Outdoor Research Ascendant — Women’s Jacket Review

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | July 28, 2017      
Feeling good ski touring in Outdoor Research Ascendant women's jacket.

Feeling good ski touring in Outdoor Research Ascendant women’s jacket.

After fairly extensive testing, my conclusion was easy: Outdoor Research Ascendant jacket is my must-have winter layer. With its Polartec Alpha Direct insulation material completed with a stretchy, air permeable external shell, it is lightweight, warm, cozy AND good looking. Really, a treat for any occasion, be that a backcountry ski adventure in the mountains or an evening walk around town.

I’ve enjoyed the Ascendant’s insulated pockets. My hands tend to quickly get cold, so I’m in constant need of various warming strategies. Having a fuzzy place to put my frozen fingers, perfect.

I had the Ascendant version without a hood. I’d say that is the only component that was missing. But that’s just me. It’s nice OR offers options as I know some of you would prefer not messing with a hood. Size medium fit perfect, having a longer torso than most women’s jackets allows extra insulation over your lower back.

For me, this jacket is a bit too warm for skinning in sunny PNW spring conditions. Yet anytime the clouds rolled in and the wind picked up I was extremely happy to have my Ascendant. Essentially, know that in terms of layering strategy this is the type of shell that isn’t intended to be constantly worn during warmer days. You could say it’s not really the layer for spring skiing, yet it’ll work fine if you don’t mind stowing your shell in your pack during sweaty uphills.

I’m looking forward to permanently adding the Ascendant to my winter ski touring clothing arsenal.

Men’s and women’s specific fits available in the hoody, jacket and vest.
$215, hoody
$199, jacket
$175, vest

Shop for the Ascendant here.

Stormy? No problem.  Ascending with the Ascendant and feeling just fine.

Storm coming in? Bring it on! Ascending with the Ascendant and feeling just fine.


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8 Responses to “Outdoor Research Ascendant — Women’s Jacket Review”

  1. Lisa Dawson July 29th, 2017 8:07 am

    Nice review, Julia. I like those blue sky shades! The Ascendant is one of my favorite, cold day layers. Works well as a jacket for bike riding too.

  2. Joe John July 29th, 2017 10:19 am

    How does it do in a driving rain? I will have to check it out the next time I am in REI. Thank you!

  3. Aaron Mattix July 30th, 2017 9:35 am

    Joe – I picked up an Ascendant jacket early this spring, and found water beaded up nicely during light drizzles, but after washing it, the water repellency seemed to suffer. After wearing it for several hours in a light rain, the water was no longer beading, and began soaking through the insulation.

    Though it is bit much for high exertion in non-winter temps, I have found the breathability of it to be excellent. Given the limited water repellency, and extra warmth, it is overkill for wetter spring conditions, but I’m looking forward to having it as go-to layer once the snow starts falling in earnest again.

  4. Joe John July 30th, 2017 7:55 pm

    Thank you Aaron, that’s what I wanted to know.

  5. Julia July 31st, 2017 1:19 pm

    Aaron, thanks for your reply! I dont have much to add – my experience is quite similar. I might be a bit jaded by the PNW (heavy rain is not that common for us), but overall, I never found myself soaking all the way through in light rain even if the shell was starting to look a bit wet. A big pro in layers like this one is they do dry quickly!

  6. MarkL August 9th, 2017 1:02 pm

    I have been using the OR Cathode as an outer/midlayer in the PNW for several years (midweight synthetic, lighter, less bulky, more wind/moisture resistant than fleece). Is this essentially the same thing in a non-puffy format?

  7. Julia August 9th, 2017 4:19 pm

    Mark, I do not own the OR Cathrode so I am speaking of material overview/personal opinions here, but I’d say that the Ascendant is a lighter and more breathable layer overall. In personal experience, synthetics just dont breathe that well but they do keep you warm. The Ascendant strives to give you both – keep you warm but not too warm, in the combo of not compromising on the protection features when it comes to light rain and chilly wind.

  8. MarkL August 10th, 2017 11:31 pm

    So I stopped into the OR store here in Seattle and checked it out. Interesting jacket. Not quite as compressible as the Cathode (but pretty good for a “fleece”). Very comfortable. Employee said it is not quite as warm, and more breathable, but less water resistant. For winter use here he suggested the Cathode was still the way to go, but this jacket is better for shoulder season use. They fill a similar niche as a mid layer/light outer layer. I find the stretch panels in the Cathode breath pretty well, so I think this would be a little too redundant for me. Your mileage may vary. 🙂

    It is worth noting that the lower pockets really are handwarmers since they do not zip closed.

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