The Outdoor Research Superstrand LT Hoodie Jacket is a lightweight jacket insulated with a new type of polyester insulation that OR claims is as soft, light, and lofty as 700-800 fill power down.” Called VerticalX Superstrand, it consists of lofted polyester strands (rather than traditional sheet-based synthetic insulation) that mimic the shape of thousands of down clusters connected along a strand, blending the properties of down and synthetic insulation. In addition to its high loft, it offers warmth if it gets wet.
There’s no denying that the Superstrand LT Hoodie Jacket is a very warm lightweight jacket and much warmer than most of the other lightweight synthetic jackets that I’ve reviewed in the past. If you run cold and you’re looking for a lightweight jacket to be worn by itself or under a hardshell jacket this winter, the Superstrand LT Hoodie is a great option.
Specs at a Glance
- Gender: Men’s and Women’s
- Fabric 12D Rip-Stop Diamond Fuse Nylon Shell and Lining
- Insulation: VerticalX SuperStrand Insulation (100% Polyester)
- Weight: 12.4 oz (men’s XL) 10.9 oz in a men’s Medium
- Center back length: 28″
- Pockets: 6 (two external zippered hand warmer, and four interior “drop” pockets)
- Adjustable hood: No
- Wrist cuffs: Elastic
- Hem adjustment: Yes
- Helmet compatible: Yes
- DWR Coating: No
- Sizing: Runs a bit big
Construction and Shell Fabric
The OR Superstrand LT Hoodie has a sewn thru-style construction to hold the VerticalX Superstrand insulation in place and prevent it from shifting. The sewing is a little different from the norm though. The stitching isn’t continuous and doesn’t form compartments to hold the insulation in place, which helps keep the jacket lighter and reduces the number of needle holes compared to normal sewn-through jackets. Instead, the stitching serves to pin the superstrands of insulation in place rather than box them in. It’s definitely innovative and helps increase the Superstrand insulation’s maximum warmth potential.
The Superstrand LT hoodie is also made with a 12D ripstop nylon with Diamond Fuse fibers which are twice as abrasion-resistant as regular nylon without added weight. Diamond Fuse fabrics use yarns with unique diamond-shaped filaments that actually lock together to create a durable and highly abrasion-resistant fabric. Heavily used jackets made with low denier nylons normally break down around the wrist cuffs and leak insulation, so having one made with a more abrasion-resistant fabric is a real plus. While the breathability of the nylon ripstop fabric is adequate, we don’t consider it best in class or equivalent to fleece.
Superstrand LT Hoodie Hood
The first thing I look at on an insulated jacket is the hood and whether it’s adjustable, either in terms of volume, or if the front hem can be cinched down to block cold air from blowing in around your face and down your neck into the torso. Unfortunately, there are no hood controls on the Superstrand LT Hoodie, which diminishes its value as a standalone garment. This is less of an issue if you wear it inside or over a climbing helmet, a ski helmet, or inside a hooded shell jacket which can fill to excess volume. Otherwise, the hood is oversized and awkward to wear, reducing your peripheral vision and venting body heat. Alternatively, you can buy a hoodless version, called the Superstrand LT Jacket, which is lighter weight and easier to seal around the neck.
I suspect the hood controls were left off the Superstrand LT Hoodie to keep the jacket weight down and because it’s designed more for skiers and climbers, than joe schmoe hikers. This hood would be vastly improved if it had a volume control strap on the back.
There are two zippered handwarmer pockets on the exterior of the jacket and four deep drop pockets inside the jacket, two on either side of the zipper. The drop pockets are map-sized in width, providing a convenient way to organize their contents. Many jackets just provide two wide and drop pockets which can make them awkward to use when holding bulky objects.
However, I do wish there was a chest pocket on the Superstrand LT Hoodie because I like to put my cell phone in it to keep it warm in cold weather and to keep it accessible when wearing a backpack.
The Outdoor Research Superstrand LT Hoodie
The Outdoor Research Superstrand LT Hoodie is a very warm synthetic insulated jacket that uses a new form of synthetic insulation which mimics goose down and is warmer than existing synthetic fills. We like everything about this jacket except the hood which is non-adjustable. While that's par for the course at this price point, it's still a little disappointing.
