Outdoor Research Vigor Full-Zip - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Outdoor Research no longer makes the exact Vigor fleece we tested. The model on offer now is a hooded version (above, right), which is similar in many ways to the model we tested (above, left). We're now linking to the hooded Vigor in this review.
The Outdoor Research Vigor is a full-zip fleece jacket that's highly breathable and functional. It wins our Best Buy Award for its excellent performance across the board. While it's not the most water-resistant, it easily layers with a shell as a functional piece of any woman's wardrobe. It also comes at an exceptional price and a dynamic fit.
The Vigor Jacket is a full-zip midweight jacket, which offers an average level of warmth. As most fleece jackets simply complement an outdoor layered regime to add warmth, this does just that.
The jacket is built with breathable panels throughout that helps to regulate the heat output. It's constructed of 93% polyester, which locks in warmth even if it gets wet. When layered with a solid base layer and insulated jacket, it'll help keep you warm well into the negative double digits. On its own, the thin breathable construction has limited functionality.
Its zipper comes up just under the chin, so it doesn't provide full coverage for the face. It also features breathable panels which take a bit away from its overall warmth. On a windy day, you'll feel the breeze right through them. The thicker materials on the body of the jacket do offer excellent insulation, which will keep you warm.
Comfort and Fit
This jacket is comfortable and boasts a very flexible fit. The polyester is soft against the skin, while the jacket stretches (7% spandex in its construction) over any bump or lump. It has plenty of features that'll keep you comfortable on the trail.
The fit of this jacket is true to size with a long toro. The arm length is exceptionally long and features thumb loops (which we love) to help it with layering. The only fit caveat we noticed is the material can pinch across in the armpits for those blessed with wider shoulders. Many of our taller testers love this jacket.
The neck of this jacket comes all the way up and features a garaged zipper at the top. During cold weather, this was soft and didn't abrade our chin or nose, which was much appreciated. The fit in the neck, however, is a little tight. If you have a thicker neck, you might find it a little less comfortable in this part of the fit.
The stretch of the jacket offers a lot of wiggle room for fit. If you have a bit of a belly or a large bust, it will most likely work because of its level of stretch. We appreciate the super spacious chest and hand warming pockets, all that easily fit a cell phone. The pockets are positioned in a normal location, so when wearing a backpack, it may be hard to access them.
While this is a comfortable jacket, it's not the coziest. The thin, stretchable materials accommodate the beauty and curves of most women but can be a little limited for others. That said, this is a go-to piece for any outdoor adventure as it moves well with the body, breathes, and feels comfortable for all-day wear.
This jacket has been a go-to for us while cross-country skiing, running, and ski touring. It is breathable and well-thought-out for this exact purpose. We highly recommend it for any technical outdoor adventure.
The build of this jacket is both durable and highly breathable. Venting panels strategically placed on the arms, back, and along the sides use a thinner material with a PowerGrid design. This means the fabrics insulate and breathe at the same time. The full zip and pockets can also be opened to help blow out the heat.
In zones that don't get as hot (the core), continuous fleece is used to help retain warmth. While this isn't the most breathable jacket that we tested, it is certainly well thought out. It's our go-to for winter use simply because there is a nice balance of insulation and venting capabilities. However, the continuous fleece can get hot, which is why we prefer to run with it on colder days.
The use of stretchy and smooth fabrics, in addition to the integration of thumb loops, makes this jacket very easy to layer.
It can easily be worn over a thicker base layer, under a shell, or on its own. The materials slide against the fabrics of even the thickest layers and don't bunch or ball.
Ease of Movement
This is a jacket we love to wear while climbing, running, and cross-country skiing.
While there's a little constriction under the arms (for our broad-shouldered testers), it moves easily with the body. It only rides up a tiny bit when you put your arms overhead, but moves down when you put your arms down as well. This fabric is incredibly stretchy and mobile — designed to move with you.
We tested this while cross country skiing in the snow and while running in windy conditions in Southern Colorado. While it offers some tenacity with wind resistance, it's terrible when it comes to the rain. Be sure you bring a shell with you if you think you'll get caught in a storm.
The jacket's panels of thicker continuous material are made of a soft-shell material that is still quite thin. This continuous design does a great job warding off the wind while keeping you nice and vented. In both snow and rainstorms, we noticed that precipitation would bead for about one second before absorbing right into the fabrics. After a snowstorm, we were wet, but still warm after thick flakes fell from the sky. In our water tests, this was further validated. The water didn't sit on the fabric when flicking water onto them but immediately absorbed. This was throughout, on both the PowerGrid and continuous fleece materials.
This jacket wins our Best Buy award because it's an excellent technical jacket for a great price! Its style features different, complementary colors used for the thicker and thinner materials, which gives it a bit of techy look. While this isn't our top choice to wear out into town or while hanging with friends, it's one of our favorites to take on winter runs and wear throughout the year.
The Outdoor Research Vigor Full-Zip stands next to the best competitors in this review and is offered at a fantastic price. With its excellent performance, this is a technical fleece that you'll get your money's worth from. It stands out for its excellent stretchy fabrics and paneled design that lends to great breathability. This fleece will perform all year round; you can wear it on its own in the warmer months, or complemented by a base layer and jacket when the temperature plummets. Its lightweight and moveable design can easily be taken on backpacking missions, day hikes, climbing adventures, and more.
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