Words and Pics: Rich Norman

This is one of those items that I bought for a particular purpose. When it didn’t satisfy that purpose I kept it, because it’s a great little jacket – but for a different purpose; and it is relatively inexpensive.

Originally, I wanted a four season softshell which could rough it in the woods. Now, I bought an earlier version of the Ferrosi around 2012 and while I didn’t destroy it I only ever wore it to the office. Given that the newer version in Coyote was marketed as a tactical version, I had in mind that it would be tougher.

The fabric has changed slightly (it’s now a ripstop weave) but anything more than EDC is going to rip the thing to shreds pretty fast.

So, because I liked the jacket so much when I received it, that has become its purpose.

I mentioned ‘four season softshell’ earlier, but what do I mean by that? I mean a softshell that I can use all year. A thin, single layer softshell with absolutely no insulation, which is incredibly breathable, but which will take a layer underneath for high output cold weather use.

Like the original Ferrosi I owned, the tactical version is made of the most breathable softshell I have ever come across. Not only that, but the four way stretch is like Spandex/Lycra. Not ‘hair metal’ Spandex, because it’s not tight. You won’t find Mötley Crüe or Ratt wearing this jacket (which is a pity). But it is the embodiment of mobility.

It’s funny, but in the high performance outdoor gear world (I’m not talking tactical or EDC) softshells aren’t all that popular right now. Sure, walk into a budget retailer like Go Outdoors and it’s difficult to escape without buying one. Visit a more specialist shop, however, and you’ll find more specialist jackets.

Softshells kind of peaked a few years ago, because they don’t really do anything well.

Except that they are really good at providing a middle ground between protection from light precip, protection from light wind, and – if you buy well – breathability. That’s actually a really good mixture of non-extremes, which is useful for ‘three seasons in one day’ British weather.

Adding to that, the Ferrosi is also extremely light and truly packable.

If you want to read more about the marketing of softshells, or are curious to learn about how the segment developed, there is an excellent article written by Andy Kirkpatrick, here.

As for sizing, I’m a large in most tops and the Ferrosi is no different – a solid large; so true to size.

At the neckline, the Ferrosi exhibits a stand-up collar with OR branded tape. The main zip (and indeed the pocket zips) are YKK and run smooth.

The zip is reversed to protect from the elements and there’s a quarter length baffle running from the top of the collar. The zip stop is also baffled, which is handy if you have a beard.

All zips exhibit branded, moulded plastic pulls.

There’s a handy Napoleon pocket on the left breast, which is accessible while wearing a rucksack. The opening is seam sealed, rather than being stitched.

OR branding is also exhibited here.

The Ferrosi also features hand warmer pockets.

All pockets are mesh lined, which is useful for added ventilation and there are no pit zips; nor would I expect the latter on a jacket which is as light and breathable as the Ferrosi. In any case, they would add bulk and make the item less packable.

The cuffs are really interesting, in the way the thumb loop panels are constructed. I’m not a thumb loop fan, so it’s a relief that they are not just dirty great holes.

There are no wrist adjusters as these would add bulk. The Ferrosi’s inherent stretch is easily enough to perform this function adequately. It’s also great to be able to push the sleeves up, all Hall & Oates or Phil Collins, when the sun comes out.

In fact, unlike most tactical jackets, the Ferrosi is mercifully bereft of Velcro and therefore makes a rather good pub jacket.

The Ferrosi’s shoulders are comfortable and mobile and the cut here is of the Raglan type.

There’s more low viz branding on the reverse of the shoulder.

Lastly, the hem adjuster (singular) is really interesting because there’s just the one and it’s on the Ferrosi’s tail. It’s a one-handed device, which is simple but effective.

It should also be noted that unlike a lot of the tactical jackets I’ve reviewed recently, the Ferrosi’s tail drop is modest.

So, would I buy this jacket again – or is it just a case that I didn’t bother sending it back because I’m really, really lazy?

Well, I am really really lazy except when it comes to gear. If I didn’t see the merits and usefulness of this jacket – which I hope I’ve demonstrated here – it would have gone straight back.

The Outdoor Research Ferrosi has really impressed me, but don’t use it in non-permissive environments. Unless you are backed by a government supply chain, that is, and you can just pick up another from stores when you trash it.

For EDC? It’s the perfect do it all, four season jacket.

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