Outdoor Research Enchainment Jacket ReviewMarch 28, 2014
- Awesome primary fabric: tough, light, comfy
- Critical seams are taped
- Solid breathability for the protection
- Hood does not play well with helmets
- Poor initial quality
- Pocket-placement interferes with pack straps
The performance of the Enchainment’s main textile was fantastic, but it couldn’t make up for the jacket’s disappointing design and questionable build-quality. Overall, it proved to be a decent softshell for hiking without a pack or skiing in mild weather.
The Outdoor Research Enchainment Jacket is a thin, low-stretch softshell jacket built for high-energy alpine pursuits.
Considering its lightweight and non-laminated fabric, the Enchainment offered amazing protection from wind and light rain. We would be psyched to see this same fabric combination used to build a different design.
For a thin jacket that protected us like a hard-shell, this jacket’s breathability was quite good. Even so, things still got pretty steamy if we stayed fully zipped whiled charging uphill.
While the Enchainment’s body and sleeves were relaxed enough for easy movement, its hood was consistently problematic. At worst, while wearing both a helmet and a pack, the hood became nearly unwearable—at best it was annoyingly restrictive. We also expected longer and better-articulated arms on a jacket ostensibly built for alpine climbing.
A lightly brushed interior and mostly taped seams combined to deliver above-average comfort, even over a single thin baselayer.
Attention to Detail
The Enchainment lost several points here for failed welds/bonds, one of which resulted in a significant hole in the bottom of the interior chest pocket. Most other seams felt solid, and we otherwise liked the choice to weld (rather than stitch) some features, but the issues that we did have with the build quality were disconcerting. Additionally, we found the cord-locks to be too small and fiddly throughout, and the pockets-placement was entirely incompatible with use under a harness or pack.
Update: Outdoor Research was very concerned about my reported issues with the Enchainment Jacket and immediately offered to replace my sample with a new jacket. It is good to know that OR stands firmly behind their Infinite Guarantee, which states: “We believe so strongly in the quality of the apparel and gear we make that if our product fails to meet your needs at any time, we are happy to replace it. Our products are guaranteed forever, and your total satisfaction with our product is our goal.”
The Enchainment’s shortcomings ultimately overshadowed its highlights, making it a questionable value, even at its very competitive list price.