Ninja Star: Outdoor Research Whirlwind Hoody

It’s funny looking back on how I acquired the Outdoor Research Whirlwind Hoody. A few years ago, a friend had bought one and wouldn’t shut up about how much he loved the lightweight, versatile layer. For the better part of the fall, he had been pulling the hoody from his pack on windy ridge lines and exposed summits throughout the White Mountains. Whether hiking or climbing, he was sure to be accompanied by his bright blue Whirlwind. After what felt like the millionth time of being told how great the jacket was, an Outdoor Research special arrived in my email featuring the Whirlwind at a price too good to pass up.

Another friend and I both bought the jacket, inspired by the testimonial and thinking it would be humorous if all three of us owned the same pullover. Neither one of us mentioned buying the jacket, as we looked forward to interrupting a soliloquy on the merits of the Whirlwind with the removal of our versions of the jacket. I still fondly remember the day of the unveiling; the three of us were hiking up Mount Washington’s Huntington Ravine to climb Henderson Ridge. As we moved up the ravine, you could hear the wind picking up from above the trees, and the two of us shot knowing looks at one another.

Racking up for the climb, out came the bright blue Whirlwind and the verbal barrage of superlatives. As my friend continued his speech on the merits of Outdoor Research’s praise-worthy windshirt, the two of us quietly removed our own Whirlwinds from our packs and donned them. The look we got when our friend turned around was priceless, as was the laugh we had. In fact, that moment alone was worth purchasing the Whirlwind. Even better, the Whirlwind has now been a four-season staple of my layering systems for the past two years.

I have found the Outdoor Research Whirlwind an indispensable part of my layering system whether I am hiking, climbing, or ski touring. Mine has even seen a fair amount of around-town wear when it hasn’t been too dirty (or too smelly). Thanks to its lightweight design and packability, there is hardly ever a reason to leave it behind—and due to its wind- and water-resistance, there is hardly an occasion that it’s not suited for. Whether it’s windy White Mountain summits, cool-weather cragging, or fighting off frigid temperatures on morning skin laps, the Outdoor Research Whirlwind Hoody is always up to the task.

My Whirlwind has been dragged up numerous 4,000-footers and rope-lengths in its three years of service and has accompanied me on both of the big trips I’ve taken during the last two years. First to Mount Shasta, then to Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helens. While the Outdoor Research Whirlwind Hoody has proven durable, it’s finally starting to show its age…and the tremendous amount of use I have gotten out of it. One of the sleeve cuffs has begun to rip, and I have almost worn a hole in the back where I presume my ski bag rubs. Of course, I could send the jacket back to Outdoor Research and they would happily cover me under their industry-leading warranty. But I am happy to buy another as I got far more than my money’s worth out of the jacket.

If you are looking for a great windshirt or lightweight softshell, look no further than the Outdoor Research Whirlwind Hoody.