements of a rain shell and a soft shell in one jacket. The fabric repels water like seal skin and has enough give to allow me more freedom of movement than a crinkly rain jacket. I also like the fleece underside because it feels soft against my skin.

Another bonus of this magic formula, I get the warmth I need without bulk. Even when temps drop as low as 40 degrees F, all I need to wear underneath my Mithril jacket is a lightweight Smartwool top.

Of course, the true test for this jacket was a two-week trip to the midwest. Rain, wind, and 40 degree temps are one thing, but frigid, bone-chilling temps and wind that cuts like an icy knife is quite another thing altogether. When it's so cold out that the little hairs inside your nose freeze the minute you walk outside, and it feels like your face is bleeding the second the wind hits it, you need serious protection. The wind doesn't just gust in the midwest; it rips across the plains.

So, with a wind chill factor of -12 degrees F, I added a down mid-layer, a wool hat, and gloves---then boldly went about my business. Sure I had confidence in my Mithril jacket, but I have to admit I was still amazed by how well it broke the wind. My legs tightened up under my jeans and my face tingled every time the wind hit my body, but I felt nothing but warm underneath my jacket. I really really hate the cold, so I was very excited to have the right gear in this situation.

I should add that my Chicago friends were also impressed by my attractive, totally funcational jacket. With its external sealed seams, the Mithril has a stylish urban feel to it even though it's a serious outdoor jacket. I really appreciate the discreet logo placement on the women's model (a small embroidered flower on the left sleeve) because I need a jacket that I can wear outdoors and around town. (The men's model has a small "OR" logo on the chest.)

Finally, I have to give the Mithril my grandmother's seal of approval. She was an expert seamstress, and taught me from a young age to turn garments inside out and check for workmanship. OR has done an excellent job; the Mithril is obviously well-made, well-designed, with a lot of thoughtful touches. The hood pulls have rubber toggles at the ends, run through three cord holes reinforced with tiny metal rings, and even have foam stoppers to help adjust (and maintain) hood tightness. The hem pulls are equally well-made, running through metal loops and fabric sleeves. So, no dangling cords.

The two front zippered pockets are large enough to hold my gloves when I don't need them, and a small, zippered internal pocket is perfect for a few credit cards and a lip balm. When not in use, the pockets, which are made from a mesh material, can be used for venting.

Men's sizes available in black or grey. Women's sizes available in lavender or black.

Another great pick from OR! Read about other OR products: Ether Jacket, Exos Jacket, OR Gripper Gloves, Vert Pant, Verglass Gloves, OR Sun Cap. See trail gear and street gear for more OR product reviews.

Bottom Line: I highly recommend this jacket for fall, winter, and spring. It's comfortable, versatile, durable, and it looks great, too.--E. D. (Mar 06)

Price: $199

Manufacturer's Site:


The first flashlight was invented in 1898. Joshua Lionel Cohen, original owner of the Eveready company developed the concept of using a battery to run a light bulb, which he shared with an Eveready salesman, Conrad Hubert. Hubert then turned the idea into a flashlight.

Source: "Invention of the Flashlight," by Mary Bellis, posted on