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Outdoor Research Whirlwind Pullover - Women's Review

This thin pullover is perfect for when you just need that little bit of extra protection while standing in the sun, working up a sweat, or shimmying up a rock face.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $115 List | $115.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Super breathable, great sun layer, excellent mobility, chest pocket doubles as stuff sack, thumb loop
Cons:  Not warm, less durable than other options, hem adjustment piece is bulky
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 22, 2019
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 15
  • Weather Protection - 30% 3
  • Breathability - 30% 10
  • Mobility - 25% 10
  • Weight - 10% 10
  • Versatility - 5% 6

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Whirlwind Pullover is a simple yet effective layer for warmer weather outings. It's thin like a sunshirt with excellent breathability — perfect for trail running when there's just a bit of a breeze or keeping the sun off your back while climbing. Mobility is top notch and with a helmet-compatible hood and a chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack, versatility is pretty high too. All of this at a very approachable price point meant choosing this pullover for a Best Buy award was a no-brainer.

The one thing this layer isn't meant for is cold. If you'd rather have a softshell that can withstand intense wind or moisture, be sure to read about the Arc'teryx Gamma MX Hoody, our Editors' Choice for Cold Temps. If you'd like to stay light and cheap but prefer a full front zip to a pullover, our other Best Buy winner, the Rab Borealis, may be a great fit.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award 
Price $115.00 at Amazon$124.93 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$114.95 at Amazon$194.73 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$322.00 at Amazon
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Star Rating
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Pros Super breathable, great sun layer, excellent mobility, chest pocket doubles as stuff sack, thumb loopHighly breathable, quick-drying, harness and helmet compatible, stowable hood, durableVery lightweight, excellent mobility, highly breathable, great fit, affordable.Full-legth side zippers, excellent fit, windproof, lined, thumbholesEasy mobility, breathable, helmet-compatible hood, excellent fit, comfortable
Cons Not warm, less durable than other options, hem adjustment piece is bulkyNot very warm, only one pocketNot warm, only two pocketsLess breathable due to windproofing, expensivePricey, non-adjustable cuffs
Bottom Line This thin pullover is perfect for when you just need that little bit of extra protection while standing in the sun, working up a sweat, or shimmying up a rock face.This lightweight and streamlined pullover is a fabulously durable layer that breathes like a dream and dries lightning fast.This smart and ultralight softshell is extremely easy to move in and highly breathable - an excellent pick for the movement-minded adventure seeker.This innovative hoody ups the ante with great features like full-length side zips, fantastic mobility, and excellent weather protection.For the best all-around softshell we've found, look no further than this stretchy, breathable, and attractive layer.
Rating Categories Whirlwind Pullover Sigma SL Anorak Pullover Rab Borealis - Women's Ultimate V SO Hooded Jacket Gamma MX Hoody
Weather Protection (30%)
10
0
3
10
0
7
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
9
Breathability (30%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
6
Mobility (25%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weight (10%)
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
6
Versatility (5%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
9
Specs Whirlwind Pullover Sigma SL Anorak... Rab Borealis -... Ultimate V SO... Gamma MX Hoody
Measured Weight - Size Medium (oz) 8.2oz 9.5oz 8.3oz 13.1oz 17.1oz
Material 86% recycled polyester, 14% spandex, 75D stretch woven Aequora Airperm - 86% nylon, 14% elastane Lightweight Matrix single weave with 2-way stretch and DWR 100% polyester Fortius 2.0 - Face: 85% nylon, 15% elastane. Backer: 94% polyester, 6% elastane, DWR finish
Lined/Insulated? No No No Yes Yes
Hood Yes, 1-way adjustable Yes, 2-way adjustable Yes, stretchy but not adjustable Yes, 1-way adjustable Yes, 2-way adjustable
Helmet Compatible? Yes Yes Yes, underneath Yes, underneath Yes
Wind Resistant? Yes Yes Yes Yes, windproof Yes
Water Resistant? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Number of Pockets (zippered unless otherwise noted) 1 chest 1 chest 2 hand 2 hand 4 (2 hand, 1 chest, 1 sleeve)
Adjustable Cuffs? No No No Yes No
Available Sizes XS - XL XS - L XS - XL XS - XXL XS - L

Our Analysis and Test Results

Light, breathable, and ultra comfy, that's the Whirlwind in a nutshell. If you need just a little extra protection while out on a windy trail or up on a sunny rockface, this Best Buy winner is ready to go.

Performance Comparison


The breathable and stretchy Whirlwind is perfect for spring climbing in the desert.
The breathable and stretchy Whirlwind is perfect for spring climbing in the desert.

Weather Protection


This light and mobile pullover is excellent for a lot of things, but inclement weather is not one of them (though it's effortless to throw a warmer layer on over it.)


The Whirlwind is a pretty decent wind barrier, but it won't keep you warm if the temperature of that wind is frigid. It's very thin, and there's no lining. And while the material is water repellent enough to keep light sprinkles at bay, as soon as water is even slightly persistent it will quickly soak through. It's best to think of this piece as a sunshirt with perks instead of a serious jacket. If you even barely suspect the weather could get nasty, bring an additional layer to wear over this one.

