Outdoor Research has several down jackets to choose from in their current 2011/2012 winter line up. Last season we reviewed the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody which is a lightweight compact down jacket. Today we are going to cover it's burly big brother (or sister) the Outdoor Research Virtuoso Down Jacket. The Virtuoso provides considerable more warmth when compared to the Transcendent Hoody and is naturally bulkier when compressed, however, it is surprising just how small you can compress it. Naturally, using a stuff sac works well in achieving maximum 'stuffage' alternatively the right hand pocket is designed to accommodate the jacket and also provide a convenient fleece lined pillow for hut trips.
FIll - 650 fill down insulation
Zippers - Double-separating front zipper with internal storm flap and a zippered napoleon pocket and two zippered hand warmer pockets; the right one doubles as a pillow pocket or stuff sack
Pockets - two internal Shove-It™ pockets for keeping items warm suck as skins
Hood - Insulated dual-pull adjustable hood; back hood adjustment and fits over a climbing helmet
Collar - Brushed tricot-lined collar
Cut - Articulated elbows
Cuffs - Elastic cuffs with velcro tabs
Hem - Dual drawcord hem adjustments
The Outdoor Research Virtuoso Down Jacket uses 20D ripstop polyester for the body and hood which is lightweight, water-resistant and breathable. 30D Pertex® Endurance covers the shoulders and arms and ensures they are water-resistant, windproof, vapour-permeable. This keeps these high wear areas protected from accumulated snow while allowing internal moisture to still escape. To make you feel snug on the inside, taffeta lining is used which feels quite nice against bare skin and completes the cosy package.
The Virtuoso weighs in at 621 grams which is 220 grams more than the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody (which we spoke of way up top), this extra weight is minimal and packs down really well considering the loft and warmth is provides. This is a jacket that I may not take on every backcountry ski trip such as slackcountry laps off the highway passes or ski resorts. However if I am venturing out on a long full day tour, hut trip or backcountry skiing traverse in winter then I would forego the lighter more compact OR Transcendent hoody in favour of the Virtuoso Down Jacket. In those situations I also consider it part of my emergency gear. If you are not ski touring the front country the extra comfort the Outdoor Research Virtuoso Down Jacket provides is as good for peace of mind as it is for your body.
In my opinion, the built in hood is a must on any down jacket these days as it completes the cocoon on windy days. The reinforced 30D Pertex shoulders and arms ensure falling snow sheds easily, it also provides a nice visual aesthetic to the jacket. While the 650 down is not the warmest in the Outdoor Research line up it does provide enough warmth for the intermountain climate we experience here in the Kootenays and will get me through those trips to the Rockies with a smile still on my face. My favourite feature of the Outdoor Research Virtuoso Down Jacket other than its sheer comfort and warmth is the built in pillow/stuff sack option. On a backcountry skiing hut trip this is a welcome luxury as I have been used to just piling a traditional down jacket in a heap and hoping for the best come morning.
Weight: 621g / 21.9 oz
Colour: Avocado/Olive, Black, Pewter/Black, True Blue Black
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL
Super warm and comfy, the hood is a real bonus when things get extra mean and the ability to stuff the jacket into it's own pocket to make a pillow is a nice feature for backcountry skiing traverses and hut trips.
It would be nice to be able to make the hood stowable to get it out of the way when not in use and the addition of fleece lining on both sides of the pockets would make your hands feel as good as the rest of the jacket does.
Quality / Price 2/2
This is only our opinion. Do you disagree? Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Join the discussion in the forums here, and let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.