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Outdoor Research Baja Down Pullover

Outdoor Research Baja Pullover Review

Outdoor Research Baja Down Pullover

Warmth
Weight
Compressibility
Moisture Resistence
Hood Adjustemnt
Features

Ultralight and Stylish

The Baja Down Pullover is a 800 fill power hoody that's as warm as a down jacket but as multi-functional as a hoody. It has a fully adjustable hood and kanagroo front pocket that are both stylish and functional.

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The Outdoor Research Baja Down Pullover is a sweater-weight down pullover (with a hood) that’s ideal for wearing around camp or paired with a backpacking quilt when you want a little extra warmth. It’s insulated with 800 fill power untreated goose down, with a nylon 10d shell and 20d lining. While the Baja Pullover is a stylish garment that looks good at the pub or cafe, it’s not just for show. An adjustable hood, 1/4 length front zipper, and a lined kangaroo pocket make it a serious contender for alpine tours and backcountry backpacking trips.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 11.1 oz in men’s XL
  • Gender: Men’s, Women’s version also available
  • Zipper: 1/4 length
  • Hood: Adjustable
  • Insulation: 800 fill power responsibly sourced untreated goose down
  • Material: 10d nylon shell; 20d nylon lining

When would you use the Baja Down Pullover and where does it fit in a layering system? That will depend on your climate and the type of activities you pursue. I use the Baja as a down puffy on backpacking trips when I’m cooking meals in cool spring or autumn weather instead of carrying a heavier hooded down jacket. Once I stop hiking and generating lots of body heat, I get really cold and need to wear extra insulation. I also wear a puffy like the Baja if I’m sleeping with a quilt in cold or damp weather as an extra thermal layer for my shoulders, neck, and head. Sometimes, I just wrap it loosely around my neck and shoulders or use it as a pillow.

However, the Baja pullover is too warm for me to wear when I’m hiking with a pack on my back and generating a massive amount of body heat. I usually strip down to a base layer or a light mid-layer when I’m backpacking in the mountains. Even then, I have to be stopped before I put on a down garment because I just get too hot and sweaty if I’m moving.

Adjustable Hood

If you’re buying a hooded down jacket or pullover for warmth, make sure you get one that has an adjustable hood that you can cinch tight to seal in the heat. Non-adjustable hoods are basically worthless, but a surprising number of manufacturers sell garments with them. At a minimum, you want neck toggles so you can adjust the size of the face opening. I prefer hoods that have a rear volume adjuster as well, especially ones that are labeled ‘helmet-compatible’ and sized for Godzilla.

The Baja Down Pullover has neck toggles to seal the edges of the jacket around your face. It doesn’t have a rear volume adjuster, unfortunately, but the neck toggles are easy to use and sufficient to seal out the cold.

The Baja has neck toggles to seal in the heat
The Baja has neck toggles to seal in the heat.

1/4 Length Front Zipper

The Baja has a 1/4 length zipper so you can vent it if you find yourself overheating or sweating. Again, it’s a common-sense feature to look for when purchasing any kind of mid or outer layer technical garment. Active temperature regulation is the name of the game when skiing or hiking in cold weather and having zippers you can open to avoid perspiring is key.

Pockets

Instead of side pockets, the Baja has a front, fleece-lined pouch that you can stick your hands in to warm up. The pouch is pass through, so both your hands can touch each other. The sides of the pocket close with snaps instead of zippers, making the pouch a secure place to store a hat or light gloves. It also has a large interior shoulder pocket with a zipper that can be used to store electronics and that you can stuff the jacket into for packing.

Elastic Cuffs

There are elastic cuffs over the wrists to help retain heat and prevent cold air from blowing up your arms. The cuffs are a little loose for my tastes, but they should block drafts if you wear the Baja with a fleece glove or gloves with gauntlets that overlap the elastic.

Side Zipper

The Baja Pullover also has a zipper on the left-hand side of the jacket, that makes it easier to put on and take off. You can also use it to vent your torso if you get to0 warm, although I think the zipper is more of a style statement than a functional must-have.

The elastic cuffs are a little loose but the openings will seal up if you wear the Baja with gloves
The elastic cuffs are a little loose but the openings will seal up if you wear the Baja with gloves

Under a shell

The inside and outer fabrics are DWR coated to repel moisture, but that will wear off with use. Regardless, I don’t recommend the Baja as an outer layer if its raining or in wet snow. I also wouldn’t use it under a shell if you’re active (standing at a bus stop doesn’t count) because the weight of a shell will compromise the down loft and you’ll sweat heavily, potentially enough to wet the down through the nylon shell. A lightweight fleece or wool sweater, or pullover insulated with synthetic insulation, are far better layer active layers under a shell because they’ll stay warm when damp and won’t compress as much.

