Evaluation: Outside Investigation Ascendant Hoody


Wearing the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody while backcountry skiing.

Wearing the Outside Investigation Ascendant Hoody even though backcountry skiing.

Breathable Insulated Jacket
Outside Investigation Ascendant Hoody
$249, 12 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL

The variety of activities, circumstances, and seasons in which you put on a jacket arguably says additional than something else about its worth, so I’ll inform you what I’ve performed (so far) in my Ascendant Hoody: On a 39-mile, mid-September backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Variety, I wore it in camp on cool, windy mornings and evenings. I’ve worn it as a middle layer on days of skiing downhill at resorts, and as an outer or middle layer skiing up and downhill in the backcountry. And I’ve consistently pulled it on to ride my bike on errands about town this winter. Its versatility derives from getting just the appropriate quantity of breathable insulation to make it the insulated jacket you grab additional than any other all year.

Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody.

Outside Investigation Ascendant Hoody.

The Ascendant Hoody joins the new generation of jackets with breathable insulation—making them anything you can put on on the move, not just insulation when inactive. The crucial ingredient is Polartec’s newest iteration of its breathable Alpha synthetic insulation: Alpha Direct. Sewn into the jacket as a strong, thin lining, it provides the Ascendant a additional-slender profile than a puffy down jacket. But do not let the appears deceive: I identified it warm adequate more than just a T-shirt and midweight, lengthy-sleeve best sitting in camp in the Winds in temps in the low 40s Fahrenheit, with steady wind. Becoming a synthetic, Alpha retains its potential to trap heat even when wet but as opposed to non-breathable synthetic insulation, after wet, its breathability indicates your physique heat moves by way of it more quickly than by way of conventional insulation, speeding up the course of action of drying it.

In terms of warmth and breathability, the Ascendant falls in involving two other OR jackets with breathable insulation: the warmer Uberlayer Hooded Jacket, which is quite considerably a winter piece, and a lighter favourite of mine, the Deviator Hoody. Whilst backcountry skiing, I get warm adequate when skinning uphill that I may possibly put on only a lengthy-sleeve best in temps no colder than the mid- to upper 20s. But the Ascendant provides me just the appropriate warmth I have to have climbing uphill when the mixture of ambient temperature and wind chill dips to the low 20s or colder. The Ascendant’s certain balance of warmth and breathability tends to make it additional versatile across all seasons as portion of a dynamic layering technique.

I’ll illustrate an essential distinction about the Ascendant Hoody with a true-planet predicament that practically any backpacker or climber could encounter: The day just after we completed our September backpacking trip in the Winds, more than a foot of new snow fell there. Had that storm hit even though we had been there, we would have required sufficient boots (and gaiters), shells, tents, bags, and layers—all of which we had. But my Ascendant Hoody would have been considerably additional helpful than a regular, non-breathable down or insulated jacket simply because I could have worn it even though hiking by way of that snowstorm a down jacket would most likely have trapped physique heat and sweat inside, potentially even dampening the down to the point of rendering it ineffective. Versatility matters in the type of situations several of us encounter.


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The insulation’s breathability demands pairing it with a breathable shell fabric, and OR got it appropriate with the stretchy Pertex Microlight nylon ripstop stretch-woven shell. Moderately windproof, it is additional importantly quite air-permeable, so it assists the Alpha insulation offload heat when you are functioning challenging but temps nonetheless demand an insulating layer. You can really feel some wind coming by way of the shell—an indicator of its breathability, which is what you are just after when climbing uphill in cold temps.

Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody.

Outside Investigation Ascendant Hoody.

The shell does not repel falling snow as effectively as a shell jacket (like a further OR favourite of mine, the Skyward Jacket) but that is why you carry a shell. At 20-denier, the fabric is lightweight—be cautious not to catch it on sharp edges. But that mentioned, a slight tear wouldn’t present the identical challenge as you’d have with a down jacket that could begin leaking feathers Alpha insulation consists of strong panels, additional like fleece than feathers. Apart from, slight tears are why duct tape exists.

The athletic reduce fits closely, but with some stretch to the fabric, it does not inhibit movement at all. The hood, adjustable in the back and elasticized, fits snugly about the head and beneath a helmet. Thumb loops inside the cuffs maintain the sleeves from riding up, and the cuffs match effectively either more than a lightweight glove (or the removable inner glove of any three-in-1 glove technique) and beneath a warmer, more than-the-cuff-style glove.


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Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody.

Outside Investigation Ascendant Hoody.

The two hand pockets are warm and roomy adequate to stuff gloves or a hat inside but I want they had zippers, so that I could maintain a second pair of gloves in them (or dry out a wet pair) devoid of worry of losing them. There’s a drawcord hem to seal in warmth. The jacket stuffs into a hand pocket, packing down to about the size of a cantaloupe—making it as packable as higher-top quality down jackets that supply comparable warmth.

The Outside Investigation Ascendant Hoody’s breathability and degree of warmth make it a genuine 4-season shell for summer season backpacking, shoulder-season dayhiking and climbing, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, bike commuting, or throwing on just after you finish a trail run. And it expenses much less than several insulated jackets that are much less versatile.

Obtain IT NOW You can help my perform on this weblog by clicking any of these hyperlinks to obtain a men’s or women’s Outside Investigation Ascendant Hoody at moosejaw.com, ems.com, outdoorresearch.com, or rei.com.


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See my “Review: The 10 Finest Down Jackets” and “The Finest Clothes Layers For Winter in the Backcountry,” and see all of my reviews of breathable insulated jackets, insulated jackets and outside apparel that I like. See also my testimonials of the finest gloves for winter and the finest winter hats some of the gloves and hats would surely be superior for spring by way of fall, also.


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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Huge Outdoors, I overview only what I take into account the finest outside gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear testimonials at The Huge Outdoors.

—Michael Lanza


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