Outdoor Research Axiom Jacket — Functional Shell for the Working Man

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 8, 2014      
Belaying near the top of the West Face of North Early Winter Spire

Belaying near the top of the West Face of North Early Winter Spire, Washington Pass. Click all images to enlarge.

Axiom Jacket

Axiom Shell by Outdoor Research

I recently made the transition from being a backcountry snowboard bum this winter to working for Outward Bound this summer. I know, hard thing to call it work when you get to spend your days in spectacular mountains, inspiring young adults to become better people. My “office” is never monotonous — it is one of the best places to be — or one of the worst. Hardships come from a heavy pack and long spells of poor weather. I teach mountaineering courses, rain or shine. This review of Axiom is based mainly on my most recent OB course: 14 days backpacking in the North Cascades National Park during the notoriously rainy month of June.

I’ll be honest, I tend to be a fair weather adventurer. But when you are scheduled to work regardless of the forecast, it’s vital to go in prepared for any weather. As an instructor, I am required to carry extraneous and heavier items that I don’t take on personal trips. With this and food for 14 days, my backpack quickly becomes a heavy brick. Rain gear in Washington is essential and the need for a light, reliable waterproof shell is paramount.

Outdoor Research Axiom jacket uses GoreTex Active that is one of their lightest and most breathable fabrics. I’ve had problems wearing waterproof shells while hiking in the rain because I get warm and the inside gets clammy. GoreTex Active is definitely more breathable than other GoreTex fabrics I’ve used, yet doesn’t sacrifice protection from precipitation.

During my latest work stint, we had relatively good weather except for a five day spell of perpetual precipitation. Once I put the Axiom on, I never had to remove it due to over-heating, and my base layers stayed dry. When the precipitation ceased for short periods of time, I was continually impressed at how quickly the jacket dried out from my body heat.

OR Axiom features a hood big enough to fit over a helmet, and pockets that remain accessible with a pack or harness on.

Summer alpine climbing in the Cascades consists of splitter skies and lichen consumed rock, or soggy trails and perpetual rain. Outdoor Research’s Axiom Shell is a functional combination of lightweight, waterproof durability — perfect for heading out into Pacific Northwest wilderness. The hood fits over a helmet, and you can get to the pockets with a pack or harness on.

Outdoor Research is able to keep the weight of Axiom down for a number of reasons. The lightweight and highly breathable GoreTex Active fabric is so effective that the need for pit-zip ventilation is eliminated–a major selling point in my opinion. Additionally, the jacket is minimal in accessories, but still has everything you need for a day in the mountains. The hood is just large enough to fit over a climbing or skiing helmet. The two functional side pockets are large enough to fit gloves and a couple bars, and the chest pocket is big enough for topo, chapstick, and a small camera. These pockets are located high enough to be accessible while wearing a harness and/or backpack, which is usually a problem with other rain shells.

Another feature that makes this jacket a worthy climbing shell is the left-side pocket that doubles as a zippered stuff sack. The jacket compresses to a reasonable size and the pocket features a double-sided zipper. There is a loop that can be clipped to a harness. My only qualm is that the loop does not appear durable, for example it appears it could fail if you were to catch it on sharp edge while climbing.

Axiom stuffed away into its dual-purpose left hand pocket.

Axiom stuffed into its dual-purpose left hand pocket.

Here you can see the clip-able loop that is sewn into the pocket.

The loop attachment for clipping to a harness.

Overall, Axiom is an effective shell with its combination of lightweight, waterproof, and breathable GoreTex Active fabric and all necessary features for climbing or backcountry skiing. With size large weighing in at 13.5 ounces, it does not sacrifice durability for weight and functionality even after a few bouts of battling a dense slide alder-ridden avalanche path.

Shop for Outdoor Research Axiom Jacket here.


