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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Outdoor Research Radiant LT Fleece > Outdoor Research - Radiant LT Zip Fleece > Test Report by Andrea Murland



Outdoor Reseach Radiant LT Zip Top (Women's)
Test Series by Andrea Murland

Initial Report - October 18, 2010
Field Report - January 4, 2011
Long Term Report - March 8, 2011

Tester Information

Name: Andrea Murland
Email: amurland AT shaw DOT ca
Age: 25
Location: Elkford, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight: 125 lb (57 kg)

I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.


Initial Report – October 18, 2010

Image Courtesy of Outdoor Research
OR Radiant LT Zip Top

Product Information

Manufacturer: Outdoor Research
Manufacturer's URL: www.outdoorresearch.com
Year of Manufacture: 2010
MSRP: US $70.00
Colour Reviewed: Espresso
Other Colours Available: Salsa, Berry, Peacock, Black
Size Reviewed: Medium
Other Sizes Available: XS, S, L, XL
Listed Weight: 240 g (8.5 oz) size medium
Measured Weight: 226 g (8.0 oz)
Material: 95% Polyester, 5% Spandex
Guarantee: Infinite Guarantee
Care Instructions: Machine wash cold separately, rinse thoroughly. Do not bleach. Do not use fabric
softener. Tumble dry low or line dry in shade. Do not iron. Do not dry clean.

The Outdoor Research Radiant LT Zip Top is a lightweight zip top. The manufacturer describes the top as a second or base layer. It is constructed with Outdoor Research’s Radiant LT Fleece, a lightweight grid fleece.

OR Radiant Front & Back

Description & Initial Impressions

I received the Radiant LT Zip Top with a hang-tag attached. The hang tag tells me that “Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever” and gives some information about the Radiant Collection of clothing. I now know that the Radiant LT fabric is a “highly breathable grid fleece [which] lightly insulates as a soft stretch base layer” and that it “wicks moisture away and dries quickly”.
Cuff Detail
The grid fleece that the Radiant top is constructed from has a smooth exterior and a soft, fleecy interior surface. The grid shows on the exterior as a slight pattern, while on the inside it looks like a lot of little squares of fuzz. Although the exterior is smooth, it does catch slightly on my coal-miner’s-eternally-dry-hands. The top is a single layer of fabric, with the exception of the collar, which is a double layer. The seams in the body of the top are flat lock seams. The Espresso colour is a dark brown. “OR” is embroidered on the left breast, and the Outdoor Research flower logo is embroidered on the back at top centre, both in a lighter brown. There is a tag at the neckline that says that that top was made in China and that it is a size medium. There is also a tag at the left side seam with the fabric information and care instructions.

The Radiant top has a dropped hem line at the back, and is 55 cm (21.7 in) long in the front and 63 cm (24.8 in) long in the back from the top of the collar to the hem. The zipper is 20 cm (7.9 in) long. From the base of the collar, the raglan-style sleeve is 74 cm (29.1 in) long. The cuffs have a narrow band of elastic around them, and each sleeve has a thumb loop.

I was at the upper end of the bust size for the size small, so chose to test a size medium so that it could be worn as a second layer. The top is fitted but not snug through the bust. It is a bit big across the back and shoulders, and very long in the body and sleeves for me. It’s a bit looser than I usually wear a base layer, but should still be functional, and will be fine as a second layer. The cuffs on the sleeves are quite loose on me, and the thumb loops are comfortable.

The Radiant top appears to be very well constructed. There are no loose threads or snags.
Mt. Fernie Ridge

