I’ve taken this evening to wrap up the final details on the Lightweight WPB jacket State of the Market Report for BPL, a project whose complexity I seriously underestimated. Testing 10 jackets with any sort of meaningful depth is not simple, and present the summation of all that time in the rain such that anyone would want to read it is even harder. You’ll have to wait until early spring to read all the details, but tonight I’m going to leak a part of my findings which for regular readers will not be any sort of surprise.
The Haglofs Ozo is the best rain shell money can buy right now.
Photo by Paige Brady. Retreating back into the forest on day two of the Classic was one of the coldest moments of my life (and I’ve been damn cold a lot this year). Throughout the whole affair the Ozo performed almost flawlessly (one flaw, see below).
When selecting the best rain coat available everything heavier than 8 oz can be eliminated straight away. The Ozo (and a few others on the market) prove that there’s no reason for anything to be heavier. With good shell fabric and construction a shell this light can hold up to nasty use (if you’re not egregiously careless).
The Ozo has by far the best hood of all current WPB shells under 8 oz, as well as the best hood of any shell garment I’ve ever worn of any type. A good hood is vital for a serious conditions rain coat. (Btw, the forthcoming Rab Pulse has a hood which is almost as good).
The Ozo is made of Goretex. Only sub 8 oz shell of which that can be said. It’s not a scientific belief, but when DWR fails and shit gets nasty my experience tells me that Goretex is better than PU.
The cut is really good. Trim, with plenty of room to move, and room enough for some insulation. Long arms and a very long drop tail.
It has thumb loops, which have proven enormously useful on a rain shell. They keep rain out, interface well with shell mittens, and work great for packrafting. I wouldn’t want to give them up.
It doesn’t have any other nonsense: no full zip, no pitzips, no goofy pockets on the bicep. Clean, simple, light. Yes it doesn’t vent like a full zip shell but I try to avoid wearing a hard shell unless the conditions are such that you can’t unzip. I’ve never found pit zips effective enough to be worth the weight, bulk, and bother.
Hendrik agrees with me. And has better pictures.
The only issue I have (had) is with the pocket. A pocket is fine, but as Hendrick’s first photo well shows, the flap meant to guard the top is not low enough. Waterproof zips are waterproof, but the hole at their top isn’t. With the Ozo, in serious rain and wet bushwacking you’ll get water in the pocket. I had about a centimeter standing when the above photo was taken. So I cut the pocket off, removed the inner tag with a seam ripper, and sealed the stitch holes which were left over in the now outer fabric. Saved 20 grams in the process, bringing my medium down to 180 on the nose.
Now it’s perfect. Yes it’s expensive, and no I don’t know how to get one in the US. But if you’re a weight weenie that wants an awesome shell, it’d be worth trying.