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Outdoor Research Vigor Hoody - Women's Review

Our favorite for aerobic activities during the winter months.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $180 List | $134.25 at Backcountry
Pros:  Super breathable, wind and water resistance, lightweight design, layers easily
Cons:  Tight through the shoulders, expensive, stinky after one use
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 18, 2019
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 13
  • Warmth - 20% 4
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • Breathability - 20% 10
  • Layering Ability - 20% 9
  • Ease of Movement - 15% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 5% 8

Our Verdict

Looking for a jacket that'll keep you warm while you sweat? The Outdoor Research Vigor Hoody is the newest version of what used to be the Deviator Hoody. It takes a fleece and an insulated jacket and mashes them together; it takes the insulative warmth of the jacket, yet provides the breathability of a super lightweight fleece. The result is the most breathable jacket we've ever seen.

It's our favorite for cold early morning runs, dreary days, and ski tours in the depths of winter. While the price on this jacket is high, it delivers in its functionality. Unfortunately, the material holds smells, and this proves to be the smelliest fleece we've tested thus far. Aside from that, this Top Pick is best for those seeking a fleece-insulated jacket hybrid that'll offer warmth while exertion is high in the winter. Just know it needs to be washed after sweaty use.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $134.25 at Backcountry$169.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$139.30 at Backcountry$99.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$124.93 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Super breathable, wind and water resistance, lightweight design, layers easilyBreathable, durable, helmet compatible hood, awesome thermoregulation, high valueBalaclava hood with neck gaiter, good wind and water protection for a fleeceLightweight, breathable, full-length zipper and a hoodSuper cozy materials, stylish, lightweight, warm
Cons Tight through the shoulders, expensive, stinky after one useNot weather resistant, expensiveNot very breathable, expensiveNot very warm, no weather resistanceExpensive, not the most breathable, zipper slips
Bottom Line Our favorite for aerobic activities during the winter months.The reigning champion that simply can't be beat for versatility.A technical jacket for alpine and ice climbing, or other active sports in colder climates.This light fleece is a high-performance layer that is breathable and comfortable.The lightweight and stylish fleece is built for town and leisurely hikes.
Rating Categories Vigor Hoody R1 Full Zip Hoody Fortrez Hoody Rab Nucleus Hoody - Women's Kyanite Hoody
Warmth (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
8
Comfort (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Breathability (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Layering Ability (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Ease Of Movement (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
Weather Resistance (5%)
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
5
10
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6
Specs Vigor Hoody R1 Full Zip Hoody Fortrez Hoody Rab Nucleus Hoody... Kyanite Hoody
Type Midweight Midweight Midweight Lightweight Lightweight
Main Fabric Nylon, polyester Polartec PowerGrid(93% recycled polyester/7% spandex) Polartec Power Stretch with Hardface Technology (88% polyester, 12% elastane) Thermic fleece & Power Grid Nylon, polyester
Unique Features Insulated front and back panel, breathable arms Hidden zippered pocket, balaclava hood fits under a helmet, brick-patterned insulation balances breathability and warmth Balaclava hood with neck gaiter Close fitting hood fits under a helmet Stretchy, abrasion-resistant fabric, gussets for movement
Weight (ounces) 10.2 11.9 11.9 11.2 11.2
# of Pockets 2 (2 hand, 1 chest) 2 (hand), 1 hidden zippered pocket (right hand) 3 (2 hand, 1 arm) 2 (hand) 2 hand
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Outdoor Research Vigor Hybrid is a cross between an insulated jacket and fleece. Its thinner construction offers the best in breathability, making it an excellent option for sweaty and active endeavors. It does have a techy look and is probably best to wear while exercising and doing chores around town.

Performance Comparison


The Outdoor Research Hybrid Fleece is a super lightweight  offering great breathability and thermoregulation. It's our Top Pick for Breathability.
The Outdoor Research Hybrid Fleece is a super lightweight, offering great breathability and thermoregulation. It's our Top Pick for Breathability.

Warmth


This piece functions as a technical fleece mid-layer and jacket. The hybrid hoody features a mapped 100% nylon ripstop body that is packed with 75 grams of 100% polyester insulation. The hood, arms, and back are made with a grid-block fabric that is 94% polyester and 6% spandex material. This material is very thin, offering ample breathability. While this hybrid hoody is surely built for breathability, it struggles when it comes to overall warmth.


On a cold Fall morning in Northern Ontario, we put on the Vigor Hoody and pulled on our running shoes. We wore a thin base layer, anticipating potentially rainy and cold weather. We ran for over 10 miles, through both rain and hard wind. When in motion, we felt perfectly fine in this set-up. The material vented well, didn't hold a lot of moisture, and kept us warm on the long run. However, as soon as we stopped running, we immediately felt cold and shivery.

