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Outdoor Research Vigor Quarter Zip - Women's Review

This lightweight fleece features good technical performance and coverage, a great warmth-to-weight ratio, and a reasonable price
outdoor research vigor quarter zip for women fleece jacket review
Credit: Outdoor Research
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $89 List
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 29, 2022
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 13
  • Warmth - 25% 6.0
  • Comfort - 25% 6.5
  • Versatility - 20% 7.0
  • Breathability - 15% 9.0
  • Layering Ability - 15% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Vigor Quarter Zip is a thin fleece that looks more like a shirt, yet offers excellent warmth for its weight, great technical performance, and a lower price tag. It's an obvious choice for our Best Value for a Technical Fleece award and a great option for folks looking for a packable option for intense outdoor pursuits. Very long, stretchy sleeves end in comfortable thumbloops that can also be ignored and easily pushed up your arms. An extended hem and deep drop hem offer exceptional torso coverage even for climbing. We're less enamored with the lumpy look of the oversized 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 is it.
REASONS TO BUY
Very stretchy
Comfortable thumbholes
Extended coverage
Packable
Very breathable
Great warmth-to-weight ratio
REASONS TO AVOID
Chest pocket looks bad
Oddly long cut
Light colors are see through

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award   
Price $89 List
$66.73 at REI
$49.48 at Backcountry
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$38.91 at Amazon
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$110 List
$110.00 at Amazon
$59.96 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Very stretchy, comfortable thumbholes, extended coverage, packable, very breathable, great warmth-to-weight ratioSoft interior, pockets are high enough for hip belts, robust wind guards on zippers, easy to layerInstantly cozy, soft and fluffy, affordable, lots of color optionsWarm thumbholes, easier layering, solid coverage, good breathabilityVery cozy, warm, oversized fit is relaxing to wear, comfy kangaroo pocket, hood drawstring, unique side ventilation
Cons Chest pocket looks bad, oddly long cut, light colors are see throughShorter torso and sleeves, less stretchy, stiff zippers and wind guard make hood awkwardNo pockets, challenging to layer, not breathable, less wind resistantLess stretchy, cuffs are slightly scratchy, hood is an odd fitNot a great performance piece, bulky and difficult to layer over, no secure pockets
Bottom Line This lightweight fleece features good technical performance and coverage, a great warmth-to-weight ratio, and a reasonable priceA simple and lightweight sweatshirt-like jacket that's comfortable to wear, if lacking in a few detailsA simple pullover with a classic design that's cozy, relaxed, easy to love, and affordableA lightweight hoody with comfortable thumbholes, good breathability, and ease of layeringAn oversized fit adds relaxation vibes we can sleep in, with fluffiness inside and out and wide sweatshirt cuffs
Rating Categories Outdoor Research Vi... The North Face Cany... Columbia Benton Spr... Mountain Hardwear S... Kari Traa Rothe Hoodie
Warmth (25%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.5
Comfort (25%)
6.5
7.0
7.5
5.0
7.5
Versatility (20%)
7.0
6.5
6.0
6.0
4.0
Breathability (15%)
9.0
7.0
4.0
8.0
5.5
Layering Ability (15%)
7.0
7.5
4.0
7.0
3.0
Specs Outdoor Research Vi... The North Face Cany... Columbia Benton Spr... Mountain Hardwear S... Kari Traa Rothe Hoodie
Type Lightweight Lightweight Midweight Lightweight Midweight
Main Material 94% polyester, 6% spandex 96% recycled polyester, 4% elastane Polyester Polyester Polyester
Cuff Construction Same fabric as jacket Elastic cuff Elastic cuff Elastic band Elastic sweatshirt cuff
Weight 8.9 oz 10.6 oz 10.4 oz 11.5 oz 14.1 oz
Hood Option? No Yes No Yes Yes
Number of Pockets 1 chest 2 hand None 2 hand 1 passthrough
Features Thumbholes, flat seam construction, UPF 30, moisture wicking, off-shoulder seams, no armpit seams, chin guard Chin guard, elastic hood hem, full length wind guard Comfort stretch, extended collar Thumb holes, chin guard, elastic hood hem, off-shoulder seams 2 side zips for easy on/off, drawstring hood, chin guard

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Outdoor Research Vigor Quarter Zip is a lightweight, hoodless fleece without a hood (though other hooded versions of the Vigor are available). It's made of 94% polyester and 6% spandex and has a single, large zippered chest pocket. It features thumbholes, flat seams placed away from areas that chafe, a zipper chin guard, a moisture-wicking interior, and UPF 30.

Performance Comparison


outdoor research vigor quarter zip for women fleece jacket review - the or vigor is a great layer for mild fall days and cool ocean...
The OR Vigor is a great layer for mild fall days and cool ocean breezes, as found here on a fall day overlooking Bixby Bridge on California's Highway 1.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Warmth


As a lightweight fleece, the OR Vigor doesn't offer the same level of warmth as a midweight or thicker fleece. It also lacks a hood for extra protection. However, for its thickness and weight, the Vigor 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 designed into their ends, allowing you to keep the backs of your hands covered without losing grip or movement in your hands.


