“Be bold, start out the cold,” the words ring in my ears as the swish-swish from skins meeting newly fallen snow echo between the trees of this winter wonderland. Every time I set out on a skin track or hike some peak I say these words to myself, even out loud to others yet just ten short minutes from now we’ll all stop and shed layers or grab thinner gloves. Where did this tidbit of mountain wisdom come from? Was it some guru who sits high atop their mountain whispering into the minds of mountain travelers? Your first mentor who introduced you to these wild places? Or maybe is was the bro-bra full of stoke slinking out of his van in the local parking lot. Whoever it was doesn’t matter, we all know this saying yet we seemingly all fail to make use of it.
Outdoor Research Centrifuge Review
It might be that its not our fault after all but possibly the clothing choice available to us. I know, sounds ridiculous but after getting a hold of the Outdoor Research Centrifuge Hoody this now seems completely true to me. Let me explain. if you’re about to go out in the elements on a winter day you really only have a few choices: a GORE-TEX shell, a fleece jacket, and either a synthetic or down puffy of varying thicknesses. Yet each fails because of a different very valid reason and sure you can bring all these choices with you but that’s extra weight and time changing in and out of jackets, shedding layers and stowing them in your pack and we all know time in the mountains is worth its weight in gold.
GORE-TEX or similar membranes fail because lets all just face it, they don’t breathe. Yes I’m sorry to ruin it for you but they just don’t, if they did breathe you wouldn’t have ten-inch armpit zips on your shell and a front zipper. The good thing about GORE-TEX is that for the most part it is waterproof for most of the conditions you’ll encounter.
Fleece seems like a good choice because it breathes yet again overall it fails. Fleece jackets just aren’t waterproof and most aren’t windproof. Once they soak up moisture from sweat or precip you freeze and once again have to change clothing or into a different jacket.
Puffy’s don’t fit well either for high activity either. Mostly you get too hot or too clammy. Down soaks up sweat like a sponge and synthetic doesn’t breathe very well either. Again, you have to change then you end up carrying a wet rag in the bottom of your pack for the rest of the journey.
Pros: simple, warm, breathable, light, well-designed hood, hidden thumb holes, single hem adjustment, covers butt and groin, top-down zippers.
Cons: front zipper could use a longer pull
If nothing seemingly works well for activity in the mountains in all conditions, what else can you do but carry an odd array of choices in your pack and keep stopping and changing at a moments notice? The Outdoor Research Centrifuge Hoody answers this call with amazing simplicity. At first glance, I must admit I didn’t really think much of it as I hung it on the coat rack next to a handful of much more expensive jackets with a tons more bells and whistles. Not that I thought little of it but just that it didn’t seem to stand out. To my surprise after using it, every detail it does have is very well thought out almost to point of genius. Never forget the KISS rule: Keep It Stupidly Simple and this hoody does it perfectly. It’s exactly what I needed: nothing more and nothing less, please let me explain.
What you’ll notice off the right off the bat is that its a hybrid of sorts with shell-like panels on exterior parts and a woven type fabric almost reminiscent of fleece on the interior sections. The shell-like panels do a really great job of repelling almost all precip that comes at you on a fall or winter day up to very light rain, for heavy rain I would still wear a membrane type shell but water readily beads up and rolls off the Centrifuge. The only time I noticed water soaking into these exterior panels were just a few of these micro-droplets that you might encounter when its misting but only like 1/100 would soak in but I never felt wet or the jacket becoming heavy because of it. These exterior panels also stretch and move with you adding to comfort while remaining snug for warmth. The woven fabric on the jacket lines the interior sections, is on the back and underside of the arms is amazing as well, I still have no idea how its able to breathe so well but keep almost all the wind out. The only time I felt a bit cold is when the twenty-degree wind was gusting at 60 mph from behind me, all other times I felt at just the right temperature when on the move. Helping this case immensely is that the medium covers my buttocks and groin areas providing that extra bit of warmth and an elastic hem tightens this down with one quick adjustment on the right side. I really really dislike these adjustments on most other jackets as there are usually two of them to fool with where one side is taught and the other loosens or they have loops that get caught or won’t simply adjust well, usually you set these and never touch them again but not here. The Centrifuge tightens down with one quick pull or loosens just the same, thank you OR for doing this. The front zipper is accessible and I found myself zipping up and down mid-chest when I felt like it to find that perfect temp. the front zipper is also the only thing I would improve on this jacket as I wish the pull was a bit longer so I could grip it better while wearing gloves. On the sleeves are thumb-holes for homeless gloves which I didn’t use much except once when I decided to go on a winter run which I might add this jacket also worked quick well for proving its worth in another cross over activities.
The thumb-holes aren’t the most comfortable ever but I really like how they pull a Houdini act, disappearing into the hem of the cuff when not in use and blocking out any snow which is always trying to get in. The hood on this jacket is really great, it fits snug almost like a skimo racer but much more comfy. The throat section is also made up of the woven wind blocking fabric which is an awesome, awesome detail and vents any unnecessary heat in this area right out. Finally, all the pockets, two sides and one chest zip from the top down. “So what,” you say but not everyone does this. Whenever you have things stowed in a pocket and it zips from the bottom up, guess what? Everything comes flying out and then you’re stuck trying to find chapstick or car keys in feet of snow.
Like I said every detail thought out and done right. Final words on the Outdoor Research Centrifuge Hoody ($225)? Be bold, start out cold and you won’t be disappointed with this modestly priced winter hoody. Should you still bring a puffy or shell in the backcountry? Yes, but either for the ride out or for safety concerns but one thing for sure is that you’ll be going into your pack a lot less and not shedding layers.