Outdoor Research (OR) Incandescent Hoody Preview

Image: Outdoor Research’s 2012 Ad Campaign

First of all, this is not a review.  I have not yet used this jacket, so this is just a highlight, or a preview.

Second, though I haven’t used this jacket, I have used similar jackets to it (jackets made of the same materials and the same weight, just slightly different features) so I feel like I have a pretty good guess of what the jacket will offer.

With that said, let me tell you a little about one of my very favorite jackets that rarely gets used.  It’s the Rab Neutrino Endurance jacket.  This jacket is great!  It is pretty light, pretty packable, offers great glove-friendly features, and fits quite nicely.  The only reason why I don’t use it much is because it is too warm.  An in-depth review of this jacket here: http://gearthirty.com/blog/2012/05/04/gear30-review-rab-neutrino-endurance-down-jacket/

Over the years I have graduated from heavier down jackets to lighter and lighter jackets, realizing with each jacket that it is warmer than I really need.  I started with a Mountain Hardwear Subzero SL Jacket.  This jacket was big, baffled, and heavy.  It weighed about 36oz.  On a backcountry skiing trip I bragged to a friend that my jacket was so warm that I didn’t need to zip it up.  In fact, if I moved in it I started to overheat.  When he shook his head at me in disapproval and then showed me his Rab Neutrino, I was ashamed at my ignorance.  His jacket was so much lighter and he was still plenty warm.

A couple years later I got a Neutrino.  I saved almost a pound of weight without sacrificing much warmth.  Unfortunately that jacket was also too warm to use, especially if I was moving around at all.  When my wife and I climbed Rainier last May, I took the Neutrino.  I don’t think I put the jacket on until we reached the summit and stood around for a few minutes to take pictures.  When we started hiking down, I promptly overheated and had to take it off.

So now I am intrigued by the new crop of ultralight jackets that offer enough warmth and weather resistance for most any winter outing in the lower 48, while still weighing almost a half pound less than the Neutrino (they are right around 16oz) and packing up to slightly bigger than 1-liter bottle size.

The first jacket that really caught my eye was the Rab Infinity jacket.  At 16oz, it quickly became a popular option for winter alpine climbing and mountaineering.  I know a few good climbers that love this jacket.  The jacket is incredibly lofty and warm for its weight, but the cut is a little short and boxy for my taste and shape.

So, when I saw that Outdoor Research Incandescent Hoody at the Outdoor Retailers show, I was very intrigued.  It looked to be almost a rip off of the Rab Infinity.  Like the Infinity, it used 10 denier Pertex Quantum fabric, a very simple design (i.e. no hood or cuff adjustments, etc), weighed about the same, and looked kind of similar.  When I tried it on, however, I liked the fit better than the Infinity. The length seemed a little longer, which I prefer, and the body seemed a little trimmer.  It instantly became part of my “to buy” list.

The Features

  • 10 Denier Pertex Quantum fabric
  • 800 fill-power goose down
  • Sewn-through baffled construction
  • Two taffeta-lined, zippered pockets (taffeta is like a fleece but lighter)
  • One external chest pocket
  • Lycra-trimmed hood
  • Elasticized, taffeta-lined cuffs
  • Hem drawcord
  • Double-slider front zipper
  • The jacket stuffs into pocket for easy storage
  • Weighs 16.4oz in men’s size medium and 15.4oz in women’s size medium, according to my postal scale

The Pictures

The Outdoor Research Men’s Incandescent Hoody in Leaf (green) and Abyss (blue).  Both colors look great, especially in real life.

The Outdoor Research Women’s Incandescent Hoody in color Zin (deep red with pink highlights).  This color looks way better in real life, even though the color in the picture looks good.

Women’s and Men’s Incandescent Hoodies

The zig zag sewn-through baffles give the jacket a distinct look and help keep the down from shifting.  Notice the jacket has a chest pocket and two handwarmer pockets (even though you can only see one in this picture).  The chest pocket and handwarmer pockets are all situated behind a layer of down so that items kept in these pockets stay warm from body heat.

This jacket has a two-way zipper, allowing one to unzip from the bottom to keep the jacket out of the way of a belay device while climbing or to vent a little while hiking.  The baffles in both the front and back of the jacket are sewn through, but the front of the jacket has an additional layer of fabric that is not sewn through to help stop drafts of cold air that may come through at the seams.