The torso of the Vigor is much longer than any other model we tested. Combined with extensive stretchiness, this fleece shirt easily covers most of the bums of many of our testers when standing and maintains torso coverage through elongated movements like cycling, climbing, and setting up camp. This additional coverage and the ability to maintain that coverage through all kinds of exercise and activities add a type of warmth that almost no other fleece can match. On the other hand, the thinner fabric of this shirt doesn't block wind or protect from serious cold without staying in motion.

Exploring Big Sur in the OR Vigor.
Exploring Big Sur in the OR Vigor.
Testing the water temperature in Big Sur State Park.
Testing the water temperature in Big Sur State Park.

Comfort


The OR Vigor specializes in comfort of movement rather than comfort of 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, all the comfortable features of this shirt are in how well it moves with you. The sleeves are very long and the thumbholes are wide and stretchy, adding to their comfort and wearability.


The stretchiness of the Vigor lends itself to a variety of body types. That elasticity also makes wearing the collar zipped all the way up against the cold actually comfortable. We appreciate the wide chin guard that 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 large enough to hold a cell phone out of the way of your harness or hip belt. However, it lays a bit lumpy on your chest. Though this has no bearing on its comfort, it detracts from the aesthetic of this fleece in non-technical situations.

outdoor research vigor quarter zip for women fleece jacket review - it's comfortable to wear the vigor all the way zipped up.
It's comfortable to wear the Vigor all the way zipped up.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Versatility


The Outdoor Research Vigor quickly soaks up water (like most of the fleeces we tested). Its thinner fabric more quickly transfers that water through to your baselayer or skin underneath, but that thin fabric also dries much faster than many others. 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.


The size Small we tested weighs 8.9 ounces, which is several ounces lighter than most other fleeces, including most lightweight models — even considering the longer torso of the Vigor, which means more material. It's exceptionally easy to ball up and cram in a small daypack or carry-on bag. This is another plus for this model when taking along on technical pursuits, where weight and compressibility matter.

outdoor research vigor quarter zip for women fleece jacket review - the thumbhole of the vigor is just an extension and cutaway of the...
The thumbhole of the Vigor is just an extension and cutaway of the sleeve's cuff, making it comfortable and highly useful.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Breathability


The OR Vigor is one of the most breathable fleeces we tested. Breathability is often a tradeoff for wind protection. This pullover isn't super protective in the wind, but it's breathable enough for heat to escape while working hard during active pursuits. We love this layer for high-intensity activities like running, backpacking steep hills, and climbing.


Even without any formal vents, the Vigor is impressively breathable. The 1/4 zip and medium height collar allow you to comfortably unzip it as far as you need when you're really working up a sweat. Because the sleeves end in just regular cuffs (which also create the thumbholes), they are simple and comfortable to pull up your forearms as you heat up. This is an ideal layer for active endeavors on chilly days.

outdoor research vigor quarter zip for women fleece jacket review - body heat can escape between the squares of fleece inside the or...
Body heat can escape between the squares of fleece inside the OR Vigor.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Layering Ability


Due to the Vigor 's slim fit and its propensity to show wrinkles of anything underneath, it's best worn over a next-to-skin layer rather than a loose-fitting top. Lighter colors are also a bit see-through, so wearing a white version of this shirt over a black baselayer makes that underlayer clearly visible.


On the flip side, because this fleece fits more like a shirt, it's easy to toss other layers on over it. Whether you're using the thumbholes or not, both ways feel fine with a puffy jacket or shell on top. While functionally, this works, it may look a little strange. We found that the extra long torso sticks out quite a ways under most jackets. This doesn't necessarily detract from its layering ability, but we don't love the way it looks when we do.

outdoor research vigor quarter zip for women fleece jacket review - the large chest pocket of the vigor is certainly useful when wearing...
The large chest pocket of the Vigor is certainly useful when wearing a hip belt or harness, but it also looks odd and lays sort of lumpy against our chests.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Should You Buy the Outdoor Research Vigor?


The OR Vigor is one of the more reasonably priced fleece jackets we tested. This is an obvious draw, and we think it's an excellent value for a highly technical piece that performs very well under trying conditions. However, for anyone looking for a fleece jacket that's plush and cozy and great for hanging around camp in, the thin, lightweight, shirt-like Vigor is not the one we'd recommend. 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 a great option for winter climbers, backpackers, and runners.

What Other Fleece Jacket Should You Consider?


If you crave a little more protection against precipitation and wind, the Voormi High-E Hoodie is a great choice. 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. But if you like the sound of this shirt-like fleece for full days of heart-pumping adventures, we solidly recommend the more affordable OR Vigor.

outdoor research vigor quarter zip for women fleece jacket review - the or vigor is a breathable fleece pullover that's lightweight and...
The OR Vigor is a breathable fleece pullover that's lightweight and versatile for many adventures and travels.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Maggie Nichols
 
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