Designed By Adventure: The Sonata Hoody

“Designed By Adventure.” At Outdoor Research, our products have been designed by adventure for more than 30 years, with features and fabrics imagined, tested and perfected in the wild. And like our products, our lives and the lives of our customers are sculpted by the experiences we have in the natural, unpredictable environments we love. We, too, are Designed By Adventure.


When Outdoor Research launched the down-insulated women’s Aria Hoody in 2008, it was an instant top seller.

“People love the Aria! It’s been in our line, unchanged, season after season,” says Melanie Sirirot, Outdoor Research Apparel Product Manager, who started working with Outdoor Research in the fall of 2009 when the Aria was already a staple in the line.

“It’s a great jacket, and has several technical attributes,” says Sirirot, “but its styling is a bit more fashion forward and aimed toward street wear.”

To this end, there were some requests from athletes and gear testers for a women-specific down jacket that was a little more technical-minded; something streamlined, more adapted to higher output activities and with better layerability. 

With these needs understood, the design team set out to create the down-insulated hooded jacket that became the Sonata Hoody.

The Sonata is a women-specific, ultra-lightweight, streamlined hooded down jacket modeled after its less-technical sister, the best-selling Aria. The Sonata can be worn as an outer layer in cold, dry conditions, or layered under a shell when the weather turns nasty.

Sirirot shepherded the new Sonata from the seedling of an idea to the final product released this fall, taking consumer and athlete feedback and transforming it into a piece of technical apparel designed by the needs of adventure.

First, the team started by choosing the right insulation. Since the Sonata’s end-use is geared toward anything from climbing and cold belays, to setting up camp, to hanging out in a cold winter village, the team went with a 650 fill power down insulation for a combination of warmth, breathability and compressibility, with the fit and function for multiple uses in mind.

“The Sonata has less down [than the Aria],” says Sirirot. The reason behind this is two-fold: it makes the jacket “more versatile and more suitable for higher exertion activities.”

Also, for a more streamlined fit, the designers chose a trim shape for the Sonata, following a woman’s contours and allowing the jacket to sit more comfortably when worn under a harness while belaying, climbing, skiing and moving in the mountains.

Next, they gave the jacket tougher skin. The shell fabric is 22-denier Pertex® Quantum, known for its strength-to-weight ratio, lightweight construction and abrasion resistance.

“Pertex® makes amazing products that continue to perform in terms of durability, downproofness, DWR, and soft hand-feel,” says Sirirot. “We went with the Pertex® Quantum because we wanted a lightweight, supple hand while still maintaining maximum durability and tear strength.”

The Pertex® fabric also cuts weight. Though the Aria is lightweight — tipping the scale at 13 ounces — the Sonata shaves off even more, weighing in at an amazing 11.7 ounces.

The Sonata also includes technical details that increase its on-the-go functionality, like a chest pocket — absent on the Aria — and high-set hand pockets, positioned above the level of a harness or backpack’s hip belt.

But perhaps its excellent fit and performance is owed mostly to the fact the Sonata is a women-specific jacket designed by women, with Sirriot spearheading its creation and Apparel Designer Charity Fox actually designing the garment and quilt lines. 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.

Shop the Women’s Sonata Hoody here.