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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Outdoor Research Radiant LT Fleece > Outdoor Research - Radiant LT Zip Fleece > Test Report by Kristine Mar

Outdoor Research Women's Radiant LT Zip Top

Test Series by Kristine Mar
Initial Report - October 29, 2010
Field Report - January 3, 2011
Long Term Report - March 6, 2011

Biographical Information:

Name: Kristine Mar
Age: 45
Gender: Female
Height: 5'3" (1.6 m)
Weight: 120 Pounds (54 kg)
Email address: kmar546ATyahooDOTcom
City, State, Country: New York, New York, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background:

My love for the outdoors began about ten years ago, while I was living in Northern California. Most of my hiking experience includes day hikes with an occasional 2-3 day backpacking trip. I'd consider myself an all season hiker and generally like to keep my pack as light as reasonably possible. I am currently living in New York City. I've hiked in various parks in several states and countries and enjoy hiking in various terrains, but prefer mountainous terrain for the vistas and views, and enjoy forest/river hikes for the scenery.

Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Outdoor Research
Year of Manufacture/received:   2010
Manufacturer Website:
Colors Available: Espresso, Salsa, Berry, Peacock, Black
Sizes Available: XS, S, M, L, XL
Sizing Chart (Courtesy of Outdoor Research):


Product Tested: Size XS - Berry
Manufacturer's Average Weight: 8.5 oz / 240 g (size: M)
Measured Actual Weight: 7.6 oz / 215 g (size: XS)
MSRP: US$70.00

Product Description:

The manufacturer's website as well as the label attached to the shirt describes the product to be designed with their new: Radiant LT Fleece™. The label is both in English and French and advertises the Radiant Collection as a product which provides full-body thermal insulation for the most extreme conditions. The fabric is made of a highly breathable grid fleece with the fabric strategically placed to provide maximum warmth and breathability to exposed places where it is needed most. The technical features of the fabric allow for minimizing bulk thereby allowing maximum comfort and ease of movement, while at the same time pulling moisture from the skin.

The wicking zip top is ideal for either a second layer or base layer. The shirt has a trim fit but seems to fit me slightly looser on the under arms perhaps to allow greater ventilation. The zipper which runs from the neck to the chest can also be unzipped to regulate body temperature and allow for further cooling when necessary. On colder days or when my movement slows down, I would expect the Radiant LT Zip Top™ to offer me a light insulating layer of warmth without being too much.

Courtesy of Outdoor Research

Other features of the product as stated on the website include:
  • Radiant LT Fleece™
  • ¼ length front zipper
  • Flatlock, and wrap-around stitching
  • Thumb loops on cuffs
  • Lycra® binding on thumb loops and cuffs

  • The product is made from 95% polyester and 5% spandex and the care instructions are listed as follows:
  • 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 web page also states that Outdoor Research offers an Infinite Guarantee.

    Initial Impressions:

    I received the Outdoor Research Radiant LT Zip Top in a size S as requested, but the fit was a little loose, so I called the customer service center in Seattle, Washington to see if I could exchange it for an XS. The service was excellent with the representative agreeing to ship out the size XS the next day without waiting for me to return the size S. I received it approximately six days after contacting their office, and the XS was a much better fit.

    My initial impression of the LT Zip Top was that the product is well made. The seams are sewn together well, with no signs of fraying at the edges or loose threads. The fabric has a dense, waffle like feel, but at the same time is extremely soft against my skin. The top is lightweight and it feels as though it is dense enough to block wind and keep me warm, which is perfect for my outdoor pursuits either as a base layer on cold days, or as a second layer, especially when fall hiking. I ordered the top in the berry color, which I find is very attractive. The color is a deep magenta, with more purplish than pink tones. The sleeves also contained thumb holes which is an added convenience, especially on colder days, or if I am wearing the shirt as a base layer to prevent the sleeves from bunching up. The zipper allows for regulation of my temperature, and so far, seems to pull open and close smoothly without sticking or catching on the fabric.