Trying It Out

I had a chance to take the Radiant LT Zip Top out for a hike already, and was pleased with the warmth of the top. I wore it for a roughly 10 km (6.2 mi) day-hike with an elevation gain of about 1000 m (3280 ft) up to a ridge. The temperature was about 10 C (50 F) in the sun and barely above freezing in the shade. I started the hike wearing the Radiant top (with a synthetic t-shirt underneath) through forest on fairly level terrain, but as the trail steepened and I encountered more sun, I was very warm in the top and removed it. As soon as I reached the ridge where the wind was howling, the Radiant went back on, along with a light jacket, a hat, and gloves. Brrr! I was warm enough to sit and eat lunch in half-sun on the ridge, and removed my jacket for the descent. I gradually removed my hat and gloves as well, but never felt the need to take off the Radiant top, although I was warm. I found that pushing up the sleeves and unzipping the neck was sufficient to allow me to suffer through the few uphills left. The t-shirt that I was wearing underneath gets stinky in about 5 minutes after putting it on, and I did find that the Radiant top picked up a bit of odour, but I took off the t-shirt from underneath for the drive home and the Radiant smelt fine by the time I arrived. So far, I’m pleased with the top for autumn hiking, though it definitely doesn’t provide much wind resistance!

Summary

The Outdoor Research Radiant LT Zip Top is a lightweight grid fleece for a base or second layer. It is soft and comfortable, and my first impressions are that it provides good warmth and breathability. I am looking forward to wearing this top as the temperatures plummet and the snow flies over the next few months!

Field Report – January 4, 2011

Field Conditions

Since receiving the OR Radiant LT Zip Top, I have worn it every time I’ve done anything outside. Here’s a summary of my use since my Initial Report:
Field Use
  • A 3-day hut-based hiking trip in Elk Lakes Provincial Park, with day hikes 17 km (10.6 mi), 16 km (9.9 mi), and 4 km (2.5 mi) in length. The temperatures were mild (above freezing), with some elevation gain, so I frequently hiked in just the Radiant, with periods of wearing a light rain jacket or lightweight down pullover on top.
  • A 30 km (18.6 mi) overnighter at temperatures just above freezing, with less than 400 m (1300 ft) of elevation gain. I switched between hiking in only the Radiant, with a lightweight softshell on top (most common) and with a light down pullover on top. I also slept in the Radiant overnight in my sleeping bag under my tarp shelter at temperatures of about -5 C (23 F).
  • A 9 km (5.6 mi) snowshoe at about -10 C (14 F) in light snow, wearing the Radiant under a shell. I started to get cool near the end as night fell, but never cold enough to put on another layer.
  • Two 5 km (3.1 mi) snowshoe trips wearing the Radiant under a light softshell at temperatures of about -5 C (23 F).
  • Three roughly 10 km (6.2 mi) skate skiing adventures, one at about -10 C (14 F), one at just above freezing in the rain, both times wearing the Radiant as a base layer under a light softshell. The last was at -19 C (-2 F) wearing the Radiant, softshell, and a down pullover.
  • 2 evenings of ski touring on our local ski hill before it opened, wearing the Radiant under my shell and under my transceiver. Both nights were between -5 C (23 F) and -10 C (14 F).
  • One day of combined ski touring and snowshoeing at temperatures of about -12 C (10 F), wearing the Radiant over a lightweight merino base layer, over my transceiver, and under a midweight merino pullover, a down pullover, and my shell.
  • Several trail or road runs of varying distances at varying temperatures down to -17 C (1 F), wearing the Radiant under a lightweight softshell.
  • Eight days of on-resort downhill skiing wearing the Radiant under various insulated jackets, sometimes with a merino mid-layer or over a silk base layer, at temperatures down to -22 C (-8 F).
  • 4 evenings of search & rescue practice which involved a bit of snowshoeing, a lot of standing around, and a bit of transceiver practice on a snowy hill.
I have washed the OR Radiant top six times in the washing machine, with dark colours, using regular detergent and no fabric softener. It has been line dried each time.

Observations

I have found the OR Radiant to be a very comfortable and functional top. I have worn it mostly as a base layer, and occasionally as a second layer.

The grid fleece is very soft. When I’m wearing the Radiant as a second layer, the fleece on the inside of the top catches on the base layer and makes it a bit hard to get my arms comfortably oriented in the sleeves, but once I get everything untwisted it’s fine. The smooth exterior of the Radiant helps with putting another layer on top of the Radiant. The Radiant slides smoothly under a looser jacket or pullover, and catches some on a top that’s a less smooth fabric or tighter, but again once I get everything untwisted it’s comfortable. I have used the thumb loops intermittently, often when downhill skiing or snowshoeing. They are comfortable, not too tight around the thumbs, and the sleeves are long enough that I don’t have to stretch the sleeves to use the thumb loops. I have worn the Radiant over my avalanche transceiver once, when wearing the top as a second layer. I found it difficult to access my transceiver to switch modes, as I had the Radiant tucked into my pants so had to access the transceiver from the zip. It was very awkward, and I prefer to wear the Radiant as a base layer with the transceiver over top when in the backcountry.