Comparable Lightweight Mid-layer Sweaters and Jackets

Here’s a list of comparable lightweight sweaters and jackets, with and without adjustable hoods. The weights listed are provided by manufacturers are directional, since most manufacturers don’t list the size jacket that they correspond to.

Make / ModelZipperFill PowerWeight oz.Adjustable HoodPrice
Outdoor Research Baja Down PulloverHalf-Zip8009.2Y249
Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody PulloverHalf-Zip80014.4Volume only249
Montbell EX Light AnorakHalf-Zip9006.2N269
Outdoor Research Illuminate Down HoodyFull Zip80011.8Y269
Marmot Quasar Nova HoodyFull Zip80010.9N285
Feathered Friends EOS PulloverFull Zip90010.6N339
Arcteryx Cerium SL HoodyFull Zip8507.6Y349
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Down HoodyFull Zip8008.8N325
Arcteryx Cerium LT HoodyFull Zip85010.8N379
Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash JacketFull Zip85010.3N390
PHD Yukon Pullover KHalf-Zip100012N532
Rab Zero G Down JacketFull Zip100011N550
The Baja Pullover is sized to accommodate other insulation layers
The Baja Pullover is sized to accommodate other insulation layers.

Recommendation

The Outdoor Research Baja Down Pullover is a stylish hooded down garment that has some serious technical chops. I prefer wearing it in camp when I’m cooking dinner or to augment a quilt since it has an insulated and adjustable hood. It has a standard fit, but is sized wide in the shoulders so you can pile more layers under it too. While it’s not as warm as the down parka I pack for real winter trips, I’ve taken the Baja down to freezing with just a baselayer and remained toasty warm. It’s great to wear around town too.

While the Baja’s kangaroo pocket is cool and the pullover itself is very warm, the most important technical feature on this garment is having an adjustable hood. Don’t leave home without it!

All of the usual warnings about 10 denier shell fabrics apply. If you wear the Baja a lot, you eventually wear through the fabric, most likely around the wrists, and it will be prone to holing from sharp-pointed objects. Sparks from the campfire will also burn holes in it, so you might want to pack a little pre-emptive Tenacious tape to keep the down fill in the coat if you melt or tear it. The same holds for fly fishing hooks. Ask me how I know.

A women’s version of the Baja Down Pullover is also available.

Disclosure: Outdoor Research provided the author with a garment for this review.

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9 comments

  1. The obvious question is: How much down? How does it compare vs the Patagonia UL down hoody for example? Certainly lighter, but what do you give up for that weight? I’ve personally found the Patagonia UL hoody to be the lightest down jacket worth investing in. For example the ghost whisperer fell flat for me.

    • I do wish manufacturers would publish that spec. Most don’t. I do like the hood adjustment on the Baja better because it has neck toggles, not just a rear volume adjuster. I find that neck toggles work better at sealing the head area, especially around the sides and neck.

    • That looks like a winner garment – perfect for my needs both for hiking and backpacking as well as for stops when xc ski touring and snowshoeing.

      Thanks for the review and the handy comparison table.

  2. I think your comparison table is good. What would make it more useful is if you added a column showing amount of down fill for each jacket/parka. Yeah, fill power also varies, but I think it would still help gauge the warmth of each item. For example, I would expect the Ghost Whisperer with only 2.8oz of fill would almost always be colder than something like the MontBell Alpine Light with 4.3oz of fill, or the MyTrailCo 850 HL with 4.58 oz of fill.

  3. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for the awesome review! I was wondering what temps/situations you find you need to use a hooded down jacket with your quilt usually? Obviously everyone sleeps differently, but was interested in if there was a certain temp range you found it necessary? Tent, tarp, hammock, etc.?

    Thanks!

    Mike

    • I use in a tent/ground shelter and in a hammock between 20 degrees, up to about 50 degrees.
      I also use it as a camp garment when I’m outside my shelter, so it serves two purposes.
      When I use it with a quilt or a hoodless sleeping bag, I also wear a fleece cap.
      I also wear it pretty much constantly between November and April, even in my cold house.
      Hope that helps

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