The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody is hard to classify. It's not solely a fleece jacket, but we've included it anyway as it uses light and stretchy Polartec Power Grid material in the arms and back. The front and shoulder panels have 7D ripstop nylon that covers some Polartec Alpha insulation. The whole package weighs 8.4 ounces in the size small that we tested it in, and it comes in XS to XL sizes.
Out Top Pick for Breathability is a great choice for hiking in cool weather. We wore it out on this cool spring day and it kept us warm but not sweaty.
The first thing we can say about the Deviator is that it is not a very warm layer. Although there is some synthetic insulation in the front panels, we've estimated that it has around 6-10 grams of insulation total (full synthetic jackets will have around 80-100 grams throughout the jacket). The Polartec fleece arms are also very thin and are more in line with a light baselayer than your typical fleece jacket.
If your primary reason for buying a fleece jacket is for warmth, then we have plenty of other options in this review for you to consider, like The North Face Osito 2 or the Patagonia Re-Tool Snap T Pullover. If you need a semi-warm layer for intense activities in cold weather, this is where the Deviator shines thanks to its breathability and ease of movement, which we discuss below.
The hood on the Deviator adds a bit more warmth to an otherwise light layer.
This was a very comfortable layer, and we gave it a high 9/10 score for this category.
The gridded fleece fabric on the arms and back is soft against your skin, and the interior lining on the front panels is nice as well. Because it is a cross between a jacket and a base layer, we often wore it as a base layer all-day long, and it always felt comfortable.
This was a comfortable fleece for all-day wear. The hand pockets were nice and roomy, though they don't have a zipper. That makes this fleece more comfortable to wear under a harness or hip belt, but don't put anything in there you want to lose!
This was one of the standout models for breathability and we gave it a 10/10 for this category.
There's no doubt that part of the great breathability of this model comes from it being so light and thin. It's a lot easier for your sweat to vent through a thinner fabric rather than a thicker one. The Deviator takes the breathability up a notch though thanks to the gridded fabric in the arms and back. We scored the Deviator and the Patagonia R1 Hoody at the top of the pack for this category, but note that the Deviator is thinner and lighter than the R1. The R1 will vent equally well in cold conditions, but in milder temps, say at 60 degrees, you may overheat faster in the R1 just because it is thicker than this one. The photos below show you how light and breathable the materials are in the back (left) and the front (right).
This jacket has excellent layering ability, and it received a high score for this category as well.
The trim fit and smooth front fabric let it fit under any number of other layers. In fact, we could fit in under every other model in this review. When it came to wearing it over other clothes, we could only wear it comfortably over a tank top or light T-shirt. Keep that in mind if you don't like that trim a fit in your clothes. If you were hoping to wear it over a layer with long sleeves, you might want to size up on this one.
The thumb loops help you put another layer on top of this one without the whole sleeve riding up. The sleeves are cut on the tight side though so it's hard to wear something with long sleeves under it.
Ease of Movement
The Deviator was one of the best fleece jackets when it came to the ease of movement category. The fleece material has 16% spandex in it and a lot of stretch, so we never felt constricted in the range of motion in the arms and shoulders.
The one quibble we have for this jacket is that it feels slightly short in the torso to us. The Patagonia R1 extends a little longer than this one and wears better under a climbing harness or a backpack's hip belt. When a jacket is too short, it can ride up and under a hip belt or harness, which starts to get uncomfortable and can impede your ease of movement. If you have a short torso yourself, you may appreciate the length on this one though.
The stretchy fabric was one of our favorite options to wear while rock climbing. However, we did feel it creep up under our harness a bit and would prefer an inch or two more length in the torso.
Wind Protection & Water Resistance
When it comes to wind resistance, the Deviator doesn't offer much. The material is so thin that it doesn't offer much protection from gusty weather. However, it was slightly better than the Patagonia R1 and R2 models thanks to the outer shell on the front. You'll still feel the wind ripping through your arms and back, but it'll offer a bit more protection to your core.
The Deviator did have slightly better water resistance than most of the other models in this review. While water quickly soaks through the arms and back, the nylon on the front and shoulders protects you from moisture a bit longer. Note that this is no substitute for a rain jacket, but should you get stuck in a light rain in this one your core at least will stay dryer a little longer than some other fleeces.
For even better weather protection, check out the Arc'teryx Fortrez Hoody, which has a "hardface" fabric that repels water and wind from all sides.
Water soaks right into the fleece on the arm but beads up on the nylon fabric on the front.
We liked the looks and style of the Deviator and gave it an 8/10 for Style.
The styling on this jacket is more "techy" or "outdoorsy" than others, particularly on the two-tone colorway that we tested. It also comes in several options where the fleece arms and front panels are all the same color, like the pink version above in the rock climbing photo, should you prefer a plainer version. It also is nicely tapered and contoured to a woman's physique and looks flattering as opposed to boxy.
We liked the looks of this fleece, and we had good range of motion in the shoulder. The sleeves were nice and long too and didn't ride up on us. However, the torso seemed a few inches too short for us.
The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody is a great choice for cold trail runs, cross-country or alpine touring days, rock and alpine climbing, or anytime that you will be moving fast in cooler weather.
We loved how compactly this layer packed down once the temps warmed up enough for us to take it off.
This jacket retails for $189 and is one of the more expensive models in this review. It does have a lot of little perks, including Polygiene odor control so that even if you do sweat a lot in the Deviator it won't develop the stink that synthetic layers are prone to getting. There isn't something exactly like it on the market that is also less expensive, so it's hard for us to recommend a comparable budget item. The Marmot Flashpoint is a good overall fleece jacket though and only costs $100.
The Outdoor Research Deviator Hoody is in a category of its own. Part fleece, synthetic jacket, and base layer, it's hard to pin this one down. If you're looking for something that will provide a bit of warmth while you X, Y or Z in cold weather, this is a great and breathable choice.