Upstart brand Live Out There made its debut this winter with a line of performance-oriented (but budget-friendly) jackets for the outdoors. The brand makes bold claims comparing its products to high-end competition at a fraction of the price. We reviewed three models to see how they stack up in the cold.
Based in Canada, Live Out There launched late last year as a direct-to-consumer retailer that promised to “slash middleman markup costs” on outdoor gear. (Read our full coverage at “This Brand Wants to Show You How Much Apparel REALLY Costs.”)
We spent the past few weeks wearing jackets from Live Out There. They cost over $100 less than the competition and have similar materials, looks, and function. After skiing, fat-biking, hiking, and generally living in the jackets this winter, our staff formed opinions on the jackets individually and the brand as a whole.
In short: We like the Live Out There line, but it doesn’t quite match up to the higher-priced competition. Its materials held up to abuse, and the jackets kept us warm down into the negative-temp category. Most wearers will be happy. But discerning jacket junkies will find minor flaws, and serious users may be better served by more expensive alternatives. See our caveats below.
Live Out There: Comparing With Legacy Brands
Live Out There directly targets Patagonia, Marmot, The North Face, and Arc’teryx, showing its jackets in charts side by side with comparable models from the bigger brands. The charts imply the jackets are all on par. In our testing, we found that to be exaggerated; the legacy brands, for the most part, offer better quality, fit, and performance.
Where Live Out There wins, however, is price. Its model allows the company to price comparable jackets at a big margin less, up to $200 less in some cases, it notes. While the company makes good, functional gear, the products mostly will lose when directly compared to the premium brands. The savings to the consumer are what Live Out There champions and what sets them apart.
And for their price, these jackets are a really good value. They use high-quality materials like YKK zippers and high-loft downs. They are worth considering when cost outweighs performance.
Live Out There Joffre Jacket Review
Little things came up short on the Joffre ($130), a synthetic-insulation jacket that Live Out There compares to popular models from Arc’teryx and The North Face. Its waist hem, for example, loosened as we hiked. The small cinch was unable to hold the bungee in place. The hand pockets are small and hard to zip with one hand, as the material can snag.
The Joffre looks nice; we received a lot of comments on it. Some people asked, “Is that an Arc’teryx?” And it’s worth noting the Live Out There logo is subdued.
It’s a comfortable, wear-all-day jacket, warm for its weight. The hood fits nicely, mapping close to the head.
One tester ran in the jacket at 10 degrees Fahrenheit with just a merino wool T-shirt underneath. The combo proved warm enough when sweating and exerting on the snow.
But breathability is mediocre when you’re moving fast. Live Out There compares the Joffre in a chart to The North Face’s Ventrix jacket. We have tested both side by side; the Ventrix is significantly more breathable and more appropriate for cold-weather aerobic sports.
The Joffre jacket has breathable panels on each side that are so airy you can blow through them. This lets the body breathe.
But in other places the fabric is not very air-permeable, making for a sweaty experience when running hill repeats to train for an upcoming event. The silky interior fabric throughout the body and the sleeves were slick with sweat after one run.
Joffre Jacket: Who Should Buy
Granted, this was a brute-force test. A jacket like the Joffre is built for hiking, skiing, and general wear. But by directly pitting it against the TNF Ventrix, Live Out There is telling its customers to compare the two coats. We did, and the Ventrix was the clear winner (although its retail price is about $90 more).
Look at the Live Out There line if you need to save some money this winter. The company has an admirable first run with its 2018 debut.
Review: Live Out There Alps Down Vest
A good place to start, Live Out There intends its Alps Down Vest for use as a primary (sleeveless) jacket on moderate days. It’s also a warm insulating layer underneath a shell jacket.
The company compares it to Arc’teryx and Patagonia vests that use similar materials but cost more.
Indeed, for the price of $129.99, the Alps Down Vest has a standard polyester ripstop shell and 800-fill traceable goose down. It will keep you warm without breaking the bank.
The vest proved versatile all winter. The fit runs large, however, and the fabric is not as packable as some comparable vests in our closet.
We’d suggest sizing down (from a size large to a medium, for example), as a down vest should fit closely to maximize its warmth.
Chamonix Down Jacket
One reviewer rode 25 miles in the company’s Chamonix Down Jacket, adding studs to his fatbike to pedal upstream for hours on a frozen creek.
It’s a cousin to the vest above and has the same kind of polyester face fabric and 800-fill down. It costs $150.
The jacket follows a standard puffy or “down sweater” template. Elasticized cuffs, a waist shock-cord, and a large interior pocket are included.
You can stash the jacket into itself, as the pocket converts to a stuff sack. This creates a small package to be tossed in a backpack and used in an emergency (or simply when you get a bit cold).
Our tester noted: “As puffy jackets go, one might be tempted to think they are all the same, but the Chamonix has some creature comforts that I appreciated.” He mentioned the good-fitting sleeves and torso that mapped his frame “close to the body, yet unencumbered.”
On the bike, there was one feature our reviewer missed. “I wish this, and all jackets, had a two-way zipper that would allow for venting from the bottom, as well as a little extra on-the-bike comfort when in an aggressive position over the bars.”
Features, Sizing, Fit
It took a close eye and our broader knowledge of the jacket category to see some shortcomings. As noted with the vest above, sizing was an issue.
One tester, who’s 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, was swimming in his size-large jacket. Best to size down with this brand if you’re seeking an athletic fit. (Live Out There told us it is making sizing tweaks for next season.)
We look forward to testing the tweaked jackets next season. This will be after the company takes in tester feedback and adjusts some facets that could make the budget-minded line truly comparable to the industry giants with which it competes.
–See the entire jacket line at LiveOutThere.com.