The highly flexible Outdoor Research Deviator Hoodie is a perfect fit

Finding a truly flexible jacket for fall can be a challenge. We’re entering late fall in my area, and the snow is coming eventually — it’s that awkward season where you need a jacket that can pull double-duty as a fall jacket and something that is also ready for colder weather.

Interestingly, the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoodie is flexible in more ways than one.

For starters, it is flexible in terms of when and where you can use it. I liked how breathable it was for early fall, when the cold is not quite so pronounced. The jacket has a thicker lining that is also breathable, but as the weather started to get colder, I noticed the hoodie worked wonders in terms of the fabric keeping me warm enough even in the 40s.

I tested the hoodie on a run in my area, and also during a long leaf-raking session. I noticed how the hoodie would let the air in when it was necessary, so it didn’t ever feel stuffy or too much like a rain shell. Yet, the Outdoor Research Deviator Hoodie also is thick enough that it’s not just intended as a parka or fall coat. OR describes it this way: “[The Deviator Hoodie] will retain warmth when it’s crucial yet breathe and sheds heat when moving.”

This is no accident. The hoodie uses new tech called VerticalX Octa along with ActiveTemp fabrics for a nice blend of warmth and airflow. You can actually see through the outer lining, and you can also feel the inner fabric and how it has a plush, warm feel. What this all means is that you have a high degree of flexibility for sun-soaked days or pre-winter adventures.

That sounds about right for me and what I like in a jacket, but the product is flexible in another way. I noticed on my hike that there’s no stiffness at all. With arms pumping on a brisk hike, the hoodie felt more like a sweater to me rather than something that was creating resistance or bulk. On the OR site, they rate every product according to some key factors, such as whether it is waterproof (this one is not) and the flexibility rating — the stretch rating is the highest they offer.

Other peaks for this jacket? It has a hoodie (as the name implies) so you can cover your head if things get a bit cold. There’s a large exterior pocket on the front, which is useful for things like keys or a phone. I liked the elastic on the wrists for sealing in the warmth, and also how the hoodie is tight and secure, instead of flopping around like other jackets I’ve tested.

As some of the commenters at the OR site noted, the jacket can be somewhat form fitting. I normally wear XL but had to switch out to an XXL for my test. In the XL size, the jacket fit fine, but just felt too cramped. Commenters recommended going a size bigger than you normally wear. Ironically, you actually want the jacket to fit nicely to seal in the warmth or release the air, so as long as you go a size bigger, the product will likely do what it’s intended to do.

It’s my favorite pre-winter jacket — not so light that fall weather becomes a bit unbearable, but not exactly a winter jacket either that is made for below freezing. I liked everything about it and then some — especially once I found the correct size and started a serious hike in the cold.