GEAR REVIEW – Outdoor Research Diode Hooded Jacket Women’s ($325)
Your climbing partner is on lead working a sketchy section of ice and you’re on belay duty for what seems like hours, shivering and starting to embrace your inner Richard Simmons with a plethora of calisthenics to keep warm. Sound all too familiar? I can’t begin to count the number of times this has happened to me, where all I could think about was how much I wanted a belay parka. I had a very difficult time finding a durable and warm belay parka, and so for a few seasons I somewhat threw the towel in and just begged to lead the first pitch lead instead.
The Outdoor Research Women’s Diode Hooded Jacket is composed of 70/30 DWR treated down/synthetic blend throughout the body and synthetic Primaloft exclusively in areas most exposed to the elements – shoulders, hood and waist. This ingenious use of DWR treated down in conjunction with burly Primaloft synthetic insulation made the Diode perform well in variable conditions as both a belay parka and beefy layer while on the sharp end.
As part of the winter #ORInsightLab crew of dedicated testers for Outdoor Research, I was provided a Women’s Diode Hooded Jacket to test. For reference, I’m 5’8″, 135 pounds with an athletic build (32″ chest, 27″ waist, and 37″ hips) and I tested the Diode Hooded Jacket in a size M (size chart).
Bottom Line – The Outdoor Research Diode Hooded Jacket is a critical layering piece for any ice climber.
- Pockets – Two internal mesh catch-all pockets are perfect to stow your wet pair of gloves between pitches. Two external hand pockets are harness/hip-belt compatible and left pocket doubles as stash sack for compressed jacket. One zippered chest pocket on left side with an integrated exit hole for earphones on the inside of jacket (chest pocket was large enough for an iPhone 6). One internal zipper compartment on right side (huge!). The pockets are where this jacket shines!
- Two-way zipper – A must have for any self dubbed belay parka. I like to zip the bottom zipper up a bit to reveal my belay loop and device while I am belaying my partner. This is a key feature that saves me from the struggle of tucking my puffy into my harness.
- Weather resistant – Sheds water and shields wind. Incredibly warm for its low weight (452 g).
- Helmet compatible – wire brimmed hood fits seamlessly over a helmet and has three adjustment points to ensure a perfect fit.
- Winglike movement – minimal shifting when you swing high.
- Elastic cuffs with velcro closures – helpful in fitting jacket over cuff of gloves.
- Drawcord hem – Keeps the outside, out.
- Compression – Compressing the jacket into its pocket took quite a bit of time and finger strength. After doing this once, I ended up just shoving it into a pack for subsequent climbs. The jacket has a lot of bulk for its low-weight, which is both a blessing and a curse; it does compress down into a tiny package that you can clip to your harness if you’re willing to spend the time compressing it.