Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hoodie Review
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Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hoodie
|Price||$82.46 at Backcountry|
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Check Price at Backcountry
|Check Price at Backcountry|
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$54.83 at REI
|$33.74 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Breathable, lightweight, inexpensive, stretchy||Stylish, warm, simple||Soft fleece, warm, comfortable||Soft, stretchy, warm, thumb holes||Inexpensive, warm, comfortable|
|Cons||Average warmth, odd hood shape||More style than function, bulky||No zippers on pockets, basic, feels lower quality||Not especially breathable, clings to base layer||Bulky, hoodless, poor layering|
|Bottom Line||A lightweight and breathable hoody with a lot of stretch for mobility and hard-to-beat value||Billed as casual outdoor wear, this warm fleece can move from out on the town to out at the crags||A simple fleece jacket with a high-volume cut that keeps in body heat||This super soft fleece hoody is a versatile and warm addition to any cold-weather layering system||Affordable, comfortable, and functional, this fleece offers the no-frills basics that you'd want in a jacket|
|Rating Categories||Outdoor Research Vi...||Kuhl Interceptr 1/4...||Cotopaxi Teca Full-Zip||REI Co-op Hyperaxis...||Columbia Steens Mou...|
|Layering Ability (15%)|
|Specs||Outdoor Research Vi...||Kuhl Interceptr 1/4...||Cotopaxi Teca Full-Zip||REI Co-op Hyperaxis...||Columbia Steens Mou...|
|Measured Weight||13.2 oz||15.1 oz||12.9 oz||16.7 oz||16.6 oz|
|Main Material||94% polyester, 6% spandex||Body: 78% acrylic, 22% polyester
Side panels: 70% acrylic, 30% polyester
|Shell: 100% recycled polyester fleece
Stripes: repurposed polyester taffeta with DWR finish
|Polartec Power Stretch Pro polyester||100% polyester|
|# of Pockets||3||1||4||3||2|
|Unique Features||Thumb holes, UPF 30, 3-panel hood with binding||Thump loops, articulated sleeves, low bulk seam stiching||Recycled and repurposed materials||Thumb loops, bluesign-approved 4-way stretch polyester||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The unique fabric pattern and thermos-regulating ActiveTemp of the Vigor work together to make a breathable garment that wicks away moisture when you're battling up steep hills or working hard. It comes with two handwarmer pockets and a chest pocket for ample storage, and thumbholes keep the sleeves in place while layering up. The 7% spandex in the fabric keeps the jacket highly mobile. This feature-heavy, technical fleece is also one of the more affordable options in our lineup, making it a tester favorite for climbing, running, and skiing.
This fleece was never intended to protect from the deep chill of winter. Thin and well-featured, it is meant to retain body heat while on the move. The gridded fleece doesn't have a ton of loft but stays reasonably warm nonetheless. Ultimately, the jacket fits well against the body, and there weren't any significant 'cold spots.'
Though the Vigor doesn't have any adjustment toggles, the hood fits snugly around the head, keeping the ears and necks protected when the wind kicks up. Though it does an admirable job, we noted a couple of concerns about the head area. First, though the hood stays very secure around the head, the sides are concave, exposing the cheeks more than similar models. This may be an intentional design feature to help preserve peripheral vision, but in terms of warmth, it leaves a sensitive part of the face uncovered. Similarly, the neck is much shorter than other top hooded contenders. Though the reduced amount of fabric is comfortable, it's another weaker spot in the insulation profile of this jacket.
Consistent with similar competitors, the Vigor is much better as an outer layer during physical activity than as a true mid-layer in cold weather or when stationary. Concealed thumbholes also help keep the sleeves in place when in use and slide away discreetly when you need full use of both hands.
The Vigor shines for its lightweight stretch. The 93% polyester and 7% spandex blend make for mobile comfort. Though the grid-patterned fleece is not the softest against the skin, we didn't experience any meaningful abrasion or discomfort during testing. We appreciate that the zipper has a garage at the top, which cannot be said of some other similar fleece hoodies, and that the inside of this piece of fabric is felted, which is far more comfortable than a cold zipper to the lip.
One note is that this garment fits taller and lankier bodies better, as the arms and torso are a bit longer. There are also some thoughtful technical comfort features that we really appreciate. The FlatSeam construction minimizes chafing along the shoulders, wrists, and ribs. In addition, the jacket flares out at the bottom, which allows it to more easily accommodate a harness underneath without riding up.
One issue we experienced, as we have with other hoodies, is that the hood is difficult to pull on and off when the zipper is fully zipped to the top. This keeps the hood in place when it's on, but it can also be annoying if you forget to unzip the neck a few inches and end up mushing the jacket into your face or pulling your hair.
This jacket thrives on breathability. The thermoregulating ActiveTemp technology facilitates wicking, and the grid-patterned fleece creates a uniform area for releasing moisture. For this reason, it is a tester favorite for slogging up steep approaches.
An understated feature, the full-length zipper creates another opportunity for the wearer to air out. When our testers were charging up hills approaching climbs or trail running on brisk mornings, they could start off with the hood up and the jacket fully zipped and then transition to pushing up the sleeves and opening the zipper.
This fleece moves smoothly under heavier jackets. The three pockets don't add much bulk to the garment, and the sleek zippers slide under another layer easily. This model also has some of the best thumb loops of any that we have reviewed. They are super practical for keeping the sleeves in place when putting on an outer layer but also stow away flat against the wrist when not in use.
As noted above, the Vigor is intentionally designed long toward the waist so it can be tucked in under a harness or backpack waist belt without riding up or causing abrasion. Not only does it accommodate an outer layer, but the sleeves are loose enough that it slides over a base layer fairly easily (though trying to get this on over another thin fleece proved to be too much of a hassle).
Though all jackets (and all clothing in general) offer inherent sun protection, this one boasts a 30 UPF rating. This explicit benefit in a lightweight hoody is especially welcome on late-season ski days when the ambient temperature still requires an outer layer, but the overhead sun might be blasting. This gives it a sun or wind shirt aspect to it making it nice for alpine rock missions as well.
This fleece is lightweight and packs down small. At 13.2 ounces, it is one of the featheriest jackets we have reviewed. This piece stuffs down well into a pack to fill the nooks and crannies left by more rigid gear. It is also small enough to easily fit into a backpack brain for easy access. The low profile hood, streamlined zipper, two hand warmer pockets, and chest pocket all take up little space.
Should You Buy the Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hoodie?
The Vigor Full Zip is a high-performing fleece offered at a great value. It is best for the cool-weather outdoor adventurer who stays on the move. It is highly breathable, lightweight, and stretchy, making it ideal for staying in action. It is an easy jacket to layer and for those looking for a technical garment at a bargain price, this piece delivers.
What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?
For those who want a comparable lightweight, breathable hoody, we recommend the Patagonia R1 Air Full Zip Hoody. It doesn't have thumbholes, but it has larger pockets and more robust neck protection. If you like the hoody style but want a heavier, warmer layer, check out the REI Co-op Hyperaxis 2.0. And if price is your number one priority, we think the Cotopaxi Teca Full-Zip is worth a look as well; it's a totally different style, but this high-volume soft and fluffy fleece is one of our favorite value-based jackets.
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