Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket
- Extremely breathable
- Excellent mobility
- Well featured
- Limited wind resistance
- Heaviest jacket of the test
- Low water resistance
This Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket is ideal for intermittent, high output activities in cold conditions. The Polartec Alpha insulation and shell materials do a standout job of allowing heat and vapor to escape while moving, and then trapping the heat when stopped. Theis Jacket can cut the hassle and time loss of adding then removing a layer during breaks, as long as it’s dry and winds aren’t strong.
Breathability is where the Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket shines. During high intensity activity in cold conditions, the combination of a nylon 30d stretch woven outer shell, polyester stretch mesh inner lining and Polartec Alpha insulation provides plenty of air movement to abate heat and moisture accumulation. This construction is effective over a wide range of aerobic intensities, from the low aerobic demands of rock climbing to the high demands of trail running.
The Outdoor Research Ublerlayer hooded jacket is one of the more durable pieces in this category. Both outer shell and inner lining fabrics survived haphazard treatment in mountain and rock climbing environments without a nick. Zipper sizes, cordage diameter and other hardware also reflected a nod towards increased durability and usability. Classic baffled construction ensures insulation stays in place over the long haul.
This jacket suffers in weatherproofing, like others in this test, due to the focus on breathability. Although slightly more windproof than some in this test, the Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket lets anything other than the slightest breeze cut through. The main zipper has a wind resistant flap behind it to protect that area. The outer shell, although DWR coated, can only withstand drizzle due to the porous and breathable nature of the fabric. This was particularly noticeable where the jacket made contact with shoulder or hip straps.
The fit is another strong point of the Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket. The cut is definitely on the trim side; all girths are geared toward the slimmer set. Torso and arm length worked well for overhead activities, only causing slight ride up and wrist creep. Internal volume accommodates heavy base layers. Mobility is excellent as the stretch materials and slippery lining enhance the jacket’s ability to keep up with aggressive movements. A single cord lock adjusts the elastic in the lower hem and elasticized cuffs seal at the wrists. The hood adjusts via a single cord lock in the rear and the stretchy fabrics allow it to move well with the head. It does accommodate a climbing helmet but is tight; some binding occurs when fully zipped.
The Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded jacket is well appointed and these extra features limits compressibility compared to more pared down pieces. This jacket will cinch down to the size of a cantaloupe; not superior but still manageable for such a versatile garment.
The list of features on the Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket will be appreciated by anyone venturing out in cold conditions. The main zipper can open from either end, has a storm flap and every zipper pull is robust and easily managed by gloved hands. There are two zipped handwarmer pockets (too low to clear pack hip belts), and a vertical zipped chest pocket that all work well as vents. There is a stretch mesh “Shove-It” pocket on the interior of each torso that work well for keeping gloves, hats and snacks warm and accessible. There is a key clip in the left handwarmer pocket and the hood’s brim has a moldable wire insert.
How We Tested It
The jackets in this test were used over a three-month period in Central Texas winter/spring conditions while guiding, hiking, rock climbing and mountaineering in Central Mexico. This tester is 6 feet tall, has a 32” waist and weighs 167 lbs.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our Best Softshells of 2017, Best Synthetic Sweaters of 2017, along with our insulated jacket tests, softshell jacket tests, and other related hiking and camping gear tests.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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