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Outdoor Research Vigor Grid Quarter Zip - Women's Review

A well-priced lightweight fleece suited for technical uses with an extended cut
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Outdoor Research Vigor Grid Quarter Zip - Women's Review
Credit: Amber King
Price:  $99 List
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Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Amber King ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 24, 2024
73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 12
  • Warmth - 25% 6.5
  • Comfort - 25% 7.0
  • Breathability - 20% 7.5
  • Layering Ability - 15% 7.0
  • Weight - 15% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Vigor Quarter Zip stands out for its high level of technical performance and its low relative price tag. It features an extended cut with stretchy materials, making it easy to layer. The face fabric offers wind resistance, while the brick fabric provides excellent breathability. The extended arm and torso coverage adds warmth and fits nicely under a jacket or harness. We're less enamored with the lumpy look of the smaller chest pocket but admire its usefulness with a hip belt on. For a great combination of technical performance, ease of packing, and affordable price tag, the Outdoor Research Vigor earns top accolades. Check out our best women's fleece jacket article to how it stacks up to the competition. You'll be hard-pressed to find such a high performer at this price point.
REASONS TO BUY
Stretchy
Comfortable thumbholes
Extended coverage
Packable
Breathable
Great warmth-to-weight ratio
REASONS TO AVOID
The chest pocket is lumpy
Light colors are see-through
Tight through the arms
Runs small
Editor's Note: We updated this review on April 10, 2024, to retest this model, update photos, and provide any changes to our recommendations.

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Bottom Line If you seek a lightweight fleece that thermoregulates well at a great price, take a ganderA straightforward sweatshirt-style fleece that's soft and comfortable but lacks some detailsA simple budget polyester fleece boasting soft fabrics and a cozy designA classic pullover with a simple design offering a relaxed fit, cozy vibe, and much to love for a lower priceA super warm fleece without many bells and whistles, this low-cost option is a good one if you're looking for simplicity
Rating Categories Outdoor Research Vi... The North Face Cany... REI Co-op Trailmade Columbia Benton Spr... Amazon Essentials F...
Warmth (25%)
6.5
6.0
5.5
7.0
6.0
Comfort (25%)
7.0
6.0
7.5
8.0
5.0
Breathability (20%)
7.5
7.0
5.5
4.0
3.0
Layering Ability (15%)
7.0
7.5
6.5
4.0
3.0
Weight (15%)
9.0
8.2
8.7
7.3
6.2
Specs Outdoor Research Vi... The North Face Cany... REI Co-op Trailmade Columbia Benton Spr... Amazon Essentials F...
Measured Weight 9.8 oz (Size M) 10.6 oz (Size S) 10.1 oz (Size S) 11.4 oz (Size M) 12.5 oz (Size M)
Type Lightweight Lightweight Midweight Midweight Midweight
Main Material 94% polyester, 6% spandex 96% recycled polyester, 4% elastane 100% recycled polyester 100% polyester 100% polyester
Hood Option No Yes No No No
Number of Pockets 1 chest 2 hand 2 hand, 2 interior None 2 hand
Features Thumbholes, UPF 30, moisture-wicking, off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams, chin guard Chin guard, elastic hood hem, full-length wind guard Relaxed fit, double-layer collar, large pockets Comfort stretch, extended collar Double-sided knit fabric, polar fleece, plush materials
Cuff Construction Elastic cuff Elastic cuff LYCRA spandex binding Elastic cuff Elastic cuff

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Outdoor Research Vigor Quarter Zip is a lightweight, 1/4-zip hoodless fleece. It's made of 94% polyester and 6% spandex and has a single, medium-sized zippered chest pocket. It features thumbholes, flat seams placed away from chafe areas, a zipper chin guard, a moisture-wicking interior, water-wicking and wind-resistant fabrics, and UPF 30 protective fabrics.

