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Outdoor Research Radiant Top : For Men and Women

I like my warm layers to come in the smallest packages possible, so I love Outdoor Research' Radiant Top.

Its body-hugging fit makes it a fantastic next-to-skin base layer, with no saggy spots that feel chunky when worn beneath a jacket. The cut of the Radiant Top is trim and super hero-streamlined. Just wearing this shirt makes me a faster skate-skier, I swear.

The first day I wore the Outdoor Research Radiant Top, I underestimated its insulation value. The thin fleece is gridded on the inside so it feels like a mid weight material, but as I discovered on a brisk 30-degree day, it delivers heavyweight heat power. Skating uphill, I quickly overheated in the Radiant Top, even wearing it alone.

I’ve since saved the Radiant Top for cooler temperatures. For everything south of 20 degrees, it’s just right. The deep zipper lets me dump heat on the uphills, and I appreciate the slight turtleneck effect of the collar when fully zipped. It keeps me warm when I’m riding lifts. The Radiant Top's collar extends just 1.5” inches, a bit shorter than a standard zip tee, so it’s less bulky than some base layers. The design also complements other neck gear. I can wear the Radiant Top over taller turtlenecks without feeling choked or slide a gaiter over it for streamlined neck protection.

The Radiant Top's stink control is above average, as is its moisture management. Full-throttle pursuits occasionally overpower the Radiant’s wicking ability, leaving the fabric temporarily damp, but such clamminess is rare and short-lived. In most situations, the Radiant Top feels cozy and dry—and just right for everything from cold-weather skating to downhill skiing.

Available in Berry, Black, Aqua, and Red in women’s sizes XS-XL, and Avocado, Black, Charcoal, Red, and Blue in men’s sizes S-XXL.

Bottom Line: Smart fit and impressive warmth-to-weight makes this a versatile base layer. –K.B. (Feb. ’12)

BUY ONLINE: $79.95, click to shop.

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.