Before receiving the Axiom to gear test I had never owned a shell. While I have owned jackets with liners, heavy duty down jackets, and GORE-TEX jackets I have never owned what one would call a shell. To be honest I didn’t really get the point of a shell, why wouldn’t I want more insulation or at least a zip out liner?
It took a few trips before I really started appreciating the purpose of a shell, and now that I have come to this realization I love them. If you live in the Southeast you know that our winter has stuck around well past its welcome. But on the flip side this gave me a lot of days to test the Axiom out over a variety of activities. Before we get into that, let’s first go over some of the technology OR used to develop their award winning shell. First the shell is extremely light because it uses GORE-TEX Active Technology which is half the mass of the standard GORE-TEX membrane. This high tech material is extremely light and breathable, which allows OR to ditch pit zips on this shell further shaving weight. Second OR went with a very streamlined fit on this shell. We are an active bunch, so do we really need yards of extra fabric found on other jackets? I am glad OR realized this because having a well-fitting shell when hiking, biking, skiing, and more is important. The shell has a fully adjustable hood (non-removable), three large pockets, drawcord hem, cuff closures, and comes in blue, black, and green.
So now that you have an idea of what this shell is packing, let’s get into how it performed. I went on a 5 mile hike on the Big Hollow Heartbreak loop in the GWNF with a friend in the wet and cold recently. This hike is no joke, a straight up assault on the mountain with technical rocks and steep pitches. Let’s first clear up something, I sweat, a lot. So breathability is pretty high on my list of needs out of clothing. The whole hike I kept the Axiom on. We were booking it, but I never felt overly hot or had the feeling it was like a rainforest beneath the shell. After this first test, I had a good feeling about the Axiom but wanted to see how it performed on the bike. Many times mountain biking in the winter calls for more than spandex. It gets colder and having something a little thicker on the descents can be a nice treat. I brought the Axiom on a few bigger rides, and while it kept me warm on the downs I ended up keeping it on over ridges too. The thing breaths so well and keeps you bone dry no matter how hard it rains, snows, sleets, hails, or whatever else the Southeast will try to throw at you.
I guess you can say I am converted. I have seen the performance and flexibility a shell brings. Wear it with five layers of wool beneath it, wear it with just a t-shirt, hell wear it by itself. Instead of being limited by extra liners and bulky insulation, the Axiom instead delivers all day waterproof GORE-TEX breathability and leaves the rest to you. I would definitely recommend this shell to anyone looking for a multi-use, high performance, durable outer layer. Outdoor Research knocked this one out the park, be sure to check it out to beat the elements.
Outdoor Research; $375