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Gear Guy

What do you think of OR's Pulsar Parka?

What do you think of OR's Pulsar Parka? I see the Outside Buyer's Guide gave it a "Drool" award. I ask because I can't find it for sale at any of the "big" outdoor retailers. I have hunted every major Web site that carries OR products and not one of them carries or even advertises this jacket. Was there some problem with them or why does no one carry them? Thank you for your response. Craig K. Noble Bliss, New York

A: Outdoor Research's Gore-Tex jackets are still pretty new in what is a crowded category, so I guess I'm not terribly surprised you aren't finding it. Unless by "big" outdoor retailer you mean something like Big 5 or Gart Sports. The Pulsar ($350 without hood; hoods are $70 or $80 depending on model) is a highly technical, highly specialized jacket -— something you'll find only in shops that cater to high-end mountaineering and backpacking. Not even REI carries it. Certainly, one can always go to the source, Outdoor Research's own site ( and order one from there.

As for a "problem," well, not that I'm aware of. It's one of the most highly regarded jackets out there -— beautifully made and designed, and with XCR Gore-Tex for improved breathability at less weight. I think that some people might have a hard time with the idea that it doesn't have an integral hood; instead, the hood is attached or detached as one desires. I see this as a plus as I find hoods uniformly claustrophobia inducing and often poor-fitting. And of course, there's the price—$420 for a jacket and hood is definitely at the high end. But if you're a user who demands the best, then I think the Pulsar, and its sister jacket, the longer-cut Quasar ($380 w/o hood) come close to justifying their steep entry ticket.

There's a lot going on in the waterproof/breathable category. One other jacket I recommend a look at: Marmot's Liquid Steel ($375), which should be hitting stores soon. Three-ply Gore XCR material, with some interesting design and construction features and about $50 less than what such a jacket would have gone for a year ago.

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