After two women in my ski group at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort told me that the Outdoor Research Women’s Uberlayer Hooded Jacket was a “game changer” layer for them – one even going so far as to own it in both colors – I was thrilled to put it to the test this spring and early summer.

The Outdoor Research Women’s Uberlayer Hooded Jacket quickly replaced my mid-weight hydrophobic down jacket on the river. On our first overnight trip of the season in early May, on the South Fork of the Snake River, conditions weren’t necessarily great for camping, rafting, or fishing, but our excitement to be on the water outweighed the mid-50s overcast weather, occasional rain, and wind gusts. I wore the jacket non-stop on this trip, through fickle spring weather. At camp, over my base layers, it felt like a cozy cocoon of warmth that was barely noticeable because it was lightweight and made of soft, stretchy, quiet fabric. When the temperatures dropped into the 30s at night, it layered without bulk under my puffy down jacket.

The next day I went fishing, with no worries about getting the Uberlayer jacket wet. Water droplets easily shed off the fabric and cuffs dipped in the river dried quickly. It was cold enough that I looked forward to taking turns rowing so that I could warm up. When I did, I marveled at how well the jacket moved and breathed (thanks to the Polartec Alpha insulation and wicking mesh interior), just as my ski partners had raved. I kept it on, totally zipped up (including the hood), and stay protected from the wind.

On a spring trip to western Montana, the Outdoor Research Women’s Uberlayer Hooded Jacket was my go-to layer for pretty much everything from morning field work taking stream measurements to hanging out by the campfire and walking around town. I hiked up the switchbacking “L” trail in Missoula on a cool, overcast afternoon in the low 50s, wearing my Uberlayer jacket on the way up without needing to shed a layer. Nearing the “L” on the hillside, the skies opened up, raining and hailing on us as the temperature dropped. When I got back to the car I noticed that although the outside of the jacket had gotten semi-saturated from the downpour (the outer stretch nylon fabric is weather-resistant but not completely waterproof), I was still dry on the inside. Sweet!

While the Outdoor Research Women’s Uberlayer Hooded Jacket is touted as a layering piece for backcountry skiing and ice climbing, I’ve found ample opportunity to wear it as my main outer layer during the spring and early summer here in the mountains around Jackson, WY. I’ve worn it on windy road bike rides and while climbing, where I’ve appreciated all of its well-thought-out designs, including a truly helmet-friendly hood, a two-way zipper, and a chest pocket for holding my iPhone. Because the Uberlayer jacket is so adaptable to different conditions, I’ve found that I don’t need to bring as many layers with me when I wear it. I know that it will be a staple for me on the river and in my climbing pack for forays into the alpine, and I’m looking forward to this winter when I can thank the ladies in my ski group for the recommendation.

Available in women’s sizes XS-L in black and purple. Men’s Uberlayer jacket available in S-XXL in red, blue, and black.

Manufacturer’s Site: www.outdoorresearch.com

$299 (on sale for less at Amazon, REI, and Moosejaw.)

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