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Judging by the point of the sun overhead, it’s 2:26 p.m., and I’m starving. I try to forage for food, but everywhere I go I am blasted with frigid air. I can’t get warm, and I feel my eyes closing with exhaustion. Freezing to death is like falling asleep. Each step is another closer to salvation from this blistering Arctic tundra. Except, I’m not in the Tundra. I’m in the SPY offices on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, and it’s so fucking cold in here.
I am a victim of office air conditioning. New York in the summer is famously hot, and this year, 2023, we’ve been pummeled by storms that may or may not be the cause of a heating planet, but I won’t get on a soap box about climate change now. The point is, not only is New York hot, it’s also humid. Going outside might as well be a swim. Outfits have been ruined by the oven of the subway and armpit sweat.
Corporate America’s response is to crank the AC to 60 degrees and lock all the windows. This does not a great solution make. The tank top I wear to try and maintain at least some comfort while commuting becomes a device by which I am slowly tortured throughout my day. The SPY team also has the distinct pleasure of sitting directly beneath, and next to, an air vent. [Editor’s Note: Some of us like the air vent, Emma!] So when Arc’Teryx, a high end outdoor gear and clothing brand, reached out and asked if I wanted to test out the Gamma Hoody for the fall, what I thought would be a great jacket for hiking instead turned into a sleek replacement for my frumpy, three year old TJ Maxx office cardigan with a hole in the hem.
The Gamma line from Arc’Teryx has two flavors, lightweight and heavyweight, depending on your intended use and needs. The Gamma MX Hoody is a lightweight jacket made from a softshell weather resistant fabric lined with a not-annoying amount of felt, and my jacket also has an exterior chest pocket, which is perfect for carrying my wallet and phone to Sweetgreen, Just Salad, or Naya for my midtown Manhattan lunch break. (As an editor working in New York media, I feel that a once-a-week sad-desk-salad is a sacred ritual).
Arc’Teryx touts the Gamma hoody’s weight and breathable FortiusTM2.0 fabric as a boon to an outdoor camping and/or hiking experience – actually, they say it’s best for an “alpine” experience, but what could be more Alpine than the 14th floor of this midtown building? We sit in a tundra, but one of our meeting rooms might as well be on the equator. I have yet to remove my jacket in either climate.
Does it look like I’m wearing my camping jacket in the office? Yes. Am I considering getting matching pants? Also yes. But I can’t start my day without putting my jacket on, savoring homeostasis, and logging onto Slack.
Maybe someday I’ll live in a world where office buildings won’t be irregularly heated and cooled, but for now, I am protected from the HVAC elements.