Lucas: "Key to any good adventure is having a solid shell to keep out the elements and keep in the heat. Having a single, lightweight piece of protection was all the more important for embarking on two weeks in the Alaskan wilderness. Enter the Foray Jacket and pants from Outdoor Research. This waterproof GORE-TEX jacket stood up to the elements all the way across the Katmai. From keeping out the blowing ice and rain in an epic windstorm on the flanks of Mt. Katmai to keeping out mosquitoes and drizzles, the Foray proved to be a formidable layer.
Once we arrive at Naknek Lake the jacket and pants faced its next test as a waterproof layer to keep us dry for 8 to 10 hours of paddling each day. I stepped out of the packraft every day dry and warm. Paxson's pants suffered an unfortunate tear following an impromptu glissade on the Knife Creek Glacier. So, if you are looking for a light, waterproof shell and pant that will stand up to some serious weather conditions this is the kit for you. If you want something to stand up against the ravages of glaciers, high alpine-style environments, and technical ascents you may want a beefier setup. For me though, the Foray earned its stripes on this Alaskan sojourn."
Paxson: "Outdoor Research doesn't have the same volume as industry titans like Patagonia or the North Face, and sometimes I think of them as the outdoor gear world's best-kept 'secret hiding in plain sight.' For years they've been cranking out very well-designed gear at MSRP prices comparable with the big players' sales. The Foray line, which is billed as a 2-layer lightweight backcountry rain layer, is no exception. The fit of the jacket is spot-on--on par with that of notoriously well-cut Arcteryx--and feels great both alone or with two insulating layers. The arms allow unhindered freedom of movement and the length is just enough to cover the top of your pants but not interfere with a backpack or freedom of movement in your lower body. The back of the jacket sweeps down a bit to cover your lower back when you're bent over a little, such as when you're skiing. The hood is particularly well-built, though, in keeping with its 3-season orientation, it's not designed to fit over a helmet. Fit on the pants is similarly very good. The workmanship of the jacket and pants (taped seams, stitching, etc.) is excellent, with lots of nice details like zipper garages. The Foray kit breathes and moves well. And best of all--the price point for both the jacket and pants is crazy good, and it's often on sale.
So what's not to like? Not much, but it's good to be aware of the kit's limitations and compromises. First, the Gore-Tex PacLite used in the jacket is quiet, very light, and breathes well under most conditions, but it won't be as durable as heavier-weight membranes like Gore-Tex Pro. The 50D facing fabric over the Gore-Tex layer is durable enough for trail/hiking/backpacking/backcountry use, but I wouldn't recommend thrashing it too hard (such as in rough alpine climbing, for example). I would have liked a more durable fabric on the seat of the pants, as two team members managed to tear the seat/backs of the pants while sliding down a glacier. Make sure to keep the jacket clean--the soft 50D fabric tends to wet out when it gets dusty or dirty. The Foray will still block the rain when it wets out, but breathability will be compromised.
As Lucas wrote, this kit helped our entire team make it through a really rough night bivvied above a glacier during a storm. In addition, I've pushed the jacket to its limits during several winter trips in Alaska, including two full-day midwinter ascents of South Suicide Peak. That is way above and beyond the call of duty for a jacket billed merely as "dependable rain protection", but it was happy to meet the challenge, and after a year of hard use, the kit (minus the tear in the pants..) still looks and works great. I would enthusiastically recommend this jacket for 3+ season use with appropriate layering. The only time I use a heavier shell is during the winter. For all other times of year the Foray continues to live permanently in the bottom of my pack."
Cinders to Sea relied on the Outdoor Research Foray shell jacket and pants to keep us warm and safe during our blustery descent of the Knife Creek Glaciers.
Lucas leans into the wind with his OR Foray jacket.
In the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, there is virtually zero protection from high wind and sand storms. The Outdoor Research Foray shell kept us well-protected from the elements in this rugged 3-season+ environment.