Rating: 3 / 5
The Outpace Parka is a decent jacket, but it has some design details that could be better. It sheds rain really well. It is pretty light and packable. Its breathability seems to be fairly good, although to be fair I haven't had a chance to use it under true backpacking conditions, just training walks in town--not an all-day sustained effort. It has a generous cut and allows good range of motion.
I waffled back and forth over my numerical rating, but I feel that my beefs represent problems with the design that impact the jacket's use in outdoor conditions. The hood seems well-designed at first: it has a reinforced brim and it stands up well, keeping the vision open. My beef is that it only has an adjustment to shorten the depth of the hood--nothing to cinch the hood around one's face. When walking into a wind, there is nothing to prevent rain from blowing into the hood and down the collar. To be fair, I am a woman using a Men's Large, so my head may be smaller than the intended user. The openess does help with venting some--if the rain isn't too heavy. However, I can't believe that every man is going to want the hood so open that water can blow right in.
The other issue I have is with the vent pockets. Again, when facing into the wind and rain, water can blow into the pockets and eventually will run down inside. It will be somewhat stopped by the hip belt, but you are gonna get wet somewhere. Pit vents are not magic either, but they can be somewhat protected by the arms. With the vents right on the front of the body, in a heavy rain then they are more likely to admit rain under the jacket.
I may come back later and increase the rating to a 4 after I've had a chance to use it under real-world conditions. I'm comparing it to the Marmot Precip (my previous jacket), so I may find that I prefer it. However, when walking in town I find myself using one hand to hold the hood shut in driving rain, so I'm not sure.