Gear Review: Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody
I’ve been testing the Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody for several months and I can say it’s an excellent all-rounder for day hikes and backpacking trips. Below are the important specs.
- Recommended retail price: $269 USD
- Weight: 11.3 ounces/321 grams
- Fill type: 800 fill power of responsibly sourced goose down insulation
- Fabric: 100% nylon 10D shell and 20D lining
Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody Features
Double drawstring hood – The hood is a generous size, easily fitting warm headgear underneath, and it has two drawstrings to cinch it snug around your face and around the back of your head so that it moves when you turn your head. This feature is a game-changer when hiking on narrow or sketchy sections of trail. I would always take my hood down on sections where I needed to concentrate more when hiking in my previous puffy jacket, as I wanted to make sure I didn’t obstruct my vision if I needed to suddenly turn my head. This feature also helps retain more heat as the jacket is flush with your head—a great benefit if sleeping in this jacket on colder nights.
Pockets – The jacket has not skimped on its storage space. It has six pockets in total: two large fleece-lined zip pockets on the front, two inner stuff pockets (perfect for cramming a beanie or gloves into), and a zipped breast pocket with another smaller pocket inside, perfect for storing easy-to-lose items like keys. The breast pocket is also the perfect size for a phone and has been essential for keeping my electrics warm and accessible when hiking, especially as I don’t usually store anything in my front pockets because the hipbelt on my Osprey Exos pack covers them. The fleece lining on the inside of the pockets is a welcome luxury to cold hands when sitting around camp or day hiking without a pack.
Drawcord and elasticated wrists – The drawcord tightens the jacket below your hips, trapping warmth and making it cozy even in high winds. The drawstring has been designed well, as it falls just below the hipbelt of a backpack so there is little chance of it rubbing and causing irritation. The jacket also has elasticated wrists to prevent warm air from leaving and stop water from trickling in when hiking using poles. This jacket does measure larger than I expected. I followed OR’s measurement guide and ordered a small, whereas on reflection an XS would have been a better fit (I’m 5′ 2″, 28″ waist, 35″ bust, and a size 6 US). As a result the arms are slightly too long and the elasticated wrists leave a gap that rain could trickle into. That said, I’ve been testing this jacket in the UK winter on days with temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to -1 Centigrade) and I have not felt cold.
Packs into pocket – The outer layer of the puffy is a 10D shell, which has been chosen for its weight, wind and drizzle resistance rather than its durability. As a result, you wouldn’t want this to be sitting in the bottom of your pack all day rubbing against anything sharp or abrasive. When the jacket is stuffed into the pocket, the fleece lining acts as a shield protecting the shell, meaning that you can throw it in the bottom of your pack.
Illuminate Hoody Pros and Cons
It’s a jack-of-all-trades, and while it doesn’t top the charts for weight, warmth, or impact to wallet, it finds a comfortable balance between all three, making it the perfect jacket for anyone not willing to compromise on any of these qualities. For me I would definitely carry a couple of extra grams for the luxury of a cozy fleece-lined pocket for chilly, damp hands after a day of clutching cold hiking poles. I would also spend a couple of extra dollars on a well-designed coat that Outdoor Research has thoughtfully planned its features around backpack position and body movement.
The fit – I don’t tend to wear thick layers on my backpacking trips. My puffy coat is either being worn over a thin Columbia shirt when hiking or over a shirt and fleece in the evening around camp. I therefore can afford to go a little smaller on the size so that it stays snug to my body. This jacket is designed in a hoody style so is slightly baggier around the waist than my previous jackets. I would therefore recommend readers consider what layers they will be wearing under this jacket and if you are similar to me, I’d recommend going a size smaller for a tighter fit.
If you are looking for a versatile puffy jacket that won’t break the bank I’d definitely recommend this as a strong contender. In addition to this, while reviewing this jacket we’ve seen a number of sales on the Outdoor Research website with some items discounted by over 50%. If I saw this jacket on sale for anything less than $150 I would strongly recommend snapping it up, as at this price the jacket is miles above its competition for features, design and warmth.
This jacket was donated for the purpose of this review.
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