Outdoor Research Foray Review 2019

  • Wilderness Backpacker

Outdoor Research Foray Review Overview

The Outdoor Research Foray is a unique rain jacket in a sea of bright, feature-laden, super-light rain jackets. It possesses a few key features to distinguish it among the backpacking class of rainwear, which help catapult it to the top of the heap for gear aficionados. With its excellent ventilation, guide-worthy fit, and soft materials, this is a rain jacket that everybody can wear.

Outdoor Research Foray Review Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Breathability
  • Waterproofness
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Summary

The Outdoor Research Foray is a comfortable multi-season workhorse. Whether I’m day hiking in the San Juans or exploring the chocolate colored rivers of southwest Utah, the Foray is my go to shell. The Foray weighs just a hair over a pound, provides best-in-class breathability, and will keep you comfortable no matter where your travels take you.

While we loved the Outdoor Research Foray, we named the Marmot Minimalist our Classic Pick for Wilderness Backpackers. It’s very similarly constructed, though doesn’t have quite as nice features, but it costs under $200, which we think most people prefer. The Foray is probably the least expensive high-end rain jacket you can get in this class, so if you want that level of craftsmanship and don’t want to pay an over-the-top price — like for the Arc’teryx Zeta LT, our Premium Pick — this is an excellent choice.

Read the full Outdoor Research Foray review below to see how it continues to punch above its class! And see where it falls on our list of the Best Rain Jackets.

Outdoor Research Foray Review Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 16.3 oz. (463 g) Slightly heavy for a 2.5-layer rain jacket. The extra weight comes from more zippers and tougher fabric.
Layer 2.5-Layer The Foray uses a 2.5-layer tech, which breathes decently and doesn’t get too clammy. Not as functional as 3-layer, but costs a lot less. More on rain jacket layers in our Guide.
Waterproof Membrane Gore-Tex Paclite Gore-Tex Paclite is a common and highly breathable membrane used in a lot of higher end rain jackets. More on rain jacket waterproof membranes in our Guide.
Face Fabric 100% nylon and 50D Plain Weave Nylon is common for rain jackets, and the 50-denier plain weave is thicker than most, giving the Foray increased durability.
No. of Pockets 3 Two zippered hand pockets and an external zippered chest pocket allow for plenty of storage.
Pocket Placement In-Between Straps Unfortunately the hand pockets fall in the middle of backpack straps. This makes them fairly useless while hiking or backpacking. Not ideal.
Pit Zips/Vents Yes (TorsoFlo) The Foray’s main feature is the TorsoFlo zippers, which are full pit zips and vents that allow you to open the Foray on both sides completely. Great for breathability.
Water Resistant Zippers Yes The Foray uses water resistant zippers for the external chest pocket and the main zipper.
Storm Flaps Yes The rest of the zippers, specifically the hand pockets and TorsoFlo vents, use storm flaps to protect against rain.
Packs Into Itself? Yes It does pack into a pocket, but doesn’t pack down very small.
Hood 3 adjustments The Foray has a fully adjustable hood with a stiff brim.
Fit Slim/Trim The Foray is still a rain jacket, so it has room to layer, but the fit is definitely slim/trim overall.
Seams Fully taped All seams are fully taped.
Manufacturer Warranty Infinite Guarantee Outdoor Research has one of the best limited lifetime warranties in the outdoor industry. If any of these parts fail, specifically the zippers, get in touch!
Retail Price $215 A high price for a high-quality rain jacket. You’re paying for the TorsoFlo innovation, solid materials, and brand name.

Gear Review of the Outdoor Research Foray Review

Origins: Easing You In

I had the privilege to test the Foray jacket on several day hikes as well as a multi-day packrafting trip through Canyonlands National Park. During my day hikes at Chimney Rock National Monument, I was able to test this 2.5-layer jacket’s ability to shed rain, sleet, snow, hail, and lots of excess heat.

Outdoor-Research-Foray-review-in-snow
Testing the Outdoor Research Foray in sleet.

While my Canyonlands trip wound up being a bust, thanks to my family’s not-yet-born adventure baby, it gave me a great opportunity to test this jacket’s capability to block a strong headwind roaring off the Colorado River. The Outdoor Research Foray, I have found, comes pretty close to replacing a full-on hard shell, as it has dealt with everything the San Juan Mountains could throw at me in spring.

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

The Outdoor Research Foray jacket, much like a great pot roast, just seems to get better with time. Looking back on my time testing this piece there never really was a moment that stood out when I said, “I love this thing!”. Rather, it performed so well I often forgot that I was, in fact, wearing a seam sealed and seemingly weatherproof garment.

But if I had to pick a time when I was most pleased with how the jacket performed, it was while I battled a headwind, trying to paddle down the Colorado River. Packrafting is a fun sport, but trying to make any headway while moving into a strong headwind is no easy feat.

Outdoor-Research-Foray-review-paddling
Packrafting with a strong headwind.

I utilized the TorsoFlo feature on the Foray, which let me unzip the jacket from my armpit down to my waist and still left ample coverage across the front of my body to deflect wind and water from an errant spash of the paddle. I often wore the jacket in this fashion and was able to regulate my temperature so I didn’t get drenched with sweat. Absolutely A+.

Digging Deeper

The Outdoor Research Foray jacket checks a lot of boxes. Solid weather protection, excellent ventilation, packability, great styling, and affordable when compared to high-end 3-layer hardshells (which it somehow contends with).

I’ve enjoyed the amount of adjustability that comes with this jacket. On the generous hood, you get three points of adjustment. There are two at the collar and one towards the back of your head. This ensures that you get a great seal against any wind and weather that may try to sneak through. The tall collar helps to add to the weather protection. To round out that package the bottom hem also has two elastic toggles to cinch the jacket close to your body.