A look at the interior fabrics. The grid technology thermoregulates well  effectively keeping you warm  but not too warm  on the go. The polyester is warmish  but best suited to layer with during super cold days.
A look at the interior fabrics. The grid technology thermoregulates well, effectively keeping you warm, but not too warm, on the go. The polyester is warmish, but best suited to layer with during super cold days.

The moral of this story is that this jacket works well to keep you warm when you're on the move. However, it doesn't offer a whole lot of insulation for stand-around warmth, as it's built to keep you warm when you're on the move. Worn on its own, it's perfect for cool Fall and Spring days. In the winter, plan on wearing it with an insulated or down jacket to keep yourself warm in the coldest weather.

Even though its a little cold outside (and the snow hasn't fallen yet)  the Outdoor Research Vigor Hoody works well as a mid-layer. It kept us toasty on this leaf-peeping hike in Northern Ontario.
Even though its a little cold outside (and the snow hasn't fallen yet), the Outdoor Research Vigor Hoody works well as a mid-layer. It kept us toasty on this leaf-peeping hike in Northern Ontario.

Comfort


This jacket offers many comforts that we would expect in a hybrid fleece; however, its level of comfort and coziness pales in comparison to other fleeces in this review. Designed to be a moisture management machine, the material is thin, but still feels good on the skin. It's not our first choice for coziness, but a first choice to wear while playing in the backcountry.


So what are the comfort features? First, this jacket has two handwarmer pockets and one external chest pocket. These are perfect for stashing a phone, extra kleenex, and snacks while you go on your daily adventures. The pockets aren't fleece-lined but lined with a mesh material. Next, this hoody has a hood that is compatible to fit underneath a helmet. It's too tight to fit overtop a helmet, and it's lined with tiny bricks of fleece material that help to wick away moisture.


A look at the pockets. They aren't very deep and just BARELY compatible with a harness. They have an interior mesh material that aids with the breathability of this jacket  but they aren't the coziest out there.
A look at the pockets. They aren't very deep and just BARELY compatible with a harness. They have an interior mesh material that aids with the breathability of this jacket, but they aren't the coziest out there.

For fit, the jacket is incredibly stretchy with a slim fit. The arms are super long with a tiny elastic thumb loop to help keep the jacket in place while layering. The torso is also a good size for both short and tall women. One caveat is the shoulders. The nylon material across the back of the jacket doesn't stretch, which results in less comfort overall.

We do love that the hood is nicely fitted and helmet-compatible.
We do love that the hood is nicely fitted and helmet-compatible.

Our only qualm when it comes to comfort is its exceptional level of stinkiness. We wore this jacket casually with a baselayer when driving one day. We got a little hot as the sun beat down, causing us to sweat just a little. Once we stopped sweating, our stinkiness absorbed into the material, not repelling it. Every other layer we tested didn't do this. As a result, we had to take it off and exchange it with another fleece (thankfully, we had one!) as we couldn't stand the smell. The moral? Be sure you have access to a washing machine to wash it after every sweaty use.

We also love the garaged zipper that offers even more comforts on cold days.
We also love the garaged zipper that offers even more comforts on cold days.

Overall, this jacket isn't the most comfortable option out there as it's not filled with coziest features and fabrics. However, it fulfills its function of being a comfortable activewear jacket and fleece. We love the stretchy arms and hood, which provide enough room and space for women to move and adventure to full capacity.

Breathability


Built for breathability in mind, this jacket does an incredible job!


Mapped with a nylon face fabric overtop a thinner fabric with a brick-based architecture, this hybrid fleece-insulated jacket offers immediate ventilation of heat and excellent moisture management right through the fabric.

The Nylon is fairly porous while the Polartec is incredibly breathable. The pockets are mesh-lined to aid in wicking power to vent off excess moisture and heat.
The Nylon is fairly porous while the Polartec is incredibly breathable. The pockets are mesh-lined to aid in wicking power to vent off excess moisture and heat.

Sweat easily evaporates out from the back and the arms and remains warm in the front of the torso. This product is our number one go-to to wear on its own with a thin base layer for cold morning runs. Does this jacket breathe? You bet. And it's our favorite for the sweatiest days that require a little extra warmth.

Layering Ability


The slim and stretchy fit of this jacket makes it relatively easy to layer.


Slipping this underneath an insulated jacket or shell is of no issue. The material hugs the body, while the front fabric doesn't have any friction, so it doesn't snag layers sliding overtop, even when those layers are fleecy with friction. However, it's a little harder to layer underneath this jacket. The jacket fits tightly to ensure that it wicks and breathe well. It works well with light and midweight layers, as it should with any regular layering system.

