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

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.

There are three primary fabric technologies Outdoor Research uses to make the Radiant collection what it is. First, there's a hard faced fleece material to keep warmth in from the outside. It still feels soft to the touch, but tougher than standard fleece, almost as if it's part softshell jacket. Second, there's a grid fleece material for moisture management. It helps wick sweat away, but feels soft next-to-skin. Finally, there's a hybrid material that combines the best of both worlds.

Overall Fit, Style, and Performance

The Radiant LT Zip Top is designed to be lightweight, to wick sweat from your skin while you're out adventuring, and to function as a second layer or as a baselayer. At 8.8 ounces, it's the currently the lightest fleece Outdoor Research makes. I'd put it in the midweight baselayer category; it's thick, but not too thick, and it's stretchy, making it easy to move around.

Having the zipper for ventilation is great when it comes to sweat prevention on winter hikes, which can contribute to hypothermia.
The medium, my normal size, fits tightly and I don't have enough room to layer under it, but the soft grid fleece felt great next to skin. Mine fits more snugly than shown in this product video, but as it functions as a baselayer for me, that's not an issue. The length is ideal for my 5'9" frame, and the sleeves are plenty long enough for me to make use of the thumb loops. I love being able to add another layer of warmth on my hands even when I've got gloves on.

The spandex bindings on the thumbs and cuffs are unique to long sleeved baselayers I've tried, and I like that the sleeves stay in place. The spandex bindings on the thumb holes might be uncomfortable if you've got larger hands or are wearing gloves underneath, but I didn't have any trouble.

It's hard to find shirts that cover my butt and have long enough sleeves, given I'm 5'9" with a 6'0" wingspan, but the Radiant LT Zip Top fits just like a baselayer should.
The neck-to-chest zipper gives you more control over your body temperature and ventilation when you start creating more and more body heat, which is super important on cold weather outings. I found the top uncomfortably tight around my neck when I zipped it up all the way, and I'd love a little more room. But I can comfortably zip it most of the way, and when it's unzipped, I get plenty of ventilation. On one of my outings, the warmer I got, the more I unzipped the top, and it helped cool me off just enough to keep me from sweating.

And we all know sweat can cause unpleasant smells after a while. Polygiene® Active Odor Control uses silver salt to keep the fabric from allowing the growth of stinky bacteria, which is always a plus. I'm interested to see how the odor control works after 6-12 months of use, and I'll update this review if it stops working!

Hooray for thumb loops I can use, or not use!
So, how warm is the Radiant LT Zip Top? On a long winter hike in Vermont, I wore it under a heavier shell layer and was comfortable while I was moving in 15-25ºF temperatures. I could feel myself getting warm on some of the steeper sections, but never felt sweaty thanks to the top's breathability features and zipper. As soon as I took my outer layer off, I could feel the wind through the fleece, which was to be expected.

Recommended Uses and Final Thoughts

Overall, I'm a fan. The Radiant LT Zip Top is great for winter outings of all sorts because it's lightweight and breathable, but it'll still keep you warm under a shell layer as the temperatures drop. I love that it's long enough to cover my butt, that the sleeves are long enough so I can use the thumb loops, and that it's soft next to skin. Plus, with color combinations like Ultraviolet/Night, the one I'm sporting in this review, how can you go wrong?

As part of #ORInsightLab this winter, Outdoor Research provided me with a complimentary top to test. As always, the opinions expressed here are my own. What do you think of the Radiant LT Zip Top? What's your favorite cold weather baselayer? I'd love to hear from you!