The jacket has two handwarmer pockets that are taffeta-lined.  This lining is soft against the hands.  The  jacket is designed to stuff into its right hand pocket.  Because of the soft, taffeta lining, the jacket can double as a nice pillow when stuffed.  The right pocket zipper has a slider pull on the inside.  The pockets are just the right size for bare hands, but are on the slightly small side with gloves on.  The pocket opening also feels slightly small when stuffing the jacket, though it really isn’t difficult to stuff.

This is the right hand pocket.  The zipper has an internal zipper pull to zip the pocket shut when the jacket is stuffed.

The jacket stuffed into its own pocket.  This jacket easily fits into the pocket and could be further compressed to almost the size of the bottle.

The top side of the pocket is lined with taffeta and is soft.  The jacket would make a nice pillow for backpacking.

The zipper is lined with a stiffer, snag-resistant material.  The vislon zippers slide very smoothly.

The shell material is a 10 denier Pertex Quantum.  It is one of the lightest materials on the market and one of the strongest nylon materials for its weight.  It is also quite water resistant thanks to its extremely tight weave of very fine threads and a high thread count.  It is also coated with a DWR to enhance its weather resistance.  Though very tough for its weight, I’d still be pretty careful with it while bushwhacking or climbing on sharp and abrasive rocks.  One of the main reasons I would buy the Outdoor Research Incandescent over similar jackets from another brand is because Outdoor Research offers a no questions asks lifetime warranty.  That’s something that pretty much no other outdoor apparel company offers.  When it comes to ultralight apparel, that’s a huge deal for me.  I’d hate to take a jacket out for the first time and tear the fabric on a rock.  I try not to abuse the system, but knowing that my own stupidity is covered helps me enjoy using the product a little more.

I’m 6’2″ and about 185lbs.  This jacket is a medium.  The jacket extends to about the middle of my butt in the back and a couple inches below my belt in the front.  The Medium is just about the perfect size for me over the top of a t-shirt, but wouldn’t be quite roomy enough over other layers while climbing.  If I wanted to use the jacket as a belay jacket, I’d size up and get a large.    If I intended to use this jacket for backpacking or for wearing around town, I’d get the medium.  The sleeves are plenty long, something I have had a problem with in other jackets.  The hem is pretty snug, even without the hem drawcord pulled tight.  I personally like the snug feel (because it keeps drafts out and I don’t like jackets riding up when I’ve pulled the hem drawcord), but it may be problematic for those blessed with a more, uhh, athletic rump.  A tight hem didn’t seem to be a problem among the females trying on the women’s version.

Jacket length extends to about mid-rump.  It seemed to fit slightly longer and trimmer than the Rab Infinity.

The hood fits quite nicely with and without a helmet.  The edge of the hood is elasticized which allows the hood to stay put on the face without drawcords and other adjustments.

The hood with a helmet.  The extra volume of the helmet pulls the jacket up to about the mouth.  There is just the right amount of space in the neck to comfortably accommodate my chin and mouth.  I think this is the ideal fit for a hood because if I’m climbing and it’s cold enough to want a hood on, I usually want my face covered a little as well.  It is easy enough to unzip a few inches if you don’t like your face covered.

Here’s the women’s version again with the jacket open to show off the color.  Everybody I talked to agreed that this color is awesome!  The fit of the women’s version is longer and flattering.  I tried to talk my wife into getting the Rab Infinity, but when she tried it on it was a little too short (she’s pretty tall; 5’8″) and too boxy of a cut for her.  She really liked the fit of this jacket though.  She is 5’8″ and about 135lbs.  The medium fit her nicely.

The Verdict

Needless to say, I’m very excited about this jacket, but because I haven’t used this jacket yet, I’m not going to give it a rating.  I think it will be a very popular jacket among backpackers, climbers, and backcountry skiers because of its extremely high warmth-to-weight ratio and packability.  I think if I were in the market for a jacket like this, this would be the one I would choose.  If you were concerned about the water resistance of this jacket, another good option would be the Rab Infinity Endurance.  It is about the same weight but has a Pertex Endurance membrane on the shell fabric which gives it more water resistance.  The Rab Infinity and the Infinity Endurance both use 850+ fill power goose down which is just slightly loftier than the OR 800+ fill power down.  But, because it is the Rab Infinity, the cut is a little different than the OR Incandescent.

Follow my GEAR:30 thread here: Greg Reynolds Posts

 

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