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Outdoor Research Whitefish Down Jacket Review

A casual jacket for milder climates. For the normal American winter, this is just the ticket.
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Price:  $295 List | $221.21 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Stylish, long-lasting down insulation, cozy hugging fit
Cons:  Not waterproof
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 26, 2018
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 6
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 5
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Style - 20% 9
  • Features - 10% 7
  • Durability - 5% 8

Our Verdict

We dig the OR Whitefish Down Jacket's style. Our test team approves of the look across the board. This is a fashionable jacket made with good materials for moderate winter conditions. The down insulation and thick polyester shell fabric will last as long as the zippers still work, and then some. For those with an average metabolism, the Whitefish will protect against the cold down into the 20s (Fahrenheit).

At a similar price point, the Best Buy Marmot Fordham is a little warmer. For both better insulation and weather protection, the Editors' Choice Arc Teryx Camosun is clearly on top of the heap.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Overall, there is nothing notable about the OR Whitefish Jacket. The insulation is good, there just isn't much of it. The exterior fabric is rugged and waterproof, but its plethora of seams leave the shell vulnerable. The best we can say about it comes from one fashion-conscious tester who ranked it at the top of the heap, stylistically. For these reasons, we think of it as a stylish town jacket with down insulation and basic water protection attributes.

Performance Comparison


For casual style in mild winter temperatures (or cold autumn conditions)  check out the Outdoor Research Whitefish.
For casual style in mild winter temperatures (or cold autumn conditions), check out the Outdoor Research Whitefish.

Warmth


The OR Whitefish's insulation is provided by 700 fill down held in sewn through baffles. This classic construction is visually familiar and relatively inexpensive to produce. A free hanging interior lining adds an extra bit of insulation value, but mainly it helps make layering a smooth process.

The result is a jacket that is about average at protecting against the cold. It is warmer than the Top Pick Columba Mission Air Interchange but less insulating than the remaining award winners. Even the budget-friendly Best Buy Marmot Fordham is better at insulating you from frigid air.

The smooth  free-hanging liner of the Whitefish adds some warmth and smooths layering.
The smooth, free-hanging liner of the Whitefish adds some warmth and smooths layering.

Weather Resistance


The OR Whitefish's shell is polyester with a durable water repellent coating. Outdoor Research makes no claims about its waterproofness. In real-world use and our shower test, the fabric wets out and leaks through the seams, and there are a lot of them. This is a jacket for dry cold. Dry snow will brush off, and the jacket will hold the wind at bay, but wet snow and rain will eventually wet through and compromise the down insulation.

It is similar in this way to the Marmot Fordham. The REI Co-op Down Hoodie does little to nothing to protect against wind and wet, while the soft external fabric of the Woolrich Bitter Chill collects snow as it falls.

The higher scoring products in our test are better at staving off wet weather. The Editors' Choice Arc Teryx Camosun has a Gore-Tex shell that could serve as rainwear and excellent insulating properties.

The Whitefish hood is large and covers the forehead in gnarly weather. Drawstring adjustments keep it out of your vision  to some degree.
The Whitefish hood is large and covers the forehead in gnarly weather. Drawstring adjustments keep it out of your vision, to some degree.

Comfort


This is like an old school down sweater with a hood and thicker shell. This makes for a comfortable package. The fit is soft and free-moving. The thick polyester shell is supple and quiet. The hood removes, improving visual acuity and range of motion. We simply like the feel of the OR Whitefish Jacket. It is similar in its light, flexible feel to the REI Co-op Down Hoodie and the Marmot Fordham.

Careful tailoring makes for a form-fitting rear profile.
Careful tailoring makes for a form-fitting rear profile.

Features


The set of pockets and features on the OR Whitefish is simple. Two fleecy handwarmer pockets and two chest pockets make up the feature set. The hand-warmer pockets, though, are fully insulated, protecting you mitts from low temps. You can even leave the hand warmers open without risking heavy drafts. Fully insulated hand warmers are more expensive for companies, but they are clearly superior. The Arc Teryx Camosun also has fully insulated hand warmer pockets.

Style


One particularly style-conscious tester noted that this is a "damn fine looking" jacket. The casual barn style look worked for her. The cut is close and contoured but allows freedom of motion. Subdued colors are back in style, for sure. The accented shoulders and elbows elegantly set the otherwise quiet style apart.

The easy  familiar lines of the OR Whitefish are pleasing to the eye.
The easy, familiar lines of the OR Whitefish are pleasing to the eye.

Durability


Down insulation captured in a beefy shell fabric is a long-lasting combination. We expect the Whitefish to do its job, even though that job is pretty minimal, for a long, long time. Your only concern might be that the style will fade. Anything that is particularly stylish right now is likely to be somewhat polarizing in the future.

In practical terms, the Whitefish's limitation will be its zippers and snaps. A good tailor can, in 10 years or so, can put a new zipper in and get you back in action. Thankfully, gear repair is creeping back into fashion. Otherwise, expect no real problems.

We tested autumn 2018 jackets for warmth on chilly Teton motorcycle evenings.
We tested autumn 2018 jackets for warmth on chilly Teton motorcycle evenings.

Best Applications


For dry climates, the Whitefish is warm enough to get you from car to office and around town. If it rains heavily on your scene, or snows with high moisture content, a different jacket is a better choice. If it is super cold, something like the Best Buy The North Face McMurdo III or Editors' Choice Arc Teryx Camosun are warmer options.

Autumn in Yellowstone means cool creekside afternoons and elk watching. The OR Whitefish is just right for sedentary activities in temperatures just above freezing.
Autumn in Yellowstone means cool creekside afternoons and elk watching. The OR Whitefish is just right for sedentary activities in temperatures just above freezing.

Value


For what you get, the price is nothing special. The Marmot Fordham is a little less expensive and a little warmer. The Whitefish is more stylistically pleasing, however. The good news is that both these budget jackets feature down insulation that will keep its insulating value a long, long time.

Conclusion


For dry, cool climates, this is a great choice. In deep cold or gnarly wet or both, it'll come up short.


Jediah Porter