    So far, I like the weight of the fabric, the color, the flattering fit, and the soft feel of the fleece on my skin. In the coming months, I will test this product both as a base layer and second layer and determine if it wicks moisture and keeps me warm without be too heavy or light as advertised. I will also determine if the material is breathable and determine if the fabric holds up after numerous washings. I will also comment on other features including the thumb holes in the sleeves and whether or not the zipper continues to work smoothly throughout the testing phase.

    This concludes my initial report on the Outdoor Research Radiant LT Zip Top. I would like to thank Outdoor Research and for allowing me the opportunity to test this top.

    Field Conditions:

    I used the Outdoor Research Radiant LT Zip Top a total of 18 times over the last two months. I used the top as a second layer 8 times. The top was worn over a long-sleeved synthetic base layer for weekend hiking in the Northeast. The weather temperatures ranged from 47F (8C) to 60F (16C) and the hikes ranged from 3 miles (5 km) to 10 miles (16 km). The hikes were at various parks in the states of New York and Connecticut and included trails at the Kitchawan Preserve, Cranberry Lake Preserve, Croton Point Park, Paugussett and Naugatuck State Forests, and Kettletown State Park. The trails were all easy to moderate and never exceeded more than 1,000 feet (304 m) in elevation gain. As the weather cooled down, I also used the top as a base layer 10 times for my 5 mile (8 km) runs in Manhattan. The top was worn only with a light windbreaker to protect me from snow flurries, light drizzle, and wind. The temperature ranges for the top being used as a base layer ranged from 26F (-3C) to 35F (2C).


    The Outdoor Research Radiant LT Zip Top has quickly become one of my favorite tops. As a second layer on my hikes on warmer days, which to me is anything above 50F (10C), I found I quickly warmed up and removed the second layer. However, since the top was easily packable, it fitted easily into my small backpack which has a capacity of 700 cubic inches (11 liters). The weather seems to change quickly in the fall here in the Northeast, and as the sun started to go down, and the weather cooled off, it was always nice to have a second layer which I could easily put back on.

    As a base layer, the top was perfect. As long as I kept moving during my runs, I stayed warm even with snow flurries and temperatures as low as 26F (-3C). The zipper was great for regulating my temperature during my runs, and always worked smoothly, never pushing against my neck even when wearing a neck gaiter. The soft waffle-like fleece felt great against my skin and the top did a good job of wicking the moisture away from my body, since I never felt cold or damp.

    The top is well constructed and even with machine or hand washing after each use in warm or cold water, and hanging to dry, the top still looks as new as the day I received it, with no noticeable fading in color or fraying at the seams. The thumb holes on the sleeves are a nice added feature. While both hiking and running, I generally use the thumb holes for added warmth to my hands and to help the sleeves to stay in place.


    So far, I have no complaints about this top. I love the way the shirt fits and feels against the skin. I also like the weight of the top. It's lightweight enough to easily pack into my pack, but yet keeps me warm on really cold days as long as I remain active. The zipper does a great job in helping to regulate my temperature, and continues to work smoothly without getting caught on the fabric or getting stuck. The shirt washes well and the thumb holes are a nice added feature for convenience.

    Field Conditions:

    As the temperatures have dropped here on the East Coast I have continued to wear the Outdoor Research Radiant LT Zip Top, but over the last two months, I have used it primarily as a mid-layer, over a long sleeved t-shirt made of merino wool or sometimes a long sleeved synthetic base layer. I would wear additional layers depending on the activity, which included a combination of a fleece vest and a 3-in-1 jacket which consisted of a light removable insulated shell and a waterproof outer shell. In the last two months, I have had the opportunity to test the top in temperatures ranging from 16F to 37F (-9C to 3c), and used it for two of days snowboarding at Hunter Mountain in New York, two days of cross country skiing at Fahnestock State Park in New York and High Point State Park in New Jersey, two days of snowshoeing, and at least three days of hiking at various parks in New York and Connecticut. The elevation gains were never more than 1000 ft (300 m) with the exception of the snowboarding trips.

