The Outdoor Research Transition Hoody is a legitimate contender in the fight to unseat the almighty Patagonia R1 Hoody as the best fleece for layering. We loved this soft lightweight fleece for its full-length zipper and its cozy, zipperless hand warmer pockets. It also has strategically positioned zones of lighter weight fleece for great breathability. If you're on the lookout for a lighter weight mid-layer, we'd recommend the Transition Hoody.
Outdoor Research Transition Hoody Review
Cons: Weather resistance, not very warm
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Our Analysis and Test Results
This lightweight fleece earns top marks for breathability, comfort, layering, and weight, making it a great piece for active wear. However, it offers no protection against the wind and rain, so we consider it most effective as part of a layering system. The soft, breathable fabrics and the thumb loops allow the Transition Hoody to fit perfectly under a hardshell or puffy jacket.
The bulk of this jacket is constructed from Polartec PowerGrid. Much like the R1 Hoody, hundreds of tiny squares form the loft of the fleece, while thin channels between the squares allow for breathability. The squares on the Transition Hoody are smaller and have less loft than the R1, so it isn't as warm. Additionally, even lighter fleece is on the back and sides of the Transition to facilitate breathability. Our testers weren't too put off by the low warmth score, as this fleece was designed with breathability in mind.
This was the most comfortable fleece we tested; everything felt just right for a layer we'd want to wear all day. As a bonus, the slim fit was perfect for our slim testers. The Transition Hoody is long enough to fit securely under a harness or backpack straps without riding up, while the stretchy Polartec fabric allows for a full range of motion in our arms and shoulders. The slim fit prevents uncomfortable bunching up when used as a layering piece. What really puts this jacket over the top in comfort is the zipperless handwarmer pockets that never got in the way of pack straps (but are awesome for our hands). For secure storage of bars, goos, or a map, the zippered chest pocket does the trick. The snug fitting hood isn't fully ninja style like the R1, but it does zip all the way up to just underneath the nose.
Transferring heat and moisture is what this fleece was born to do. The lighter fleece on the back and sides makes a huge difference for heat loss, and these often sweatier parts of our testers dried extra fast in those areas. When on you're on the move and you really don't want to stop and peel a layer off, the full zipper allows you to really open up and let things breathe, compared to the ¼ zipper on the R1 Hoody.
Again, Outdoor Research nailed it with the fit on this jacket. The Transition is loose enough for comfort, but tight enough for smooth and seamless layering. Those sweet handwarmer pockets aren't even noticeable under a shell or a puffy jacket due to their low profile and lack of zippers. Thumb loops let our testers slide effortlessly into wind layers, rain layers, and softshells without the sleeves bunching up.
We don't recommend weathering the storm in this fleece alone. The features that make it so breathable make for lousy weather resistance. Our testers felt chilly in the lightest breezes and rain soaks through on contact. Think of it as part of a layering system and it will serve you well. The Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody is a more weather resistant technical fleece that works better as a terminal layer.
The Transition Hoody is the lightest model we tested, even lighter than the Patagonia R1. Any lighter and it would be venturing into the realm of base layers. This fleece can be crammed into the bottom of your pack and forgotten about, perfect for those alpine starts when it's only cold until the sun comes out.
This lightweight technical jacket is technical looking, and not what our testers would prefer to wear around in town. But alas, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some folks don't mind it when their wardrobe screams "sports action!". The Transition Hoody is available in black, charcoal, baltic (blue), and hot sauce (red).
The Transition is perfect layering piece for skiing, running, climbing or anything you're doing where you might get sweaty, and then stop whatever you're doing and get really cold. Quick drying and moisture wicking, this model kept our testers from freezing in their own sweat. Again, the Transition is an awesome layering piece.
At $150, this jacket is competitively priced against the similar Patagonia R1 Hoody and the Black Diamond CoEfficient Hoody. While we didn't do any durability testing, there were no signs of wear on this fleece, even after we put it through its paces. OR backs up this fleece and all its products with its excellent Infinity Guarantee lifetime warranty.
Skiers, alpinists, and even fairweather climbers are familiar with the uniform of fleece, insulated jacket, and hardshell on top. In terms of layering, the Transition Hoody can't be beaten. If the Patagonia R1 Hoody is too warm to fill the fleece niche of your layering system, the lighter, sleeker, equally comfortable Transition Hoody is the layer you're looking for.
— Matt Bento