Gear Review: Outdoor Research Refuge Hybrid Hooded Jacket

Is it a puffy? Is it a base layer? No, it’s Outdoor Research’s Refuge Hybrid Hooded Jacket—a lightweight multi-tasker that excels in moderation. This pared-down rehash of OR’s popular Refuge puffy combines their proprietary VerticalX™ insulation with lightweight stretch woven fabric to optimize warmth, mobility, and ventilation. Not quite warm enough to stand alone, the Refuge functions well as a mid layer garment, providing modest protection from the elements without excessive weight or bulk.

Outdoor Research Refuge Hybrid Hooded Jacket Details

Materials: polyester, spandex, 75D stretch woven fabric, VerticalX™ polyester insulation
Weight: 9.5 oz. for women’s size medium; 12.3 oz. for men’s size large
Sizes: women’s XS-XL; men’s S-XL (Men’s found here)
MSRP: $159

Circumstances of Review

To see how this jacket would perform under a variety of temperature and weather conditions, I tested it on trips to the Grand Canyon, New Mexico’s Pecos Wilderness, Redwoods National Park, and California’s High Sierra. It also got plenty of in-town wear and came along on day hikes throughout California and the American Southwest.

Features

  • Water Resistant: DWR-treated fabric won’t keep you dry in a downpour, but it’s sufficien to protect you from light rain and mist when a full-on rain jacket would seem like overkill.
  • Wind Resistant: Wind-resistant fabric keeps cool breezes at bay.
  • VerticalX™ polyester insulation: A sparing dose of synthetic insulation around the core provides warmth where it counts without overdoing it. 
  • Elastic cuffs with thumbholes: Elastic keeps the sleeves tight and snug around your wrist, while the thumb loops prevent them from riding up. This is a great feature when layering an outer shell on top of this jacket.
  • Adjustable drawcord waistband: Elastic in the waistband can be adjusted to cut down on draft or allow airflow, as needed.
  • Oversized stretch woven hood: The stretchy hood provides a snug, balaclava-style fit that still leaves room for a hat or helmet underneath.
  • Packs into own pocket: The jacket packs down to roughly the dimensions of a one-liter Nalgene bottle in its own left pocket.

Pros

Comfortable Fit with Plenty of Mobility

This jacket fits me true to size and is stretchy enough to be forgiving if you’re in between sizes. Though it’s a trim fit, it still provides plenty of room in the chest and shoulders. The stretch woven side panels and sleeves provide a full range of movement.

Warm Yet Breathable

The Refuge did a great job moderating my temperature on an overnight trek of the Grand Canyon during which temperatures fluctuated wildly between 40 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It has just enough insulation around the core to keep me warm in chilly weather, but the lightweight side panels and sleeves are breathable enough to prevent excessive sweating as I hike. Smart features like elastic cuffs, thumbholes, and an adjustable drawcord waistband help to cut down on draft.

Low Impact

Packing neatly into its own pocket and weighing in at roughly nine ounces (12 for the men’s version), volume and weight are not primary issues when I consider whether or not to bring this item into the backcountry with me. The Refuge keeps a fairly low profile in my pack considering the amount of warmth it delivers.

Flattering Fit

I like the slim, sleek fit of this jacket and the fact that it comes in a variety of nice colors. For those who spend a lot of time—or most of their time—outdoors, it’s nice to have functional clothes that also look and feel good. This garment fits the bill.

Cons

Doesn’t Stand Alone

It’s important to understand the limitations of this jacket to use it properly. The Refuge isn’t quite warm enough to function as a standalone jacket in most conditions—it’s primarily a layering item. It’s not going to replace your puffy or provide adequate warmth by itself in cold weather. By the same token, it doesn’t provide enough water or wind resistance to take the place of dedicated rain and wind shells.

Hood Can Slip Into Eyes

Pinheads beware: the hood of this jacket is oversized to accommodate hats and climbing helmets, and therefore has a tendency to slip down the forehead when you’re going lidless. Purple elastic obscuring my vision was a constant annoyance and eventually discouraged me from using the hood at all. It would be nice if a future version of this garment came with a tensioner in the back of the hood to keep it from slipping down so much.

Overall value

I like this jacket and am very likely to continue wearing it—both as a lightweight around-town jacket and as a hiking mid-layer. I’m pleased with the fit and comfort and feel that it offers a superb combination of warmth and breathability.

Shop the OR Refuge Hybrid Here

Comparable Items

Arc’Teryx Atom SL Hoodie
MSRP: $229 (Currently on sale)

Mountain Hardwear Quasar Lite II Jacket
MSRP: $300 (currently on sale)

Montane Minimus Stretch Ultra Jacket
MSRP: $209

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Comments 2

  • Tim Moe : Aug 2nd

    Hi Kelly,

    I appreciate your excellent and thorough reviews of various outdoor products. Your love of the outdoors, along with extensive hiking and camping experience really add to the practicality of your reviews. I am an AT section hiker (LASHER), who just completed my tenth year on the trail hiking north. I just completed this year’s hike in Glencliff, NH, and hope to do the White Mountains next year in one go.

    I have always been a summer hiker, mainly in July, and that is mostly what I am equipped for. I know that I need some warmer gear for the Whites. I am especially interested in clothing, but also concerned with weight. The OR hybrid hooded jacket seems to have advantages. I know it cannot be used as a stand alone jacket. I have a light weight Marmot rain shell that I gave been wearing. It has proved some warmth on cold mornings and at other times. I am wondering if this OR jacket might serve as an adequate mid layer. I am thinking of hiking in mid June next year, and staying in the huts. I know it might be a little colder at that time.

    I would appreciate your advice.

    THANKS!!

    Tim Moe

    Reply
  • Kelly Floro : Aug 3rd

    Tim,

    Thanks so much! Your kind words are appreciated. To answer your question-yes, I think this jacket would be perfect as a mid layer for the Whites next June. It can take the place of a (lightweight) hiking fleece, and that’s primarily how I use it. Happy hiking!

    Reply

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