Outdoor Research Interstellar Jacket
Lightweight and highly breathable waterproof protection.
"The design philosophy is simple - crux products are to be tough, light and functional."
With this in mind, I was looking forward to testing the Torq jacket and I had high hopes for its performance, but would it live up to my expectations? The jacket has a price tag of £280, so isn't cheap, but sometimes you get what you pay for.
What is it?
The Torq jacket is Crux's flagship mountaineering shell jacket. It's made from eVent fabric, and in their words "has only what is needed". This means it has two large pockets and a proper hood. This isn't a city jacket, it is made for the mountain. The jacket is a full weight mountaineering jacket, not a feather weight UK summer shell, yet comes in at only 435g as Crux have literally shaved off any surplus fabric and weight by having virtually no features.
The features that are there - the twin chest pockets and the hood, work well. The pockets are zip pockets, and very roomy. The hood isn't wired "for easier use without a helmet", fits well and is nicely adjustable. I'm not totally convinced about the lack of a wire, but I guess it will reduce weight even more. The hood is fairly stiff and seems to have some sort of cord instead of a wire, so does stay in shape quite well. The slightly heavier Flak Jacket does have a wire and Crux describe this as their 'winter jacket'.
Well, an internal pocket, a central outer pocket, a hood wire plus the other little things that manufacturers put on jackets these days, like a little furry chin guard on the zip and so on.
Personally I like having an internal pocket in winter. I put a compass and some jelly babies in there, and save my chest pockets for stuffing gloves in to. Pulling out large gloves from a pocket full of little things tends to spill those little things down the last pitch.
The little things like chin guards I can live without. I have never said "Oh man, I think we should go down. My chin man, it's just so sore."
I have said: "Man I'm freezing. I'm totally soaked through. Lets go down".
The eVent fabric was tough, durable and really breathable. The hood was very protective and the zips were totally waterproof. The jacket just sort of oozed toughness.
They look big. A bit like something you might expect on a dry-suit. Oh, hang on... These are different to your normal zips. They are from a company called Riri and are again totally bombproof. Riri come from a sailing background and make submersible zips. The ones on the Torq jacket are superb, if a little over-sized looking. It does make them really easy to use with gloves on though.
This is perhaps one of the best features of the jacket. It comes in lots of shapes and sizes. Mine was a size large. The cut is great for climbing, the sleeves are long enough not to ride up and the jacket sits under a harness well. Crux do a long version of the medium and large sizes, so you can fine-tune your fit. This fine tuning is the way forward for a great fit, and clearly is a lot of trouble for a company like Crux, but they must feel it is worth it.
It's a mountain jacket. Super tough, yet light weight. No features... ...except the fact that it will keep you dry, in any conditions.
Don't buy this for posing in the pub. Buy this jacket for your next big expedition or as a Scottish winter workhorse. It's not a cheap option, but with this sort of build quality and size range from a small company, it is money well spent.
More Information: Crux Website