Outdoor Research Interstellar Jacket
Lightweight and highly breathable waterproof protection.
The spec of the jackets is high and the spectrum of their use is defined at the upper end for service in extreme Alpine conditions. However the pairing of both the women's and men's versions in this review were carried out on the rock climbs and high fells of the Lake District - With their stated credentials, hopes were high that that they should have no problem fending off some good old Lakeland mountain weather – and so it proved.
First impressions are very promising - the look, cut and feel of both of the jackets immediately having a good impact and the choice of colours, although limited, caters for those with a gothic liking for black to some much jollier looks in red, orange, purple and blue. Alongside the aesthetically pleasing colour choice is the subtle detailing – the prayer flag design of the zip pull and the endless knot loop motif being beautifully created and hinting at the roots of the Sherpa brand, its thinking and commitment to the Sherpa community (the company is Sherpa owned).
Both jackets were used out on the Lakeland fells in various guises and weather that ranged from some summer north-facing multi-pitch cragging where the Kriti Jacket was used to keep out the chronic chill of a persistent wind, to a multi-day high level autumnal outing around Ennerdale and over the Scafell range that called for various combinations of the hard and soft shell.
The Lakpa Rita as mentioned above is a stripped down bit of kit that retains the essentials of design in order to keep the weight of the jacket down (c.350-435g). This in turn means there are no pits zips, linings or internal pockets. However the extremely breathable eVent fabric had no problems in shedding heavy driving rain whilst keeping things very comfortable inside the jacket even when fully hunkered down into the rain during a warmish summer storm and much cooler conditions on the tops later in the year.
The fabric is superb having a slight stiffness which, means that it does not flap about in high winds or rustle annoyingly when moving around. The four pockets are thoughtfully placed so that they have unimpeded access when wearing a climbing harness and/or rucksack and the placement of the seams away from the shoulders and hips reduces the possibility of chaffing. Durability would appear to be good helped by the high wear areas such as the shoulders, rear forearms and side hems being constructed of a higher weight 70 denier fabric than the rest of the jacket that is made up of the 40 denier fabric.
The general articulation of the arms and hood is excellent the arms being cut long and closed by an adjustable Velcro flap and the large wire rimmed hood easily accommodates a helmet. The hood closure relies on a system that gathers from the rear of the hood and whilst this works well the lack of a more conventional option to reef in the cowl until just the eyes are exposed is perhaps the only slight downside of the jacket.
The pocket zips are water resistant and have little hoods over the top of them to stop ingress from water running down the front of the jacket. The main full-length zip has an internal storm flap and the upper 10cm or so is made of a soft fabric that feels pleasant against the chin when the zip is fully closed.
In Brief: The Lakpa Rita Jacket is an exceptionally well designed garment that is not heavy in the rucksack or wallet given the quality and functionality on offer.
The length of the jacket allows it to fit under a harness and not ride up and is similarly good under a rucksack. The sleeves are very long and can make accessing a watch or wrist GPS awkward, nevertheless they are easily rolled back and in cold or windy weather can be quickly pulled down to give some protection for the hands. The two hand pockets are a decent size and have a zip closure as does the handy single chest pocket which, is easy to access and will hold a compass/GPS/mobile phone and or a topo.
Putting the jacket on and off is quick, the full length front zip being simple and snag free. There is no hood which may well be an option that climbers might be grateful of when on windy or shady stances.
The jacket comes in a limited range of single block colours with black and orange being at either end of the spectrum. The Kriti Tech has the Sherpa detailing of the endless knot motif on the back and the prayer flag colours on the zip – nice subtle touches. The weight is around the 400g mark.
In the field the Kriti performed brilliantly whether being used in a climbing or fell walking situation the wind proofing and water resistance being excellent whilst still maintaining the feel and give of a soft fabric. The shell dries extremely quickly.
In Brief: The Kriti Tech Jacket performed extremely well in both climbing and fell walking situations. Its modest cost, weight and good look should ensure its popularity.
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