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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Sierra Designs Microlight Jacket > Owner Review by alex legg

Sierra Designs Microlight Jacket - Men's
Owner Review by Alex Legg
April 16th, 2013


Tester Information:
Name:  Alex Legg
Age:  30
Gender:  Male
Height:  6'4" (1.9 m)
Weight:  195 lb (88 kg)
Jacket Size:  X Large
Email address:  alexlegg2 AT yahoo DOT com
City, State, Country:  Lyons, Colorado, USA

I have backpacked extensively throughout the southwestern United States my entire life.  I prefer a lightweight approach using tarp tents and trail shoes so that I can save my strength for clocking miles.   I hike on average 4 m daily from my back door and also enjoy trips up to 5 days in the backcountry.  I encounter elevation from 5,000 ft to 14,000 ft (1,524 m to 4,267 m) and temperatures from below 0 F to 90 F (-18 C to 32 C).

Product Information and Specifications:

Manufacturer: Sierra Designs
Year of Manufacture: 2012
URL: http://www.sierradesigns.com
Listed Weight: 10.5 oz (298 g)
Measured Weight: 10.7 oz (303.4 g)
Size:  X Large
Materials: 100% Polyester with DWR finish
MSRP: $47.00

Product Description and Observations:

The Sierra Designs Microlight Men's Jacket is a microlight waterproof wind-stopping jacket that packs down to a very manageable size.  The polyester fabric is feels slick and smooth to the touch.  The DWR waterproof finish provides a shiny look to the jacket and is also slightly sticky when brand new.  The jacket I am reviewing is a Windsor Blue color and in an XL size.  I choose the XL size so that I could easily wear the jacket over multiple layers while on the long trail.  The jacket is a bit baggy on me when worn over just a single layer. 

The Microlight Jacket is equipped with a large hood that easily covers my head and the bill of my baseball cap.  The hood has two drawstrings that can be cinched tightly to secure it on my head when the outside conditions constantly blow off my head coverage.  The neat thing about these drawstrings is that they tighten both the hood and the neck line simultaneously.  By just pulling two strings I can tighten what on many jackets would take four strings.  These drawstrings are easy to tighten and loosen with one hand, and I have enjoyed their ease of use frequently as the weather changes.  There are also two drawstrings on the bottom of the jacket that work to pull the bottom seam tightly around my waist.

The jacket closes securely with a full zipper that stretches from the extended neck line down to the base of the jacket.  The zipper runs smooth and easily.  It is seam taped to keep all moisture from getting in.  I have not had any major snag issues to speak of and I have used the zipper frequently.  The Sierra Designs logo is embroidered on the left breast as well as on the back, in between where my shoulder blades are.  The word "microlight" is also embroidered on the jacket down near the left wrist cuff.  The cuffs are both very stretchy and able to cover multiple thick layers without a problem.  When not covering a few layers, I find them to fit loose around my wrists.  I don't have a problem with this and actually like the small bit of airflow that enters. 

There are two zippered pockets on the outside of the jacket that work as a great place to put my wet hands in a rain storm.  They have a mesh lining that is also part of the construction of the two large mesh pockets on the inside of the jacket.  I think this is a creative way to keep material weight down while still creating multiple pockets.  The inside pockets are great for storing snack food and my map.  Near the rear neckline there is a small loop that I use to conveniently hang my wet jacket when I get home from a soggy trip 

Field Conditions:

I have carried this jacket on numerous backpacking trips throughout Arizona and most recently in northern Colorado over the course of the past year.  I didn't get to thoroughly test the waterproof abilities until recently, but I feel they have been adequately tested now.  A few of my trips are specified below.

I carried the jacket on multiple trips to the Rincon district of Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona.  The temperatures ranged from 32 F to 80 F (0 C to 27 C), and the elevation ranged from 5,400 ft to 9,453 ft (1,650 m to 2,909 m).  There was plenty of morning dew, and a few small rainstorms during the days.

The jacket has also been with me on numerous excursions in the Sonoran desert around Tucson.  Elevation has been around 2,500 ft to 2,700 ft (762 m to 823 m) and temperatures have ranged widely from 45 F to 105 F (7 C to 41 C).  The jacket was worn only for cool temperatures, but never saw rain.

I also carried the jacket on more than ten outings in Roosevelt National Forest in northern Colorado.  Temperatures were between 15 F to 45 F (-9 C to 7 C).  The elevation ranged from 6,500 ft to over 12,000 ft (1,981 m to over 3,650 m).  The jacket saw plenty of rain, sleet and snow on these trips.


Performance in the Field:

I am pretty happy with this jacket.  Other than some snow sneaking in the wrist cuffs while shoveling and down the neck opening when the hood is down, I haven't gotten wet underneath at all.  The jacket has fit easily over the thickness of a base layer, mid-layer, and a soft shell jacket together.  I am always happy to have it as soon as the moisture starts to fall.  I have stayed dry over the course of at least four hours of constant snow and sleet.  I have also stayed pretty warm under this jacket.  I have found that it doesn't breath well at all, so I have actually gotten fairly hot while wearing it.  This is not a jacket I wear simply because of wind.  There has to be a cold and bothersome wind to contend with for the jacket to be helpful to me.   

The fabric is quite a bit stronger than I expected, and much stronger feeling than similar microlight jackets I have worn.  When I pull on the fabric there is not much give at all, no stretch.  It feels like it could hold up to some punishment from the elements and it can.  On the trail it has handled bushwhacking through trees, scrapping up against boulders, and falling down on rough ground and rocks.  The cactus thorns in Arizona have not managed to pierce the jacket.

It is also necessary to mention that this jacket packs down a good amount larger than other microlight jackets I have worn.  It measure roughly 7 in by 5 in (18 cm by 13 cm) while stowed in the stuff sack.  Some of the similar jackets I have worn pack down a lot smaller, but are also much thinner and not as strong feeling. 

The Microlight Jacket protects from the wind very well in my opinion.  I have felt 40 mph (60 kph) gusts that didn't bother me much.  There is a noticeable and sometimes overkill protection from a chilly wind as soon as I get the jacket on.  I prefer to use it as a moisture and wind barrier in conditions below 50 F (10 C), any warmer than that and I'm reaching for a thinner microlight jacket.  In much cooler temperatures near freezing it is important to layer properly underneath this Microlight Jacket and not count on it to insulate me all on its own.

Summary:

This Microlight Jacket has done what the manufacturer says it would with no problem.  The materiel has never failed me and let excessive water in and the cold wind has been kept at bay.  It is bigger than other microlight jackets I have worn, but the size serves it well in the right conditions.  I don't notice the extra weight in my pack and it stows easily.

Pros:
                                                                                                                                                                                     (Great jacket for sledding too!)
1.  Waterproof
2.  Strong feeling material
3.  Packable

Cons:

1.  Large compared to other microlight jackets I have worn


Read more reviews of Sierra Designs gear
Read more gear reviews by alex legg

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Sierra Designs Microlight Jacket > Owner Review by alex legg



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