ProView – Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Jacket
As a climber, skier, and mountaineer, I am constantly on the hunt for equipment that can meet my needs in an array of uses and conditions without the need for sport-specific niche gear. The SuperStrand LT excelled across multiple sports, uses, and weather conditions. During testing, I found I reached for my SuperStrand LT more often than not for its comfort, warmth, and versatility.
Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Jacket
Product Name: Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Jacket
Product Description: Enjoy the best of both worlds with the SuperStrand LT Jacket: Ultralight, packable warmth that gives you the benefit of both down and synthetic insulations so you’ll never have to choose again. Find out why this is a trusted year-round insulator.
Offer price: MSRP: $199.00
The SuperStrand LT delivers a superb synthetic jacket with a high warmth to weight, durability, and most importantly versatility. No matter the use, you can count on the SuperStrand LT to keep you comfortable in a wide range of uses and conditions.
- High Warmth to Weight
- Missing a Few Features
With extensive use of many of Outdoor Research’s (OR) cutting edge jackets as well as similar styles of jackets from market competitors, I was excited to see what OR’s new proprietary VeticalX SuperStrand technology could deliver. Throughout testing I took the SuperStrand LT’s durability to the test on rough alpine rock, I took its warmth to the test on long alpine ice climbs in Rocky Mountain National Park, and I realized the SuperStrand’s versatility after using it on every mission in between.
As many outdoor sports enthusiasts know, it is hard to find a piece of gear that transcends the needs of different sports. I am constantly searching for layers that will work well at keeping me from sweating on the uphill, yet also keep me warm enough while I stand motionless belaying my partner climbing or heading downhill after transitioning atop my intended ski line. The SuperStrand LT however was able to deliver all of my needs in a simple and lightweight package. I found the SuperStrand LT to be the perfect balance between too much and too little insulation compared to many other market competitors’ jackets I have tried. Many people are familiar with Patagonia’s long-standing flagship synthetic jacket, the NanoPuff, which I will use to get everyone aquatinted with OR’s new VerticalX SuperStrand insulation. In comparison to the NanoPuff, the SuperStrand LT is lighter weight than the NanoPuff with just a touch less insulation and warmth if you are standing still. However, the SuperStrand LT delivers a higher warmth to weight ratio and breathability than the NanoPuff giving it an edge when used during high energy output activities. This greatly reduces sweating and in the long run, keeps me warmer and more hydrated than when I use my NanoPuff in similar situations. I found the SuperStrand LT to live up to the rugged durability that synthetic jackets have earned over the years. I ended up putting a small hole in the interior with an ice screw, which was a minor issue since you don’t lose synthetic insulation as you would with a down jacket and I was able to easily patch it upon returning home. I also found that when paired with OR’s award-winning Ferrosi soft-shell jacket, the combo delivers a supremely versatile duo of insulation, wind resistance, and durability!
I am 6’1” tall and 185 lbs and generally wear a men’s Large in men’s jackets and went with the Large in the SuperStrand LT. The jacket has a slightly boxy cut. It fits great around the shoulders and down the arms and flairs slightly below the armpits which gives it a slightly boxy cut from the armpits down to the waist. The arms are a perfect length for me with a neutral ape index.
The new SuperStrand LT jacket has a classic quilted look with a modern twist thanks to OR’s new VerticalX quilt pattern which creates a continuous baffle of insulation allowing for supreme warmth while reducing the stitching required. This jacket is equally at home in the mountains as it is the local brewery with its sleek look.
The SuperStrand LT comes adorned with plenty of features, yet at the same time misses out on a couple of common features even among other OR jackets. To start, the SuperStrand LT has the basic two external hip pockets adorned with zippers to keep your stuff secure. The pocket on the left external hip includes an interior zipper so you can stuff the jacket into its own pocket for convenient packing. The jacket also includes a moderately sized interior gear pocket on each the right and left sides of the jacket for quickly stowing away gloves, etc. while on the move. The hood is large enough to fit over a climbing helmet, but it’s a little tight to keep on while climbing. Lastly, both the cuffs and hem around the waist feature elastic to keep warmth in. The two features I wish the SuperStrand LT had are an elastic drawcord on the hem and a loop on the stuff pocket for clipping to a harness. The drawcord would help keep warmth in when you are standing around, especially since the jacket has a slightly boxy and flared cut near the waist. The loop on the inside of the stuff pocket is a feature almost all of my other OR jackets have which makes it easy to clip my jackets to my harness while climbing or stowing away. You can clip the SuperStrand LT through the zipper cord currently, but it just isn’t as burly as a designated loop like other jackets have.
There is not much in the outdoor industry as reliable and tough as synthetic jackets and insulation. The ability to tear without losing insulation easily as well as the fact that synthetic materials insulate even when wet leaves them at the top of my list when looking for gear to take into harsh conditions. The SuperStrand LT is no different. With multiple full days of climbing up against rough rock, sharp ice tools, and razor-edged ice screws all I have to show for it is a nickel-sized patch of tenacious tape. If you want something that can take a beating then look no further than the SuperStrand LT.
Friendliness to the Earth
I have said before on other OR reviews, as a professional biologist I always love to see outdoor companies holding themselves to high environmental and ethical standards. I can proudly report that after researching, Outdoor Research has a collection of certifications it adheres to for its products as well as mutually beneficial partnerships with many organizations that give back to local communities, boost research for future innovations, or take active roles in conservation. This can all be found on their site under the “Culture” tab at the top of the screen. Some of the certifications Outdoor Research follows are the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), and the Supplier Code of Conduct to name a few.
The Final Word
Now that I have praised the SuperStrand LT, I come back to its versatility. As I mentioned at the start, it’s hard to find gear that meets your needs across multiple sports, uses, or conditions. However, I have done it with the SuperStrand LT and can report back that this jacket is extremely versatile. I scrambled five Colorado 14ers in 30-50 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, rock climbed in Eldorado Canyon State Park using the SuperStrand LT to both climb and belay in, as well as climbed a big alpine ice route on Long’s Peak in RMNP and all I used throughout was the SuperStrand LT and OR’s Ferrosi Jacket as a combo! I look forward to using the SuperStrand LT as an insulating layer for ski touring, mountaineering, and ice climbing this winter due to its high breathability. If you run on the warmer side like myself, the SuperStrand LT should be a top contender for your next insulating layer. Thanks to the SuperStrand LT I was able to move faster, sweat less, maintain hydration, and stay comfortable for longer periods of time in the mountains which made me one happy camper. Come find me rocking the SuperStand LT at the local ice crag or ski area this winter!
About the Gear Tester
Zach is an aspiring alpinist, ski mountaineer, climber, and photographer. He is a Wilderness First Responder and frequently volunteers with the Colorado Mountain Club to help train future mountaineers. Zach works part-time as a marine biologist in Alaska and a wildlife biologist here in Colorado. You can catch him climbing around Golden where he lives today.