Gear Review: Women’s Outdoor Research Aspire Rain Jacket

Outdoor Research Women’s Aspire Rain Jacket

Basic Specs:

  • waterproof breathable GORE-TEX with Paclite, 100% polyester
  • 13.7 oz.
  • pocket acts as stuff sack
  • $215


I tested the Outdoor Research Women’s Aspire rain jacket in the wetlands and thunderstorms of New Orleans.  There was even a little hail thrown in for good measure!  I hate being out in the rain without my umbrella – I always hike with an umbrella – so it took me a lot to just be out in the rain with no cover but this jacket.  The good news is that it kept me bone dry.  The first drops beaded up nicely and ran off but eventually the surface material of the jacket began to get wet.  Even so, underneath I was warm and dry.  I also gave the jacket the “shower test” and it passed with flying colors.  No bleed through or leakage of water anywhere, including pockets, even after standing in the shower full-blast.


Looks good, works great.

I like that this jacket looks good enough for town as well as the trail.  It has a good length and the hood worked well once I cinched up the elastic in the back to accommodate my small head. I liked the hood’s visor feature and it kept the rain off my face. The velcro closures around the wrists ensure that rain isn’t running down your arms while you hike. Pit zips meant that even with a lot of activity, there was plenty of ventilation, and the jacket fit to size description, with plenty of room for a puffy or fleece underneath for added warmth in cold weather.  Pit to hem zippers are an interesting feature but I struggled to see the use of having the zippers go all the way to the hem.  I did play with opening up the bottom hem and putting my backpack hip belt under the jacket, thus allowing the pockets to be fully accessible, as shown in the info video. However, if I were doing this regularly I might want to add snaps to keep the hem closed and not flapping around.

Taken in between the hail storms!

Taken in between the hail storms!


Not super-light, fewer pockets.

This isn’t really an ultralight jacket, so if you’re trying to majorly shave ounces off your gear, nearly a pound for a rain coat is kind of a lot.  I also kept mistaking the to-the-hem pit zips for the pocket zips and found myself inadvertently adjusting those zippers instead of my pocket zippers. And the silicon-impregnated zipper that doesn’t require a zipper shield was just a little tough to engage. I would fumble momentarily to get it to zip although it didn’t stick – it did zip smoothly. As for pockets, I don’t love that the women’s version has a dinky pocket on the arm instead of a reasonable-sized pocket on the chest.  I can’t think of what I could store in that tiny arm pocket while backpacking – a lip balm? It’s also really inconvenient to zip back up.  You have to hold the hem of the sleeve with your fingers to be able to zip it up.  And there’s no internal pocket.  I like lots of pockets to hold things like a map or guidebook pages, or even a phone.  The pocket zippers go down to up so they also require two hands to zip unlike pocket zippers that go up to down so they can use your body for leverage.


Great looking, great performing rain gear.

This is a perfectly fine rain coat.  It does its job, keeps you dry and warm in wind and rain, folds up small, and looks good in town and on the trail.  It can double as a wind layer, and if you play around with the assorted zipper features, you may find a system you really love.  If you like to store your rain coat in its own pocket-as-stuff sack, this one does that.  Personally, I just shove it in my pack, but if you’re a neatnik you’ll like this feature.

Get the Women’s Outdoor Research Aspire Rain Jacket

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