We tested all of Outdoor Vitals' lightweight hiking clothes: Here's our verdict
Jul 28, 2023
In May 2023, I had the privilege of visiting the Greater Zion area in southwestern Utah to test backpacking and hiking gear from Outdoor Vitals. This direct-to-consumer company develops and sells camping gear, hiking clothes, and backpacking essentials that are light and simple to carry on the trail. I tested pants, a hoodie, and two jackets produced by the company.
The gear was demonstrated as part of a visit to Zion National Park in early May, with temperatures in the high 60s during the day and low 40s at night. I got to test the hiking clothes on a bit of the East Rim Trail and in The Grotto. I was also able to test its latest backpack for longer treks on the trail, as well.
The creators of the Outdoor Vitals line believe that nature is the best medicine for our body, mind, and spirit. They also believe in going “ultralight” on the trail, which means the weight of all the gear they sell is as minimal as possible. They do research and develop their own products using the best materials to get the job done while bringing savings to their customers in the form of direct-to-consumer sales that cut out retail middlemen. The goal is to make gear that is lightweight, comfortable, and above all, functional.
How does it stack up?
The Tushar rain jacket definitely delivered on the promise to be lightweight. With a convenient pocket over the left side of the chest and a drawstring hood, it also provided a lot of cover. The only drawback of the Tushar rain jacket is that it keeps the wearer very insulated. It’s made for cold rain, so during warm, sunny days, it can go in the backpack. I tried this on in Zion but didn’t wear it as much because we had sunny and mild weather.
This was my favorite item, mainly because it is so thin and lightweight. It doesn’t seem like it would be so warm because a T-shirt has thicker fabric, but don’t let that fool you. The merino wool material used to make this hoodie is perfect for both warm and cold days because it is loose enough to breathe but insulated enough to keep you warm. Plus, it wicks the sweat away, making it versatile as a mid or bottom layer.
The fabric of the Outdoor Vitals Satu pants is deceptive because it looks coarse. The reality is that these hiking pants are very comfortable and soft. They also have a lot of breathability so you can wear them in any weather, keeping you warm in the cold and cool in the heat. Plenty of utility pockets ensure that anything you need immediately is at hand.
The great thing about the Vario jacket is that it is also very flexible when it comes to different climates. Outdoor Vitals certainly designed this clothing item to accommodate a variety of weather conditions. This is exemplified by a pair of mesh vents under each arm, which are there to give your body room to breathe without sacrificing the warmth you would need in cold weather. It might not be necessary in the summer heat, but it makes a great windbreaker in mild weather and pairs well with the Tern sun hoodie in colder climes.
While the mild, sunny weather was a happy circumstance on the trail, the lack of rain meant that I didn’t get to test the water resistance of the rain jacket or Satu pant while in Greater Zion. I did find an opportunity to make up for that in heavy rains and chilly weather in early June. I wore my Satu pantd and the Tushar rain jacket during this time and can report with confidence how well these items handled the rain. Raindrops ran right off the jacket and it was very difficult to get the pants wet because they just would not retain the water. This is good news for backpackers on those wet days on the trail, because it means not walking around soaked, especially in the cold.
Another unique feature of all the Outdoor Vitals hiking clothes I tested involved how the clothing worked with the sweat that hikers and backpackers will naturally exude when on the trail. Hiking, after all, is intensive exercise, and no matter how cold it is, hikers are going to sweat. However, the fabrics used in the Outdoor Vitals clothing are made from materials that don’t retain the smell of sweat, even on the inner layers. This is especially relevant for the Tern Merino hoodie, since it’s likely to be close to the body and wicks away a lot of the sweat.
Outdoor Vitals offers membership on top of its personalized customer service, which gives hikers and backpackers of all levels access to valuable information and discounts on gear and other purchases. Even without a membership, though, the hiking clothes I tested are worth the investment because they deliver on their proposed function. To top it off, they’re durable and will be your go-to gear when trekking through the backcountry.
Outdoor Vitals did more than create lightweight gear for hikers and backpackers, it also delivered products that are competitive with all the brands you can buy in stores, but without the retail prices of consigning with an outlet store.