Outdoor Research Centrifuge Jacket Review

Outdoor Research Centrifuge Jacket being used for some backcountry cross country skiing

Intro:
Hybrid clothing pieces can be very tricky; sometimes they are very specific for few tasks with limited application while other times they can be extremely versatile. I've luckily had about a year to play around with the Outdoor Research Centrifuge jacket and it took me awhile to figure out the jacket. For a while I was stumped on the usage of it, it's not a very warm mid-layer but at the same time it isn't exactly a full outer-layer either. It wasn't until I decided to try the jacket in much cooler temperatures( at least for PNW sake) that the jacket truly shined, and I'm glad I did.

Construction/Material:
The majority of the Centrifuge jacket (under the arms and armpit  down to the waist, and most of the back) is comprised of OR's Radiant LT fleece fabric. The Radiant Fleece fabric's inside is a slightly raised medium weight waffle grid fleece while the outside is a standard stretch fleece. The Radiant LT fleece is like a thicker version Polartec's Power Dry High efficiency material but not quite as warm or as breathable. I have noticed that the fleece does pile on the outside of the jacket which is probably exasperated by using it as an outer-layer against a backpack.
Hybrid construction
The front facing body, arms, shoulders and scuba hood (except near the mouth), is comprised of a tightly woven soft shell fabric. This softshell fabric is more wind resistant then most I've used and also water resistant. The jacket also features monkey thumb holes making the centrifuge jacket extremely easy to layer with. I also haven't had any issues with the durability of the softshell sections.
Rear view of hybrid construction
How it Fits:
Outdoor Research in general does a fantastic job with their jacket cuts and the Centrifuge jacket is no different. The jacket is trim fit but still gives ample shoulder and armpit room for articulation for climbing or skiing . There is enough room to put a heavy baselayer underneath while still being slim enough that's comfortable to fit under a down/synthetic mid-layer or hardshell. I'm 5'10", 160 lbs, 33" waist and the medium jacket is cut extremely well to these proportions.

Performance:
I've tried to use the Centrifuge jacket in quite a few different applications to get a well rounded feel about it's performance. When I climbed South Early winter spires in October, I was wearing the centrifuge jacket during the entire climb under my hardshell. The scuba hood fit perfectly underneath my helmet proving warmth throughout the climb while the rest of the jacket was able to regulate my body temperature very well between pitches.

Mostly surprisingly, was how well the jacket works for cold weather cycling. I cycled to work quite a bit in the fall this year and the jacket's softshell front blocked almost all of the cold wind while allowing the rest of my body to vent any extra heat.

My favorite applications for the centrifuge jacket is using it as an outer-layer for high output cardio in cold weather. On a cold snow-less November day with temperatures in the low twenties and high wind, I hiked up the Kendall Katwalk in Snoqulamie pass, The centrifuge jacket works perfect in these cold conditions where you're working hard and need to vent a lot of heat but at the same time provide shelter from the wind and cold. The softshell front provides wind protection while the rest of the jacket is able to provide ample ventilation so you won't overheat. It is for this reason why I've used the centrifuge jacket more and more as winter weather finally reaches the PNW this year.

Nearing Artist Point 

Summary:
The Outdoor Research Centrifuge Jacket is my favorite layering piece for high output activities in cold conditions.  The front and shoulder softshell material provides protection from the wind and light moisture while the rear fleece material provides warmth and ventilation while you're working hard. This hybrid design makes the jacket ideal for: back-country/XC skiers, alpine climbers, mountaineers, or snow-shoers. The centrifuge jacket is best used as an outer-layer on the ascent when you need chest and face weather protection and maximum breathability,  but  then can also be used a mid-layer piece on the descent due to the fleece components.
Cold dry December evening

Pros:
  • Balaclava scuba hood provides instant shelter and warmth
  • Front facing softshell provides excellent water and wind resistance
  • Jacket is cut well to provide maximum uper-body articulation
  • Hybrid design fleece provides warmth and ventilation 
  • Hand pockets are big enough to store gloves and napoleon pocket for a smartphone

Cons:
  • Outer Fleece fabric piles easily 
  • Zippers are way to small to operate even with thin gloves

Comments

  1. hi, did you try marmot thermo hoody with polartec powerdry fabric?
    im between the or centrifuge and the marmot thermo hoody, which will be better for high intensity hiking in the cold touching freezing temps and wind?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I absolutely love the marmot thermo hoody. I bought 2 when they still made them. Completely different pieces though. The thermo hoody is more of a highly breathable mid-layer/base layer. I almost always use it as a base-layer due to how well it breathes.

      If you use it under a light weight softshell (ferrosi...etc...) or a wind shell (houdini, squamish, etc...) then the thermo hoody would work great! The Centrifuge would work great over a simple baselayer, doesn't need to be very warm as it does provide some fleece. But keep in mind if you use the thermo hoody without anything on top the wind cuts right through.

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