Light sprinkles will stay beaded on the surface of the Whirlwind for a time  but if it persists you'll be soaked through in no time.
Light sprinkles will stay beaded on the surface of the Whirlwind for a time, but if it persists you'll be soaked through in no time.

Breathability


When it comes to breathing like a second skin, the Whirlwind is an obvious winner — our testers didn't feel like they were wearing a jacket at all.


As softshells get more specialized, it's essential to consider what you plan to use yours for before purchasing. While some models try to do it all — protect, breathe, and move all while barely tipping the scale — the reality is that each jacket will have something it's more suited for. The Whirlwind is meant to breathe while your heart rate is up and provide a non-constrictive barrier from wind, sun, and rock. And it does these things splendidly. Many jackets feel clammy and overbearing very quickly if you're exerting yourself, but this pullover resoundingly does not. And even if you're pouring sweat, you can be assured that you'll be back to dry in very little time.

Because the Whirlwind breathes so well it's great as a sun layer  whether you're moving or standing still. The deep front zip also provides excellent options for ventilation.
Because the Whirlwind breathes so well it's great as a sun layer, whether you're moving or standing still. The deep front zip also provides excellent options for ventilation.

Mobility


This is another category where the Whirlwind shines, feeling more like a long-sleeve shirt than a jacket. Thin stretch-woven material means you don't have to give movement a second thought.


Whether you're wearing a harness, backpack, running vest, or just this pullover by itself, we guarantee you won't feel held back while moving. We felt the slightest constriction in the back of the neck when wearing the hood over a helmet, but that's really nitpicking. We also noticed when climbing that the plastic device for tightening the hem is bulky and can poke into your side, but again: nitpicking. The overall consensus from all our testers is that this is a layer you'll want to reach for when you're going outside to play in warmer months of the year.

You can easily forget you're wearing a jacket with this low-profile pullover.
You can easily forget you're wearing a jacket with this low-profile pullover.

Weight


Once again, the Whirlwind takes home a top score. At 8.2 ounces for a size medium, this is the lightest item in our review.


Not only is this pullover light as can be it also has a pocket that doubles as a stuff sack. This makes it easy and convenient to take with you on all kinds of adventures.

You will barely notice the featherlight Whirlwind on your harness or in your pack. It's shown here with it's slightly heavier cousin  the Ferrosi. Both pack into a pocket and offer a carabiner loop for transport.
You will barely notice the featherlight Whirlwind on your harness or in your pack. It's shown here with it's slightly heavier cousin, the Ferrosi. Both pack into a pocket and offer a carabiner loop for transport.

Versatility


Aspects of the Whirlwind are quite versatile, but only within certain seasons and activities.


We judged versatility by looking at features, style, durability, and the ability of each piece to move between different kinds of activities. This piece is decently featured with stretchy material, thumb loops, a stuff sack pocket, helmet-compatible hood, and excellent breathability and mobility. Style-wise it's pretty sporty looking, and while you can undoubtedly go easily from a trail run to a multi-pitch climb in the spring and summer, this isn't a softshell for skiing in the snow or glacier hiking in torrential winds. We did also see a bit of wear and tear on the cuffs after just a few days climbing, though the main body stayed pristine even after getting sent to the washing machine. This piece also has a bit of a baggy fit which some people don't like while others love. If you want a more fitted jacket — particularly through the sleeves — look at the Borealis or our Editors' Choice-winning Arc'teryx Sigma SL Anorak Pullover.

The Whirlwind offers very simple thumb loops that  while not the most comfortable  are still nice to have.
The Whirlwind offers very simple thumb loops that, while not the most comfortable, are still nice to have.

Best Application


The Whirlwind Pullover is best suited for spring and summer outings such as hiking, biking, trail running, and rock climbing. It provides a truly decent wind barrier, adequate water resistance, and superb breathability. If you want something to protect your skin from sun and breeze while not sacrificing any of your body's ability to move or breathe, this definitely a piece to consider.

If you're looking for just that extra bit of breezy-and-sunny weather protection while out on the trail or up on the wall  consider the Whirlwind.
If you're looking for just that extra bit of breezy-and-sunny weather protection while out on the trail or up on the wall, consider the Whirlwind.

Value


We obviously feel this layer is a great value, hence the Best Buy award! While well-made technical gear is never super cheap, this comes close. For the price, this is a great layer.

Conclusion


For the adventure-minded folks out there that want a mildly protective spring and summer layer that can handle high body temps and sustained exertion, consider the Whirlwind. It's not meant for cold or wet conditions, but when it comes to breezes, sprinkles, and sun, this is a great layer to have on your harness. It breathes incredibly well, moves with complete ease, and weighs barely over half a pound. The longer we wore this layer, the more we enjoyed it, especially at the approachable price point. Just bring another more substantial layer along too if there's any chance of the weather going bad. This thin jacket will easily layer underneath, and you'll be glad for the extra protection.

We loved hanging out in the sunny (but still chilly!) desert for a spring testing session with our jackets. The Whirlwind was a favorite for those sunny breezy days where we just need a little something extra to feel at ease.
We loved hanging out in the sunny (but still chilly!) desert for a spring testing session with our jackets. The Whirlwind was a favorite for those sunny breezy days where we just need a little something extra to feel at ease.


Penney Garrett