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12 Responses to “Outdoor Research Axiom Jacket — Functional Shell for the Working Man”

  1. JayB July 8th, 2014 12:29 pm

    Good to see that beauty, Early Winters. I climbed it too late years ago and almost got killed in an unexpected thunderstorm because I’d typically save “my good clothes” for skiing with the ladies, and my worn out gear for rock scrambling with the guys. Never again did I make that mistake. Now my old layers get used for home projects and I use my good gear for all outdoor athletics. Might check out the shell, cuz I avoid pit zips too, useless!

  2. Eric V July 8th, 2014 12:38 pm

    Thanks for helping Northwest Outward Bound School change lives through challenge and discovery. I like your office clothes.

  3. Sandy July 8th, 2014 12:47 pm

    I was ready to skim thru a review of an expensive jacket I don’t need when the words Outward Bound caught my eye and old memories flooded my mind.

    As a teenager I was sulky, shy and plumb. My parents sent me on an OB course close to home in Colorado, not a far away exotic location so I wasn’t too excited and because of my shyness I was scared to go too.

    As corny as it sounds, the experience changed my life. My instructor made a comment that I was as surefooted as a billy goat. My confidence swelled and those simple words planted a desire to be acknowledged for being strong and fit rather than dabbling with drinking or worse to impress. I never made the varsity teams but 20 years later I can proudly say I am in better shape than most of my office mates.

    I wish I could thank my old instructor but all I remember is his nickname – Spenz. If you’re reading this, thanks for everything.

  4. Sandy July 8th, 2014 12:49 pm

    P.S. Eric V, I agree. I wouldn’t mind having office clothes like that either!!

  5. Joe John July 8th, 2014 1:44 pm

    I will have to add the Axiom Shell my Christmas list.

  6. Lisa Dawson July 8th, 2014 2:02 pm

    Hey gals, if you’re shopping, Outdoor Research designed the Clairvoyant jacket as the women’s equivalent to the Axiom.

    Gore-Tex Active, no pit zips, stated weight of 12.1oz/343g for size medium.

    OR tailored it to be a women’s specific jacket, thus the different name.

    Outdoor Research Women’s Clairvoyant Jacket, Charcoal, Medium

  7. Coop July 8th, 2014 2:30 pm


    I agree. The number of times I have decided to bring old and useless layers to “save” the new functional shell is rediculous. That is why we buy these technical layers… to be used!

    Sandy and Erik,

    Thanks for the comments! Words like this remind me why I am so fortunate to engage in this work! Stay connected!


  8. Hank July 8th, 2014 3:00 pm

    Coop, when you put your camera in the chest pocket is it waterproof enough for cascades of rain in the Cascades? Pun intended.

  9. See July 8th, 2014 9:37 pm

    It looks to me like the hood isn’t big enough to zip the zipper all the way with a helmet on and still be able to move your head. This is one of my pet peeves re. almost all shells. “Helmet compatible” is a largely meaningless phrase. I have a couple jackets that work with a helmet that I consider to be gold. Granted, most of the market isn’t wearing a helmet, but people that want a jacket like this might be.

  10. GearX July 9th, 2014 8:05 am

    Watch out for the front chest pocket on this jacket! Although the coated inside-out zipper would appear to be waterproof, it’s not! So watch out for your electronics in heavy rain! Some people get geeked out about there being no “pit-zips” but Gore-Active has fantastic breath-ability and if you do need a bit more ventilation, open up the front chest pocket, the inside liner is mesh!

  11. Coop July 9th, 2014 9:38 am

    Thanks for your posts. As far as the chest pocket goes, the fabric is waterproof and the zippers are definitely water resistant. That being said with the amount of moisture transfer that is happening with body being transferred out and the fact that it’s not a 100% sealed pocket, I would be weary about trusting your camera to extensive precipitation. However, nothing an extra plastic bag for your camera couldn’t solve as a backup if you were really worried.

  12. Coop July 9th, 2014 9:39 am

    *body heat

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