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Outdoor Research HighCamp Gloves Review

Outdoor Research HighCamp Gloves are insulated waterproof winter gloves with soft goat leather palms and touchscreen compatible liner gloves rated down to -15 F / -26 C. They’re best used in cold and exposed mountain terrain when you need to balance the competing demands of insulation and dexterity. For example, if you need to grip an ice axe in the ready position or tighten your backpack’s hip belt, you need the dexterity of a glove. Mittens won’t cut it.

The HighCamps’s outer glove is waterproof, insulated with Primaloft synthetic insulation, and has an additional sewn-in 100 weight fleece liner. In addition, the HighCamps come with a separate pair of fleece liner gloves, which you can use by themselves, as liners inside the HighCamp gloves, or any other shell glove or mitten you own. The outer HighCamp gloves also have gauntlets that can be tightened or loosened with one hand, ladder locks on the back, idiot cords to prevent them from blowing away, and pull loops to help you pull them on. The fingers are pre-curved and also have finger loops so you can clip them to a climbing harness.

Most of the time I just use the HighCamp gloves without the separate liners, since they’re already quite warm, and I use the liners by themselves when I just need a lightweight glove to keep my hands warm on brisk mornings. The liners have a silicone imprinted grip and touchscreen compatible forefinger and thumb. These liners are nice to have if you use a phone for navigation or reference, as many of us increasingly do.

The Radiant Fleece Liners are touchscreen compatible and have a silicone imprint that provides excellent grip.
The Radiant Fleece Liners are touchscreen compatible and have a silicone imprint that provides excellent grip.

The nice thing about this multi-part glove system is that you can mix and match the layers depending on your needs. For example, you could wear the liners by themselves when you’re skinning up a hill and then switch to the dry and insulated outer glove when you ski back down it and want a waterproof glove for the descent. The HighCamp is really like owning two gloves in one.

While the leather palms on the outer glove are water resistant, they do absorb water if soaked and it can take a while for then to dry.  These gloves are also not warm enough for very cold temperatures below 0 degrees despite their -15 F rating by OR. Still, they’re excellent gloves for cold weather use, both with and without the touch compatible liners.

I’ve found that the OR HighCamp Gloves run about a half-size small, so size up.

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Last updated: 2018-10-18 16:28:27

Disclosure: The author purchased these gloves with his own funds.

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Outdoor Research Baja Down Pullover

The Outdoor Research Baja Down Pullover is a sweater-weight down pullover (with a hood) that’s ideal for wearing around camp or paired with a backpacking quilt when you want a little extra warmth. It’s insulated with 800 fill power untreated goose down, with a nylon 10d shell and 20d lining. While the Baja Pullover is a stylish garment that looks good at the pub or cafe, it’s not just for show. An adjustable hood, 1/4 length front zipper, and a lined kangaroo pocket make it a serious contender for alpine tours and backcountry backpacking trips.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 11.1 oz in men’s XL
  • Gender: Men’s, Women’s version also available
  • Zipper: 1/4 length
  • Hood: Adjustable
  • Insulation: 800 fill power responsibly sourced untreated goose down
  • Material: 10d nylon shell; 20d nylon lining

When would you use the Baja Down Pullover and where does it fit in a layering system? That will depend on your climate and the type of activities you pursue. I use the Baja as a down puffy on backpacking trips when I’m cooking meals in cool spring or autumn weather instead of carrying a heavier hooded down jacket. Once I stop hiking and generating lots of body heat, I get really cold and need to wear extra insulation. I also wear a puffy like the Baja if I’m sleeping with a quilt in cold or damp weather as an extra thermal layer for my shoulders, neck, and head. Sometimes, I just wrap it loose around my neck and shoulders, or use it as a pillow.

However, the Baja pullover is too warm for me to wear when I’m hiking with a pack on my back and generating massive amount of body heat. I usually strip down to a baselayer or a light mid-layer when I’m backpacking in the mountains. Even then, I have to be stopped before I put on a down garment because I just get too hot and sweaty if I’m moving.

Adjustable Hood

If you’re buying a hooded down jacket or pullover for warmth, make sure you get one that has an adjustable hood that you can cinch tight to seal in the heat. Non-adjustable hoods are basically worthless, but a surprising number of manufacturers sell garments with them. At a minimum, you want neck toggles so you can adjust the size of the face opening. I prefer hoods that have a rear volume adjuster as well, especially ones that are labelled ‘helmet compatible’ and sized for Godzilla.

The Baja Down Pullover has neck toggles to seal the edges of the jacket around your face. It doesn’t have a rear volume adjuster unfortunately, but the neck toggles are easy to use and sufficient to seal out the cold.

The Baja has neck toggles to seal in the heat
The Baja has neck toggles to seal in the heat.

1/4 Length Front Zipper

The Baja has a 1/4 length zipper so you can vent it if you find yourself overheating or sweating. Again, it’s a common sense feature to look for when purchasing any kind of mid or outer layer technical garment. Active temperature regulation is the name of the game when skiing or hiking in cold weather and having zippers you can open to avoid perspiring is key.

