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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Lower fill weight compared to similar weight parkas.
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
The Outdoor Research Incandescent is a smartly featured light parka. In our experience, it proved to be an excellent ice climbing belay parka. At 17.9 oz. total weight, and with 7 oz. of 800 fill down, it is both lightweight and extremely packable. The Incandescent is certainly not as warm as many of the other parkas we reviewed, but for moving quickly, and when appropriately layered, it performs very well. And added bonus - It stuffs into its own pocket and clips to your climbing harness. A big plus for multi-pitch ice.
If you're looking for more down in your light parka, consider the Feathered Friends Hooded Helios or the Brooks Range Mojave both of which are very warm for their weight. The Rab Infinity is also a very comparable jacket.
RELATED: Our complete review of winter jackets - men's
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The OR Incandescent is a lighter style parka. It offers more warmth than your standard down jacket (see our Men's Down Jacket Review) but remains very light and compact relative to most parkas. It is best compared to the Rab Infinity, the Brooks Range Mojave, and the Feathered Friends Hooded Helios. There are 7 oz. of 800 fill down insulation in the size large.
Among the light parkas we reviewed, the Incandescent has the least amount of down. However, although the OR Incandescent uses a bit less down, it features a more parka-style cut in terms of length. It falls lower on the hip and down over the butt, unlike the other light parkas which save weight by sporting a short cut at the waist. Having a longer cut keeps you a bit warmer overall, allowing you to cover more of your body Additionally, there is a down-filled draft tube behind the zipper.
Weight and Compactness
The Incandescent is 17.9 oz in the large. This is perfectly comparable to the other light parkas we reviewed. While its total weight is comparable to the other light parkas, the fill weight is indeed slightly less.
Like the rest of the light parkas we reviewed, the Incandescent is designed for active and backcountry use. It features a very light Pertex Quantum outer fabric, similar to the Rab Infinity, that makes it very compressible. Unlike all the other parkas we reviewed, the OR Incandescent is designed to be packed into one of the hand pockets, which then zips shut and can be clipped to your climbing harness (or whatever else). This is a significant advantage in terms of packability, and a feature much desired and welcomed by climbers. In our experience, the Incandescent excelled as a day-to-day ice climbing belay parka because of its low weight and this ability to stuff and clip to our harness on multipitch ice.
In the Pertex family of fabrics the Quantum (used here) is offered as a super light and compact outer fabric to be used when weight is a priority. Pertex Quantum is a perfectly adequate fabric for your normal weather concerns like snow and the occasional drizzle, but is not as weather resistant as the Pertex Endurance fabrics found on the Feathered Friends Hooded Helios, for example, or the Rab Neutrino Endurance. Like Rab Infinity, the Incandescent has a fixed hood and offers minimal face coverage.
In terms of fit, the Incandescent distinguishes itself from the other light parkas we reviewed with its longer, butt-covering, cut. Generally speaking however, the Incandescent is very similar to the Rab Infinity. Both jackets use a Pertex Quantum outer fabric, which gives a nice sheen look, and feature unique baffle design. The baffles on the chest and back, which are sewn-through, are diamond and triangular shaped. This appears to increase the amount of stitching, which means more places for heat to escape and moisture to get in. In our experience however, these baffles simply add flair and a unique look.
Also similar to the Rab Infinity is the fixed hood, which is lined around the face with elastic. The nice thing about this style of hood is that there are no adjustments to fiddle with, they simply snug to your head, with or without a helmet. We found the hood on the incandescent to be well made, coming down over our forehead for warmth, and snug but non-restricting over our climbing helmet.
There are two hand warming pockets, which are fleece lined for comfort, but only on the front side. There is an external zippered chest pocket as well. The waist hem has two adjustment cinches on either side and the wrist cuffs are elasticized and non-adjustable. Perhaps the best feature is the ability to pack the jacket into its pocket and clip it to your harness. As discussed above, this makes the Incandescent a desirable belay parka. Also mentioned above is the down-filled draft tube behind the zipper. This is the only light parka to have this and it helps seal in warmth.
Designed to be light and compressible, the OR Incandescent, like all the other light parkas in our review, sacrifices points in durability for weight and space savings. In our experience Pertex Quantum fabrics are more durable than their slightly see-through appearance might indicate. If, however, durability is a large concern, consider a heavier parka that features more abrasion resistant but less packable material.
We used the OR Incandescent primarily as an ice climbing belay parka and found it to be excellent for that purpose. It will excel in any use where weight is a concern. Because the Incandescent uses less down than many of the other parkas, it is not your best choice for very cold days or particularly harsh winter weather.
The Incandescent is a very versatile light parka. It is light enough that you will use it year round in the backcountry, not simply in winter. It is priced similarly to most of the other parkas we reviewed. If warmth is your main concern in choosing a parka, the Incandescent is a poor choice. We recommend the Rab Neutrino Endurance as a warmer, more weather-resistant parka at only a few ounces more. Or for more warmth consider the Feathered Friends Volant. Keep in mind also that Outdoor Research offers an excellent warranty.
— Chris Simrell
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 10, 2014
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