I was sent the Outdoor Research Ferrosi hooded touring shell to review. I’ve broken the review up into 5 sections: fit, uphill performance, protection from the elements, miscellaneous pros/cons, and “the bottom line.” This is my initial, unbiased review of the shell. I will update the review at the end of the season once I have had significant time to test the gear further.
- Name: Clay Malott
- Days toured with the Ferrosi Shell: 9
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 160lbs
- Testing location: Aspen, Colorado
I’m a tall, slender person, and it’s hard to find jackets that fit. When I first tried the Ferrosi shell on, I noticed that it was a little looser than jackets I had worn in the past. The sleeve and jacket lengths were perfect, but it just felt too big. However, after getting some tours wearing it, not only do I not mind the mild looseness of it, but I actually really like it. When it’s cold, it allows me to comfortably wear more layers underneath it. Second, it adds mobility. It really doesn’t restrict my movement at all. It feels like I’m hardly wearing anything! For tall, skinny people like me, this coat may fit a bit big, but for me, I didn’t find this to be an issue at all.
Of all the touring shells that I’ve tested, the Ferrosi was probably my favorite in terms of uphill performance. First of all, the jacket is incredibly light. Weighing in at just 13oz, the Ferrosi is up there with some of the lightest softshell jackets on the market.
The Ferrosi shell is also extremely breathable. Typically, on extremely steep, long tours or where I’m simply training up the resort, I strip down all my layers down to just my base layer, because I overheat and sweat. Sweat is never good when backcountry skiing, because at the top, when you’re no longer moving and generating heat, the sweat can freeze and chill you to the core. To test the Ferrosi’s breathability, I went as hard as I could for an hour skinning up the resort after-hours. In an hour, I climbed nearly 2,500 vertical feet, which is an absolutely blistering pace. At the top, I was truly impressed. While I had sweat on the climb, the Ferrosi had allowed moisture to be expelled, meaning I had no lingering moisture, even after going as hard as I could for an hour. On long tours of upwards of 4-5 hours, I had no issue keeping the shell on all day. In terms of breathability, this is an impressive jacket.
Unfortunately, due to its ridiculous breathability, the Ferrosi lacks in protection from the elements compared to other shells in this category. However, this doesn’t mean the Ferrosi is useless in adverse weather.
During strong wind gusts, I could definitely feel a chill. However, compared to the level of breathability that it provides, it was more resistant to the wind than I expected. Especially on the uphill, I didn’t mind the bit of chill at all, the shell provides much more protection than I would get without wearing it. If the wind chill ever got to the point where I was becoming cold when I was transitioning or descending, I would reach into my pack and throw on an extra layer underneath the shell. For its weight, I was impressed with the Ferrosi’s wind resistance, however, as with most softshells, I wouldn’t recommend it as standalone protection.
In terms of water resistance, the Ferrosi is marketed as water-resistant rather than waterproof. Due to the weight and breathability of the shell, I was expecting to become fairly wet in adverse weather. However, even in strong snow, at the end of the day, I always remained dry. I was curious and decided to put the Ferrosi under running water in the sink to see how it performed. The shell lasted upwards of 20 seconds before I felt water beginning to soak through to my hand underneath. For a shell this light, this is impressive. In the mountains, nothing is comparable to running water over the jacket. In even heavy, wet snowfall, I absolutely trust the Ferrosi to keep me dry. If moderate to heavy rain is forecasted, I would definitely bring a dedicated, waterproof jacket along.
One of my favorite thing about the Ferrosi is the hood. When touring, I like to flip it up over my head to protect me from the sun, wind, snow, and whatever the mountains may throw at me. It’s light and breathable enough that I really don’t notice it when I’m wearing it. One thing I wish the Ferrosi shell hood had is more range. The hood is adjustable in size through a drawstring, but the largest setting of the hood is really only large enough for a roomy fit around the head. I would love it if I could put the hood up over my helmet when skiing or climbing/mountaineering.
Another thing I really like about this shell is the durability. When backcountry skiing through tight trees, I hit dozens of little branches and twigs that have ripped jackets that I’ve had in the past. Even snags that I feared had torn my new shell, upon further inspection, had barely left a scratch. I’m really optimistic that this shell will last me a long time, and this is something that I’ll touch upon in my end-of-season review for the Ferrosi once I’ve had more time with it.
The bottom line
The Outdoor Research Ferrosi touring shell is impressive. For touring, this is one of the most breathable shells that I’ve ever tested. It protects from the weather pretty well considering its weight and breathability, but in very high winds, I have to add a layer underneath to stay warm, and in heavy rain, I would certainly want a dedicated, waterproof layer. Overall, I give the Ferrosi a 9/10. It has certainly become one of my go-to layers for ski touring. To me, the craziest part about the Ferrosi is the fact that it only costs $130 (some colors are even on sale for as low as $65). Now that’s what I call bang for your buck! I’d recommend the Ferrosi shell to any outdoor enthusiast looking to go fast and light while retaining protection from the elements in the mountains. Shop the Outdoor Research Ferrosi shell here.