Pockets

Instead of side pockets, the Baja has a front, fleece lined pouch that you can stick you hands in to warm up. The pouch is pass through, so both your hands can touch each other. The sides of the pocket close with snaps instead of zippers, making the pouch a secure place to store a hat or light gloves. It also has a large interior shoulder pocket with a zipper that can be used to store electronics and that you can stuff the jacket into for packing.

Elastic Cuffs

There are elastic cuffs over the wrists to help retain heat and prevent cold air from blowing up your arms. The cuffs are a little loose for my tastes, but they should block drafts if you wear the Baja with a fleece glove or gloves with gauntlets that overlap the elastic.

Side Zipper

The Baja Pullover also has a zipper on the left hand side of the jacket, that makes it easier to put on and take off. You can also use it to vent your torso if you get to0 warm, although I think the zipper is more of a style statement than a functional must-have.

The elastic cuffs are a little loose but the openings will seal up if you wear the Baja with gloves
The elastic cuffs are a little loose but the openings will seal up if you wear the Baja with gloves

Under a shell

The inside and outer fabrics are DWR coated to repel moisture, but that will wear off with use. Regardless, I don’t recommend the Baja as an outer layer if its raining or in wet snow. I also wouldn’t use it under a shell if you’re active (standing at a bus stop doesn’t count) because the weight of a shell will compromise the down loft and you’ll sweat heavily, potentially enough to wet the down through the nylon shell. A lightweight fleece or wool sweater, or pullover insulated with synthetic insulation, are far better layer active layers under a shell because they’ll stay warm when damp and won’t compress as much.

Comparable Lightweight Mid-layer Sweaters and Jackets

Here’s a list of comparable lightweight sweaters and jackets, with and without adjustable hoods. The weights listed are provided by manufacturers are directional, since most manufacturers don’t list the size jacket that they correspond to.

The Baja Pullover is sized to accommodate other insulation layers
The Baja Pullover is sized to accommodate other insulation layers.

Recommendation

The Outdoor Research Baja Down Pullover is a stylish hooded down garment that has some serious technical chops. I prefer wearing it in camp when I’m cooking dinner or to augment a quilt since it has an insulated and adjustable hood. It has a standard fit, but is sized wide in the shoulders so you can pile more layers under it too. While it’s not as warm as the down parka I pack for real winter trips, I’ve taken the Baja down to freezing with just a baselayer and remained toasty warm. It’s great to wear around town too.

While the Baja’s kangaroo pocket is cool and the pullover itself is very warm, the most important technical feature on this garment is having an adjustable hood. Don’t leave home without it!

All of the usual warnings about 10 denier shell fabrics apply. If you wear the Baja a lot, you eventually wear through the fabric, most likely around the wrists, and it will be prone to holing from sharp-pointed objects. Sparks from the campfire will also burn holes in it, so you might want to pack a little pre-emptive Tenacious tape to keep the down fill in the coat if you melt or tear it. The same holds for fly fishing hooks. Ask me how I know.

A women’s version of the Baja Down Pullover is also available.

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Last updated: 2018-10-09 04:32:06

Disclosure: Outdoor Research provided the author with a garment for this review.

Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker’s unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

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Outdoor Research Panorama Point Rain Jacket Review

Water Resistance

Breathability

Comfort & Mobility

Hood Adjustability

Temperature Regulation

Weight

Durability

Packed Size

Lightweight Stretch-Fabric Rain Jacket

The Panorama Point Rain Jacket has built-in mechanical stretch for added comfort. It is loaded with great features that make it an excellent jacket for year-round use.

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The Outdoor Research Panorama Point is a lightweight rain jacket that can be used year-round for hiking, backpacking, and all of your recreational pursuits. That’s actually harder to come by than you think. While there are lots of lightweight rain jackets that you can use for three season wear, few have the additional venting and temperature regulation features required for serious winter hiking and backpacking. This jacket’s outer shell also has some stretch to it which makes it very comfortable to wear and surprisingly quiet.  If you can only afford to buy one jacket for year-round use, you’ll be hard pressed to find one that’s this fully featured and affordable.

Specs at a Glance

While the Panorama Point is made with OR’s proprietary waterproof/breathable laminate, I wouldn’t get too excited about that aspect of this jacket. Most Gore-tex knock-offs have pretty lackluster performance (and OR doesn’t publish specs for theirs.)  Companies use them to reduce the cost of jackets and because a breathable layer is considered a check-box feature with consumers, regardless of its effectiveness.

What I like about Outdoor Research rain jackets and winter hard shells, which I’m been using for over a decade, is that they usually put pit-zips or even longer torso-zips on their rain jackets, even when they have a breathable membrane. Venting is the most effective way to dump the excess body heat that leads to perspiration, as well as the built-up water vapor that’s generated when you sweat. I’ve never had much faith in the laboratory-tested breathability claims made by any manufacturer and their applicability for field use. All of the rain jackets and winter shells I use when I’m not testing gear have pit zips and torso-zips for that reason. Your mileage in 100% humidity may vary.

