Gear Review: Outdoor Research’s Women’s Sonata Hoody

Late January brings chilly days and a crowd of panicked prospective future thru-hikers. This is the time I decided to hike the trail, and if you’re anything like I was, you may feel like your gear list is lacking. It’s okay. This is the time to check gear reviews and make some big purchases. Visit Appalachian Trial’s gear reviews for advice and reviews on our favorite gear.  Outdoor Research donated this piece for review purposes.

My down jacket has become an essential part of my gear. It’s kept me warm on frosty mornings and snowy adventures.

Here’s some feedback from my wear-test of Outdoor Research’s Women’s Sonata Down Hoody, the brand’s newest down jacket for women.

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In an effort to truly test this jacket, I ventured to the dry and snowy Colorado Rockies, experienced chilly nights in Nevada, and battled the wet, bone-chilling winter days of southern Texas and Louisiana.

The fact the Sonata is “designed by women, for women” gives it an intuitive fit and function tailored specifically to a woman’s needs, making it perfect for technical cold-weather adventures. – Outdoor Research

I tested this hoody in different environments and also asked my sisters for their opinion on overall fit and warmth.

SPECS:

MSRP: $225
Sizes offered: XS-XL
Weight listed on website: 11.7 oz (size medium)
Weight of size small: 10 oz
Details:

    • Pertex® Quantum shell, a light yet strong fabric that allows higher loft.
    • pertexElastic Cuffs
    • Drawcord Bottom Hem

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      • Drawcord around Hood

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        • 650 fill goose power down insulation
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Fort Collins, Colorado right before a small snowstorm. The temperature was 27 degrees. I was only wearing a tank top underneath, but my torso stayed warm.

Photo Jan 20, 8 36 16 AM

Measurements when Compressed and Packed into Pocket:

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      • Length: 11″
      • Width: 5.5″
      • Height: 3″

WARRANTY

Outdoor Research has a warranty they refer to as the “Infinite Guarantee.” You may return your broken item for a replacement.

FIRST IMPRESSION

The softness of the fabric and the feel was the first characteristic I noticed, followed by warming up very quickly after I put it on.

PROS & CONS

PROS

The exterior of this jacket feels luxuriously soft, eliciting “ooo’s and ahhh’s” when people felt it.

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The hood is a major bonus. My first camp down lacked a hood, but I did not mind as long as I had a beanie. I hiked the entire AT without a hood and I survived. However, I liked the addition and admit that I felt warmer with the hood on. I especially liked it during the night; my beanie would always seem to slide off my head, so it was nice to utilize the hood’s drawcord.

The warmth of this down is truly unbelievable. Worn over a tee shirt at camp, I felt comfortable in the jacket in 25-40 degree Fahrenheit. Wet winters would be tolerable for about 30 to 40 degrees. If wearing a long-sleeve poly, the comfort level in Colorado would be teens or colder. Nevada desert was comfortable around the 30’s. The warm insulation along with the thin, compressible fabric are a winning combo. The Sonata did not feel too overwhelming or bulky in somewhat warmer weather (50 degrees Fahrenheit).

This jacket packs into its own pocket. It is extremely compressible, as most would expect for a down jacket.

This is the interior pocket, It does reach all the way down to the hem.

This is the interior pocket, It reaches all the way down to the hem.

There are plenty of pockets in this coat. There are two zippered hand pockets with a soft interior, as well as a zippered chest pocket. The two interior pockets are extremely roomy.  However, I must mention one flaw. As I was researching the Sonata, I read that the front hand pockets are supposed to be accessible while wearing a hip belt or harness—Outdoor Research calls the pockets “high-set.” The pockets were not accessible for me, but I am typically sized between extra-small and small, so this flaw could be attributed to the jacket being slightly large on my frame.

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I love the Sonata’s design. The quilt lines are great and the fit is trim, an advantage during activity. As a plus, the back is longer than the front. I must mention that I do like the zipper pulls. The zipper pulls are hollowed out to save weight. Read more about the design of this hoody HERE.

Down warm and compressible, and is the most popular outerwear insulation option for backpackers. At 650, the Sonata’s fill power may be lower than other comparably priced jackets. Here, the designers went with a lower, more breathable fill. The breathability is perfect for a mix of high-exertion activities and chilly downtime at camp.

CONS

I didn’t find this jacket to be true to size. Although the sleeves were too long, I ended up enjoying having long sleeves to tuck in my hands at chilly times. I typically borderline between extra small and small. This small hoody is a large fit for me, most notably in the sleeves. My sister claims she is a true small and found this garment too long on her. Regardless, always check sizing charts before purchasing.

This jacket is a little on the pricey side, but that is dependent on your budget. As we all know, down jackets are never dirt cheap. The price also shoots up with the addition to the hood. If you are on a budget, check out this Appalachian Trials article on finding cheap or discounted gear.

Based on my experience, I’m rating this jacket on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the highest.

Comfort:  5
The exterior is soft; the insulation is warm. The hand pockets have a nice, soft fabric for additional comfort, plus the hood makes it even more warm.

Design: 4
I knocked down a point because the hand pockets were not accessible to me while wearing my hip belt.

Durability: 4
Like all down jackets, you must take care of them. Down garments are comprised of thin fabric and feathers, so it will not be able to withstand thorn bushes and downpours. Wear a waterproof outer layer when confronted with rain. However, it did great in the dry snow of Colorado—the flakes just fell right off.

Fit: 3
This jacket is a bit too big for me, and was a long on my size-small sister. I would say this jacket runs on the larger side. Whatever size you choose, don’t forget to check the sizing chart.

Value: 3
The Sonata is pricey, but about average for a new down coat. I came across some discounts online, but since this jacket is one of Outdoor Research’s newest models, you might want to check back next season for a bigger discount.

ALTERNATIVES

WATERPROOF: The Sonata is not waterproof. If you are looking for a waterproof down hoody, you should expect to pay more. Check out Outdoor Research’s Women’s Waterproof Down Hoody.

LIGHTWEIGHT: If the Sonata is a bit too heavy for your minimalist liking, check out Outdoor Research’s lighter option. It’s cheaper, though it lacks a hood.

OVERALL RATING: 3.8 out of 5

Personal Note: Although I had a few small issues, I recommend this garment for backpacking, hiking, and any winter activity.
 
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