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Review: Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody

Ascendant Hoody

Midweight insulation that does is all – a fleece and puffy jacket rolled into one

The Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody is a superbly technical jacket that combines the moisture wicking properties of a mid layer fleece with the warmth and weather resistance of a puffy outer layer. It is exceptionally comfortable – stretching with the movement of your body, and finely tuned to deal with internal moisture build up whilst keeping you warm in whatever activity you choose. It’s also incredibly lightweight, wind and water resistant, and looks pretty great too!

Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody: The stats

Insulation:Polartec® Alpha® Direct Insulation, 100% polyester
Outer fabric:Pertex® Microlight 100% nylon 20D ripstop stretch woven shell
Weatherproof:Water and wind resistant
Weight:10.9oz / 310g (size M)
Available colours:Night, black, pewter, pinot and sea

Design features of the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody


Inside of jacketMade from polyester, the Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation is new to the insulated jacket scene. The lofted knit hydrophobic fibres have an excellent warmth to weight ratio that is also exceptional at wicking excess moisture away from the body and letting it out through the air permeable layers without letting the warmth out too. Clever stuff hey?!

Outer shell

Water beadingThe Pertex Microlight outer fabric of the Ascendant has ‘Movement Mirroring Stretch’ that really does move with you! There is a DWR coating for light water resistance, and the 20D ripstop nylon feels surprisingly tough.


Back of jacketThe extra length at the back of the jacket is ideal for a little bit of extra warmth, and in more active scenarios. There’s also a drawcord at the bottom of the jacket that can be cinched in for a bit of extra draft exclusion!

Thumb loops

Jacket cuffThe cuffs are elasticated, and there is an elasticated thumb loop inside each cuff. They’re not quite big enough to go over the top of thick gloves, but fit over inner gloves or thin gloves just fine. A really nice little detail that I use all the time.


Hood of jacketAt the back of the hood is an adjustable toggle that cinches in for a tighter fit. The whole hood also fits over the top of a helmet.


Key clip in pocketJust like pockets on a hooded sweater, the Ascendant pockets are spacious and comfortable, and my hands live in them! They’re also surprisingly deep and unless you’re tumbling upside down, things stay put in them. The left hand pocket also features a key clip.

Chest pocket

Zippered pocketThis pocket is zippered and is an essential addition that makes up for the lack of zips on the main pockets. It’s plenty big enough to hold valuables: phone, money, snack bar(!) etc.

Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody review

When I first put on the Ascendant I was blown away at how light it felt – like I wasn’t wearing it at all! This isn’t just down to how little the jacket weighs and the lightweight Polartec Alpha Direct Insulation. It’s also down to how wonderfully unrestrictive the stretchy outer fabric is. I’d like to compare it to a light sweater or fleece, but it’s better than that. It’s more like cotton wool, but much more streamlined and floaty. Hard to describe, but it certainly doesn’t come with the usual movement limitations that you might expect from a jacket.

Jacket by the sea


I’ve mostly worn the Ascendant over the top of a single base layer, and I love the slim fit that doesn’t add any unnecessary bulk. I initially thought it would be too much of a slim fit to be worn as a wind stopper over another mid layer, but somehow it slips nicely over even my biggest and cosiest winter jumpers! I assume this is down to the stretch in the outer fabric as it certainly doesn’t feel, or look, too big when only wearing it with a base layer. I also really love the extra length at the back of the jacket that keeps my backside warm and also prevents any draft from creeping into my midriff when reaching up or bending over. I’ve recently been wearing it when doing yoga outside – there is zero restriction.


The Ascendant isn’t designed to be mega warm in really cold conditions. It’s designed to regulate your body temperature while being active in cool to cold conditions. So if you’re wanting it to keep you toastie when being static, you’ll be disappointed. Where it really shines, however, is in cool windy conditions (10ºC and below) when you’re on the go. The Ascendant is ideal as an outer layer with a good base layer underneath – even when on a casual hike.

Moisture wicking

Yep – it’s pretty darn great! You can really sweat in this jacket and there’s no buildup of moisture on the inside – even when wearing a backpack. And because it’s so comfortable and unrestricting I’ve ended up doing loads of high energy physical stuff in it (tennis, running, climbing, cycling, beach fitness, spikeball(!) etc). Other jackets would have come off as soon as I started working up a sweat but not the Ascendant (especially when it’s windy).

Water resistance

I’ve worn the Ascendant in a couple of showers so far and the DWR does a decent job at beading the initial few minutes of rain. Anything after that starts to saturate the outer fabric. But it dries incredibly quickly. In persistent rain the low profile of the hoody sits nicely underneath a waterproof shell, which I always pack – just in case!

Yoga on the beach

What I love the most about the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody

I really love how versatile this jacket is. I’ve worn it as a mid layer on cold and wet hikes, and as an outer layer when sitting around camp on cool autumn nights (with mid and base layers). It’s ideal with a base layer for outdoor yoga, hiking in the cold, and for cycling in very cold conditions. And on the really cold windy days, I love wearing it with a thin base layer when trail running.

It’s also mega packable. During summer hikes it goes in the pack as my insulation layer, and totally disappears.

But it’s also great for everyday use. Without the oh-so-outdoorsy looking puffy baffles and shiny finish of more traditional insulated jackets, the Ascendant fits well alongside my everyday wardrobe, and it looks (and feels) great whilst it’s there! If you’re going to invest a couple of hundred on an insulated jacket then you want to be able to use is as much as possible right?! I know I do.

What I don’t love so much about the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody

I wish that the hood had a drawcord to cinch down the front as well as the back. In windy conditions the hood stays up if the back is cinched in, but it ends up pulling the hood back too much to really keep out the breeze. A hat is needed too when the wind is cold.

Also, the key clip is a little bit too secure! I find it really tricky to get my keys off of it again – a small gripe, I know, but worth a mention all the same.

Making tea on stove


I am totally in love with my Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody and I have barely taken it off since I got it. I’ve yet to have an active day in the outdoors this autumn where I’ve chosen not to wear it, and I’m looking forward to it featuring even more through the winter. The Ascendant is a superb option for those who are constantly active in the outdoors, offering a unique combo of moisture management, breathability, temperature regulation, weather resistance, comfort and style – all in one jacket!

Find the latest price at:Outdoor Research

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About Joey

Woman wearing wooly hat

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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