Outdoor Research Whirlwind Pullover - Women's Review
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 pullover is ready to go.
This light and loose pullover is excellent for a lot of things, but inclement weather is not one of them. It's 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 the Whirlwind 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.
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, feeling more like a second skin than a jacket. Many models 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.
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 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.
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. It also has a pocket that doubles as a stuff sack, making it easy and convenient to take with you on all kinds of adventures.
We judged versatility by looking at features, style, durability, and the ability of each piece to move between different kinds of activities. Aspects of the Whirlwind are quite versatile, but only within certain seasons and activities. It has 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 obviously isn't the 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 of climbing, though the main body stayed pristine even after getting sent to the washing machine. The Whirlwind also has a bit of a baggy fit, something certain folks will love for ease of layering underneath but that others don't like because the extra fabric can get in the way when climbing.
This layer provides great value. Well-made technical gear is never super cheap, but this comes close. Definitely recommended for the price and performance level.
For the adventure-minded folks out there that want a mildly protective spring, summer, and early fall layer that can handle high body temps and sustained exertion, consider the Whirlwind. It's not meant for overly 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 layer along too if there's any chance of the weather going bad. This thin jacket will easily fit underneath, and you'll be glad for the extra protection.
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