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, it's a great piece to use as part of a layering system or when you're expecting high-intensity output days. At first glance, this hoodie is reminiscent of the Patagonia R1, but it brings a few different aspects to the table. Though it weighs almost two ounces more, it's 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 to be comfortable during cold-weather athletic pursuits.Editor's Note: This product was retested and the review was updated on August 26, 2022.
Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hoodie Review
Cons: Average weather resistance
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
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Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hoodie
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|Pros||Breathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athletics||High performance, solid fit, breathable, solid features||Lightweight, easy to layer, breathable, drawstring hem||Inexpensive, cozy, great stand-alone jacket||Inexpensive, packs away easily, casual look for around-town use|
|Cons||Average weather resistance||Difficult to add many layers under, not as warm as other models||Lower warmth, no hood||Bulky and lacks breathability, hard to layer under tight layers||Poor warmth-to-weight ratio, bulky, not the best for layering|
|Bottom Line||Highly featured and even higher performing, this cost-effective option provides a hard-to-beat value||Built for the athlete, this model provides warmth, as well as a highly functional piece||This simple fleece is breathable and layers well, all for an excellent price||An inexpensive fleece jacket with a simple non-technical design and a bit of comfort||It's basic and heavier weight, but still maintains the creature comforts, and is soft and affordable|
|Rating Categories||Outdoor Research Vi...||Mountain Hardwear S...||Marmot Reactor 2.0||REI Co-op Groundbre...||Columbia Steens Mou...|
|Layering Ability (15%)|
|Weather resistance (10%)|
|Specs||Outdoor Research Vi...||Mountain Hardwear S...||Marmot Reactor 2.0||REI Co-op Groundbre...||Columbia Steens Mou...|
|Measured Weight||13 oz||13.3 oz||10.9 oz||11.6 oz||16.6 oz|
|Main Material||94% polyester, 6% spandex||100% polyester||100% polyester||100% polyester||100% polyester|
|# of Pockets||3||2||3||2||2|
|Unique Features||Thumb holes, UPF 30, 3-panel hood with binding||Raglan sleeves, thumb holes, three-piece fitted hood||Windflap with roll-over chin guard, flatlock seams||Stretch binding at waist and cuffs||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip 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.
The Vigor Full Zip isn't the warmest piece we tested. That being said, our testers discovered that this piece offered just the right amount of warmth for climbing, hiking, or biking on cold, sunless days. It made it enjoyable to get 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, when precipitation came, or they were stationary for extended periods. It lacked quite enough warmth due to its thinness. 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 seeking out a little more warmth.
The lightweight, soft grid pattern Vigor Full Zip feels comfortable against our 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 give room to move but don't feel baggy when you go to layer on top of it.
The Vigor is 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. Our testers found that this fleece shed moisture and kept them 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 Vigor Fill Zip layers well, especially for a full zip hoodie. 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 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. While storms were far less than welcome in this piece, fleece are not intended to keep out much weather.
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. Luckily the fleece's ability to layer makes bringing a hardshell, a no-brainer for inclement weather.
At 13 ounces, the Vigor Full Zip Hoodie is 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.
Should You Buy the Outdoor Research Vigor?
The Vigor Full Zip is an absolute bargain for the features you are getting. It has virtually the same features as the more premium options and is one of the lightest models 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.
What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?
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. The Vigor is most comparable to the Patagonia R1 Air Full Zip Hoody, but is offered at a considerably lower price point. The Patagonia R1 Air follows a similar vein in terms of a high-performance fleece, as does the Mountain Hardwear Stratus Full Zip, which is similarly priced.
— James Lucas and Buck Yedor
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