Jacket Features

The Panorama Point Jacket is loaded with all of the features that are you want on a jacket that can span four-season use.

  • a fully adjustable hood including neck toggles and a volume reducer
  • hood wire brim
  • pit zips
  • velcro wrist cuffs
  • chest pocket and two side pockets
  • hem cinch
  • two-way zipper

Fully Adjustable Hood

The Panorama Point’s hood has neck toggles and a rear volume reducer so you can cinch the front to prevent heat loss, block wind, and reduce the volume to fit your head. I consider these must-have features on any rain jacket that you intend to use for hiking and backpacking. Your head generates a lot of heat when you hike and it’s important to retain it when you’re cold or vent it when you’re two warm. You can’t do that if you can’t cinch it down tight and prevent the wind from whistling through, or if the hood is sized for a helmet, which is a common problem on winter shells, and too big for your head.

The Panorama Point has a fully adjustable hood including neck toggles, wire brim, and rear volume adjuster
The Panorama Point has a fully adjustable hood including neck toggles, wire brim, and rear volume adjuster.

Wire brim

Hoods with wire brims are great because you can reshape them easily. They also help prevent rain from dripping onto your face or glasses. If you have a jacket without a brim or one with just a fabric brim, you’ll probably need to carry a ball cap to keep rain off your face, which is just added weight to carry.

Pit Zips

The Panorama Point has 11″ long pit zips under the arms with two-way zippers. They’re easy to reach and adjust while wearing the jacket and do a good job at dumping excess heat without letting in additional moisture when it’s raining.

Velcro wrist cuffs

The arms have velcro wrist cuffs that you can cinch closed to prevent heat loss. You have a lot of blood flowing through the wrist that’s close to the surface of your skin, so preventing cold air from reaching it is an important way to keep your hands warm. They also prevent cold rain from dripping down your arm and wetting your mid-layer.

The Panorama Point has velcro wrist closures for warmth management
The Panorama Point has velcro wrist closures for warmth management.

Pockets

The jacket has three zippered pockets, all lined with mesh. The chest pocket is large enough to hold a smartphone (or GPS). In fact, it has an interior sleeve to hold a phone, so it won’t fall out when you open the pocket (awesome feature!). There are also two huge side pockets and the left pocket has a key fob w/ clip sewn into the seam. Unfortunately, the side pockets are not hip belt compatible and will be covered if you’re wearing a backpack.

Hem cinch

The jacket has an elastic hem cinch which is good for trapping heat in cold and windy weather, and to help prevent spindrift from blowing up under your jacket in powder.

The 11" pit zip help dump excess heat and reduce perspiration
The 11″ pit zip help dump excess heat and reduce perspiration.

Two-way Zipper

A two-way zipper is another highly desirable feature, particularly on a winter shell, because it give you the ability to rapidly vent excess heat and even wear your jacket like a cape, for maximum ventilation.

External Fabric, DWR, and Waterproofing

The OR Panorama Point is made with a 40 denier ripstop that has some stretch built into in, making the jacket very quiet and comfortable when you need to scramble. The external fabric has a very soft hand but still has a very good DWR coating on it to shed rain. However, if you wear it with a backpack, you should expect the DWR coating to rub off rather quickly around the shoulders and waist due to shoulder strap and hip belt abrasion.

You have two options, you can restore the DWR coating periodically (every 30-60 uses) with a product like Nikwax TX Direct Spray-on. It’s good to wash jackets like these periodically, like every 3-6 months, which is a convenient time to reapply the DWR. You can even wash it in, in the washing machine, with Nikwax TX-Direct Wash-in, which is even more effective and more convenient.

What’s DWR? It stands for durable water-repellent and is a chemical coating they cover the outside of waterproof/breathable rain jackets with to make rain bead up when it hits the jacket and roll off. This prevents the outer fabric from getting soaked through, which in turn, blocks the breathable membrane from releasing water vapor.

If the outer fabric of the jacket becomes soaked and you’ll probably experience more internal condensation build-up inside the jacket than you would normally. But the breathable membrane in the Panorama Point is waterproof, so rain water won’t seep into the jacket even if if the external fabric is saturated in normal circumstances. If you get a rain jacket that’s permanently waterproof and made with silnylon or polyurethane, you still have to deal with internal condensation buildup, so there’s ultimately no way around the issue.

Recommendation

The Outdoor Research Panorama Point Jacket is a comfortable and well featured rain jacket that can serve double duty as a winter shell. It is full featured with all of the capabilities that you’d expect in a technical shell but at a fraction of the price because it uses OR’s proprietary breathable layer and not more expensive Gore-tex. If you believe in manufacturer’s breathability claims, go buy a more expensive jacket. But if you’ve never been able to detect any noticeable difference, or you beat the crap out of your rain jackets by wearing shoulder straps and hip belts (ie backpacks), the Panorama Point will provide as much value as a more expensive jacket. Outdoor Research makes the best hiking rain gear in my experience and the Panorama Point is another good one.

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Last updated: 2018-09-25 16:42:43

Disclosure: OR provided the author with a jacket for this review.

Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker’s unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.