Outdoor-Research-Foray-review-hood-cinch-and-back
Plenty of hood adjustments to keep your noggin’ rain-free.

The real star of the show, as mentioned above, is the TorsoFlo feature. This consists of a two-way zipper on either side of the garment. You have one zipper that starts where your typical pit zip would, towards the upper part of your armpit, and one zipper down at the very bottom hem.

When fully unzipped the TorsoFlo essentially turns the jacket into one giant poncho — when fully zipped it’s a regular rain jacket. While this is a feature that I absolutely love and try to use often, it can be a bit cumbersome to use while you actually have your pack on. The goal is increased breathability, which it does achieve.

Outdoor Research Foray review side zipper torsoflow
The TorsoFlo zipper shown here extends all the way to the bottom of the jacket. When open, it provides two full sides of breathability.

Comfort – 4 Stars

I’ve found the Outdoor Research Foray  to be an exceptionally comfortable piece of equipment. At first touch you’re likely to be surprised at how soft and supple the shell feels, and that translates to the inside as well. While the fabric feels pretty nice next to the skin, I haven’t been able to test this in warmer climates. Still, I imagine it will feel nice on a hot summer day in the rain.

Outdoor-Research-Foray-review-hood
Comfortable.

I’d give it 5 stars if Gore-Tex C-Knit didn’t exist.

Durability – 4 Stars

The Foray has proved to be a pretty durable jacket. I’ve noticed zero abrasion from pack straps rubbing, the DWR treatment has held up well, and it has surfaced unscathed from that time I tried to learn how to ski.

The only issue is that the elastic bands used throughout the garment give me cause for concern in terms of long term durability, as I have had many of these break in various other Outdoor Research clothing. Specifically, the waist hem has failed me on a couple of Outdoor Research garments.

Breathability – 5 Stars

The TorsoFlo feature of this jacket is perfect. You just won’t find a more breathable rain jacket at this price point. It takes traditional pit zips and then goes a step further by allowing you to unzip all the way down to the waist. You can dump heat fast with this feature and it is one I wish other jackets offered.

Waterproofness – 3.5 Stars

I may be a bit of a nitpicker in this category, but that’s why they pay me the big bucks! I’ve been in all kinds of weather with the Foray and I have noticed that it tends to struggle in a heavy deluge.

I encountered this while gaining 1,200 vertical feet in under a mile. The tremendous heat I was building up inspired me to use the TorsoFlo zippers to dump a lot of internal heat, but this left the jacket quite open for said deluge to leak in. You have to be careful to not unzip past the typical “pit zip” length, or you will risk water coming into the jacket. In my experience, when it’s raining cats and dogs, I never use the TorsoFlo feature to its full capacity.

Outdoor-Research-Foray-review-side-zipper
While the TorsoFlo works well, it’s a bit awkward when straps get in the way. For best in rain protection and breathability you’ll want to make sure the zipper doesn’t go past the typical pit-zip point.

Lastly, the Foray does tend to wet out after an hour or so in heavy rain, but I haven’t found a rain jacket that doesn’t.

Fit

I’m satisfied with the fit of this garment. I wear it in a medium just like every other piece of Outdoor Research gear I own. It has the perfect length in the arms for me and a bit of extra length for the torso, which is what you want in a rain jacket. My only complaint with the fit is that it’s a tad tight in the armpits. This could probably be avoided if I laid off a few beers though.

Grievances

While there is plenty to love about the Foray, it is not without fault. The materials used are soft and supple, but they do create a fair amount of “swooshing” as you walk about. I normally wouldn’t complain about this but because the jacket feels so soft it elicits a feeling of quietness, which is then pretty seriously disrupted.

Pack size. The Foray does not pack down small. I appreciate that an effort was made to make packing this jacket easier by stuffing it into an oversized hand pocket, but the mark just slightly misses. When utilizing this feature, the Foray takes up a lot of volume. It is a pretty compressible jacket but it’s “stuff sack” is too large and doesn’t compress the jacket enough. There are certainly lower volume rain jacket options out there.

Outdoor Research Foray review size comparison
The Foray next to a 32-ounce Klean Kanteen insulated bottle. Not exactly tiny for a 2.5-layer rain shell.

Lastly, and this one really does irk me, the hand pockets are unusable with a pack on. The hip belt cuts a path directly over the middle of the pockets. For a company who makes so much quality alpine and mountaineering gear it surprises me that this was overlooked. The hand pockets are a nice size and would make a great shelter for your hands in a storm. I can’t imagine wearing this rain jacket without a backpack on, as it’s meant for trekking, which makes the hand pockets a little useless.

Final Word

The Outdoor Research Foray Jacket makes me want to go take a hike in the rain. It’s a classic jacket that has been keeping people dry and happy for a long time. Sure, the zippers on this jacket alone might weigh as much as an ultralight hikers “garbage bag and rubber band” rain solution, but for those of us opting for comfort and breathability, the Foray is an excellent choice.

Where to Buy Outdoor Research Foray Review

We tested the Men’s Outdoor Research Foray. It’s only offered in one version in that gender.

The women’s equivalent is the Outdoor Research Aspire, which is the same in every way, except for fit and colorway.

Compare Outdoor Research Foray and Aspire prices below.

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jon rosenberg packrafting

Jon Rosenberg

Jon Rosenberg is an avid adventurer living at the foot of the rugged San Juan Mountains in Southwestern Colorado. When not working, you can find him and his wife exploring the mountains, canyons, rivers, and lakes of the surrounding areas. Their husky mix Bivy stands guard over his impressive gear room.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.