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  • Erik Meisner

Outdoor Research Illuminate Down Hoody: Three season versatility



When referring to tents and sleeping bags, the 3-season label excludes winter. With regards to Outdoor Research's Illuminate Down Hoody, I'm excluding the summer season. Fall, Winter and Spring are the seasons this jacket excels in. This versatile down jacket makes for a perfect stand alone outer jacket in the cooler months. And a cozy insulating mid-layer piece under a shell in the winter months. These types of jackets are truly some of my favorites.



A recent road trip to North Carolina for Overland Expo East was the first mission for the Illuminate Down Hoody. Temperatures in Michigan were in the 30's and our destination forecast was calling for highs in the 40's with overnight lows in the 20's. This is prime time conditions for a jacket like this. Day 1 was a cold rainy day. And the low profile of this jacket fit comfortably under my OR Interstellar waterproof jacket. During day 2, the Illuminate Down Hoody made a great stand alone item in the 40F sunshine. Never cold nor sweating on the inside.


Warming up with some coffee after a chilly night in the roof top tent

On our return from Overland Expo, we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and planned a few hiking trips in the Smokey Mountains. The ability to pack this lightweight jacket into its own hand pocket made hauling it up the hill a snap. Once we gained elevation and neared our destination of Grotto Falls, the temperature dropped dramatically. Pulling the Illuminate Down Hoody out of the stuff sack took seconds and comfort was quickly restored. It even repelled the spray as I walked beneath this cascading waterfall.


Grotto Falls, NC

Illuminate Down Hoody Specs courtesy of outdoorresearch.com

  • Fabric: 100% nylon 10D shell and 20D lining 800 fill power responsibly sourced goose down insulation

  • Center Back Length :29¼” / 74 cm

  • Weight :11.8oz / 333g Avg weight for size L

  • MSRP $269


800 fill power down insulation

A few of my favorite features include the zippered hand warmer pockets. Nestled beneath the 800 fill power goose down insulation, these two pockets feature a brushed tricot lining along the back of your hand. So the pockets stay warm plus offer a soft touch. And that's important when you stuff your frozen digits in there to thaw out. Another functional pocket is the chest zip pocket. Not only is it large enough to easily accommodate my iPhone Max, it features a small horizontal mesh pocket sewn within for an even smaller device. Finally, the interior of the jacket offers a pair of large, open top storage pockets. Ideal for glove and hat storage when not in use.



As you can see, the versatility of a mid-weight insulating down jacket is undeniable. Super lightweight and packable yet amazingly warm. Elastic cuffs and a fully adjustable hood keep your body heat in when staying warm is the priority. My only word of caution when wearing this as a stand-alone jacket is to be careful of the outer fabric. In order to maintain a low overall weight and less bulk, the engineers had to use a very thin 10D shell. I'm headed to Canada later this month to go skiing and I can assure you, this two-tone Down Hoody from Outdoor Research will make the trip.

About the Author:

Erik Meisner served in Attack Company, 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment as a rifle team leader with deployments to the Middle East, Central America and Asia. He's a licensed pilot, SCUBA diver and enjoys Alpine skiing, shooting, Overland camping, boating, sea kayaking, traveling and golf. Growing up in a military family, Erik had the pleasure to live and ski all over North America and Europe. Now residing in beautiful Northern Michigan with his wife and 2 sons, they continue to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.

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