The smooth-face Nylon fabric makes it easy to layer underneath other jackets! While you can't see it  we put it overtop another thinner base layer with ease. However  it doesn't work well with bulky base layers.
The smooth-face Nylon fabric makes it easy to layer underneath other jackets! While you can't see it, we put it overtop another thinner base layer with ease. However, it doesn't work well with bulky base layers.

However, putting bulky layers or clothing underneath this jacket is a little harder, simply because the interior of this jacket is mesh lined and also fleece lined. These materials grab the bulkier clothing, making it harder to move, and ultimately leading to some discomfort. Aside from that, it's easy to layer with this jacket.

We love the thumb loops that make it a little easier to pull this jacket underneath tighter upper layers.
We love the thumb loops that make it a little easier to pull this jacket underneath tighter upper layers.

Ease of Movement


Given that this jacket offers a tighter, slim fit, it also moves well with the body.


When going on several jogs, we had no problem with the fabric of the jacket moving with our body. The arms are incredibly long on this jacket, offering ample stretch for those with longer limbs. When reaching up, the jacket does move up a little but then moves back down with the body. In our eyes, movement is A-OK with this jacket. Another reason it's an excellent option for activities that require you to move quite a bit.


This jacket stays in place with the body  hardly moving up when our arms are put up.
This jacket stays in place with the body, hardly moving up when our arms are put up.

Weather Resistance


This hybrid hoody offers a decent level of weather resistance that supersedes many other fleece jackets in this review. The 100% nylon face fabric offers a good level of water resistance that stood up while running through a small rainstorm and during our water tests. It's also fairly wind-resistant, though the arms and back don't offer much protection at all.


During our water tests, we took a glass of water and poured 100mL over both the Nylon face fabric and polyester. We waited for over a minute while observing what the fabrics did. The zipper readily absorbed the water, deeming it to not be water-resistant in any way, shape, or form, similar to all other fleeces in this review. However, what sets this jacket apart in protection is the water. When pouring it over the Nylon, and without agitation, the water sat in a small pool for minutes. It wasn't until we agitated the fabric before it began to slowly absorb. During a rainstorm, we noticed the water beading up on the fabric, but sliding off, keeping us protected.


A look at our water tests. From the pictures  we see the Nylon textile being especially resistant to water with the fleece material completely absorbing it. We also notice that the water doesn't seep through the layer  indicating a good level of water resistance.
A look at our water tests. From the pictures, we see the Nylon textile being especially resistant to water with the fleece material completely absorbing it. We also notice that the water doesn't seep through the layer, indicating a good level of water resistance.

The fabric used through the back, hood, and arms, on the other hand, absorbed all the water readily, as soon as it touched the fabric. This wasn't very surprising. That said, we'd recommend this for wearing during colder, windier days that might seel light snow. However, for optimal protection, be sure to carry a lightweight shell for additional protection as this jacket is far from water or windproof.

Value


This jacket costs quite a bit, and a little too much to drop on a mid-layer. With that in mind, it's not surprising to see these prices when it comes to high end and technical fleeces. This jacket, while expensive, is well worth the money if you're seeking something that will regulate body temperatures efficiently and effectively during high exertion sports. Is the value worth the money? We can't find another product that does the job as well, so we'd say it is.

Here we run it out on a particularily cool morning in Northern Ontario with the Outdoor Research Vigor Hybrid. Even though the temps are close to freezing  this jacket provides amazing thermoregulation. It kept us warm on the move  but not so hot that we had to take this jacket off. In addition  when it began to rain later in the day  the face fabric offered a little protection.
Here we run it out on a particularily cool morning in Northern Ontario with the Outdoor Research Vigor Hybrid. Even though the temps are close to freezing, this jacket provides amazing thermoregulation. It kept us warm on the move, but not so hot that we had to take this jacket off. In addition, when it began to rain later in the day, the face fabric offered a little protection.

Conclusion


This Top Pick is our favorite for high exertion winter activities. It's built to breathe and vents moisture while you sweat during the winter months. This jacket is perfect for cold weather missions where you might find yourself moving quickly and sweating steadily. While it's a technical jacket, it can still be worn around town, but definitely comes with a techy look. If efficient moisture management is what you're after, this is our recommendation.

Wear it casually to work or when heading out on your favorite morning run. This Top Pick for breathability is one of our favorites.
Wear it casually to work or when heading out on your favorite morning run. This Top Pick for breathability is one of our favorites.


Amber King