Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoody

  • Wilderness Backpacker

Overview

With robust construction and hearty materials, a multitude of pockets, and the capability of turning into a personal pillow, the Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoody is a beast of a down jacket.

Warmth, wind resistance, and outstanding functionality makes the Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoody our Budget Pick for the Wilderness Backpacker.

Now, before you balk, we know that roughly $225 for a jacket may not feel like a “budget” option. There are cheaper down jackets on the market, like the much less expensive REI Co-Op Down Hoody, which we recommend for other Backpacker Types. However, for Wilderness Backpacking we believe a durable, warm, multi-functional layer is more important than extreme savings. The quality of the Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoody for the price, which is quite a bit less than other down jackets on the market, makes it a solid choice.

Read the full review of the Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoody below, and check out our comprehensive guide to down jackets to learn more about this cozy, feather-filled layer.

Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Insulation Quality 650-Fill Down On the lower spectrum of down fill for high-end down jackets. Less fill power means less overall warmth for weight.
Insulation Type Goose Down, Responsible Down Standard Certified No unnecessary harm to the geese.
Fill Weight 4.23 oz (120 g) Fairly high amount of down stuffed in jacket, though it’s 650-fill down, so not as warm overall.
Shell Fabric

100% polyester 20D ripstop shell

100% nylon 44D embossed taffeta lining

Burly outer material and rugged lining. Very sturdy coat in the field of down jackets.
DWR Treatment Yes Standard treatment on exterior of jacket.
Number of Pockets 5 Two zippered hand-warmer pockets, one stealth chest pocket, and two nice drop-in internal pockets. You can store stuff in this thing.
Stuffs Into Itself Yes Stuffs into hand-warmer pocket, which has a fleece lining for warm hands and cozy pillows. There’s a key loop for easy storage too!
Hood/Jacket Option Yes Available as a hoody or a sweater.
Adjustable Hood Yes Three independent toggles in hood. One on the back, two on either side of your face. Kick that wind out.
Adjustable Waist Yes Two independent toggles for the waist. Get tight.
Average Weight 16 oz. (Men’s Medium) Heavier than other down jackets we highlight due to burly material and lower fill power.
Gender Men’s, Women’s The Transcendent is the Men’s version, the Aria is the women’s. Similar, though not exactly the same.
Sizes Available S-XXL Mostly sizes for all, except for the very small.
Manufacturer Warranty Infinite Guarantee Lifetime warranty on all products no matter what. Yeah.
Retail Cost $225.00 Just barely budget (for down jackets) for an amazing piece of kit.

Origins: Easing You In

I set up camp just beyond pine and oak woods in an open plain of the Angeles National Forest, a spot I frequent often due to my proximity to the city. As the distant glow of Los Angeles beamed between two peaks, I threw on the Transcendent Down Hoody. The sun had begun to fall; its light dipped through the lowland shrub and as it left the cold came.

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I was excited to see how the Transcendent Down Hoody would fare in near-freezing conditions.

You know that feeling you get when you’re setting up camp and all of a sudden that cold front of wind hits? Well, that happened, and it didn’t look like it would let up for the night.

Luckily for me, the Transcendence Down Hoody was on before the menacing front slapped me in the face. I tightened each adjustable hem: there are two on the waist and three in the hood.

The waist hem pulled, toggled, and stuck comfortably. I tightened it rather forcefully (so it was on too tight) to see if it would remain lodged and it did. Solid.

I pulled the three (yes, three!) adjustable points on the hood to keep it as close to my face as possible, keeping the cold front from creeping in and ruining my solo backcountry party.

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Well made, low profile hood adjustments keep out wind.

It’s always nice having options, and the adjustable hems on the Transcendent Down Hoody are clearly made to work for many future endeavors. This was important, considering the temperature had dropped 10-12 degrees as night came on. I needed to stay warm and I had concrete evidence that the Transcendent Down Hoody could perform.

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California light is deceiving. It’s freezing.

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

There were two moments, one of which is basically outlined above. I could not tell how much the wind had picked up until I removed the Transcendent Down Hoody, but when I did the wind hit me like a ton of bricks. I threw the jacket back on and lo and behold…no wind.

The Transcendent doubles as a windbreaker! A really wonderful amenity considering that cold and wind can be a forceful pair to defend yourself from, and one that down jackets don’t always protect against.

