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Outdoor Research Acetylene Jacket Review

Outdoor Research Acetylene Jacet - Primaloft Insulated Chest and Front
Outdoor Research Acetylene Jacket – Primaloft Insulated Front and Shoulders

The Outdoor Research Acetylene Jacket is a hybrid midlayer jacket suitable for use as an external jacket for highly aerobic activity in very cold weather. The front and shoulders of the jacket are filled with Primaloft Eco insulation for warmth while the back and arms are a grid-backed radiant fleece for enhanced breathability and moisture transport. This combination is great when wearing a backpack because it virtually eliminates any sweat buildup between your back and your pack, while providing more warmth and wind resistance for the front of your body and shoulders than a regular fleece jacket or pullover.

Primaloft insulation on the tops of the shoulders but not lower down on the back helps eliminate back sweat when wearing a winter backpack
Primaloft insulation on the tops of the shoulders but not lower down on the back helps eliminate back sweat when wearing a winter backpack

I’ve taken the Acetylene Jacket down to zero degrees with just a thin baselayer and stayed warm while winter hiking and snowshoeing, but not so warm that I break a sweat. When the sun goes down, I simply layer it under a hard shell jacket just like I would a normal fleece if I’m moving, but it’s also thin enough that I can wear it under a puffy if we’ve halted for a snack or rest break.  I’ve also worn the Acetylene Jack in warmer weather up to 30 degrees, but I need to keep the front zipper open to vent it when hiking.

The Acetylene Jacket has three pockets: two large zippered handwarmer pockets on the sides and a large zippered chest pocket. The sleeves have thumb loops to provide extra insulation for your wrists, eliminating heat loss from the gap between the sleeve and your gloves. The collar of the Acetylene Jacket has Primaloft on the outside for warmth and grid fleece inside for comfort, snugly sealing the neck nicely to prevent heat loss. There are also hem toggles on the bottom of the jacket to prevent drafts from blowing up the jacket’s sides.

Outdoor Research Acetylene Jacket
Outdoor Research Acetylene Jacket

I’ve honestly always been a bit skeptical about hybrid midlayer garments like the Acetylene Jacket which map different fabrics to different parts of the body because they’re not general purpose for 4 season use like a fleece pullover. But the Acetylene jacket has gotten me to reconsider that point of view since having a midlayer garment with differential insulation and wind resistance zones for cold weather lets me shed my hard shell when hiking and helps eliminate sweat accumulation in my midlayer. That was a real eye opener for me.

While washing the Acetylene Jacket requires more care than throwing a fleece pullover in with the rest of your dirty clothes, the fact that it uses a small amount of synthetic insulation instead of goose down makes it a more practical garment for frequent use. I’ve washed mine in a regular top loading washer with a small amount of Revivex Pro Cleaner, a gentle concentrated soap for cleaning technical garments that I also use for washing the softshell pants I wear for winter hiking. After washing, I just pop them into the drier and set it to tumble dry on low.

In addition to its excellent technical attributes, the Outdooor Research Acetylene Jacket is a very stylish piece to wear around town and I find myself reaching for it frequently when I leave the house. Coupled with its excellent technical performance, I’d say that the Outdoor Research Acetylene Jacket is a home run.

Manufacturer Specs

  • Trim Fit
  • Materials:
    • 100% polyester 20D ripstop face
    • Radiant LT Fleece, 95% polyester, 5% spandex back and sleeves
    • 60g of PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Eco
  • Weight of XL (reviewed) 15.1 oz. 

Disclosure: Outdoor Research provided Philip Werner ( with an Acetylene Jacket for this review. receives affiliate compensation from retailers that we link to if you make a purchase through them, at no additional cost to you. This helps to keep our content free and pays for our website hosting costs. Thank you for your support.


  1. I am really am excited about your comments on this jacket especially the sweat factor on your back from your Pack being a non-issue in winter. I generally have been using a man-made fiber towel to soak up that sweat so when I take the pack off I do not get the “Big Chill” and have to scramble for my Goosedown coat which is to warm to wear with the pack on. Saw this priced starting at $114. -$160 on Amazon a minute ago. I would buy it a $50.00 in a heartbeat.

    A suggestion for another Product you might want to test out the claims of…LLBEAN is advertising a Water Repellent Goosedown jacket right now called the Ultralight 850 down Jacket. $199 – $229.

  2. OR has a centrifuge jacket that should be for warmer temps (around 30?) and also the superlayer jacket for even colder temps. any chance you’ll get to review these other layers?

  3. I wear the Montbell UL Thermawrap jacket and love it. How do these jackets compare?

    • I’ve owned a Thermawrap going on 6 years. I can’t wear it when I’m winter hiking or snowshoeing because I sweat while wearing it alone or under a shell. The problem is that it has insulation in the back and along the arms and doesn’t have any place to vent heat.I’d call it a passive mid-layer because you can really only wear it when you’re not moving. I mainly use mine in summer as a camp jacket.

      In contrast, the Acetylene is an active mid-layer garment because you can use it when you’re moving and pumping out heat, like snowshoeing. The lack of insulation, other than grid fleece, on the back and arms makes it far more breathable than the Thermawrap, But it won’t keep you warm when you’re standing still.

  4. I usually wear mine winter hiking/snowshoeing when I start out and then take it off when I start to warmup and then use it for a warming layer when I stop for an extended time. As I’m warming up I unzip it and push the sleeves up to “vent” it and then finally just take it off. It dries pretty quickly too.

    • Have you tried soft shell tops to get more wind resistance than fleece, but with light 100 weight fleece inners so that they aren’t too hot ? How did they work out ?

      I’m currently using a 100 weight fleece and a hard shell, but sometimes it’s a little chilly, and it always gets lots of moisture build up. But if I remove the hard shell the breeze blows right through the fleece. So I’m thinking of buying a mid weight soft shell, but would like to know how well they work in hiking

  5. This reminds me of a vintage Bellwether cycling jacket I have. It is light fleece with a shell on the front (windward) side of the front and sleeves. Very specific to cycling, but very effective.

  6. hey, would you consider the Outdoor Research Cathode Hooded Jacket a similar product in regards to being a active mid-layer, I have purchased the Cathode (waiting for its delivery) but was also considering the Acetylene. I just guess the Cathode might be wearable in lower temps but I hope I dont get too sweaty in it.

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