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Hands-on Gear Review
Outdoor Research Uberlayer - Women's Review
Cons: Annoying wire brim, heavy, expensive
If you're in the market for a jacket that breathes, keeps your warm, and looks great, the Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket may be right up your alley! Resembling the Patagonia Nano Air Hoody - Women's in style, function, and price tag, this versatile jacket has a few more bells and whistles than you would expect at first glance. We took this jacket skiing, hiking, camping, and climbing, and found that it performs nicely as a stand-alone piece in temperatures ranging from 30F - 60F. Not only did the soft face fabrics and insulation breathe well during activity, but they also kept us warm when standing still. Plus, this jacket got major props from other ladies for its cute colors and flattering chevron stitching design. It also features many pockets and adjustment points, with a pocket that doubles as a stuff sack.
Despite all the things we liked about this jacket, it just didn't score very highly in our review because a) the fabrics didn't breathe as well as jackets like the Patagonia Nano Air and b) it was one of the heaviest jackets tested. Although price never factors into our scores, we were surprised that the price tag of this jacket ($300) was so high. Although the Nano Air rings up at the same price, that jacket is much lighter and a little more breathable.
RELATED: Our complete review of insulated jackets - women's
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hoody is a top competitor with the Patagonia Nano Air Hoody. Although the Uberlayer features warmer insulation, a versatile fit with decent compressibility, it unfortunately doesn't sport a lightweight design or a affordable price tag.
The Outdoor Research Uberlayer is one of the warmest breathable jackets we tested and is constructed with 98 g/m2 of Polartec Hi-Pile Alpha insulation. Many of our testers felt it was comfortable to wear in weather ranging from freezing to 60F. It is warmer than both its breathable competitors, the Patagonia Nano Air (60 g/m2 PrimaLoft Gold) and the Rab Strata Hoody - Women's (80 g/m2 Polartec Alpha insulation). If you're looking for an even warmer jacket, check out our Top Pick for Warmth, the Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody - Women's.
Weight & Compressibility
Of all the active wear jackets tested, this was the heaviest, weighing in at 15.7 oz. This was comparable to the stylish (and less technical) Columbia Kaleidaslope II Jacket - Women's.
Despite the heavier weight and bulkier design, we were surprised to learn how compressible it was. Its left pocket turns into a stuff sack, with an accessory loop. After wrestling with it for a minute, you can pack the entire jacket into an area a little larger than a salami sandwich. In comparison to other jackets, this area is a little larger than the lightweight Outdoor Research Cathode Hooded Jacket - Women's.
As a result of its higher weight but impressive level of compression, it earned points similar to the Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody, which is a bit lighter but less compressible. Put it in a pack for your next cragging adventure.
The Uberlayer provides better weather resistance than the Nano Air, but does not compare to the Rab Xenon X Hoodie - Women's (our Editors' Choice Award Winner). Since the Uberlayer's soft face fabrics sport a DWR finish, it does fine during light rain - just like the Nano Air and Rab Strata.
However, with a stronger wind and more concentrated moisture, this jacket saturates quickly. To top it off - it holds water and is not very quick to dry. Wind, on the other hand, has a harder time penetrating the outer fabric and inner mesh layer. Overall, this jacket will resist a light rain, but is not built for nasty weather as a stand-alone piece.
Comfort & Coziness
Sporting many fine accessories, this is one of the most comfortable jackets tested. The 100% nylon 30D stretch woven shell is soft to the touch and has fantastic mobility. The fabric softness is comparable to the Patagonia Nano Air Hoody, while the additional features are above and beyond. The Uberlayer features a drawcord hem and adjustable helmet-compatible hood. We loved the double-separating center zip which makes for more breathability options when getting aerobic. We also LOVED the extra storage space (similar to the Outdoor Research Cathode).
The pockets - two zippered hand, one zippered chest, and two internal - provide ample room to stash extra snacks on the go. Our testers really loved the cozy fleece lining in the hand pockets and around the collar. To put the cherry on top, the chest pocket turns into a stuff sack with an accessory loop - making this a more versatile jacket than the Patagonia Nano Air.
A few caveats we had included the wire brim insert on the hood. Our testers found this became "warped,"' which made it harder to don and doff the hood while backcountry skiing. We also didn't like the bulky design. Some of our testers mentioned that since it felt so bulky it could be a difficult to wear this jacket under a tight fitting shell - which limits its versatility. Aside from that, we thought this jacket was one of the most comfortable ones tested in this review.
The biggest selling point of this jacket is its breathability-to-warmth ratio. The 100% nylon 30D stretch woven shell has small enough pores to resist wind, but allows water vapor to escape with ease. As a result, it is a perfect partner for highly aerobic activities and very comparable to the Nano Air.
Although the Nano Air is a bit more breathable (in part because it's less bulky), the Uberlayer offers more warmth.
Style & Fit
The testers that wore this jacket were constantly approached with positive comments about its color, style, and overall good looks. The chevron stitching patterns provide a flattering trim look, while the fabric stretches to accommodate ladies of all sizes. We especially loved its two-toned color scheme, with a lighter trim on the hood and zippers. This jacket fit our testers with longer torso and arms, and is available in black, purple, and blue.
Given its high performance in both the breathability and warmth, this jacket is incredibly versatile and truly stands out. If it wasn't so heavy, it would easily be in the running for our Editors' Choice Award. As a result, it is a perfect jacket to wear on its own during intense aerobic winter activities. We would also recommend layering this under a larger shell, but you will likely have trouble fitting it under a tighter shell. Take it camping, climbing, hiking, or wherever you please throughout all seasons.
If you do have a tighter fitting shell and need a breathable (and affordable!) mid-layer to wear underneath, the Outdoor Research Cathode may be a good bet.
This jacket showed little to no wear and tear throughout our testing period which means that it has great durability. Additionally, by buying this jacket, you are buying Outdoor Research's lifetime guarantee, which is better than most we've come across. If you don't like what you bought, you can exchange it for something else that works for you. If it breaks, they'll fix it. What more can you ask for in a guarantee?
That said, we were a little surprised to learn that this jacket had such a high price tag of $299. Although the Uberlayer is definitely high quality, it's sadly not very affordable. If it was less expensive than the Patagonia Nano Air, it would have a special niche as a more affordable and warmer alternative. Though, because they are the same price, and the Uberlayer scored lower in our metrics, we view this as a lower value product.
If you're looking for a versatile jacket that is breathable, warm, durable, and stylish, this is a great piece. Our testers loved its great features and cozy fabrics but wished for a lighter design and more affordable price tag. However, we think that our Top Pick for Breathability, the Nano Air is a better choice for most people considering the Uberlayer.
Outdoor Research Uberlayer
Outdoor Research Cathode Hooded Jacket - Women's
— Amber King
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: November 23, 2015
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