The Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody is one of the most breathable and mobile insulated jackets out there. It earns a Top Pick because it off-loads heat easily while wicking away moisture with its super soft fleece-lined interior. Take it with you on your next sweaty endeavor!
Steph sports the uber-breathable OR Women's Ascendant Hoody that is perfectly cozy for morning coffee before climbing in Indian Creek.
Featuring 95 g/m2 Polartec Alpha Direct (100% polyester), this jacket provides decent warmth for the months of the Spring and Fall on its own. The breathable nature of this activewear jacket is not conducive to super cold winter days as a stand-alone piece, but it does a great job as a mid-layer in the winter time.
Our testers found it performed just fine while moving on warmer days, but it does require an extra layer (like a shell or fleece) when temperatures dip into the 30s and 40s. That said, it does have a hemline cinch cord and a well-fitted hood that helps to lock in any generated warmth. If you're seeking a great jacket to run or cross-country ski with in the winter, this is our top recommendation. It will keep you warm while you move; however, it will cool down quickly if you have to hang out in the snow for a while.
Testing in the double negatives proves to be cold but awakening. Here we wear the OR Women's Ascendent with many layers in our testing process.
Weight & Compression
Wearing this jacket is comfortable and cozy because of its lightweight nature. Weighing in at just 11.74 ounces, many of our testers mentioned that they hardly noticed it on. While it is lightweight, it does not have its own stow-away system and the quilted-face fabric design. That said, it can pack down to about the size of a small handbag.
To stash it away, we simply zip it up and roll it into its hood. By doing this, we were able to compress it to a modest size without the use of a smaller stuff sack. Overall, even though this contender doesn't have its own stow-away system, it was a great lightweight piece that can still be used for lightweight missions. The Patagonia Micro Puff is still our top choice for lightweight adventures because of its more packable and lightweight design.
While it doesn't have its own stow-away system, it still packs down relatively small into its own hood. Because the hood has a cinch, this keeps it nicely compressed.
The Pertex Microlight ripstop stretch woven shell does a great job wicking away droplets of water and keeping out a light wind. However, this jacket is thin and will not keep you dry and warm in a downpour or a wicked wind. Given its lighter design, make sure to wear a thin wind shell if you choose to wear it by itself in windy conditions; or, layer it under a rain shell when it rains.
Comfort & Coziness
This is one of the most comfortable insulated contenders we reviewed. Slipping on this gem is like wearing a soft fleece because the entire interior is lined with a super soft fleece liner. It is so warm and cozy to wear that we wanted to wrap ourselves in it even when we weren't outside. The fleece lining continues throughout the body, arms, hood and even into the pockets of the jacket. While this is super cozy and comfortable, some of our testers mentioned that the fleecy nature of the material wasn't as easy to layer as others with smoother liners.
In addition to cozy fleece, we LOVE its thin, quiet, mobile face fabric that moves with you while you dyno for a climbing hold or hike through the mountains. The zippered breast pocket is large enough to fit a regular-sized iPhone, but not much else. The handwarmer pockets are larger, accommodating gloved hands, but we didn't like that they didn't have a zipper. This made us afraid to store anything of value inside of them; that said, the breast-pocket sufficed for that function.
We compared comfort features of each jacket in this review. We especially loved jackets with fleece lining and mobile face fabrics like the OR Women's Ascendant.
The hood is helmet-compatible and provides a snug fit around the face with the pull of a string.
The stretchy fabric makes this jacket compatible with a plethora of hats and helmets. We also liked the cinch at the back.
The hemline also has a cinch cord around the back that can cinch down the hem to keep out snow or lock in warmth.
A look at the cinch cord.
The wrists are elastic (but not gusseted), allowing you to push them up quickly but are not as sleek as the Arc'teryx jacket's gusseted wrist design.
Elastic cuffs are featured here.
The Nylon 20-D face fabric and the fleece liner does an amazing job of wicking away moisture, keeping you cool on the move; this is an active piece, best used while moving onwards and upwards. While hiking in warmer desert conditions, we didn't have to take it off with just a single t-shirt underneath, as it moved moisture easily from our bodies to the air. This is one of the most breathable jackets tested.
Our favorite function is in cold weather. While it's not the warmest coat out there, it's our top choice for winter running. It off-loads heat and wicks away moisture, transferring it effectively to the exterior of the breathable face fabric, so moisture does not sit and cool next to the skin. Wear it through all four seasons for different purposes; hike, bike, ski, run!
Here we wear the OR Ascendant on a snowy (yet warm) hike with friends.
Style & Fit
Featuring a slim and athletic fit, many of our testers adored its color combinations and flattering design. The style is simple and athletic without any fancy patterning or stitching, and the continuous fabric features one color with a contrasting color along its borders and throughout the interior of the fabric.
The arms and torso are long enough to accommodate our longer-limbed testers, and the stretchy face fabric makes this jacket an excellent option for those with a larger chest or broader shoulders. Outdoor Research did an exceptional job of constructing this stylish yet straightforward hoodie jacket.
A look at the relative fit of this jacket. We liked its looser fit and longer arms and torso.
If you're not into hoods, the OR Ascendant is also available in a jacket or vest-style design.
Designed as breathable and mobile activewear piece, it is functional specific to that application. We tested it while biking, hiking, climbing, and wearing around town, and it was great for all these purposes as a wear-alone piece in the spring, fall, and summer. However, because of its lackluster performance in the warmth category, we recommend it as either a highly-aerobic winter piece or as a mid layer when the temperatures dip into the double negative digits.
Hike, climb, run, and play! This jacket is perfectly suited to be worn on its own or above/below other layers. It functions well in all four seasons, providing unbeatable breathability.
With a sticker price of $249, this is a moderately priced piece. If you're searching for an active-wear insulated jacket, this is a great option, but some jackets offer better warmth and performance for just a little bit more.
The Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody stands out for its fantastic breathability and comfort features. This lightweight insulated jacket is an ideal stand-alone piece during the warmer months or a fantastic mid-layer when the mercury dips below freezing.
This jacket is lightweight, mobile, and breathable. A perfect active wear piece.