Finding the right mid-layer jacket can be a tough chore, especially if you are hoping to not break the bank. For most hikers who are looking to become serious about their hobby, locating a perfect mid-later jacket can be frustrating, with thousands of companies each touting their product as the best. While many jackets are good, one has stood out to me as the very best- the Men’s Cathode Hooded Jacket from Outdoor Research.  

Outdoor Research is a Pacific Northwest company founded in 1981. Located in Seattle, the flagship store sits quietly along 1st Avenue near the SODO neighborhood, just a short mile from the busyness of Century Link and Safeco Fields. In a mostly nondescript, multistory building close to the ferry terminals, some of the best hiking, climbing and backpacking gear can be found. It was at the Outdoor Research store where I first saw the Outdoor Research Men’s Cathode Jacket.

The Men’s Cathode Hooded Jacket by Outdoor Research was winner of the Outside Magazine Gear of the Year award in 2014, lives up to its hype. The jacket is insulated, lightweight, and made from two unique materials that help keep it warm, flexible and water-resistant. Described as ideal for action in cold, wet alpine environments, this insulated jacket is great for any terrain and any elevation.

I purchased my Cathode Jacket in March of 2015, and after two months of hiking in it, I am in love. I have tested this jacket during all types of weather, from sleet at 9,000 feet while watching bears and wolves from remote ridges in Yellowstone National Park, a rainy day while hiking in the Hoh Rainforest, and a sunny day in the snows on Mount Rainier. Each time, the jacket has far and away exceeded my expectations.

The Men's Cathode Hooded Jacket in action at Yellowstone National Park
The Men’s Cathode Hooded Jacket in action at Yellowstone National Park

What I Like

The Cathode Hooded Jacket is one of my go-to layers for any weather. I probably wear this jacket more than I should. In warm temperatures, the jacket feels light, and breathes well enough that you won’t overheat. In cold weather, the jacket becomes like a security blanket, wrapping your torso up, keeping in warm. The adjustable hood is a nice addition, and the pockets are easily accessible, even when using it as one of many layers. Along the inner arms and sides, the jacket is made out of a stretchy material that not only breathes, but still maintains your body heat and keeps the wind out. I also am a huge fan of the Lemongrass/Leaf color scheme, but the blue and black are also quite awesome.

What I Would Change

There is honestly very little I would change on this jacket. It fits well, stays comfortable without riding up, and can stuff down into a soft pillow. The only downside I could mention about this jacket would be that it isn’t 100% waterproof, but it isn’t designed to be, so that is me being extremely picky. I pair this with my amazing rain jacket and I am not only warm, but also completely dry and happy, even while hiking for miles during a downpour in the rainforests of Olympic National Park. Honestly, I love this jacket, and I am pretty sure anyone who puts it on will love it too.

Why You Should Buy It

 If you are looking for a great priced mid-layer jacket that can be worn hiking, skiing, on dates or to the store, the Cathode Hoody is incredible. Buy it for the comfort and warmth and fall in love with its versatility. It is a trim fit jacket, meaning it conforms to the wearer’s body and moves with them, rarely catching or snagging with even the most active of users.


The jacket is 60% waterproof, lightweight, with three zippered pockets. The left hand pocket as doubles as a stuff sack, making it ideal to use as a pillow on long car trips, airplane trips, and even as a pillow in your bivy while backpacking. The hood is fully adjustable and can fit over a helmet when needed. The jacket also has an average weight 13.3oz.


The jacket currently is selling for $199 from the Outdoor Research price, and comes with an infinite guarantee. All outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever, ensuring that you get the most use out of this jacket without worrying about it falling apart.

Buy Your Own: Men’s Jacket Link and Woman’s Jacket Link

Want to learn more about this jacket? Contact me via Twitter: @exotichikes

Watching the sunrise at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, staying warm with my Cathode Jacket.
Watching the sunrise at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, staying warm with my Cathode Jacket.