Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

ProView – Outdoor Research Alpine Onset Hoody

Swoosh- click, swoosh, click, swoosh, click. My skis gracefully slide forward into deep fluffy snow, leaving a satisfyingly crisp imprint, before my heel drops and the next step begins. For me, there is no more satisfying rhythm than that of backcountry skiing. However, backcountry skiing (i.e.: walking uphill at altitude in deep snow with 15-20 lbs. on your feet) is also unsatisfyingly sweaty, and there’s no getting around it, I am a sweaty guy. Because of this tendency toward moisture, layering is life, and an effective base layer is vital for me to fully enjoy whatever aerobic activity I am engaged in. The Outdoor Research Alpine Onset Hoody exceeded my expectations for a base layer in terms of wicking ability, dry time, comfort, and odor control.

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

Outdoor Research Alpine Onset Hoody

Product Description: Merino wool has long been heralded as nature's best temperature-regulating fabric. With the ability to hold onto heat in cold temps, manage moisture in humidity or during strenuous activity, and dry quickly in any type of wet environment, there's no doubt as to why we choose merino wool for one of our most important layers: the foundation. For chilly backpacking, mountaineering, or skiing trips, and for humid hiking, paddling, and climbing excursions, the Alpine Onset Collection are the base layers you need to keep your temperature in check.

Price: $130 MSRP

  • Durability
    (3)
  • Fit
    (3)
  • Style
    (4.5)

Summary

Ultimately, the Alpine Onset checks all the fundamental boxes of an effective merino wool base layer. It regulates temperature, dries quickly, keeps odor to a minimum, and is comfy! Thus despite the durability issues, and subtle room for improvement in the zipper, thumb hole, and sizing departments; I give it a 3.5/5 for its ability to get the job done at a super reasonable price point.

Overall
3.6

Pros

  • Temperature management
  • Odor control
  • Comfort

Cons

  • Zipper placement
  • Durability

Over the last two months, I have truly put this piece through the wringer on everything from half marathon trail runs, to long multi-pitch outings in Red Rocks, Nevada, to strenuous backcountry ski tours in Southwest Colorado. It saw me through the transition from fall to winter in weather that ranged from hot and sunny to frigid and dumping snow.

As an outdoor educator and instructor, it’s important for me to have my equipment scene dialed. If I’m futzing about with my gear, that’s taking away from my ability to pay attention to my students. So I put a big priority on my gear systems, and layering systems are no exception.  

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

 

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

Performance

Comfort wise this piece hits the nail on the head. The material, which is primarily merino wool with some spandex and nylon for stretch, has a soft skin feel and never caused any chafing or itching. I appreciated the flat seams which I never noticed under pack straps.

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

I found the wicking and drying performance of this piece to be outstanding. The tried and true merino does its job and does it well. On a tour up Red Lady Bowl outside Crested Butte that gained 3000 ft. of elevation over a handful of miles, I was impressed with how well I was able to ventilate my core with the ½ length zipper. I was equally impressed with the fact that my back was nearly dry by the time I finished our first 900 vertical foot lap and took my shell off. I found the hood to be perfect for putting on over a ball cap when there was a chill in the air, and the elastic nature of the hood helped keep it on and in place even in high winds. While climbing I appreciated the elastic and lightweight nature of the Alpine Onset. It moved with me super well and seemed to strike that perfect -warm in the shade, cool in the sun- feel on a 55-60 degree day in Red Rocks, NV. The fact that I didn’t get any armpit chaffing on the 13-15 mile trail runs I wore it on is definitely a testament to the comfort of the fabric.

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

As mentioned before I sweat a lot, so I like to wear my base layers next to the skin with no short sleeve underneath. As a result, although I love the zipper length, I would also love to have a flap of fabric on the inside against the skin. The zipper can be cold and uncomfortable directly against the skin, and when it is fully zipped with the hood up, the metal zipper toggle rests directly on my lips, which is bothersome. I would also love to see thumbholes in future iterations of this piece. They add a lot of functionality for putting gloves on, keeping the sleeve in place when putting on other layers or reaching above your head climbing, and add an extra coziness factor.

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

Look/Style

The style of the Alpine Onset is fairly chic and I wore it occasionally in casual situations. The black and grey combo is classy and might even pass in some Boulder or Bend offices. OR’s fit guide placed me as a large, which ended up feeling a little baggy. For someone my size 5’11’’ and 175lbs I would definitely go with a medium for a trim and tight base layer fit. That being said, if you like a little room in your base layers, I didn’t experience any deficit in functionality, in fact, it was sort of nice to have more material to tuck into my ski pants.

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

Durability/Construction

As a working outdoor professional my gear takes a beating. So take my criticisms of this piece’s durability with a grain of salt knowing that I’ve used it multiple days a week for the past two months. With that being said, over the past two months, this piece has developed multiple small holes in areas that are surprising, such as the front abdominal section. This is in addition to typical areas for holes, such as the front shoulder area and ends of the sleeves. This is the kind of wear that I would expect from similar garments after six months of use and many washes and is slightly disappointing. It is worth noting that this is likely due to the very thin, light nature of the fabric which in every other way is functional and advantageous. Less important to me, but notable, the color stayed fine through multiple washes.

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

 

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

The Final Word

Ultimately, the Alpine Onset checks all the fundamental boxes of an effective merino wool base layer. It regulates temperature, dries quickly, keeps odor to a minimum, and is comfy! Thus despite the durability issues, and subtle room for improvement in the zipper, thumb hole, and sizing departments; I give it a 3.5/5 for its ability to get the job done at a super reasonable price point.

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

Shop the Outdoor Research Alpine Onset Hoody on Outdoor Prolink. Not a member? Apply today!

AJ Verkouw has been working in the field of outdoor education in the West for the better part of a decade. During that tenure, AJ has worked as a professional ski patroller, avalanche educator, river guide, and climbing instructor. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Utah where he serves as the graduate assistant of trips and training at the Outdoor Adventures program, and an adjunct avalanche, mountaineering, and climbing instructor for the U-EXPLORE program. He spends summers as a lead instructor on mountaineering, climbing, and backpacking courses for the Colorado Outward Bound School.

Outdoor-Research-Alpine-Onset-Hoody-Review-dirtbagdreams.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *