Gear Review: Outdoor Research Women's Diode Hooded Jacket

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Playing in the snow in Vermont. (PC: D. Hercovitch).
Unfortunately for those of us in love with the peace, quiet, and beauty snow brings, winter seems to have disappeared in the Philadelphia area already, leaving behind ever shrinking piles of half-frozen brown gunk on the streets. Punxsutawney Phil, we are not friends.

The little bit of winter I did get to experience this year gave me plenty of time to test my second piece of #ORInsightLab apparel, the Outdoor Research Women's Diode Hooded Jacket. And if the giant smile on my face in the picture doesn't give it away, (spoiler alert), I absolutely love it.

The Technology

Outdoor Research's Hybrid Mapping design philosophy used in creating the Diode means that specific materials are used in different parts of the jacket to maximize performance. The hood, shoulders, waist, wrist, and outer arm areas of the jacket are filled with PrimaLoft Gold insulation while the torso is filled with a mix of PrimaLoft Gold and durable water repellent (DWR) treated down.

11 Things to Keep in Your Car for Winter Travel

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I wanted snow, and I got it!
Just when I thought winter left us behind this year, winter storm Jonas dumped an incredible amount of snow on a significant portion of the east coast. When all was said and done, Dulles Airport reported 28.3 inches of snow had fallen, Laguardia also reported 28 inches, and home sweet home Philadelphia reported just under 24 inches.

Allentown, Pennsylvania, however, saw a whopping 32 inches of snow fall in approximately 24 hours. And I know exactly what 32 inches of snow in 24 hours looks like because I was stuck right in the middle of it!

My partner in crime and I were en route to a winter festival at a friend's farm, and when it became clear the roads were going to get a lot worse before they got better, we decided to cut our losses and find a hotel for the night. We made it to our impromptu overnight accommodations in his Subaru without incident, save a little trouble getting into the hotel's driveway, but others weren't so lucky.

Gear Review: Outdoor Research Women's Radiant LT Zip Top

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Taking a break on a winter hike in Vermont.
Ahh, winter layers, one of my favorite topics to cover because I love winter! Unfortunately for me, a recent trip to Vermont was the first time I really got to test out new cold weather apparel due to unusually warm temperatures here on the east coast. And boy did I make the most of that time.

I'm priveleged to be a part of another season of #ORInsightLab, a group "influential folks...who are diverse athletes and dynamic social storytellers. " For the Lab, our job is to share gear feedback in specific categories for Outdoor Research, and this season, I'm all about upper body layers.

Despite sizing issues with one of the three pieces I received to try (the Sonata Hoody was way too tight on my hips), the other two pieces fit, including the Radiant LT Zip Top, and I took it out for a few winter adventures to see how it performed.

The Technology

The Radiant LT Zip Top is part of the Radiant collection, which includes hoodies, pullovers, jackets, and tights.

Hiking (Not Skiing) Vermont: Pico Peak via the Long Trail and Sherburne Pass Trail

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Looking up into the trees near the top of Pico Peak.
It's no secret that this year's winter here on the east coast hasn't felt much like winter until recently. Christmas in my normally frigid hometown of Ithaca, New York, brought temperatures in the mid-60's (so sad). East coast ski resorts like Killington saw temperatures in the mid-50's on the same day. Ugh.

Friends and I wanted to ring in 2016 on the slopes in Vermont, as we'd done in 2015. Planning started in October. A house was rented. Lift tickets were bought in advance. But on the eve of our trip, conditions allowed for the opening of less than a fifth of Killington's trails.

We made the best of it, skiing as much as we could and wanted to. My partner in crime and I had two days of lift tickets to use and when all was said and done, we racked up about five total hours of skiing. The holiday crowd, which would normally spread across all 155 of Killington's trails, was confined to less than 40. It was busy, and I spent the majority of my time avoiding giant ice patches and other skiers. It did snow, but not enough to open much more of the resort.

Hiking Pennsylvania: Mount Minsi in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

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The hike offers expansive views of the region
and Mt. Tammany across the Delaware River.
It's been over eight years since I moved to Pennsylvania via a too-short stint in Alaska, and one of the first things I did when I arrived back east was to find a collection of day hikes relatively close to my new home - Philadelphia.

Two hours is about as far as I'm willing to drive for a day hike, and luckily, within that range is 70,000 acres of protected land across Pennsylvania and New Jersey – the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Water Gap is home to some of the best hiking in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and one of my favorite hikes there is perfect no matter the season if you have the right gear.

The 5-ish mile loop up to the top of Mount Minsi is an area-must do because of the challenge, the scenery, and the options for extending or shortening it depending on how you're feeling. Given it hasn't felt much like winter around here, it's a perfect time to give this hike a try. And if we do see snow this year, the hike is very much do-able with the right footwear.