Outdoor Research Chaos Jacket — 2.0

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | November 6, 2013      
OR Chaos 2013-14

OR Chaos 2013-14

Every mountain man needs a burly synthetic parka. This is your go-to if you’re a regular in maritime climates. Even in sunny dry Colorado I find myself wanting a thick synthetic jacket now and then. Say, for rainy trailheads, as an over-layer during pre dawn starts (throw in the car just before starting up), or just my knock-around parka that won’t spew feathers like a tennis serve machine if I happen to get a fingernail sized fabric tear while modifying expensive new ski boots.

(Oh, and when the big synthetic puffy wears out and looks too crummy for photos, perfect for logging and other mountain hombre type activities up at WildSnow Field HQ.)

Original Chaos was a good thing. Thick synthetic under a Gore Windstopper shell that repelled all but the most torrential moisture yet breathed easily. But the original Chaos fit rather loosely, and could have been slightly thicker. (Note, current OR Havoc jacket has WindStopper shell, is a trimmer and lighter weight synthetic worth considering — could be a favorite. See links at bottom of post.)

Version 2.0 of the Chaos maps 170g PrimaLoft on the torso and arms, 133g in the hood. Believe me, that is thick and warm. I’m wearing this walking sleeping bag at my desk as I type these words. I’m one tenth of a degree from heat stroke. And yes, I’ve been using the jacket outdoors as well.

To compensate for the added fill weight, thin Pertex fabric is used for the shell. In my opinion that’s what all synthetic jacket builds should do — use lighter fabric because down-proofness is not an issue. Only question is why they didn’t just use the thinnest fabric both inside and out (inside is thinner). The logic of this mix in materials escapes me. How much you want to bet it’s so the jacket looks better on the rack (or perhaps is necessary so the DWR treatment is more than psychological)? Whatever the case, consider this a prod for making synthetic jackets as minimalist as possible.

Chaos drop-in pockets suit the mountain lifestyle. Today, logging and then some merlot?

Chaos drop-in pockets suit the mountain lifestyle. Today, logging and then some vino?

Chaos jacket feature pros and cons:
– Drop-in pockets! I’ve noticed more of these appearing in outdoor apparel since we detailed them during our Denali get-ready back in 2010. Hopefully we spurred the designers. All jackets should have drop-ins. Period. But why not left and right? Only drop-in on this jacket is on left side.

– Bonus! Drop-in pocket makes the perfect stow pocket for the Chaos jacket. You can reverse the pocket and stuff the parka in seconds without extreme compression that’s bad for synthetic fill. Indeed, a commodious drop-in pocket such as this is a feature all jackets should have. I guess we’ll have to start sewing them in again.

Mesh drop-in pocket easily reverses and makes quick stowage for the parka.

Mesh drop-in pocket easily reverses and makes quick stowage for the parka. An incredibly nice feature when your hands are too cold for tightly stuffing the jacket.

– No-nonsense side pockets. No zippers. I mean, who when wearing a backpack uses these things, anyway? They’re nice for your hands when you’re walking around Jasper in late December, that’s about it.

– Semi-athletic cut is perfect compromise.

– Sleeve length is perfect for me, but I really don’t need the velcro on the cuffs.

– Two-way zipper is present; mandatory for a “belay” parka.

– One Napolean chest pocket is appreciated, probably don’t need two outside ones on a puff jacket, so they located a smaller one inside. Too small, but it’s there.

– Per the whole industry ramping up their hood performance, Chaos has a nice system that cinches two stretchy fabric inserts on the sides, resulting in a form-fitting feel that moves with our head. The collar comes up perfectly. Everything in the neck and head area works together and gives the impression a designer put some thought into it. Helmet compatible, but tight. If I used a helmet 24/7 I’d want the hood larger with more fabric at the back of my neck.

– Weight of my size large is 26.5 ounces, 752 grams, totally reasonable for what you get.

Do some Chaotic shopping.

Or get more athletic with the Outdoor Research Havoc.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


13 Responses to “Outdoor Research Chaos Jacket — 2.0”

  1. Ellen November 6th, 2013 7:58 am

    Any knowledge on how the Chaos packs down compared to the Havoc? I am one click away from ordering this jacket. I have the Havoc, but wouldn’t mind something a touch warmer and in that color red!

  2. John November 6th, 2013 8:07 am

    Any comparison between this jacket vs. the Mammut Rime Pro? Seem like pretty similar jackets and I was leaning toward the Rime. I’ve had a Stratus Flash for years and still keep it in the truck as a backup. Love that jacket.

  3. Lisa November 6th, 2013 8:16 am

    Ellen, the Chaos packed smaller than we expected but it’s not a jacket we’d recommend for packability, but no synthetic puffy this thick will pack particularly small.

  4. Doug CCBC November 6th, 2013 8:35 am

    A few years ago, after an OGE/GearX.com bowling night in VT, I was driven into a pond by one of my colleagues. Luckily after the car sank and I swam to shore I was wearing my Chaos jacket. It definitely gave me a new appreciation for synthetic insulation, standing soaking wet in March in VT. One of the best jackets I have ever had and I am excited to see the 2.0.

  5. Dillon November 6th, 2013 9:58 am

    Great. Another coat review.

  6. Brett November 6th, 2013 10:10 am

    You should note that its Primaloft One, not that Eco or Sport junk.

  7. Lou Dawson November 6th, 2013 6:30 pm

    So here we are, with more than 2,000 blog posts here for the taking, many of which took a huge amount of work, and I can’t do a few coat reviews (grin)?

  8. Lou Dawson November 6th, 2013 7:04 pm

    I like Backpacking Light, but they didn’t invent the clo,

    “The clo… was developed in 1941… defined as the amount of insulation necessary to maintain comfort and a mean skin temperature of 33.3 centigrade in a room at 21.1 centigrade…”

    They figured it out by using copper manikins etc. Not sure how standardized it is…

  9. Louie Dawson November 6th, 2013 7:16 pm

    Wow Doug! That’s a fairly epic way of testing a jacket.

  10. Lou Dawson November 6th, 2013 8:00 pm

    I’d second that one Louie!

  11. John November 6th, 2013 9:48 pm

    I have one of these on its way to me in the mail right now, I first accidentally bought the older version due to a incorrect product description, and was pretty unimpressed with that one, so it went back and this is on it’s way. I’m a little bummed to see that there aren’t zippers on the hand pockets, it’s nice being able to leave a bar or something else in the pocket and not have to worry about loosing it every time I pull the jacket out of my pack. I’m excited to own a big synthetic puffy though. I’m ready to be cold less when I’m sitting around.

  12. bubblegum casting November 8th, 2013 4:37 pm

    Make sure you have the correct great when you hit the slopes this winter!

  13. Wilson November 9th, 2013 9:05 am

    Doug, we still speak of Jeremy’s driving skills and you swimming skills around the shop. Ha!

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