    The coldest days which I tested the top was while snowboarding at Hunter Mountain. The temperatures both days averaged approximately 16F (-9 C) at 3000 feet elevation (900 m). On both days, I wore a thin merino wool base layer under the top and a fleece vest over the top with a lightly insulated 3-in-1 jacket with waterproof shell and a wind-proof neck gaiter with a helmet and goggles. The weather was so cold that I could only do a few runs at a time and had to stop for a break to warm up after about 1.5 hours outside. I even had to purchase a full ski mask because my cheeks, which were the only skin showing got so cold that I felt like I was susceptible to frost bite, while riding up the ski lift. Even with cold temperatures, my body was always warm and I recall that the salesperson in the shop said I looked cold while I was trying on ski masks and I commented that my body and hands were actually warm and it was only my face which was extremely uncomfortable.

    For the cross country skiing, snow shoeing and hiking excursions, I generally wore the same as above, but without the insulated jacket, and sometimes I would remove the fleece vest as well, depending on how much energy I was exerting, and taking in to account other conditions such as the wind chill and whether or not the sun was out that day. I chose to dress in layers for all the excursions and I always felt that I was appropriately dressed, never feeling too hot or too cold with always an extra layer that I could add or remove if I felt necessary.


    My impression of the Outdoor Research Radiant LT Zip Top has not changed from my initial impression. I still love this top and the versatility which it allows me as a base layer, mid layer or outer layer.

    While I was cross country skiing, snow shoeing and hiking, the zipper feature was very useful in helping me to regulate my temperature as I needed to. At times, when going up hills, I found myself sweating, but then as the day went on and the sun began to set, or if I was approaching a descent which required less exertion, or the winds picked up, I found that my body temperature quickly cooled down. The zipper allowed me to cool myself off when I needed to by allowing more air circulation and unzipping, then quickly zipping it back up as my body was cooling down for more warmth. The waffle-like fleece did a great job in keeping me warm when I needed it, but I never felt clammy or damp after I sweat.

    Another feature which I loved was the thumb holes which I used for almost all my activities. The thumb holes kept the sleeves securely inside my gloves while my arms were swinging back and forth, especially cross country skiing and snow shoeing. It also helped to prevent snow from going up my sleeves while snowboarding especially when I would fall. The top was always comfortable to wear all the time. The fleece fabric around the neck area was also soft and comfortable without being too stiff around the throat. The fleece also felt dense enough to help block the wind.

    I feel like this top is the perfect weight. It is light enough or me to use as a base layer while running in colder weather or as an outer layer during the spring or fall and is also perfect as a mid-layer during the winter months. It performed flawlessly in every respect and the best part is that it was always breathable. My body never felt too hot or too cold.

    I have continued to wash this product after each use in cold or warm water then would allow it to hang dry. The top has shown no fading, loose threads or pilling of the fleece fabric. It looks as new as the first day which I received it. I think the top is very well constructed and designed for outdoor activities.


    The top is advertised to be constructed of a fabric called the Outdoor Research Radiant LT Fleece. This fleece is advertised as a fabric which provides full-body thermal insulation for the most extreme conditions. It is described as highly breathable while providing maximum warmth at the same time while pull moisture from the skin. I found that the fleece fabric did all of the technical things that the manufacturers claimed it would do. I felt like it did a good job of blocking wind, wicking moisture, providing warmth, yet was always breathable and easy to move in.

    This top has become one of my favorite tops for every kind of weather so far. It is non-bulky, comfortable to wear, comes with nice features such as the zipper and the thumb holes and the availability of colors is attractive.

      Things I like:
    1. Fleece is warm and breathable
    2. Fit is flattering
    3. Well manufactured and holds up to numerous washings with little signs of wear
    4. Zipper and thumb holes are nice features.

    I have really enjoyed testing this product, and could not come up with any dislikes.

    I would like to thank both Outdoor Research and for allowing me the opportunity to test this item.

    Read more reviews of Outdoor Research gear
    Read more gear reviews by Kristine Mar

    Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Outdoor Research Radiant LT Fleece > Outdoor Research - Radiant LT Zip Fleece > Test Report by Kristine Mar

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