Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody - Women's Review
Cons: Less loft means less overall warmth, less water resistant
Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Outdoor Research Illuminate is a very comfortable down jacket with a lower overall profile, as well as less loft and warmth. It's suitable for adventures in milder temperatures, or for layering, as it is a bit roomy. The baffling also gives it a sleek look.
The Illuminate has high-quality 800 fill down, giving it great warmth for its weight. It does not, however, have a lot of down, so it is not one of the warmest jackets in this review, despite the use of high-quality down. It also has smaller baffles, giving it more seams, which can create cold spots and less volume for the down to loft.
The Illuminate scores toward the middle in this metric. The down is of decent quality and has 10 denier fabric, which is lightweight. It is not as light as those materials might suggest, and we think this is for two reasons: it has a slightly roomier fit compared to other jackets of the same size, and it has cushy fleece-lined pockets. It is also fully featured with three hood adjustment points, one bottom hem adjustment toggle, two hand pockets, and a chest pocket with internal mesh media sleeve.
The Illuminate features high-quality 800 fill down which is very compressible for the weight and warmth. It also has lightweight 10 and 20 denier fabric, which makes it relatively compact. It packs into its hand pocket and has a carabiner loop, which allows you to clip it to your harness. It's a little bulkier than our favorite climbing jackets, so if you're looking for the best and most compressible jacket to clip to the back of a harness, other options exist.
This is a fully-featured down jacket. It has a completely adjustable, helmet-compatible hood with three adjustment toggles. The bottom hem also cinches tight to keep out cold drafts with one adjustment point. The whole jacket stuffs into its pocket, which then has a carabiner loop that allows you to clip the jacket to the back of your harness. And the jacket has our favorite feature: the chest pocket! It is accessible from the outside, so you don't have to unzip your jacket and let out any warmth to get into the pocket, but it still keeps your phone or small snacks warm next to your chest. We also particularly liked the fleece patch on the collar where the zipper closes in front of your face.
The Illuminate is a well-made jacket from Outdoor Research. It features a mix of lighter weight and slightly more durable fabrics; this, coupled with the high-quality down, ensures that the feathers mostly stay inside the jacket, which is a plus for long-term durability. The high-quality materials and excellent manufacturing standards at OR make this a sturdy and reliable down jacket.
Down jackets are not meant to be waterproof. However, since down is worthless when it gets wet, it is wise to give it some sort of moisture barrier. The Illuminate performed relatively poorly in our moisture test, likely due to its reliance on the nylon material to provide the water resistance. Most jackets feature a waterproof coating (DWR), but this one appears to not have it. Be sure you take a shell jacket with you if you're out and about in stormy weather.
The Illuminate jacket is a good deal. It's made of high quality down and lightweight but durable fabrics.
The Illuminate is a good, lightweight down jacket. It's a bit roomy for the size and does not repel water as well as most. We think it's best used as a midlayer insulating piece instead of as a stand-alone insulating jacket unless you're in a reliably dry climate.
— Lyra Pierotti