Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket
The world of Ultralight gear is fascinating. Combining the best of technology with the outdoors to make the time on trail more enjoyable. Ultralight gear can make the difference between a good hike and a great hike. The Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket is an ultralight jacket that uses recycled materials to build a warm and durable jacket for those chilly hikes. Here is my review of the Vario.
As a disclaimer I would like to mention that I was given the Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket so that I could write this review. All opinions on this page are my own and based on my own experiences with this jacket. I am not compensated for the opinions on this review. Your experience with the Jacket may be different.
About Outdoor Vitals
Outdoor Vitals goal is to help everyone live the Ultralight Life by providing a high quality product direct to consumers. They also donate 1% of revenues to Vital Outdoors, an initiative that donates to many outdoor causes from building trails to helping underprivileged youth a chance to get outdoors for the first time. Whatever they can do to help others find the mental and physical health benefits of the outdoors.
From Outdoor Vitals
Before I get into my opinions I wanted to share some of the specs on the Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket. The Vario is described by Outdoor Vitals as, “The Vario Jacket brings a new meaning to “ultralight backpacking”. No longer do you have to sacrifice warmth to get a lower pack weight! Utilizing innovative 3DeFX Insulation we were able to create an ultralight jacket while retaining high warmth value and body-mapped breathability! 100% of our materials are sourced & created by Toray.”
It was that combination of sustainability and the environmentally minded approach with the ultralight capabilities that drew me to want to test the Vario. Before I get into my opinions, here are some stats directly from Outdoor Vitals.
$209.97 for non-members
$188.97 for members
Regular or Tall
Men – Small – 3XL
Women – XS – 2XL
Men – Black, Stellar (worn by Fatman on this page), Mahagony
Women – Black, Mahogony
9 Ounces (Men Medium used)
- 2 zippered pockets help you keep items secure or your hands warm
- Full YKK zipper makes it easy to put it on or take it off
- 3DeFX Insulation that stretches with you and creates maximum loft and warmth
- 20D Ripstop Nylon is durable and keeps the jacket ultralight
- Body-Mapped Insulation Placement allows the jacket to vent more for the areas of your torso that are typically the hottest
- Perforated Underarm Vents are one of the most breathable areas on the jacket, giving you max comfort
- Drop Back Hem that keeps you covered whether you are sitting or on the move
- Stretch Cuffs make sure the hoodie fits well while giving the hoodie a simple, sleek look
- Insulated Hood moves with your head without blocking vision
- DWR treatments allow the Vario to be water resistant
- Thumb Loops help you keep your sleeves from bunching when you are laying another jacket over the Vario
- Athletic Cut gives the hoodie a sleek appearance
- Subtle Branding is unobtrusive and gives the hoodie a sleek appearance
- Insulation: 40 g/m2 3DeFX active stretch insulation, 50% recycled
- Shell Fabric: 20D Ripstop Nylon DWR treated
- Inner Fabric: 20D Ripstop Nylon
- Color: Black, Blue, Mahogany
- Gender: Male, Female
- Zippers: YKK
- Fit: Efficiently Trim – the Vario should fit easily over a baselayer & an ultralight mid layer when needed, but there should not be a lot of loose fabric.
- Tall Size Fit: tall sizes are approximately 2 inches longer in the sleeves & 2 inches taller in the torso.
- Warranty: Outdoor Vitals Performance Promise
All information from OutdoorVitals.com. Check the website for full details and options.
What I liked about the Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket
There is a lot to like about the Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket. First and foremost is the light weight that is perfect for ultralight hikers. I also really like some of the design elements with the jacket. Plus, as a bigger hiker, I really like that they have an Ultralight option for bigger folks. Here is a bit more on what I like about the Vario Jacket.
The weight is always the most important part when you are looking for an ultralight option. At only around 9 ounces, the Vario fits the bill. This is one of the lightest jackets I have ever tried on. It is so light that I can’t really feel it when I am wearing it! On the times that I have put it in my pack it was like it wasn’t even there.
I almost had a problem because the Vario is so light. It was in the back of my car as I pulled up to a trailhead on a really windy day and when I opened the lift gate the Vario almost blew out of my car and down the lot. I just wasn’t used to having a jacket that is so light weight!
What I really like about the Vario is that even though it is so lightweight it is also still incredibly durable. I have hiked with this jacket about a dozen times. I stuffed it in and out of my pack, brushed up against trees and rocks, and really put it through its paces. There isn’t a mark on the jacket and it keeps coming back from any challenge that I gave it.
Environmentally Minded Approach
It is always great when you can find a good product that is also made with the environment in mind. The work sustainability gets thrown around a lot but the Outdoor Vitals Vario jacket takes it to the next level.
