The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody - Women's Review

As one of the most breathable pieces tested, it performs well as an activewear piece through three seasons.
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Price:  $249 List | $157.20 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Breathable, mobile face fabric, cozy fleece liner, technical features, helmet compatible
Cons:  Not super warm or wind resistant
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 12, 2018
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 12
  • Warmth - 25% 4
  • Weight & Compression - 20% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 4
  • Comfort & Coziness - 15% 9
  • Breathability - 15% 10
  • Style & Fit - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody provides a unique balance of breathability and mobility, earning it a Notable Mention. The active Polartec Alpha Insulation keeps you relatively warm in mild conditions, while the mobile face fabric does a decent job at wicking away a light rain or a soft gust of wind. That said, it is not weatherproof by any means, requiring a shell to keep you completely protected from the elements. Besides, it's not a warm jacket. Our testers wore it while climbing, hiking, biking and more and found it to be an excellent activewear piece. But, it's not our top choice as a "hang-around town" jacket, especially in colder conditions. Take this highly breathable, well-fitted, and stylish activewear jacket on your next hike, bike, or ski. Just leave it home if the weather calls for temps that dip below freezing.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody is one of the most breathable and mobile insulated jackets out there. Take it with you on your next aerobic adventure.

Performance Comparison


Steph sports the uber-breathable OR Women's Ascendant Hoody that is perfectly cozy for morning coffee before climbing in Indian Creek.
Steph sports the uber-breathable OR Women's Ascendant Hoody that is perfectly cozy for morning coffee before climbing in Indian Creek.

Warmth


Featuring 95 g/m2 Polartec Alpha Direct (100% polyester), this jacket provides decent warmth for the months of Spring and Fall. 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 30's and 40's. That said, it does have a hem-line cinch cord and a well-fitted hood that helps to lock in any generated warmth.

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.
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.

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.
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.

When zipping up the jacket and rolling it into its hood, we were able to compress it to a smaller size without the use of a smaller stuff sack, which was very helpful on missions where it needed to be stuffed away. Overall, even though this quilted contender doesn't have its own stow-away system, it was a great lightweight piece that can still be used for lightweight missions.

Weather Resistance


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.

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.
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.

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. Also, 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.

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 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 (a weird place) that can cinch down the hem to keep out snow or lock in warmth.

A look at the cinch cord.
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.
Elastic cuffs are featured here.

Breathability


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.

Here we wear the OR Ascendant on a snowy (yet warm) hike with friends.
Here we wear the OR Ascendant on a snowy (yet warm) hike with friends.

The North Face Ventrix Hood is our Top Pick for Breathability because it regulates through a broader range of temperatures. However, the OR Ascendant provides better breathability overall. The Ventrix has a heavier face fabric with a burlier liner allowing it to regulate well in colder conditions. That said, if we had to choose a jacket to wear while exercising vigorously on a cold winter morning or during a hike in the Fall or Spring, this would be our top option.

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. While we liked the style of the jacket, it didn't stand out above any of the other jackets.

A look at the relative fit of this jacket. We liked its looser fit and longer arms and torso.
A look at the relative fit of this jacket. We liked its looser fit and longer arms and torso.

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.

If you're not into hoods, the OR Ascendant is also available in a jacket or vest-style design.

Best Applications


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.

Steph enjoys a warm Fall hike at Indian Creek.
Steph enjoys a warm Fall hike at Indian Creek.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.
This jacket is lightweight, mobile, and breathable. A perfect active wear piece.


Amber King