The second moment: It was time to retreat into my tent for the evening and sleep. I took off the Transcendent Down Hoody and used the right fleece-lined pocket to compact the jacket into a decent pillow. Yeah, a fleece-lined pillow.

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Multi-functionality at its best.

Let it be known that I, though not too picky with many things, am very picky with pillows. Pillows have to be just right or I hate them. Basically, I am the Goldilocks of pillows.

The Transcendent Down Hoody surprised me as to just how comfortable it could be as a pillow. It wasn’t rock hard like I assumed it would be (considering the cold), and after careful redistribution it rounded out fairly easily, like a pillow should.

I slept like a baby. Though, I never understood that saying because all the babies I know sleep horribly and cry and piss their diapers throughout the night. I (fortunately) did none of that, so I will retract my statement and instead say that I slept like a healthy, functional adult.

Digging Deeper

I’ve already described the adjustable points on the jacket for warmth saving, but I have to do it one more time. There are five adjustments on this coat, which is more than any other down jacket we recommend, and more than most have. It allows a super custom fit in the right places to stay warm.

Next up: If you’re a pocket person, it’s time to get stoked.

There are two enormous drop-in internal pockets that take up the bottom half of the inside of the jacket. There’s enough room in each for a Chihuahua. (Though I wouldn’t recommend testing that out — just believe me on this one.)

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The drop-in pockets are huge and well made.

Then there’s the zippered fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets on each side of the Transcendent Down Hoody. These were like two cozy sanctuaries for my freezing fingers all night.

Finally there’s a hidden pocket about chest level on the left side where the “OR” logo is. It’s spacious for a low-profile chest pocket and perfect for anything needed in a rush: a lighter, keys, bandana, etc.

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Super stealth chest pocket.

Comfort

The Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoody, with its bulky material and weight, made me feel like an Iditarod husky: happily insulated and ready to take on what’s ahead of me. Although I’m glad I’m not really a husky… I’d miss chocolate way too much.

Durability

This hoody feels less like a jacket and more like an impenetrable wall to keep out the wind. If I was a member of the Night’s Watch I would be wearing this jacket to protect myself from Whitewalkers. (Well, under some actual armor, too).

Fit

The Transcendent Down Hoody is billed as a “standard” fit. Well, it felt like a standard fit — as in, not exceptional. It wasn’t terrible, and remains comfortable, but was larger than I’m used to, especially in the torso. I’m 6-foot, 165 pounds, and tested the Men’s medium for reference.

Style

I would also be the slickest looking of the Night’s Watch crew, as this hoody is sporty and stylish. I feel like I should constantly be wearing aviator sunglasses with this jacket on.

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Aviators for the win.

Grievances

As well as the down jacket performed, there are a couple questionable things, and it’s likely why the Transcendent Down Hoody doesn’t cost as much as other jackets.

At 16 ounces (for a Men’s Medium), the Outdoor Research Transcendent hoody is on the heavy side as far as down jackets like these go. This is due to its 650-fill power down and rather bulky material.

If you’re planning on packing as humanly light as possible, you might want to go with another down jacket, like the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody. I know 16 ounces (one pound) doesn’t seem like a lot of added weight, but when you throw everything else you need in your pack, you’re going to want that little weight back.

Final Word

The Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoody is functional, stylish, loaded with pockets and hem adjustments, and strong enough to last a lifetime in the cold and wind. Whether you’re in the backwoods under a chilly mountain or in more brutal conditions, take the Outdoor Research Transcendent along for the ride.

Purchase

The Transcendent Down Hoody the Men’s version of this jacket, and what we tested. The Women’s version is called the Aria Down Hoody, and is very similar. The fill power, materials, and overall construction is like the Transcendent, but the baffle styling is quite different, there is no stealth chest pocket, and it doesn’t stuff into its own pocket, but a separate stuff sack. Also, the Aria Down Hoody costs $10 more.

We like the Transcendent more overall, but the Aria will perform equally as well. You’ll find the Transcendent Down Hoody and Aria Down Hoody below. The Transcendent is also offered in a Sweater version as well; it are the same coat, except the Sweater has no hood. This choice depends on your layering system and preference. The Aria is not offered in a sweater, but a larger parka or vest.

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Dave C Wright

Dave C Wright is a writer and musician based in Ventura County, California. He’s an avid camper who enjoys surfing and paddleboarding, wilderness exploring, and travel. His collection of Muppets and Marx Brothers memorabilia is extensive. Visit Dave's website to see just how funny he can be.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don't effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.