Performance Comparison


outdoor research vigor grid quarter zip for women - this breathable fleece has a grid-patterned fabric providing a nice...
This breathable fleece has a grid-patterned fabric providing a nice mixture of breathability and warmth. We love its affordable price tag and utility while exploring outdoors.
Credit: Amber King

Warmth


As a lightweight fleece, the OR Vigor doesn't offer the same warmth as a midweight or thicker weight, but it is warmer than expected. The 1/4 zip has a robust wind guard to protect your chest, while the moderate-height collar warms your neck. The sleeve cuffs have large thumbholes, allowing you to keep the backs of your hands covered without losing grip or movement in your hands.


The torso of the Vigor is very long. Combined with extensive stretchiness, this fleece covers most of the bums of many of our testers when standing. It maintains torso coverage through elongated movements like cycling, backcountry skiing, climbing, and setting up camp. We tested it while doing all the above, and never did we have issues with the fleece riding up, bunching, or becoming drafty.

outdoor research vigor grid quarter zip for women - it's all about length here. long arms, long torso. this adds a...
It's all about length here. Long arms, long torso. This adds a little extra warmth for those cold days outside.
Credit: Amber King

This additional coverage and the ability to maintain that coverage through all kinds of exercise and activities translates to more warmth during cold days. Unfortunately, the thinner fabric of this shirt doesn't block wind or protect from cold without staying in motion. For example, we could feel the wind penetrate through the layer while standing on a pretty windy hill. Luckily, since the fabric articulates closely with the skin, it did manage to maintain some level of warmth. While it doesn't have the best standing warmth, it keeps you warm on the move or paired with another layer.

Comfort


The OR Vigor Grid specializes in comfort while moving rather than comfort while hanging out or nesting. Rather than offering that thick, snuggly vibe that feels cozy immediately upon donning it, the Vigor feels like wearing a warm shirt. The inside is lined with small squares of lightweight fleece fluff that do feel soft but are tempered in plushness by their relative thinness. Instead, this shirt's comfortable features are in how well it moves with the body. The sleeves are long, and the thumbholes are wide and stretchy, adding comfort overall.


The stretchy fabric of the Vigor lends itself to a variety of body types. That elasticity also makes wearing the collar, zipped up against the cold, quite comfortable. We appreciate the wide chin guard which provides protection against a cold, scratchy zipper irritating you when you zip the fleece all the way. The single chest pocket of the Vigor is medium-sized, making it large enough to fit a snack but not quite large enough to fit a regularly-sized smartphone.

outdoor research vigor grid quarter zip for women - while the chest pocket isn't gigantic, it's large enough for a small...
While the chest pocket isn't gigantic, it's large enough for a small smartphone or a snack.
Credit: Amber King

While we appreciate most of the comfort features of this fleece, it's important to note that the sizing on the newest iteration runs a bit small. Our main tester sits between small and medium (size 6) and comfortably fits small for most fleeces. After getting the small in the mail, we had to return it for the medium as the arms and chest were too tight. Upon receiving the medium, it felt a bit too big and long through both the torso and arms, but the arms still felt tight, so the sizing is a bit odd on this one.

Like most fleeces we tested, it quickly soaks up water. Its thinner fabric quickly transfers that water through to your base layer or skin underneath, but that thin fabric also dries much faster than many other fleeces we tested. Up against wind, the Vigor offers little protection. The wind guard stops the zipper from being a weak point, but the entire garment isn't made to be windproof.

Breathability


The OR Vigor is a relatively breathable fleece that suits medium to high-output activities. Breathability is often a tradeoff for wind protection. This pullover isn't super protective in the wind, but it's breathable enough to allow heat to escape while working hard during active pursuits. We love this layer for high-intensity activities like running in cold weather, backpacking steep hills, and climbing.


