This is perhaps the most innovative jacket we've seen since Arc'Teryx introduced the waterproof zipper several years ago. It is also the first jacket we've seen that manages to combine the ventilation and comfort of a poncho with the function of a 3-Layer Gore-Tex XCR waterproof/breathable jacket.
Two features that stood out to us were the detachable hood, which meant we could wear the jacket without having a flapping bit of fabric or a neck roll to deal with, and the full side-zip feature which allowed us to wear the jacket open and hanging over the front of a pack's waistbelt instead of bunched up and under it. Another plus is the soft fleece lining in the hood. It is perhaps the most comfortable and best fitted hood we've worn.
This jacket performed so well, too. We couldn't have been any drier had we wrapped ourselves in plastic, but of course, then we'd be dying of perspiration buildup. The jacket did lose a few points in one area though. In the model we tested earlier this year, the hood fit like a glove, but wasn't near large enough to accommodate a helmet, which limits the application of this jacket to anyone who is NOT climbing or mountaineering. Outdoor Research has shown us newly designed hoods that do appear to fit a helmet better now, but we have not tested them.
SNEWS Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection.)
Pulsar Parka: $330 without hood
Stellar Hood: $70
Nova Hood: $70
For information: www.outdoorresearch.com; 1-888-467-4327