Outdoor Research Diode Hooded Jacket | Review
Hybrid Pertex fabrics and zoned PrimaLoft fills mixing water-resistant down and synthetic fibres make for damp-resistant warmth in a neat packable package.
'The Diode's combination of PrimaLoft and Down Blend adds up to a great mix of packability, warmth and water resistance. A cracking, top quality, all-rounder '
Outdoors Magic: Decent warmth to weight ratio, impressive damp resistance, slim-fitting cut, helmet-friendly hood, decently light and packable, high levels of general niceness.
Outdoors Tragic: Cut will be too slim for some, medium warm. Not cheap.
Outdoors Grabbit? The Diode's not as warm as equivalent weight pure down alternatives, but the sleek cut, enhanced water-resistance and versatile hood combined with reasonable weight and compact pack size make it a middleweight winner. The detailing's super thorough too, with all the adjustments, pockets and features you could ask for. In essence it works like a synthetic-filled belay come insulated jacket, but with a smaller pack size, better warmth to weight ratio and nicer feel. It's not cheap but as a half-way house between down and synthetics, it works well.
Diode Hooded Jacket Ratings
Outright Warmth [rating score="3.5"]
Packability [rating score="4"]
Damp-proofing [rating score="4"]
Overall: [rating score="4.5"]
Zoned hybrid insulated jacket / PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation hood, shoulders and upper sleeves with Pertex Endurance outer fabric / PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Down Blend (70% goose down, 30% polyester) body wth Pertex® Quantum 22D fabric / helmet-compatible, insulated hood with wired peak / harness-friendly hand pockets / adjustable cuffs and hem / single zipped chest-pocket / internal mesh Shove-It stash pockets / Left-Hand Pocket Doubles as Stuff Sack, Internal Front Stormflap, Integrated Hood Cordlocks
Full Review Below
Outdoor Research Diode Hooded Jacket - The Fill
OR's own web site is slightly ambiguous on what's inside the Diode, but as we understand it, there are two types of insulation used.
The first in the main body of the jacket and the inside portions of the sleeves - light red areas in the images in short - uses PrimaLoft Gold Down Blend Insulation, a mix of 70% water-resistant, non-PFC, goose down and 30% synthetic fibres. It's reckoned to be the equivalent of 750+ fill power down, so not too shabby.
Meanwhile, the outer sleeves, shoulders and hood, which are the areas most likely to get properly wet, use 60 g/m2 PrimaLoft Gold Insulation, which is 100% synthetic, uses hydrophobic (water-hating) fibres and retains a high level of insulation even when wet.
Finally, the different fills are complemented by different fabrics: the shoulders, hood, outer sleeve and hem areas use Pertex Endurance, which is tough and water resistant. While the remainder of the jacket is down-proof, lighter, Pertex Quantum.
Outdoor Research Diode Hooded Jacket - Performance
Life used to be simple. If you were going somewhere cold and wet, you chose a synthetic fill and accepted a certain weight and bulk penalty. If it was going to be cold and dry, down with its high loft and small pack size was the answer.
But what if you're not sure? What if you want one jacket that'll handle both types of conditions? What if you want down warmth and pack size, but synthetic-type resilience and damp-conditions performance?
Zoned And Hybrid
The Diode is - sort of - OR's answer to the dilemma. It's a zoned, hybrid jacket that uses pure synthetic PrimaLoft insulation in areas likely to get wet if it rains, your route starts melting, or the snow turns slushy. But covers the core with 750 fill power PrimaLoft Gold Down Blend, which is still water resistant, but has down-like warmth to weight qualities cutting overall bulk and gramme-count.
That's the theory, but does it work? Sort of. First, the Diode isn't a super warm, big, fluffy jacket. It's more of a middleweight thing and a quality pure down jacket of the same 480g weight is, we reckon, warmer and loftier. But, it's still warmer than an equivalent weight pure synthetic we think.
And it packs decently small too, roughly on a par with the Rab Xenon X which is around 140g lighter. So yes, it's very portable.
The cut is fantastic in a close-fitting athletic way. Enough chest and shoulder room, but a taped, slim fitting waist that doesn't leave lots of excess internal space. That also means it sits neatly under a harness if you choose, and the pockets are designed to be harness and waist-belt friendly too.
Talking of which, you also get an internal and external zipped chest pocket. The latter is complete with a mesh pouch for an MP3 player and associated headphone wiring routing. And finally there are two internal, stretch-mesh 'Shove-It' pockets for rapid stashing of gloves, hats and the like.
The hood is brilliant too. It fits over a helmet for lightweight belay use. Or can be cinched down top and front to grip a bare or beanied head and move with it. It also incorporates a handy wired peak for a little extra protection. No complaints. You'd be surprised how many down and insulated jackets have a slippy, non-adjustable hood by the way. Not this one.
All the details are neatly and effectively done. The zip-pulls are properly grippy, hem-cord excess is tucked up out of harm's way and cuffs are adjusted with classic Velcro. We found they went over or under most gloves we tried. Worth noting as in really bad conditions, you could climb in the Diode thanks to its slick fit. It's a little sweaty on the move though. But we'd expect that.
'You can chuck it over a soft shell as a lightweight belay jacket or for lunch-stops. Throw it on around camp, even if it's grim and drizzly. Or wander down to the pub without fretting'
Finally and crucially, it's happy getting damp. We'd still throw a shell over it when the ducks properly hit the pond and it chucks it down, but mostly we found we simply treated it like a synthetic jacket.
No paranoia about getting it wet because when that did happen, there was no collapse in loft or catastrophic soggy horror, just the familiar warm but damp vibe we expect from standard PrimaLoft.
That means you can chuck it over a soft shell as a lightweight belay jacket or for lunch-stops. Throw it on around camp, even if it's grim and drizzly. Or wander down to the pub without fretting when it starts raining on the way home.
And because it packs small and is reasonably, you don't resent stashing it in your pack in the first place.
Outdoor Research Diode Hooded Jacket - Verdict
It may be medium rather than super warm, but otherwise the Diode makes an excellent outdoors all-rounder. The fit is close, athletic and super neat, though a little unforgiving if you're carrying some extra ballast.
The detailing and design are excellent, with plenty of pockets, a cracking helmet hood and glove-friendly pulls. And the cunning mix of synthetic and down-blended fills gives a good level of water resistant performance, while keeping pack size to a comfortable minimum.
If it does get wet, squeeze out the excess and it's good to go even while it's drying out. Finally, the hood is more than a floppy afterthought. It works well with and without a helmet and even has a stiffened peak.
Overall a really nice, if slightly pricy, lightweight insulated jacket that bridges the gap between down and synthetic properties with an understated but effective elegance. We kind of like it.