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Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Review

This lightweight and breathable fleece offers the same or better performance than many of the more expensive options
Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip
Photo: Outdoor Research
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $99 List | $98.95 at Backcountry
Pros:  Breathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athletics
Cons:  Not incredibly warm, poor weather resistance
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Buck Yedor ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2020
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84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 10
  • Warmth - 20% 8
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Breathability - 20% 9
  • Layering Ability - 15% 9
  • Weather resistance - 10% 7
  • Weight - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hood is a lightweight fleece built for action. Made from a grid fleece fabric that is highly breathable and sweat-wicking, this is a great piece to use as part of a layering system or for when you're expecting high-intensity output days. While, at first glance, this hoodie is reminiscent of the Patagonia R1, it is bringing something a little different to the table. Clocking in at almost two ounces lighter than the R1 Zip Hoodie, our testers found this jacket was less bulky and more comfortable while climbing or hiking. The lightweight nature and breathability of the material do come at the cost of some warmth, but this is an excellent piece if you're looking for something to keep you comfortable during cold-weather athletic pursuits.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $98.95 at Backcountry$99 List$159.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$77.73 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$225.00 at Backcountry
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Pros Breathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athleticsCozy, athletic fit, breathable, lightweightPerfect fit for most active uses, ideal weight for many conditions, great hood designLightweight, long zipper, chest pocket, thumb loopsGreat hood, handwarmer pockets, wind resistant
Cons Not incredibly warm, poor weather resistancePoor weather resistance, no thumb loopsNot as warm for its weight as some high-loft modelsLess breathableZipper prone to sticking, not as breathable as jackets with gridded fleece
Bottom Line It is hard to beat the value of this high performing and cost effective fleeceA warmer and more comfortable version of the classic R1An ideal fleece for almost anything you can think of, you'll never want to take it offThis fleece makes a great layering option for active days in the mountainsChock full of useful features, it's well-designed, complete with a handy balaclava
Rating Categories Vigor Full Zip Patagonia R1 Air Patagonia R1 Hoody Type 2 Fun 3/4 Zip Hoody Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody
Warmth (20%)
8
8
7
6
8
Comfort (20%)
8
9
8
9
8
Breathability (20%)
9
9
9
8
6
Layering Ability (15%)
9
9
9
10
8
Weather Resistance (10%)
7
7
6
6
8
Weight (15%)
9
9
9
8
8
Specs Vigor Full Zip Patagonia R1 Air Patagonia R1 Hoody Type 2 Fun 3/4 Zip... Arc'teryx Fortrez...
Type Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Midweight
Weight 12 oz 9.7 oz 11.1 oz 11.7 oz 13.2 oz
Main Material Grid-back fleece: 94% polyester, 6% spandex 100% recylced polyester 6.9-oz Polartec Power Grid 93% recycled polyester 7% spandex with Polygiene permanent odor control 55% polypropylene, 45% polyester Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology - 88% polyester, 12% elastane, 230 g/m²
# of Pockets 3 1 1 1 3
Unique Features Balaclava style hood, thumb loops, Hollow-core fabric is highly breathable for high-output activities
offset shoulder seams
Balaclava style hood, thumb loops, Polygiene permanent odor control, longer length to stay tucked under a harness Helmet-compatible hood Integrated neck gaiter doubles as balaclava, streamlined hood fits udner climbing helmets, gusseted underarms for unrestricted movement
Hood Option Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hoodie is a functional lightweight fleece ideal for fast and light missions. Warm enough to use as a stand-alone piece for cool but not truly cold weather, this fleece shines when used in a layering system. This thin fleece was one of our testers' favorites for climbing, hiking, and biking.

Performance Comparison


No matter the conditions, the OR Vigor Full Zip will keep you...
No matter the conditions, the OR Vigor Full Zip will keep you feeling warm and psyched.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Warmth


This fleece wasn't the warmest piece we tested. If you're looking for a stand-alone fleece that can weather bitter cold, you might want to look elsewhere. That being said, our testers found that this piece offered just the right amount of warmth for climbing, hiking, or biking on cold, sunless days. This fleece was great for getting out on crisp fall mornings, where we expected temps to rise as the day wore on. Due to its incredible breathability, it transitions between sun and shade quite well and doesn't require you to constantly be taking it on and off to regulate your body temperatures. It provides a consistent level of warmth in moderately cold temperatures. Used as a mid-layer, the addition of this fleece to an insulating layer will keep you quite warm and toasty.


