“Designed By Adventure.” At Outdoor Research, our products have been designed by adventure for more than 30 years, with features and fabrics imagined, tested and perfected in the wild. And like our products, our lives and the lives of our customers are sculpted by the experiences we have in the natural, unpredictable environments we love. We, too, are Designed By Adventure.
Polar Circus is a mega-classic, 2300-foot ice climb in the Canadian Rockies. It’s freezing out, but you’re hunkered down under the exposed final pitch’s incessant drip, and what you swear must be the only non-frozen water for miles. Or maybe you’re ski touring through the Saint Elias in Spring. It’s only day two and already, pretty much everything is wet. This is the time you find out if you made the right call on that down or synthetic coin-toss decision you made packing, way back where it was warm and dry. Did you go for the decadence of down and it’s light, compact warmth, or the all-condition reliability, and slight bulk and weight penalty, of a synthetic jacket?
The Hooded Diode Jacket was built to solve this conundrum once and for all.
I wanted the Diode to be the piece that eliminated that dilemma,” says Melanie Sirirot, the Diode’s designer and Outdoor Research’s Product Manager of Apparel. “I wanted an insulated jacket that you never questioned putting in your pack, for any trip.”
The design called on Outdoor Research’s Hybrid Mapping design philosophy, putting the best materials where they need to be for optimal performance, regardless of convention. As a result the Diode jacket uses areas of 100% PrimaLoft® Gold and areas of a 70% PrimaLoft Gold/30% DWR-Treated down blend. A mix of shell fabrics further fine-tune performance.
“These materials provided us the opportunity to reinforce exposed areas with the reliability of synthetic insulation, and use the lighter and more compressible PrimaLoft and down blend to help keep weight low and compressibility high,” said Sirirot.
As a result, the vulnerable hood, shoulders, waist, wrist, and outer arm areas are filled with 100% PrimaLoft Gold insulation, and the torso is filled with the blend of Primaloft Cold and DWR-treated goose down. Mapped to those same locations is a combination of water-resistant Pertex fabrics; a highly water-resistant two-layer, 30-denier Pertex Endurance fabric is mapped with the 100% PrimaLoft areas, and a lighter, more breathable and lighter 22-denier Pertex® Quantum fabric is mapped to the blended areas.
While warmth is the primary purpose of a big layer, Sirirot also wanted to pay attention to all those things that a big parka needs to keep you running smoothly in the field.
“We definitely took our time on the details too. When it’s -10F and blowing hard, the last thing you want to be doing is struggling with your jacket,” she said. “We built this jacket with ski mountaineers and ice climbers in mind, so that sort of functionality was mandatory.”
Starting at the top, the signature adjustability and moldable brim of the Halo™ Hood works great with or without a helmet, and bonded cord locks offer easy adjustment. Next, a zippered chest pocket with internal Media Pocket keeps phones and GPS’s from sloshing about while a pass-through port makes sure tunes are always close at hand.
At the bottom, two zippered hand pockets stop short of harnesses and pack waist belts. To keep the hem clean for snag-free racking of gear, the waist cinch cord is captured inside the jacket, taking care of any unwanted loops on the outside. A two-way zipper makes layering-up while tied-in a cinch and elastic sleeves cinch down easily with stiffened Velcro closures.
Inside, two mesh Stuff-It™ pockets swallow gloves and water bottles, and another chest pocket is placed opposite the external one to keep bulk down. Add the comfort of a brushed lining and a soft chin guard on the zipper and you’ve got a jacket you’re going to love pulling out of your pack.
“We needed a workhorse of a jacket to keep our guides warm in all conditions, hundreds of days a year.” says Nate Disser of San Juan Mountain Guides. Nick spends a lot of time both high up on Red Mountain Pass, and dealing with drippy climbs deep in the Ouray Ice Park’s Uncompahgre Gorge. “Warm, rugged, light and packable; the Diode exceeds our demands.”