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Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hoodie Review

Highly featured and even higher performing, this cost-effective option provides a hard-to-beat value
outdoor research vigor full zip hoodie fleece jacket review
Credit: Outdoor Research
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $110 List | $79.16 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Breathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athletics
Cons:  Average weather resistance
Manufacturer:   Outdoor Research
By James Lucas and Buck Yedor  ⋅  Nov 14, 2022
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 10
  • Warmth - 20% 7.0
  • Comfort - 20% 8.0
  • Breathability - 20% 9.0
  • Layering Ability - 15% 9.0
  • Weight - 15% 8.0
  • Weather resistance - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hood is a lightweight fleece built for action. Made from a grid fleece fabric that is highly breathable and sweat-wicking, it's a great piece to use as part of a layering system or when you're expecting high-intensity output days. At first glance, this hoodie is reminiscent of the Patagonia R1, but it brings a few different aspects to the table. Though it weighs almost two ounces more, it's less bulky and more comfortable while climbing or hiking. The lightweight nature and breathability of the material do come at the cost of some warmth, but this is an excellent piece if you're looking to be comfortable during cold-weather athletic pursuits.

Editor's Note: This product was retested and the review was updated on November 14, 2022.

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Price $79.16 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Breathable, lightweight, inexpensive, comfortable for athleticsAthletic fit and performance, breathable, technically proficientLightweight, easy to layer, breathable,Affordable, cozy, simpleInexpensive, warm, comfortable
Cons Average weather resistanceThin with little warmth, little leisure wear transition,Thin with lower warmth, no hood, few featuresPoor layering, bulky, lacks breathabilityBulky, hoodless, poor layering
Bottom Line Highly featured and even higher performing, this cost-effective option provides a hard-to-beat valueThis highly technical fleece works well during high-intensity outdoor activity by offering performance and breathabilityThis simple, breathable fleece acts as a great layering piece at an excellent priceThis price-point jacket provides ample warmth and a casual feelAffordable, comfortable, and functional, this fleece offers the no-frills basics that you'd want in a jacket
Rating Categories Outdoor Research Vi... Mountain Hardwear S... Marmot Reactor 2.0 REI Co-op Groundbre... Columbia Steens Mou...
Warmth (20%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
Comfort (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Breathability (20%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Layering Ability (15%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Weather resistance (10%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Specs Outdoor Research Vi... Mountain Hardwear S... Marmot Reactor 2.0 REI Co-op Groundbre... Columbia Steens Mou...
Type Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Lightweight Midweight
Measured Weight 13 oz 13.3 oz 10.9 oz 11.6 oz 16.6 oz
Main Material 94% polyester, 6% spandex 100% polyester 100% polyester 100% polyester 100% polyester
# of Pockets 3 2 3 2 2
Unique Features Thumb holes, UPF 30, 3-panel hood with binding Raglan sleeves, thumb holes, three-piece fitted hood Windflap with roll-over chin guard, flatlock seams Stretch binding at waist and cuffs None
Hood Option Yes Yes No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Outdoor Research Vigor excels in the performance fleece arena. The lightweight grid fleece of the jacket and the thermos-regulating ActiveTemp work together to make a breathable garment that wicks away moisture when you're battling up steep hills or climbing hard routes. Three pockets, two hand warmer pockets, and a chest pocket, provide ample storage and the in-sleeve thumbholes help keep the sleeves in place while layering. The raglan sleeves and the 7% spandex in the fabric keep the jacket highly mobile. Outdoor Research made this feature-heavy, highly technical fleece at an affordable price as well, making it one of our testers' favorites for climbing around Colorado, running in the Sierra, and skiing in the backcountry. It does have a highly technical look, which makes the transition to beers afterward a little more difficult.

Performance Comparison


outdoor research vigor full zip hoodie fleece jacket review - fitting close to the body with lots of features and good...
Fitting close to the body with lots of features and good breathability, the Vigor makes for a great climbing or active wear piece at a reasonable price.
Credit: James Lucas

Warmth


Thin and featured, the Outdoor Research Vigor provides plenty of warmth while moving. The hood fits well against our tester's faces and ears allowing it to fight against the wind and the thumbholes kept the sleeves down and in place while our testers ran up the Flatirons in Colorado. The jacket fit well against the body and our testers noted few spots where heat could come be lost or wind could come into the jacket.


As suggested by the name, the Vigor works best in vigorous movement. When stationary, our testers chilled and wanted a heavier fleece or jacket. The slim, athletic fit helped our testers layer the piece though making it a warm alternative.

outdoor research vigor full zip hoodie fleece jacket review - though a bit thin, the vigor offered good warmth for active use.
Though a bit thin, the Vigor offered good warmth for active use.
Credit: James Lucas

Comfort


The 93% polyester and 7% spandex grid patterned Vigor feels soft against the skin. The addition of the spandex allowed for a bit of stretch and made for few tight spots in the garment, allowing our testers to swing their arms akimbo while warming up for their sport proj. Some of our testers noted that it fit taller and lankier bodies a bit better.


