Outdoor Research Refuge Air Hooded Jacket


The Outdoor Research Refuge Air Hooded Jacket offers excellent insulation, a lightweight, and has great thermo-regulation. It’s a versatile jacket well-suited for high-output winter activities like backcountry skiing and climbing.

The Refuge Air is insulated with OR’s VerticalX synthetic insulation, which combines high loft with excellent breathability and moisture management. It’s not quite as lofty as Polartec Alpha, but it’s still warm and breathes better than some similar jackets we’ve tested.

Thermo-Regulating Synthetic Insulation

The Refuge Air hooded jacket is insulated with Thermo-Regulating Synthetic Insulation, giving you supreme breathability and moisture management when working hard. You’ll be sweating less and keeping warm more quickly than with traditional insulations, so you can get more done in a day without overheating.

This synthetic insulation is a hybrid of down and synthetic materials developed by PrimaLoft, a company specializing in producing high-performance insulators. It was initially designed as a water-resistant alternative to down and is now used by top outdoor brands for their cold-weather products.

Compared to down, synthetics are much less uniform and often don’t have a comparable weight. However, most synthetics fall 50 to 130 grams per square meter (gsm), with performance-oriented jackets typically weighing 60 gsm or higher.

Breathable Fabric

Breathable fabric moves moisture away from the skin to keep you dry during aerobic activity. It also moves heat away from the body and out of the jacket when you stop moving to keep you warm.

The Outdoor Research Refuge Air Hooded Jacket uses VerticalX synthetic insulation and a breathable nylon shell for light warmth, moisture management, and breathability, making this an excellent choice for active layering. The insulation is loftier than most synthetics, giving it a soft and cozy feel reminiscent of a down puffy jacket.

The outer shell fabric is also breathable and has much stretch. It’s not as soft or supple as a Patagonia Nano-Air jacket, but it’s a good fit for a casual hiking or light winter adventure jacket.

Stop Start Insulation

Designed for active people on the move, Outdoor Research’s Refuge Air Hooded Jacket has everything you need to be warm and dry without being bulky. Its new proprietary VerticalX Air technology combines thermo-regulating insulation with supreme breathability and moisture management in an aesthetically pleasing package that packs into its pocket.

Its two zipped hand warmer pockets are oversized enough for gloves and the biggest, coldest of hands. Other features include an integrated clip-in loop, key loop, and Low-Pro binding cuffs. The jacket also isn’t cheap (it retails for over $400), so you may want to budget your cash for other essentials like a helmet, a packable rain jacket and a spare pair of ski goggles.

It may not be the sexiest hooded jacket on the market, but its Stop Start insulated trinket is a winner for the discerning outdoorsman and his dog. Whether hiking the mountains or taking your dog on the puppy’s first ski tour, you’ll be glad you did.

Versatile Design

For winter activities, the Outdoor Research Refuge Air Hooded Jacket offers light insulation that’s breathable and designed to move moisture effectively. Its VerticalX Air insulator has a warm-to-weight ratio and loft retention over time, and it’s paired with OR’s ActiveTemp thermo-regulating technology to keep you cool and dry during high-exertion activities.

It’s versatile for snowshoeing, ski touring, and even three-season backpacking. It’s a bit on the bulky side and fits a little slimmer in the torso and arms than North Face’s Ventrix and Black Diamond’s First Light Hoody, but it offers good mobility and comfort for this weight of weight gear.

The outer shell is a mix of external Pertex Quantum Air and a woven tricot liner. It has a lot of pockets — two hand pockets, one chest pocket, and two interior drop-in pockets. These are all large enough to fit a climbing helmet or other gear, and the drawstring hem keeps it from blowing off your back during stowing.