Outdoor Research Cathode ReviewMarch 10, 2017
- Good breathability
- Entry-level price point
- Large interior pockets
- Side panel sacrifices warmth
- Basic cuff
- Sizes slender
The OR Cathode is a dependable, all-around jacket. The jacket proved to be the best choice for active endeavors against the other jackets in this test. The side panels provide good ventilation and breathability, but sacrifice some warmth. This warmth-loss, and the commensurate pigeon-holing of the ‘active endeavors’ label, is this coat’s most obvious limitation.
With the Cathode, OR continues a tradition of well constructed products. Extensive field use saw little substantive wear, and no real insulation loss. The Primaloft insulation proves, as always, resilient, even after repeated compression. The YKK zippers avoided snags and held up well with use.
This is one comfortable jacket. It is a slender fit but this tester found it to be very comfortable, which gives the jacket flexibility as a standalone jacket or layering piece. The cuffs are basic, and come to an elastic apex at the very end of the wrist.
The OR Cathode balances the often-competing needs of breathability and warmth. The side panels, running the entire length from the waist to the wrist, are flexible and release heat and moisture. The insulated back and front of the garment body keeps the wearer warm. The exterior can handle a moderate amount of rain before it begins to soak through.
The Cathode’s best feature is the breathable paneling on either side, which allows this jacket to be used as a standalone piece in active conditions where you don’t want to worry about sweating. Another useful feature is a set of two interior sleeve pockets, which are both large enough to accommodate items as large as a 1.5L water bottle. It also has a zippered chest pocket, and the hood has a toggle on the back to customize the fit.
The OR Cathode packs well, although it is limited by features such as the side paneling that seeks to improve breathability and performance during active pursuits. This jacket ties firmly around the waist (unlike other jackets that may not be as sturdy) and can fit into a space that’s about the size of a large grapefruit.
Scott Morris guides backpacking expeditions and hiking trips for Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. He is a writer, traveler, and runner. Scott tests backpacking equipment.