Our testers found themselves looking for another layer when the wind picked up, or they were standing still for extended periods. This fleece was a standout for athletic performance. Our testers didn't often find themselves overheating in this piece. The built-in thumb loops and scuba style hood were nice additions for eeking out a little more warmth.

The scuba style hood of the OR Vigor fits nicely under a helmet.
The scuba style hood of the OR Vigor fits nicely under a helmet.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Comfort


The lightweight, soft grid pattern fleece is quite comfortable on the skin. The lined pockets and a fabric protector on the main zipper add an additional level of comfort, especially during extended periods of high-intensity movement like hiking or climbing.


Some of our testers occasionally find slim fit fleeces to be restrictive in the shoulders and armpits but had no such issue with the Vigor Full zip. Offering more of an athletic fit than a slim fit, this comes across as a very purpose-built jacket. The fit and cut gives you room to move but doesn't feel baggy when you go to layer on top of it.

Staying warm in the OR Vigor despite rapidly changing temperatures...
Staying warm in the OR Vigor despite rapidly changing temperatures in the Alpine.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Breathability


This fleece was one of our highest performers in this metric. The grid pattern fleece is part of OR's Thermo-Regulating Active Temp system, which supposedly helps your body self regulate its temperature. While we don't know exactly what that means, our testers did find this fleece to shed moisture and keep our testers warm and dry while working hard.


In addition to the breathable fabric, if you really find yourself overheating, the full-length zipper lets you easily dump all of that warm, sweaty air, cool off, zip back up, and keep going. Whether you're ski touring or on a cold approach, this hoodie will keep you dry while you continue your upwards quest.

The interior grid fleece pattern on the OR Vigor is soft on the skin...
The interior grid fleece pattern on the OR Vigor is soft on the skin and comfortable for all day wear.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Layering Ability


For a full zippered hoodie, this fleece layers exceptionally well. The low profile pockets and zipper add minimal bulk to this piece and keep you looking and feeling svelte when layering another jacket on top. The thumb loops make sliding into and out of additional layers easy as can be and keep you from finding yourself a tangled mess.


This fleece is a nice length to wear underneath a harness. It lands in that sweet spot where it's not too long to be annoying, nor is it so short that it constantly wants to ride up and out of your waist belt. Being a full zip, it's also not a problem to put this over a slightly thicker base layer. Overall this jacket is a great addition to any layering system.

The thin material, slim fit, and thumb loops make layering over the...
The thin material, slim fit, and thumb loops make layering over the OR Vigor an easy and comfortable experience.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Weather Resistance


The one glaring pitfall, with this and almost every other performance fleece out there, is its lack of weather resistance. In order to be so breathable, the material also must be fairly permeable. This means both wind and water can find their way inside.


Capable of withstanding mist and very short-lived showers, you wouldn't want to be caught in a storm with just this piece, so be sure you plan accordingly.

Weight


The Vigor Full Zip Hoodie was the lightest full zip hoodie in our testing group and the third lightest overall. The versatility of having a hooded and full zip jacket, combined with it being such a low weight, is a compelling argument to add this piece to your wardrobe.


Value


This fleece is a bargain for the features you are getting. Most comparable to the Patagonia R1 Full Zip but offered at a considerably lower price point, this jacket is a competitor to be reckoned with. The Vigor has virtually all the same features as the more premium options and was one the lightest fleeces we tested. If you plan on using your fleece for any type of backcountry or mountain adventure, it's bound to get a little beat up. Not spending an arm and leg on something that is inevitably going to get thrashed is always a welcome option.

Conclusion


The Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hoodie is a high performing fleece being offered at a great value. This full zippered hoodie is highly breathable, incredibly comfortable, and easy to layer over. It isn't the warmest, nor is it the most weatherproof, but it is a great option for on the move performance and as part of a layering system.

The OR Vigor is an incredible value given how well it performed...
The OR Vigor is an incredible value given how well it performed across all of our testing metrics.
Photo: Buck Yedor

Buck Yedor