Wrist Cuffs and Hem
The jacket has elastic wrist cuffs to seal in your arm warmth and a dual elastic drawcord hem to prevent updrafts from chilling you. Nothing fancy here, but still quite functional
Lightweight Synthetic Insulated Jacket Comparison Table
|Make / Model||Insulation||Weight||Gender|
|Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Hoodie||Primaloft Gold Insulation Eco||12.8 oz||M | F|
|Arc'teryx Atom LT Insulated Hoodie||Coreloft Compact||13.2 oz||M | F|
|Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Insulated Hoody||PrimaLoft Silver Hi-Loft Ultra||11.7 oz||M | F|
|Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket||Climashield Apex||8.4 oz||M | F|
|KUIU Kenai Hooded Jacket||3DeFX+||15.5 oz||M | F|
|Outdoor Research Superstrand LT Insulated Hoodie||VerticalX Superstrand||10.9 oz||M | F|
|The North Face Thermoball ECO Hoodie||Thermoball ECO||15.9 oz||M | F|
|Montbell UL Thermawrap Parka||Stretch Excelloft||9.3 oz||M | F|
|Rab Xenair Alpine Light Insulated Jacket||Primaloft Gold Active+||10.3 oz||M | F|
|Cotopaxi Teca Calido Hooded Jacket||Recycled Polyester||11.4 oz||M | F|
The Outdoor Research Superstrand LT Hoodie is a lightweight synthetic insulated jacket made, available in men’s and women’s versions, that uses an innovative new form of synthetic insulation which mimics goose down and is warmer than existing synthetic fills. The advantage of using a synthetic jacket as a middle layer is that it remains warm when it gets damp and is less bulky to wear under a shell than down. While the Superstrand LT Hoodie can be used as a standalone outer layer, it doesn’t have an adjustable hood and should be worn under a hooded hardshell to seal in your body heat. A more streamlined, non-hooded version, the Superstrand LT Jacket is also available if you prefer to wear it as an outer layer over a breathable fleece or warm jersey or for more athletic pursuits like winter running.
Last Updated: August 2022.
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How well does it stuff and is it stuffable into a pocket or small stuff sack? If it is stuffed, does the loft return quickly? I assume it looses warmth if its compressed like down?
It stuffs fine. Yes, it stuffs into a pocket (I’ve never understood why people care about that feature.) Once stuffed it still stays warm.
Kind of amazing they sent you a jacket with an “un-adjustable” hood, seeing as every jacket you review that has a hood – that feature is addressed. :-)
Shhhh! Don’t give them any ideas.
“…. and is more resistant to compression over time than down.” Really? That would be a first for a synthetic.
Reminds me most of the Micro Puff Hoody that Patagonia released a few years ago, both in the design of the insulation and in the open stitching pattern. But this looks to be about $80 cheaper!
What’s the fill weight, if it’s measured as such? As in, 65 g/m2 or so? There’s no listing on OR’s website.
We haven’t been able to obtain that figure yet.
Stuff this hoodie in an appropriate stuff sack for one hour. Do this 30 times THEN tell us how the insulation holds its loft – if at all.
Until the advent of DWR coatings like DriDown and DownTek I would say “OK, a synthetic garment insulation is the best option for wet conditions.” But now I would rather trust DWR treated down WITH a good WPB shell to protect it when necessary.
How do you feel about the Superstrand vs the Torid Apex?
No brainer. The Torid Apex had hood controls. I have no idea how warm it is, however.
it’s nice, but I don’t see it as being $200 nice. I generally only hike in Northern New England, but for that money, I can get a thermal undershirt, flannel shirt, fleece jacket, and windbreaker. who are these being made for?
Thanks for the review. Time to retire my Arc Teryx Atom LT after a lot of years of hard use. I’d rather not spend $260 for a replacement (& I do have down FF EOS). What synthetic hoody would you buy? Have you tried the Rab Xenair?
The Xenair is great. I’ve been wearing it all winter.