Outdoor Research Skyward ReviewJanuary 25, 2017
- Stretchy durable fabric
- Pit zips go clear to hem
- Large mesh interior pockets
- Main zipper too light
- Pit zip management
The Skyward is a day-in-day-out ski shell, well equipped for riding lifts or for long tours in the backcountry. Outdoor Research saves a few bucks by not using a name-brand waterproof breathable (i.e. Goretex) and have built in some very nice and unique features. Pit zips that extend to the hems make this a wet-weather backcountry skiers dream.
The Skyward’s three-layer stretchy fabric is great stuff. It is a little thicker in construction than some shells, which makes it more durable. It should last a few seasons of daily use.
Good to go: the Skyward checks all the waterproofing boxes—big hood, high collar, long sleeves, hem, and waterproof fabric.
Bells and Whistles
The venting system of the Skyward is impressive. Testers liked the twin drop pockets for stashing skins inside, or gloves or a spare goggle lens. OR’s Thumb Drive system is clever—cinch the velcro strap normally around the cuff or loop it over the thumb and across the cuff for extra warmth and security. The drop hood makes for a nice drape and fit when it is not in use.
We love the stretch of the Skyward for dynamic skiing and extra durability—it’ll bend but not break when passing trees grab at the fabric. It is plenty weatherproof and breathable—a very solid choice.
The venting system sets the Skyward apart. It’s got side vents that run clear from the elbow to the hem of the coat so you could splay this thing open to near-poncho territory. In addition, the chest pockets are mesh-backed, meaning you could generate some airflow there, too. It is ideal for skinning uphill in thick, wet falling snow, or if you just over-layered for riding lifts.
Frederick Reimers was the editor of Canoe and Kayak Magazine from 2007-09 and has been writing for Outside, Men's Journal, Skiing and Powder ever since.