Best Outdoor Gear Outdoor Research Layering System

Climbing the Engelhörner's Rosenlauistock with the Wellhorn and Wetterhorn behind, Switzerland

Both Janine and I live in our Deviators – our favorite OR piece

Outdoor Research is a brand we have come to know very well. After four years of shooting photos for them, literally living in their clothing, and using it for all our mountain time, we know the very best pieces. One of the biggest advantages of getting to use a lot of products a company makes is that you get to create ideal systems. Some products are designed to be used together, other systems you create on your own by trial.
OR’s best offerings are more than just one or two pieces, it’s the system that I have found to work so well for much of what I do, especially alpine climbing and ski touring where the right layering is important.
1. Base layer : the Echo Tee : A pretty standard synthetic shirt available in short, or long sleeve. The Echo does the job, dries very quickly, and OR claims has stink guard. They’re light enough to carry two for making the swap when one is wet.
2. Light insulation : Deviator : This is everyone’s favorite piece of clothing. Light, Polartec fleece arms and hood combined with an ultralight polartec puffy, nylon chest. The temperature range it functions in is what makes it so good, and it weighs nearly nothing. It’s one of those pieces of clothing that goes on every trip in the mountains, no matter the sport.

A backcountry skier carrying his skis while climbing the Blanc de Moming, a classic ski peak in the Swiss Alps Wallis Region. Skiers are rewarded with a 2000 meter descent to Zinal.3a. Ultralight Puff : Filament Sweater : This is a piece of gear I have started using more and more after discovering how much warmth it provides with minimal weight. At just over 200 grams, not much else will keep you this warm for that kind of weight. Thanks to 800 fill down, it has tremendous lofting without any bulk. It’s been along for a lot of high alpine mountain runs, and ski mountaineering, where I know I am going to get up high, need to quickly get warm, and blast down. It’s also easily stuffed away in its tiny pocket and kept in the pack for peace of mind.

Did you catch the part about the Filament weighing 200 grams…? It should go where you go, in case of…

3b. Medium Puff : Uber Layer : Last winter I lived in my Super Layer, seemingly the ideal puffy. But, as usual, something even better may have came along. This year the Super may be replaced by the Uber Layer. It’s form fitting, has a hood, and is a puffy insulation piece you can work hard in without melting down. And, it’s only slightly heavier than the Super. Janine and I both wore these everyday in the Himalaya this year, the perfect test as it is both sunny and warm, but with icy cold air regularly blasting you. Like the Super Layer, the temperature range that you can wear it in is wide thanks to how breathable the material and design are.
Runner Up but needs additional time : The Diode : Combining down with synthetic, this puffy has all the benefits of each insulation. We used it extensively in the Himalaya but look forward to putting it to more use come ski touring season. One to watch.

4. Sentinel Sun Sleeves / Arm Warmers : OR calls these sun protection, I call them chill protection. They weigh nothing, disappear in your pocket, dry instantly, and add just that little bit of added warmth. Put them in your “always goes along” kit.

You barely see, or feel, OR’s arm warmers


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