Gear Review: Outdoor Research Women's Deviator Hooded Vest

Hanging out in Algonquin Park. (PC: D. Herscovitch)
When you're layering for cooler weather, sometimes it's a pain to think about taking an entire extra shirt or jacket just to keep your core warmer. And sometimes, adding another full shirt or jacket makes you overheat.

That's where vests come in handy. But not all vests are created equal, and the team at Outdoor Research designed the award-winning Deviator Hooded Vest to be a cut above the rest.

When Outdoor Research sent me a complimentary Deviator Hooded Vest to try, the design and fabric makeup looked and felt quite familiar, and with good reason. I reviewed the Deviator Hoody two years ago and fell in love with it, which meant the Hooded Vest had some serious expectations to live up to. I put it to the test on winter adventures in Ontario to see if it could become as crucial a layering piece as it's billed to be!

Technology and Features

Designed for high-exertion activities, the Deviator Hooded Vest is meant to be a layering piece that'll keep you warm enough, and cool enough. The vest features Polartec Alpha insulation, which was invented for the U.S. special forces to ensure consistent warmth and breathability during high intensity stop and start activities. And it designed using Outdoor Research's Hybrid Mapped Construction, which means different fabrics are used in different places for specific reasons.

The insulation in the front and side panels on the Deviator Hooded Vest keeps you warm, and that insulation sits under 100% 7D ripstop nylon. These are places you're most likely to, in theory, brush up against something, requiring sturdier fabric. The back panel and hood feature Polartec Power Grid fabric to help wick away any moisture.

Other design features include a zip chest pocket, hand warmer pockets, elastic cuffs and an elastic drawcord hem, water repellent (DWR) treated zippers, and a key clip.

Fit, Feel, and Performance

Knowing I planned to layer under the Deviator Hooded Vest, I ordered a size large and it's the perfect size for my 5'9" frame. The elastic cuffs around my arms help keep wind out, but aren't so tight that they dig into my skin. The vest is long enough to cover most of my butt, which helped keep me warmer when we stopped moving on a winter cross country ski.

Taking a break from cross country skiing in Algonquin Park, and my hands went right into those pockets! (PC: D. Herscovitch)

The pockets were nice to have when we stopped moving; my hands get cold quickly, even in gloves, and it was great not to have to fumble with zippers. The downside, of course, is you can't store things in them. The chest pocket does have a zipper, but I'm not comfortable having more than a stick of lip balm in it.

I could definitely tell the front of the vest is insulated while the back isn't; and my back is the first place I notice sweat when I'm going hard outdoors, especially if I'm wearing a backpack, so that fabric choice made perfect sense and worked well. I also couldn't believe how lightweight it was. I'd almost forgotten I had it on at all, and it fit perfectly under the Ferrosi Hoody I also tested this winter.

The water repellent zippers are a nice addition, especially in helping me keep snow out of my layering system when I tipped over while cross country skiing! I don't envision ever zipping the Deviator Hooded Vest up all the way - the fully zipped vest covers half of my face - but it's nice to know that's an option. I also didn't use the hood much, but could see how it could come in handy if you need an easy way to regulate your head's temperature more effectively without wearing or bringing a hat.

The chest pocket - a common feature in top layers - isn't always ideal for women, but in this case, it's a perfect place to store
lip balm or other smaller things you can't store in the unzippered hand pockets. (PC: D. Herscovitch)

Aside from how versatile, lightweight, and functional the Deviator Hooded Vest is, I also love the "seaglass" color and the way it looks on. Many vests end up looking boxy, but the cut and color of this one mean I can feel good about both the form and function of what I'm wearing.  I'm more likely to purchase a layering piece I can wear around town as well as in the woods, and this vest is definitely one of those pieces!

Recommended Uses and Final Thoughts

Overall, the Women's Deviator Hooded Vest is a great lightweight, good looking, high performing, versatile layering piece. It's thoughtfully designed to take where we sweat and how we move in high intensity pursuits into account, and it's so light you might forget you're wearing it at all. My only issue with it is the price tag. It retails for $165.00 when it's not on sale, and I'd be hard pressed to pay that much for a vest, even if it's a great vest. But if you can find it on sale, like it is in some colors on Amazon at the time of this posting, it's a great piece to add to your cooler weather layering arsenal!

Though I received a complimentary vest to test from Outdoor Research, all opinions expressed here are my own. Also, as a note, there are affiliate links in this post, and I'll receive a commission for purchases made.