I don’t often have a new favorite piece of gear; I have a piece that I really like or one that I dislike, and reasons why. Last year, I wore the Uberlayer Hooded Jacket by Outdoor Research and it became a fast favorite. Here’s why: This layer is well-constructed high-tech hoody that works great for all of my winter activities. It’s the perfect mid-layer but works well as a stand-alone piece as well. The inner is soft while the outer has top-notch water-repelling ability. The material consists of 100% nylon 30D stretch woven shell + 100% polyester stretch mesh lining + Polartec® Alpha Insulation.
I love the way that it shapes my body, and I especially love the way that it feels when I’m reaching my arms above my head. Whether swinging ice tools or placing a cam, the mobility is great. Be sure to size appropriately though, as this hoody has a trim athletic fit. The stretchy shell gives this piece great overall mobility for people who like to be active in colder temps, which is a fantastic feature for climbers.
Polartec insulation helps to regulate body temperature. The outer shell is tough, which means that it will hold its own against abrasion. This layer has proven itself in cold weather and my body doesn’t overheat when I’m wearing it and on the go. The breathability factor is primo. The Uberlayer Hooded Jacket served its purpose last year, proving to be a great all-year-round jacket, super comfortable and versatile.
However…the Uberlayer is being phased out (which means if you can find it, it’s likely well-discounted! Definitely snatch one up if you have the chance—for the price, it can’t be beat.)
The Ascendant Hoody by Outdoor Research would be a wise, affordable alternative. The Ascendant Hoody is my current go-to choice for any sort of climb, whether rock or ice. I thought I loved my Uberlayer, but the Ascendant knocked it out of the park with its outstanding comfort, unbeatable protection from weather, and versatility. This jacket works well as an outer layer alone or mid-layer.
What makes this jacket an instant favorite? The stretch-woven Pertex Microlight 20D ripstop outer layer and the wicking Polartec Alpha Insulation (100% polyester) combo creates active insulation. Stretchy mesh lining will manage moisture when you’re moving, and Polartec insulation is both breathable and water-resistant. While I wouldn’t recommend wearing it for torrential downpours or dripping wet ice climbs, if you’re rocking it somewhere in between, I think you’ll be pleased. These features make the Ascendant Hoody perfect for both uphill slogs, downhill ski runs, vertical ascents and more. The average weight of this jacket is 10.9oz (for a size medium).
The Ascendant Hoody will offer four-season functionality, which means I can cruise rock ice climbs in it and stay comfortable as well as whatever the opposite of cruise is on ice climbs and remain warm and dry. This piece will keep you warm on those cold mornings but remain breathable while you’re moving. For the well-rounded outdoorist who love everything from ice and rock climbing to backcountry touring to just being outside—this could be the versatile piece of gear you didn’t know you were missing!
Comparing the two hoodies, the Ascendant has a little less warmth, much more breathability, and more water resistance. The Uberlayer is about an 1″ smaller in the chest, otherwise, they fit the same. If you’re like me, and uncertain of what size you might be, you can use the chart below to help.
Whether an avid adventurer, casual recreation, or outdoor professional, you’ll find something to love in either hoody.
The Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody retails for $215 and is currently on sale. You can purchase your own Ascendant Hoody here. The Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket retails for $315 and is currently on sale. You can purchase your own Uberlayer Hooded Jacket here.
Disclosure: I am currently an athlete on the Outdoor Research team. As always, all opinions are based on my own personal research and are both honest and my own.
All photographs, unless otherwise mentioned, are courtesy of Outdoor Research.