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Outdoor Research Shadow Wind Hoodie Review

Outdoor Research Shadow Wind Hoodie Review

The Outdoor Research Shadow Wind Hoodie is a lightweight windbreaker that’s good for hiking or trail running when all you need is a thin jacket to keep the wind from chilling you. It’s made with a stretchy breathable fabric that’s 90% nylon and 10% spandex which wears well for dynamic activities. There are two handwarmer pockets and a chest pocket which you can stuff the jacket into along with an elastic hem adjustment and stretch cuffs. The hood has a front bill and can be rolled down and secured with a snap but is otherwise form-fitting with a stretch opening.

RELATED: 10 Best Windbreakers and Wind Shirts

Specs at a glance

  • Material: 90% nylon/10% spandex 20d stretch woven
  • Gender: Men’s (Women’s also available)
  • Weight: 5 oz (5.9 oz in a Men’s XL)
  • Adjustable Hood: No
  • Packable: Yes
  • Elastic Wrist Cuffs: Yes
  • Hem Adjustment: Yes
  • Fit: Generous
  • Washing: Cold water, tumble low or line dry

I’m a big fan of windbreakers and wind shirts for hiking and backpacking. They’re particularly useful when wearing a rain jacket or hard shell over a mid-layer will be too warm and make you perspire. Weighing between 3 and 8 oz, wind shirts are a great layer to wear on cold mornings over a fleece because they hold your body heat. Elastic wrist cuffs, an adjustable waist hem, and a full-length zipper are also useful for venting and thermal regulation.

The Shadow Wind Hoodie is made with a stretchy softshell fabric that’s great for active use. The fabric feels a lot like the Arc’teryx Squamish and is highly breathable, but still very wind-resistant, surprisingly so.  It also soaks up perspiration and allows it to evaporate at a distance without chilling you, as it would if the moisture evaporated from your skin. Luckily the Shadow is easily washable because that same perspiration quickly stinks up the jacket.

Unlike the Squamish, the fit is quite generous. The Shadow is a jacket with a center zip and a zip garage at the top to keep your beard from getting snagged. It has two handwarmer pockets and a stuffable zippered chest pocket with a harness loop. If you’re a runner, the hood, which has a front fabric beak, can be rolled up and secured at the back around the neck. Elastic wrist cuffs help lock in the heat as does the single elastic hem adjustment.

The Shadow Hood is oversized and not adjustable
The Shadow Hood is oversized and not adjustable.

However, the hood is not adjustable and only has an elasticated front. Which is a shame, because the hood is oversized and kept falling down over my eyes even when the center zip was closed up. The Squamish has a fully featured hood in comparison. OR also makes a similarly priced Helium Wind Hoodie which I’d recommend over the Shadow because it has a hood volume adjustment. If you’re going to be in real wind, especially above treeline, you don’t want a hood that flaps wildly against the sides of your head in the breeze because the noise will drive you bonkers.

The Shadow is lightly water resistant which is good if you find yourself in mist or drizzle. I was inadvertently able to test this out recently on a very long winter hike when it started raining lightly after we’d bagged a few peaks and were hiking out in perfect hypothermia-inducing conditions. I’d forgotten to pack my rain jacket that day (it was packed in another for a different trip) so I was able to observe the rain beading up on the outside of the wind hoodie. The Shadow did soak through after a while, but it did not retain enough moisture to soak through my midlayer fleece, and continued to keep the wind from chilling me. I wouldn’t advise using it in this fashion instead of a proper rain jacket but it did work as a last resort.

Comparable Windbreaks and Wind Shirts

Make / ModelFabric DenierWeight
Arcteryx Squamish Hoodie30d4.9 oz / 140g
Patagonia Houdini Jacket15d3.7 oz /105g
Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt10d2.05 oz / 58g
Rab Vital Windshell Hoody20d4.6 oz /160g
REI Flash JacketNA4.3 oz /122g
Outdoor Research Helium Wind Hoodie30d5.3 oz /150g
Black Diamond Distance Wind Shell15d3.5 oz / 98g
Warbonnet Stash Jacket20d5.0 oz / 142g
Montbell Tachyon Hooded Jacket7d2.5 oz / 72g
Black Diamond Alpine Start Hoody20d7.4 oz /210g

Recommendation

The Outdoor Research Shadow Wind Hoodie is a good windbreaker if you have a big head or wear a billed hat when you hike or run. But unfortunately, the lack of a snug-fitting hood compromises what would otherwise be a very nice jacket. You’ll go mad from the noise if you try to wear a loose hood in actual windy weather. My advice would be to try the OR Helium Wind Hoodie instead which is identically priced, has similar features, and an adjustable hood.

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Disclosure: OR donated a jacket for an honest review.

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