Outdoor Research added lots of customization to make this piece a bit more comfortable. The zipper has a little garage at the chin which helps keep it from biting into the face. The FlatSeam construction helped eliminate chafing though one tester noted that the pocket seams sit in a funny spot on the body. The jacket also has a long fit and a bit of a skirt feel, which makes it nice for fitting under a harness and not riding up.

outdoor research vigor full zip hoodie fleece jacket review - our testers liked the mobility they had while in the vigor. they...
Our testers liked the mobility they had while in the Vigor. They were easily able to move around in the piece and the grid fleece felt comfortable against the skin.
Credit: James Lucas

Weather resistance


While the fleece offers solid coverage with the thumbholes and form-fitting hood, the Vigor doesn't have any DWR (durable water repellent) treatment. In light rain or mists, our testers were able to move about in it and stay warm but when heavy winds came or more precipitation arrived they need to fight the chill and wetness with a heavier jacket. It does have a nice light weight and is fairly packable though.


One nice feature of the Vigor is that it has a 30 UPF rating. The additional sun protection in the light weight hoodie is certainly welcome on spring days skiing when the overhead sun blasts and the ambient temperature is still low. This gives it a sun or wind shirt aspect to it making it nice for alpine rock missions as well. Ultimately, make sure to bring a hard shell jacket or heavier layer if the forecast calls for more than a casual sprinkle.

outdoor research vigor full zip hoodie fleece jacket review - the or vigor full zip fits close to the body. the thumbholes and the...
The OR Vigor Full Zip fits close to the body. The thumbholes and the fitted hood help keep it against the skin when the weather becomes bad.
Credit: James Lucas

Weight


At 13 ounces, the Vigor Full Zip Hoodie weighs in on the lightweight end of the jackets we reviewed. The piece packs up well and can easily be stuffed into the top of a pack. The low profile hood, the streamlined zipper, the two hand warmer pockets and the chest pocket all take up little space. While the jacket could be lighter as a pullover or if it had a couple less pockets, the features add little weight to the garment.


Breathability


This jacket does best with its breathability. The thermoregulating ActiveTemp technology helps adjust to body temperatures and then facilitates wicking away sweat as does the grid-patterned thinness of the fleece. It was a favorite in terms of activewear for our testers who slogged up steep approaches in the Flatirons while wearing it.


The full-length zipper added additional breathability. When our testers were charging up hills approaching climbs or trail running on brisk mornings, they were able to start off with the hood up and the jacket fully zipped and then transitioned to pushing the sleeves up and the zipper down.

outdoor research vigor full zip hoodie fleece jacket review - the grid style of the vigor makes it highly breathable. it's also...
The grid style of the Vigor makes it highly breathable. It's also one of the lightest fleeces in this review.
Credit: James Lucas

Layering Ability


The Vigor Full Zip moves smoothly under other jackets. The three pockets don't add much bulk to the garment and the sleek zippers slide under another layer easily. This jacket has some of the best thumb loops of the jackets we reviewed with the sleeves easily staying on. The thumb loops are built into the wrists and fit over the thumb and palm of the hand well.


The length of the jacket also allows it to be tucked in under a harness and then a jacket can be worn over that. The Vigor doesn't ride up or create friction with the waist belt of a harness. Thanks to the full length zipper, this piece can easily be worn over another jacket though it's best to keep any layer underneath a bit thin as the Vigor doesn't add much warmth.

outdoor research vigor full zip hoodie fleece jacket review - the close hood and the thumbholes helped with the layering.
The close hood and the thumbholes helped with the layering.
Credit: James Lucas

Should You Buy the Outdoor Research Vigor?


The Vigor Full Zip serves adventure outdoors people quite well. It's highly breathable, light, an easy jacket to layer with, and warm. For those looking for a technical garment at a bargain price, this piece provides. The one caveat is that this jacket has less of a crag to bar feel. The technical nature of the fleece makes it look just like that- highly technical- and less of a normal outerwear jacket.

outdoor research vigor full zip hoodie fleece jacket review - the vigor offers a ton of high-end features at an inexpensive price...
The Vigor offers a ton of high-end features at an inexpensive price making it a great choice.
Credit: James Lucas

What Other Fleece Jackets Should You Consider?


The Outdoor Research Vigor Full Zip Hoodie is a high-performing fleece being offered at a great value. This full zippered hoodie is highly breathable, incredibly comfortable, and easy to layer over. The Vigor is most comparable to the Patagonia R1 Air Full Zip Hoody, but is offered at a considerably lower price point. The Patagonia R1 Air follows a similar vein in terms of a high-performance fleece, as does the Mountain Hardwear Stratus Full Zip, which is similarly priced.

James Lucas and Buck Yedor
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