Does the blend of DWR treated down and Primaloft Gold make the OR Diode the ultimate belay jacket?
The unique PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Down Blend of the Diode Hooded Jacket packs the best attributes of each material into one weather-resistant and highly compressible insulation.
Well if you were looking for some damp conditions for testing out a belay jacket in UK winter conditions, this winter certainly provided. With a torrential January and the warmest February on record I was sorely frustrated to find some decent days to get out, let alone find decent winter conditions.
The Outdoor Research Diode Jacket, however, has been designed with just these conditions in mind. With a DWR Down layer covering the core regions and 60g of Primaloft Gold covering the shoulders, arms and hood where the jacket is likely to get wet. This isn’t the first jacket with type of mapping we’ve tested and the combination of down and synthetic filling is here to stay.
The main benefits of this type of system is to give you the best of both worlds, you get the warm when wet glow of the Primaloft and the core warmth and compressibility of the down. That the down has a DWR coating helps to keep the down lofted when damp. The OR Diode did perform well on those damp days and the Pertex Endurance shell helped there too.
There were plenty of great features on the OR Diode jacket – the wired hood was great and easily fitted over a helmet as well as being easy to adjust with the shock cord cinch. The chin guard came up cozy and has a microfibre layer to helped to keep my face warm, it was also fully adjustable and provided plenty of options. I usually had it fully opened out and just popped it over my helmet for belays. It is nice to know that I do have a good hood in case I have sit out a sudden storm – so top marks for a great and well thought out hood.
The Outdoor Research Diode Hooded Jacket has six pockets! A fully zipped outer chest pocket, complete with iPhone/iPod pouch and headphone slot (more for casual use as I’m sure my leader wouldn’t be best pleased if I was banging out my Spotify playlists as he was shouting down for rope!!!), a zipped inner pocket for keeping cameras or other small items of food in, two well sized mesh, inner pockets for keeping gloves warm and dry (they even worked well for keeping rock shoes in on those cold sport climbing days) and two fleece lined hand warmer pockets that were again, zipped and placed above the harness line (for those very cold ice days when wearing the jacket is essential). So no complaints about the pockets at all. The left hand pocket doubles up as the stuff sack which helps keep the Diode tidy for transport.
The all the outer zips were YKK Vislon and worked well with gloves on. I tested the Baltic/Typhoon blue jacket and the zips added a nice splash of red to the great colour of the jacket (the Green version also looks great). I had plenty of compliments about the colour and it looked a great retro ‘80s style jacket. The main zip was a double slider so I could easily adjust the jacket to accommodate my belay device when belaying. I never had any problems with the zip.
The baffling on the back of the jacket was stitched through which made the back a little cold on windy days (which it often is in the UK), but the front was warm enough and the Primaloft hem was easy to cinch up tight if I need it. The sleeves also cinched tight with a combination of an elasticated wrist and a stiffened velcro strap. There was plenty of wrist room to remove the jacket with gloves on without having to turn the sleeves inside out (always an infuriating 5 minutes on a windy belay).
That covers all the main features so let’s get to the main issue with the Outdoor Research Diode Jacket – the fit. The website states that the fit of the Diode is a standard fit and my usual test size is a Medium. I should also state that I have been losing weight this winter too as I have some ambitious rock climbing plans for this year and the Diode came up very (and I mean very ) tight, especially between my lateral muscles. I was so diappointed and I couldn’t really use it as a real winter belay jacket as there was no way I could zip it up with my normal winter layers on. Maybe I should have ordered a large but I am a stickler for testing my usual size so I can comment accurately on the fit. I would definitely recommend sizing up one size above your usual size. Other than between the armpits the jacket fitted fine and I feel that Outdoor Research should look again at the fit and make the jacket a little more generous around the torso and then it would be an awesome belay jacket.
Sizes S-XXL (remember they size smaller than usual) and the colour range is the great retro looking Blatic/Typhoon Blue, the super looking Flash/Dark Flash Green and Black for the shy and retiring. The Outdoor Research Diode also comes in a women’s version with sizes XS – XL and three colour options.
- Great features
- Nice hood
- Good mixture of down and Primaloft Gold – the jacket was very warm.
- Great mesh pockets
- Back was cold on windy days.
- Fit is way too tight between the armpit area.
Dave Sarkar has tested and reviewed climbing, mountaineering and outdoor equipment for almost 10 years. He works as a qualified MIA both in the UK and Internationally: working full time as a mountaineering instructor and expedition leader for his company Wild Spaces. When he isn’t working in the mountains he’s playing in the mountains and enjoys all aspects climbing and mountain sports whether bouldering at his local crag or ice climbing; as long as he’s going upwards he’s happy!