The Vario uses 50% recycled materials within their insulation. The recycled materials are said to have 0% degradation qualities meaning that the insulation qualities, and warmth, will be the same on the 100th wearing as they were on the first. The materials used in the insulation are sourced and produced in a way that allows them to track the life of the material down to the molecule so they know there are no impurities or imperfections that can effect performance. A nice bit of piece of mind when making the purchase of a jacket.
For me, I couldn’t tell that there were recycled materials involved in the construction until after doing more research for this post. The Vario felt no different than any jacket and performed really well every time I wore it. I try to choose recycled when possible but safety in the backcountry is more important and I am happy to say that the Vario checks both boxes. Safe and recycled!
I have to admit I was a bit skeptical when I took the Vario out of the packaging. I couldn’t believe that a jacket so light could actually keep me warm. But, I have to admit, I was wrong. I hiked mostly in the winter with the Vario and used it as my top layer. It was usually around 30 degrees on the days I was out and I would have a base layer and an insulator and then the Vario. The Vario kept me incredibly warm on each of these hikes.
The light weight fabric does a really good job of trapping the air and kept me really warm. Despite being really warm, the perforated vent panels in the armpit area kept me from ever overheating and made the jacket breathable and comfortable no matter what the weather did outside.
I was really impressed with the technology that kept the jacket so warm but still so light. Never would have thought it when I first tried it on but I was impressed with the performance and have to give credit. I was comfortable in every situation and even found myself unzipping many times in 30 degree weather because of how warm I was.
The Wind Break
The warmth comes mostly from the insulation but another big factor with the Vario is how it blocks the wind. If you are hiking in the winter or up in the mountains you know the winds can be brutal. The Vario does a really good job of cutting that wind and providing really good protection.
I took the Vario Jacket up to around 10,000 several times with the weather down in the 30’s and the winds blowing 20-40 mph and never had an uncomfortable moment. I did use it as a top layer and a wind break so I had some other insulating layers as well but I was really impressed with how the Vario blocked the wind. The armpit mesh had me especially curious but that didn’t allow cold wind to make it through and I could continue my hike as long as needed despite the strong winds.
I am not the type to really geek out over a hood but I really liked the hood on the Vario. It is a tighter hood that keeps the material close to the head and helps to block the wind from getting in towards your ears or neck. The tighter hood also keeps the field of vision much better as there isn’t an overhanging swath of fabric blocking the peripheral vision. Even when the hood isn’t on, the smaller profile is nice because it keeps from getting caught on branches or getting caught up in the backpack at all.
I know a hood is a weird thing to get excited about and I never knew that it would make such a difference until I wore it a few times. It was really nice to have a hood that fit so comfortably and it shows the attention to detail in the design that Outdoor Vitals takes when designing their products.
This one won’t effect everyone but for a bigger hiker like me it is really important. It can be hard to find clothes that are technically sound that fit bigger frames. Outdoor Vitals offer the Vario Jacket up to a 3XL in men’s sizes. On the other side, they offer an XS on the women’s side.
On top of offering the bigger sizes, the Vario jacket is also really flexible. It can move with the body, no matter how the body is shaped or moves and allows a lot of comfort with every step on the trail. To have large sizes that actually have flexibility is really nice for the bigger hikers out there. Plus, every size will enjoy the comfort and flexibility of the fit of this jacket.
What I didn’t Like
While I liked almost everything about the Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket they will take away my blogger card if I don’t come up with a few things that I didn’t like. For me the only thing I really didn’t like was the zipper system.
My only complaint is with the zippers. The side pocket zippers are really thin which creates a nice small profile while hiking. However, with the thin zippers I found it easy to catch material in them and get them stuck. I did most of my hiking in winter and I use the pockets to store my gloves and hats when it warms up later in the day and I found myself getting stuck every so often.
Short list of things I didn’t like for the Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket but I wanted to mention this one thing that I noticed.
Video Review of the Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket
Before my final thoughts here is a quick video review of the Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket If you enjoy the review make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to be the first to see my new content.
Wrap Up of the Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket
I had a really good experience with the Outdoor Vitals Vario Jacket. I have to admit to being a little skeptical when I first put it on. It was so light weight I didn’t think it would be able to keep me warm on a cold Colorado winter hike. I was wrong. The Vario kept me warm and comfortable every time I wore it out.
I was really impressed with the its ability to block the wind but stay breathable. Plus, the durability was really impressive for being so light weight. I rubbed against rocks and branches and never had any damage to the jacket. Also, I am happy to see an ultralight company making gear for some different body styles out there. So often companies don’t think of the non-traditional hike but OV has us covered.
I didn’t love the zippers but otherwise I was really happy with the jacket and used it a ton this winter for all of my Colorado hiking, It is packable enough that I will have it in my pack for the spring and fall hikes as well to make sure I am covered for those crazy changes in weather. Overall a nice jacket in the Ultralight category that has a lot of positivies.
More from the Fatman
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