Upstart gear brand, Outdoor Vitals is coming into the mix with a full head of steam. While their product line remains limited, it’s focused on a few key areas to deliver performance-oriented products at competitive prices. With the new Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket, they have taken their awesome hoodie and made it even more versatile.
Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket Features:
- Durable ripstop nylon shell
- Unique 3DeFX insulation for added stretch and warmth (50% recycled)
- Body-mapped for warmth and breathability
- All materials sourced from Toray Industries
- Perforated underarm panels
- Light DWR treatment for water resistance
- Windproof face fabric
- Form-fitting, insulated hood
- Thumb loops to prevent bunching
- Dual front hand pockets
- MSRP: $209.97
The Vario is warm and breathable
It’s crazy to think that in 2023, many jackets still haven’t nailed both the warmth and breathable duo. After extensive testing, I’m placing the new outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket squarely in the warm and breathable camp. How do they do it? Well, it’s a great combination of unique insulation and the mechanical vents. We’ll call it old-school meets new-school and it delivers a winner. I loved the Outdoor Vitals Ventus Active Hoodie, but the Vario adds more warmth and versatility while remaining extremely-breathable.
Let me dive into the insulation a little. The fabrics used here are from the Japanese manufacturer, Toray Industries. Primarily, Toray is famous for their advanced carbon fiber technology, but they are no slouch across other industries and applications. The 3DeFX insulation utilizes coiled fibers for added spring, loft and stretch. That added loft is part of the key to the Vario’s warmth and breathability. You see, breathability is only possible with airflow. With added loft comes added airflow to help dissipate heat and moisture. To further optimize breathability, the perforated underarm panel acts like an air hockey table to further enhance performance.
The rest of the jacket is optimized for either outer or mid-layer use. I’ve found it quite adept as an outer layer for cold weather hiking, walking and trail running. Worn with the Arc’teryx RHO Hybrid Crew underneath, I’ve found the complete package to deliver breathable warmth down to the low-20’s on up to 40-degrees for high-output activities. Those pit vents are awesome and, if needed, I just unzip the front for added airflow. The loft of the 3DeFX insulation continues to stand out to me — either on the trail or around town. The warmth and overall performance of the insulation is amazing. Those little micro-coils are the real deal.
For me, a hooded jacket is a must. I’m from the PNW and you can’t take the hood out of this guy. Slipping the hood on on delivers a form-fitting shell for with a top-notch feel. The face opening is interesting because the collar still sits below my chin and snug with my neck. With that, there’s little room to tuck your chin in there should things get cold, but with that, your face remains open for uninhibited breathing. It reminds me of a photo stand-in board where you stick your face into a character for a photo opportunity. In this case, you’re punching your face through the Vario Jacket, which provides a realistic photo opportunity, right?
Something that can plague jackets like this is odor control. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how long the Vario Jacket staves off the stench. It takes me 3 or 4 significant runs before I feel the need to wash it. And, even with that, it’s not terrible. The only real negative I’ve found is the minuscule zipper pull. It’s almost impossible to find and pull with gloves on. Something a little more substantial would be preferred.
Let’s double-click on the breathability of this jacket for one second. Having tested the Rab Xenair Alpine Light Jacket against this one side-by-side, there’s absolutely no comparison. While the Xenair wets out during a run, the Vario simply keeps breathing and never gets soggy or saturated. The performance of the 3DeFX insulation can’t be overstated, but also the smart move to combine that with perforated underarms has proven to be a winning choice. And, unlike the Ventus Active Hoodie, brisk winds don’t chill you to the bone.
Fit: I’m 5’11” and 175 lbs, wearing the size medium. The fit is slim and comfortable for activities as well as around-town adventures.
- Breathes awesome — especially compared to similar jackets on the market
- Simple, muted colors and logo treatment
- Svelte hood stays out of the way
- Perforated underarm fabric adds airflow and reduces odor buildup
- Good overall cut for coverage
- Water and wind protection for light storm use
- Teeny front zipper pull is hard to find
The Bottom Line: Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket
One year after testing the Outdoor Vitals Ventus Active Hoodie, I’m now sold on this second piece — the Vario Jacket. With a full zip and pockets, the Vario takes the Ventus to another level while retaining excellent breathability. No matter how hard I ran in this, I couldn’t overwhelm it. With classic styling and weather resistance, the Vario Jacket will be in the stable for a long time.
Buy Now: Visit OutdoorVitals.com