The Outdoor Research Baja Down Pullover is a sweater-weight down pullover (with a hood) that’s ideal for wearing around camp or paired with a backpacking quilt when you want a little extra warmth. It’s insulated with 800 fill power untreated goose down, with a nylon 10d shell and 20d lining. While the Baja Pullover is a stylish garment that looks good at the pub or cafe, it’s not just for show. An adjustable hood, 1/4 length front zipper, and a lined kangaroo pocket make it a serious contender for alpine tours and backcountry backpacking trips.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 11.1 oz in men’s XL
- Gender: Men’s, Women’s version also available
- Zipper: 1/4 length
- Hood: Adjustable
- Insulation: 800 fill power responsibly sourced untreated goose down
- Material: 10d nylon shell; 20d nylon lining
When would you use the Baja Down Pullover and where does it fit in a layering system? That will depend on your climate and the type of activities you pursue. I use the Baja as a down puffy on backpacking trips when I’m cooking meals in cool spring or autumn weather instead of carrying a heavier hooded down jacket. Once I stop hiking and generating lots of body heat, I get really cold and need to wear extra insulation. I also wear a puffy like the Baja if I’m sleeping with a quilt in cold or damp weather as an extra thermal layer for my shoulders, neck, and head. Sometimes, I just wrap it loose around my neck and shoulders, or use it as a pillow.
However, the Baja pullover is too warm for me to wear when I’m hiking with a pack on my back and generating massive amount of body heat. I usually strip down to a baselayer or a light mid-layer when I’m backpacking in the mountains. Even then, I have to be stopped before I put on a down garment because I just get too hot and sweaty if I’m moving.
If you’re buying a hooded down jacket or pullover for warmth, make sure you get one that has an adjustable hood that you can cinch tight to seal in the heat. Non-adjustable hoods are basically worthless, but a surprising number of manufacturers sell garments with them. At a minimum, you want neck toggles so you can adjust the size of the face opening. I prefer hoods that have a rear volume adjuster as well, especially ones that are labelled ‘helmet compatible’ and sized for Godzilla.
The Baja Down Pullover has neck toggles to seal the edges of the jacket around your face. It doesn’t have a rear volume adjuster unfortunately, but the neck toggles are easy to use and sufficient to seal out the cold.
1/4 Length Front Zipper
The Baja has a 1/4 length zipper so you can vent it if you find yourself overheating or sweating. Again, it’s a common sense feature to look for when purchasing any kind of mid or outer layer technical garment. Active temperature regulation is the name of the game when skiing or hiking in cold weather and having zippers you can open to avoid perspiring is key.
Instead of side pockets, the Baja has a front, fleece lined pouch that you can stick you hands in to warm up. The pouch is pass through, so both your hands can touch each other. The sides of the pocket close with snaps instead of zippers, making the pouch a secure place to store a hat or light gloves. It also has a large interior shoulder pocket with a zipper that can be used to store electronics and that you can stuff the jacket into for packing.
There are elastic cuffs over the wrists to help retain heat and prevent cold air from blowing up your arms. The cuffs are a little loose for my tastes, but they should block drafts if you wear the Baja with a fleece glove or gloves with gauntlets that overlap the elastic.
The Baja Pullover also has a zipper on the left hand side of the jacket, that makes it easier to put on and take off. You can also use it to vent your torso if you get to0 warm, although I think the zipper is more of a style statement than a functional must-have.
Under a shell
The inside and outer fabrics are DWR coated to repel moisture, but that will wear off with use. Regardless, I don’t recommend the Baja as an outer layer if its raining or in wet snow. I also wouldn’t use it under a shell if you’re active (standing at a bus stop doesn’t count) because the weight of a shell will compromise the down loft and you’ll sweat heavily, potentially enough to wet the down through the nylon shell. A lightweight fleece or wool sweater, or pullover insulated with synthetic insulation, are far better layer active layers under a shell because they’ll stay warm when damp and won’t compress as much.
Comparable Lightweight Mid-layer Sweaters and Jackets
Here’s a list of comparable lightweight sweaters and jackets, with and without adjustable hoods. The weights listed are provided by manufacturers are directional, since most manufacturers don’t list the size jacket that they correspond to.
The Outdoor Research Baja Down Pullover is a stylish hooded down garment that has some serious technical chops. I prefer wearing it in camp when I’m cooking dinner or to augment a quilt since it has an insulated and adjustable hood. It has a standard fit, but is sized wide in the shoulders so you can pile more layers under it too. While it’s not as warm as the down parka I pack for real winter trips, I’ve taken the Baja down to freezing with just a baselayer and remained toasty warm. It’s great to wear around town too.
While the Baja’s kangaroo pocket is cool and the pullover itself is very warm, the most important technical feature on this garment is having an adjustable hood. Don’t leave home without it!
All of the usual warnings about 10 denier shell fabrics apply. If you wear the Baja a lot, you eventually wear through the fabric, most likely around the wrists, and it will be prone to holing from sharp-pointed objects. Sparks from the campfire will also burn holes in it, so you might want to pack a little pre-emptive Tenacious tape to keep the down fill in the coat if you melt or tear it. The same holds for fly fishing hooks. Ask me how I know.
A women’s version of the Baja Down Pullover is also available.
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Last updated: 2018-10-09 04:32:06
Disclosure: Outdoor Research provided the author with a garment for this review.
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