Quick Review: KÜHL Parajax jacket

A couple months ago I started my search for a nice lightweight shell to use when running on cool mornings, or in light rain. I finally made my choice, and I’ve been using the KÜHL Parajax for the past few weeks while Minnesota has been transitioning from Winter to… kinda Spring? Suffice it to say, we’ve been having some odd weather this year, and so having a nice shell has been a huge benefit.

DSC09978-2.jpgI had been weighing my options for a while and settled on the Parajax for a couple of reason. First, like the Houdini it folded into a pocket, but unlike some of the competition the Parajax has a couple of really nice front pockets that have zippers. It was this pocket configuration that really sealed the deal for me.

DSC09985I’ve taken the Parajax out on quite a few runs now, and I’m really liking it. It’s very lightweight, and breathable, but like most shells it helps trap heat next to your body to keep you warm. My usual strategy is to wear it for the first 1-2 miles of my run, and then stow it before it gets too hot that I soak the inside of it with sweat. I missed the window on one particular run and by the time I had taken it off, it was pretty wet inside. Thankfully, the material dries really quick and easy, so all it took was airing it out once I got back home.

DSC09982I haven’t yet tried it in the rain (beyond a quick picture for this post), but like most of these shells, it’s mean to be water resistant, not fully waterproof. For something that is fully waterproof I’d need to look at other option. I’m OK with that though, and I’m sure if I got caught in a rain storm it would provide enough protection to help get me back to safety.

The Parajax is a bit more expensive than some of the other options, but you can usually find it on sale, or discounted with a coupon. It’s a great, durable, jacket and my only regret is waiting so long to pick one up.


The search for a rain/wind shell

Something that I’ve been on the hunt for, for many years is a ultralight rain and wind shell to run with. The go-to jacket for this has always been the Patagonia Houdini. This ultra lightweight jacket stuffs into its own pocket for easy storage and portability. I’ve always meant to pick one up, and have done some clearance rack browsing, but just have never pulled the trigger.

This morning I went for a great 10 mile run with my buddy Mike B. around the chain of lakes in Minneapolis. Despite being Spring, and nice warm afternoons, this morning was downright cold. The air temp was around 30F, and there was a strong, brutal wind out of the north. This wasn’t a nice summer wind, this was an arctic blast of frigid air that sucked away any warmth that the sun might be providing.

I decided to wear my go-to, cheap, sweat jacket because I knew I needed something to block some of the wind. However, that jacket is heavy, and overkill for the type of temps I was dealing with today. What I really needed was a nice shell, like the Houdini. That has me doing a bit of window shopping today to see what’s out there. Since the introduction of the Houdini, many other manufactures have started to release their own versions of this classic shell. One of my favorite brands, Kühl has the Parajax, and Smartwool has their PhD Ultralight. Outdoor Research’s Helium II is another strong contender.

That brings me to my question… blog audience… what have you used and what do you like? With so many choices out there right now, I feel like this is a good time to pull the trigger and pick something up, and I’d like to get reactions from folks on what has worked well for them. Share your thoughts! Ready, set, GO!