11/19/18

Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody review - Vermont backcountry

Warm day near summit



I've been using a size medium Ascendant hoody jacket for some early season skiing in Vermont and wanted to post a quick review.

I am 5' 10" 160 pounds 32" waist and the medium fits perfect. Good sleeve / chest and waist size.

I ski on Mount Mansfield and my ski runs start with a 1.5 - 2 hour uphill ski followed by a 1/2 hour ski out.

Conditions have so far ranged from 15F to 38F across 5 tours. Four of the tours have been successes for the Ascendant. One has been a failure.

First tour out was coldest. 14F and windy. I went up with a thin capalene long sleeve shirt under the jacket and started out uphill. By the time I was at the top I had the jacket unzipped but the hood was up on my head for wind protection. Typically I would have to add a layer before pulling the skins and heading down. In this case with the Ascendant I was amazed to be able to simply zip up the jacket, pull the hood on, add my goggles and head down. Once I started making turns I was perfectly warm and never once felt clammy or sweaty. The breathability was amazing and the thermal regulation was spectacular.

Over the next few days I had a chance to test the jacket out again in slightly warmer temps (20F), light snow (25F) and finally 38F and a light breeze.

In each of the cold weather outings the jacket was awesome... until today.

Just back from a  1 1/2 hour uphill tour followed by a 20 minute ski out. It was warm so I wore a merino wool t-shirt and the Ascendant on top. By the time I reached the summit the jacket had been fully unzipped, hood removed and I was not wearing gloves. The lining on the jacket was soaked with sweat as was the t-shirt.

The ski out was fine - however at the base while putting away gear I started to get cold and once home stayed cold until I could get my wood stove cranking.

My conclusion?

The fuzzy lining on the jacket feels good next-to-skin however from a sweat management standpoint - it does not do a good job of managing sweat during peak exertion.

On the other hand, when paired with a light long sleeve base layer in cold to very cold conditions the jacket comes into its own. Excellent thermal regulation, great mobility and wind resistance. The jacket will be my main go-to for nearly all mid winter conditions with the exception being really far off-trail bushwhacking when I'll go with a more burly soft-shell to avoid tearing the light exterior fabric of the Ascendant to pieces.