Hands-on Gear Review

Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody - Women's Review

Price:  $249 List | $160.07 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
Bottom line:  As one of the most breathable pieces tested, it performs well as an active wear piece through three-seasons.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight (ounces):  11.74 oz
Relative Compression (1 = most compressible, 11 = least compressible):  6
Number of Pockets:  3 (2 hand, 1 zippered internal chest)
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody provides a unique balance of breathability and mobility. Touted as an active-wear piece it does best when you hike, ski, skin, or bust your butt going uphill. 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 mild 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.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Insulated Jacket for Women Review


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Amber King

Last Updated:
Friday
March 9, 2018

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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.
Steph sports the uber-breathable OR Women's Ascendant Hoody.

Warmth


Featuring 95 g/m2 Polartec Alpha Direct (100% polyester), this jacket provides decent warmth for the months of Spring and Fall. In comparison to the rest, it provides the least warmth, earning a measly four out of ten in this metric. 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.


If you're in search of a warmer option that also offers fantastic breathability, the Patagonia Nano-Air (our Top Pick for Breathability) is at the top of the list. It provides two layers of warmth - the mobile face fabric and cozy interior - that does a better job than the OR Ascendant at cutting the wind and providing a little more warmth overall. If you're looking for the warmest jacket tested that doesn't boast a whole lot of technical features, be sure to check out the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush, our Best Buy award winner suited for winter wear around town. Our Top Pick for Winter Recreation, the Arc'teryx Proton AR, is another option that is designed for winter outdoor sports, has more technical features, and hosts better warmth than most jackets in this review.

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 333 grams (the fifth lightest jacket) many of our testers mentioned that they hardly noticed it on, earning it a score of eight out of ten. While it is lightweight, it does not have its own stow-away system and the quilted-face fabric design isn't as compressible as others with a nylon-ripstop continuous fabric design, like the North Face Thermoball. That said, it can pack down to about the size of a small handbag.


We found that 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. When packed away like this, it wasn't as small as the Arc'teryx Atom LT or other contenders with a nylon face fabric. However, it was a little smaller than the Patagonia Nano Air and other jackets featuring more insulation.

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.

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. That said, if compression is a crucial consideration, be sure to check out our Top Pick for Lightweight adventures, the Patagonia Micro Puff, weighing in at just 229 grams and compressing to the lowest volume of any contender tested.

Weather Resistance


The Pertex Microlight, 100% nylon, 20D 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. Other jacket options that did a better job at keeping the elements off our skin include our Editors' Choice winner, the Rab Xenon X and the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush jacket. If you're in search of a breathable jacket that does better when it comes to protection from the weather, the Patagonia Nano-Air is the next obvious choice.

Comfort & Coziness


As one of the most comfortable insulated contenders reviewed, we are happy to give it a high score of nine out of ten. 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 a smoother liner, found in jackets like the Patagonia Nano Air and Arc'teryx Atom LT.


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.

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.

The hood is also 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 easily 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 20D face fabric and the fleece liner does an amazing job of wicking away moisture, keeping you cool on the move. This jacket is designed as a mobile 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. The jacket moved moisture easily from our bodies to the air. We are so happy with the breathability of this jacket that we gave it a score of ten out of ten in this metric!


The Patagonia Nano Air is our Top Pick for breathability, simply because can regulate through a broader range of temperatures; however, the OR Ascendant provides better breathability overall. The Nano Air 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.

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.

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. 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 and was given an average rating of six out of ten.


Similar to the Arc'teryx Atom LT the arms and torso are long enough to accommodate our longer-limbed testers. 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.
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.

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. We found 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 midlayer 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. Also, be sure to check out our Best Buy winner that does best for winter wear around town, the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Plush for just $130.

Conclusion


The Outdoor Research Women's Ascendant Hoody stands out for its fantastic breathability and comfort features. This lightweight mobile insulated jacket is a great 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

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Most recent review: March 9, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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4 star: 100%  (1)
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