Cairngorm Treks Review the Outdoor Research Axiom Gore-Tex Jacket - Tested in the Cairngorms

Used extensively by Cairngorm Treks throughout Autumn and Winter 2017/18 within the Cairngorm National Park, Skye, and surrounding areas

Before the jacket arrived, we were already fairly familiar with the Axiom. Although we didn't have the experience with previously owning one ourselves, it's seen to be a popular choice amongst the outdoor community and also previous clients. The obligatory 'gear' discussions that take place whilst trekking with groups were all favourable towards the Axiom. Its good water repellency was mentioned often, with ourselves noticing the small packable size of the jacket. Because of this we were very excited to receive the new updated Axiom Goretex Active Jacket and were eager to try it out for ourselves.

Outdoor Research claim the Axiom to be a mega lightweight bulletproof four-season shell. With a tweaked design, it has an updated modern look and a slightly more sophisticated face fabric. The new updated fabric is now a Gore-Tex Active 3L with a 30D mechanical stretch ripstop face, which on first inspection appears tough but also quite soft to touch and less restricting in movement compared to most other shell jackets. Weighing in at a very lightweight 408 grams and packing down extremely small, it doesn’t take up much room when stored into a backpack. It's also very quiet, something we didn't expect from a Goretex jacket and a welcoming feature mitigating the annoying rustle a shell jacket often makes when on the move.

There are 3 choices of colour with ours coming in the very pleasing Baltic Blue. It's not to be ignored that this is a simple but stylish design with the Baltic blue taking presidency throughout, just being offset by a lighter shade of blue in the logo, zipper and pockets.

The fit is said to be slim so we asked for a large size to accommodate multiple layers to be added underneath as we would be mostly using the jacket throughout the winter months. When wearing the jacket it offered much more room than we thought and comfortably accommodated all of the extra layers that we needed. Although, if we were given the choice again, a medium size would have been more fitting to year-round use. The length of the jacket is excellent, full movement in the arms even when wearing gloves is an area that many other jackets fail to pay attention to and is testament to a new feature of the jacket using 'Dynamic Reach' Underarm Panels. The freedom of movement extends throughout the OD Axiom and once the hem is pulled tight there were no issues of the back riding up creating areas in which snow and rain could creep in. This was especially good with the scrambling we had to do in Skye, working our way over some tricky rock the stretch of the fabric and freedom of movement felt natural and a pleasure to wear.

We had noticed in other reviews that the lack of underarm vents was an issue regarding breathability. This could be a problem throughout the summer months but for us using the jacket in colder conditions, the Goretex Active fabric performed extremely well keeping us from overheating when working hard with almost no signs of a build-up of moisture inside. In terms of a jacket using the Goretex Active fabric, this was one of the best we have ever used and the addition of underarm vents would have only added extra weight and another place of wear. It is also to be noted that with all Goretex Active jackets they are on the cooler side, so pre-planning needs to be made regarding extra insulating layers to suit the wearer.

It's a very simple jacket in terms of features with 3 pockets, a fully adjustable wired hood, loop in hand pocket for compass or keys, velcro cuff closures and an elasticated drawcord around the hem. For us simple can often be best but we will run through each feature below highlighting the pros and cons.

The hand pockets are large enough to accommodate a map and compass and both can be easily accessed and closed even when wearing gloves, although the mesh on the inside of the pockets did feel a little fragile and over time this could be an area which may wear more easily. Also, the pockets could have done with just being raised a little as the waist belt from our rucksack just came around the bottom of the zip stopping us from fully opening the pocket. Once closed they offered full protection even in some pretty horrendous weather. The breast pocket has a floating electronic device holder and although we didn't use this much ourselves it would appeal to someone who would use this jacket with an interest in snow sports.

A frustrating part of the OR Axiom was the hood. When wearing a helmet or other layers underneath, the hood is un-restricting and movement is fantastic. The wired peak keeps shape and the adjustment on the rear keeps the hood snug to the wearer even in very blustery conditions. All this sounds very good, and if only they had sorted this next issue the jacket would be deemed a winner… Unfortunately, the area around the neck and lower face just doesn't pull in tight enough and unless you have your back to the rain it leaves an uncomfortable gap which, although small, can get very wet after a full day walking in heavy rain. This may just be an unfortunate design that may not suit certain people, but when looking online to see if anyone had had the same issue we started to find a few others highlighting the same problem. The best way to find if this is the right fit for you would be to try it on in a store or when first receiving the item on delivery make sure it hugs tightly around the neck and chin.

The rest of the jacket is bomb proof even when worn in torrential rain. The velcro cuff closures fasten easily and tightly. Pair the updated Gore-Tex Active 3L 30D fabric with the simple design and a double-separating center front zipper, it means that there are no weak spots for moisture to enter.

Our Verdict

If you need only one jacket to see you through a full Scottish year then you can't go too wrong with the OR Axiom Goretex Jacket. Throughout the colder months it has been a fantastic addition to our kit and is as comfortable to be worn as it is light and packable to stay in the rucksack. We believe through the warmer months paired with less layers there's not much doubt it will continue to be a dependable shell jacket. Although we have no previous experience with the older model to offer a comparison, the updated Gore-Tex Active 3L with a 30D stretch fabric is the star of the show with unrestricted movement throughout and a much softer and quieter fabric compared to most other shell jackets. There is an issue with the hood which although may not be a problem for many will unfortunately mean not everyone will get to enjoy this product to its full potential.

Cairngorm Treks is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...