Even without formal vents, the fabric of the Vigor breathes well. We wore only this layer against our skin during a winter ski tour without a top layer. The Sun came out, making it feel like an oven on a Spring day, and we were surprised that we didn't have to strip down to a sports bra.

outdoor research vigor grid quarter zip for women - to test breathability, we ran a few miles in the early morning in...
To test breathability, we ran a few miles in the early morning in the mountains of Mexico. This fleece functions nicely on cool days, but we do wish there was a full zip style for even more ventilation.
Credit: Amber King

Testing it again on a run in cool weather, we enjoyed how the fabric and the 1/4 zipper ventilated sweat well. The only way this jacket could be made more breathable is with a full zip option. Another great feature is the sleeves. Since it ends in regular cuffs with thumbholes, pulling up your forearms as the body heats up is simple and comfortable. This is an ideal layer for active endeavors on chilly days.

outdoor research vigor grid quarter zip for women - the brick grid design offers excellent breathability throughout the...
The brick grid design offers excellent breathability throughout the fleece, ventilating nicely when it's not too hot outside.
Credit: Amber King

Layering Ability


Due to the slim fit of the Vigor, its see-through fabrics (for the lighter colors), and its propensity to show off wrinkles of layers worn underneath, it's best worn as a next-to-skin layer rather than a loose-fitting top.


Lighter colors are also a bit see-through, so, for example, if you decide to wear a white version of this shirt over a black base layer, you'll be able to see that underlayer. That said, if you're not too worried about seeing those base layers, it's easy to layer it over a tank top or thin t-shirt.

Layering over and under the Outdoor Research Vidor Grid Quarter Zip is easy peasy.
Credit: Amber King

On the flip side, its thin design makes tossing other layers over the top easy. Whether you use the thumbholes or not, you can easily slide a puffy jacket or shell on. While functionally, this works, it may look a little strange because of its uber-long torso. You will most likely see the fleece stick way out underneath the jacket. This doesn't necessarily detract from its layering ability, but we don't love how it looks when we do.

outdoor research vigor grid quarter zip for women - the stretchy fabric doesn't catch, and there is much additional room...
The stretchy fabric doesn't catch, and there is much additional room underneath this fleece. It layers nicely over and under many different types of shirts and jackets.
Credit: Amber King

Weight


The size medium we tested weighs 9.85 ounces. Even considering the long torso of the Vigor – which means more material – this is several ounces lighter than most other fleeces, including many lightweight models. It's straightforward to ball up and cram in a small daypack or carry-on bag, but it doesn't have any dedicated stuff sack or pocket it can pack into. This is another plus for this model as a technical piece and a travel companion, both instances where weight and compressibility matter.


outdoor research vigor grid quarter zip for women - this lightweight 1/4 zip packs away nicely and doesn't weigh too...
This lightweight 1/4 zip packs away nicely and doesn't weigh too much either.
Credit: Amber King

Should You Buy the Outdoor Research Vigor?


The OR Vigor is a more reasonably priced fleece jacket. This is an obvious draw, and it's an excellent value for a highly technical piece that performs very well under trying conditions. However, for anyone looking for a plush, cozy fleece jacket that is great for hanging around camp, there are better options than the thin, lightweight Vigor . But if you've been hunting for a warm layer to add to your high-octane activities in cold weather, the Outdoor Research Vigor is an excellent option for winter climbers, backpackers, and runners.

outdoor research vigor grid quarter zip for women - if you're seeking a low-cost technical fleece with a 1/4 zip design...
If you're seeking a low-cost technical fleece with a 1/4 zip design, there's no other that we could recommend.
Credit: Amber King

What Other Fleece Jacket Should You Consider?


For a more versatile fleece that's still lightweight but is warmer and better suited to more moderate activities, the Patagonia R1 Air is a better option. For a plush, warm, comfy full-zip fleece, we recommend the Arc'teryx Kyanite Hoody. But if you like the sound of this shirt-like fleece for full days of heart-pumping adventures, we recommend the more affordable Outdoor Research Vigor.

Amber King