The Radiant is looser than I usually wear a base layer, but still moves moisture quite effectively. I have occasionally noticed that my lower back is quite wet, but the top dries quickly and I haven’t found it to be too cold when damp. I haven’t noticed any odour from the top since my Initial Report, even when the top has been used for several days in a row, or when I slept in it on an overnight trip. No complaints about that! I have found that the zipper is an excellent method of temperature regulation. However, since I have been mostly wearing the top as a base layer, unzipping the zipper leaves me with some exposed skin, so I have to be careful when it’s cold!

The top has been washed six times and line dried. The Espresso is a fairly dark brown, so any lint (or dead skin...yuck) on the top shows up quite clearly. After being worn, the grid fleece on the interior surface of the Radiant shows that it picks up quite a bit of fuzz. The exterior surface also collects lint and bits of down from my jacket. The exterior is displaying quite a bit of pilling at the intersections of the grid in the grid fleece, especially around the waist, on the sleeves, on the collar, and on the chest area.
Fabric pilling
Pilling

Summary

I have really enjoyed wearing the OR Radiant LT Zip Top for the first two months of this test. It is very comfortable and an excellent base or second layer for the winter. I am looking forward to seeing what the next two months brings. I will be keeping an eye on how the top wears with continued use but have no other concerns.

Long Term Report – March 8, 2011

Field Conditions

Ski Touring I’ve continued to wear the OR Radiant constantly during the long-term testing period. Here’s a summary of my use since my Field Report:
  • A 6.5 km (4 mi) ski tour in heavy snow at about -15 C (5 F), wearing the Radiant under a shell or a shell and an insulated jacket. I wore my transceiver on top of the Radiant.
  • Three roughly 5 km (3.1 mi) snowshoe trips wearing the Radiant under a softshell or midlayer and shell at temperatures of about -5 C (23 F). I wore my transceiver on top of my the Radiant.
  • One roughly 5 km (3.1 mi) skate skiing adventure at about -5 C (23 F), in fresh powder.
  • Fifteen days of on-resort downhill skiing wearing the Radiant under various insulated jackets, sometimes with a merino mid-layer or over a silk base layer, at temperatures down to -28 C (-18 F).
  • Two evenings of search & rescue practice which involved a bit of snowshoeing, a lot of standing around, and a bit of transceiver practice.
  • One day of search & rescue practice, which involved a hike and some rope work, wearing the Radiant under a softshell at about 5 C (41 F).
I have continued to wash the Radiant in the machine and hang it to dry.

Observations

I have really enjoyed wearing the OR Radiant for the last two months of this test.

The fleece remains soft and comfortable. I have worn it as a base layer and as a second layer on top of a silk base layer, and the Radiant slides easily over the silk layer. It manages moisture effectively. If I’m working hard I notice that my back feels wet, but it dries quickly without making me feel cold, and seems to move moisture away from my skin fairly quickly. I have noticed during the long-term testing that the top picks up some odour now. After several days of wearing, it definitely has a bit of smell to it, though it still airs out quite well overnight.

The pilling on the top has continued. It is now noticeable all over the top, though it is still worse around the waist, sleeves, collar, and chest area. There are no other loose threads or wear spots on the top, however.

Summary

I have really enjoyed wearing the OR Radiant LT Zip Top! It is very comfortable and an excellent base or second layer for the winter. The top is still completely functional and the performance hasn’t changed, but it looks quite worn at this point.

Thumbs Up:
Moisture management
Picks up odour slowly & airs out well
Soft & comfortable

Thumbs Down:
Fabric pilling

Thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test this top!



Read more reviews of Outdoor Research gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrea Murland

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Outdoor Research Radiant LT Fleece > Outdoor Research - Radiant LT Zip Fleece > Test Report by Andrea Murland



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