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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest > Test Report by Kurt Papke
Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest
|Height:||6' 4" (193 cm)|
|Weight:||225 lbs (102 kg)|
|Email address:||kwpapke at gmail dot com|
|City, State, Country:||Tucson, Arizona USA|
|Year of manufacture
Also available: Lemongrass/Evergreen (green), Glacier (blue), Earth/Caf (brown), Black
||Listed: 9.4 oz (267 g) for Large size
Measured garment weight: 10.8 oz (306 g) for XL
Also available: Small, Medium, Large, XX-Large
||100% polyester, 20D ripstop outer; 100%
nylon taffeta, 44D nylon lining
650 fill down
Check back in two months when I've had a chance to tromp
around a bit in the mountains wearing this garment and see
what I have to say about it in my Field Report.
||Terrain/ trail type
|Dec 28-29, 2013||Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona||Sycamore
|Mountain canyons||Sunny, 24-60 F
|January 11-12, 2014||Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona||Romero Canyon
|Mountain canyons||Sunny, 30-70 F
|January 19-20, 2014||Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona||Sutherland
|Mountain foothills, Jeep trail, and steep mountain ascent||Hazy, 40-65 F
|February 7-9, 2014||Grand Canyon National Park||Grandview Loop
|Deep desert canyon||Mix of sun and clouds, 25-60 F
I had never hiked the Sycamore Canyon section of the Arizona
National Scenic Trail, and I was looking for a trail with not
too much elevation gain/loss for a change, so I set out on a
Saturday afternoon for an overnight hike. I put the vest
on as soon as I reached camp over the top of a merino wool
long-sleeve shirt, as the temperature was dropping fast.
I was quite comfortable while setting up camp, but started to
get chilled as I prepped dinner so I added a pair of
down-filled sleeves that I recently purchased. This
turned the vest into a jacket, which worked quite well.
During the night I rolled the vest up into the left pocket
and used it as a pillow. It worked really great for that
purpose, except in a hammock it rolled down to the bottom
whenever I lifted my head up.
The next morning I wore the same combo of the vest over a
merino wool shirt while breaking camp. I appreciated the
freedom of motion the vest gave me while doing these camp
chores. I left the vest on as I began my hike back out
when the air temperature was right around the freezing point,
and removed it after about 30 minutes as I began to overheat.
Overall I was very pleased with the performance of the vest
on my first backpack with it. It kept me warm and was a
great pillow while taking up very little space and weight in
I purchased a new hammock that I wanted to try out, so I
headed out for a quick overnight to my favorite camping spot
in the Catalina Mountains. Same drill as the prior hike; I put
the vest on as soon as I reached camp over the top of a merino
wool long-sleeve shirt. The following picture shows me
wearing the vest while filtering water as I was setting up
As the sun set it started getting really cold, so I added my down sleeves to the configuration:
This is a really nice, lightweight combination: the
Transcendent vest + down sleeves. A down jacket is far
too warm to hike in, but the vest is perfect for cold
mornings. With the addition of the sleeves I am prepared
for cold nights in camp.
The next morning I wore the vest for the first 30 minutes of
hiking as the temperature was right around freezing.
I have done several short sections of this trail as a day
hike, but it ascends all the way to the summit of Mt Lemmon
and I had never spent the night along the trail so I thought
I'd see how far up I could go. The trail starts out with
a gentle climb in the foothills, then turns into a rugged Jeep
trail, finally transitioning to a brutally rough climb
straight up the mountainside.
Due to the overcast skies the temperatures were a little
warmer on this hike at night than the prior outings. I
wore the vest while cooking dinner, then again at
breakfast. I did not hike with the vest on. Bottom
line: the Transcendent vest continues to do a great job of
keeping me warm in-camp with a very low cost in weight and
space in my pack.
The Grandview Loop is a "lollipop" hike: it begins by
descending to Horseshoe Mesa from the Grandview Trailhead,
loops to the left down to Cottonwood Creek, then connects to
the Tonto Trail to circle the backside of the mesa, hooking
back up with a connector trail back up to the top of the mesa
at Hance Creek, then back up to the trailhead. This was
only my second foray into the Canyon, and though off the
beaten path it requires only modest mileage and altitude for a
three day hike and has water available at convenient
The conditions were a bit challenging: fresh snow covered the
trail on my descent, and over the course of the next two days
the snow thawed and was trampled down enough to turn to slick
ice on the way up out of the Canyon. Temperatures were
cool, but I had prepared for worse than I got.
I wore the vest mostly in camp during the evenings and while
having breakfast in the morning, but also when starting out in
the morning of Day Three as it was pretty chilly. On
both nights the vest served as a great pillow by stuffing it
into the pocket. The following picture was taken just
before sunset on Day Two at the campsite on the mesa - it
cools down very quickly in the Canyon this time of year once
the sun gets low in the sky.
||Terrain/ trail type
|April 5-6, 2014
||Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona||Romero Canyon
|Mountain canyons||Sunny, 38-68 F
|April 12, 2014
||Santa Catalina Mtns, near Tucson, Arizona||Mount
This was just a little sub-24-hour backpack into my favorite
local canyon. I wasn't expecting much in the way of
severe weather, so I wore a long-sleeved hiking shirt and took
the vest as my only upper-body warmth. As usual, as the
sun went down the temperature dropped quickly, but I was able
to eat dinner very comfortably with just the vest over my
shirt. After dinner I retired to my hammock and covered
up my legs with a quilt. The vest served well as always
as my sleeping pillow.
It was a bit chilly in the morning, so I ended up wearing the
vest for about the first hour of hiking.
This was not a hike, but rather a chilly evening spent gazing
at the stars through one of the largest publicly-accessible
telescopes in the United States. As the title infers,
this observatory is located at the summit of Mount Lemmon just
outside of Tucson and operated by the University of
Arizona. Chilly conditions were expected, so I packed
the Transcendent vest and a windproof fleece as I expected a
stiff breeze at the summit.
Once the sun set and the temperatures plunged, I spent most
of the evening with the vest worn underneath the fleece.
This worked exceptionally well, as the wind blocking shell
prevented convective heat loss, and the vest kept my core nice
and toasty, even when standing around in the observatory
waiting for my turn to gaze at the Orion Nebula.
Bottom line: the Transcendent vest can keep me warm when
stationary under pretty chilly conditions when worn as an
insulation layer under a wind-blocking shell.
I don't have any details to add to the summary in my Field
Report. Overall, I have been very happy with this down
vest. I intend to carry it on many of my future
backpacking outings, primarily in the shoulder seasons when
hiking at altitude when I need to deal with modestly chilly
weather where a vest will be adequate. I like to keep my
pack as light and compact as possible, and this little vest
packs a lot of warmth in a small footprint and weight.