outdoor research jackets

In Pursuit of Natural Down, OR Launches ‘SuperStrand’ Synthetic Jackets

Outdoor Research hopes to deliver its best warmth-to-weight ratio in a jacket ever, using new insulation it calls ‘SuperStrand.’ The brand also uses high-tech quilting and lightweight ripstop fabric to make a layer that retains the best of both worlds — down and synthetic.

Outdoor Research seeks to close the gap between synthetic and natural down with its new collection. VerticalX SuperStrand arranges synthetic fibers in strands instead of in sheets for a system it claims produces more loft.

The four-season jackets weigh just 10 ounces, and OR claims they’re “just as soft, light and lofty” as jackets that use its 700-800 fill power down. Ripstop nylon helps keep the insulation where it belongs, and a discontinuous quilting pattern aims to arrange the fibers to optimize comprehensive warmth.

All that and the jackets’ most impressive quality might be packability — they compress down to the size of your palm.

The key to the jackets’ effectiveness is that the polyester strands use air to increase loft, just like natural down does. SuperStrand mimics the shape of down clusters, which connect along strands.

The intended effect is to simulate down’s loose, soft, and supple texture. It also works around sheet insulation’s main drawbacks: stiffness, bulkiness, and resistance to compression when packed.

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Meanwhile, VerticalX SuperStrand retains the principal benefits of synthetic insulation. Compared to natural down, SuperStrand offers more warmth when wet and resists compression over time better.

The brand sees the hybridized result as a step forward in layering and versatility.

outdoor research SuperStrand

“SuperStrand is an extraordinary layer,” said Charlie Berg, Outerwear Product Manager for Outdoor Research. “It’s extremely light and supple, very packable, and offers superb warmth for how light it is. That results not only in an extremely pleasant wearing experience but a layer that works across a huge range of situations.”

We have one in testing and should have feedback on the SuperStrand soon.

The collection is available for men and women, with a hood (MSRP $219) or without (MSRP $200).

Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.