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Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > White Sierra Sierra Rain Jacket > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

White Sierra Rain Jacket

Test series by Kathryn Doiron
Initial Report: Apr 6, 2009

Field Report: June 11, 2009

Long Term Report: Aug 16, 2009

Image of White Sierra Rain Jacket
Image from White Sierra website

Personal Information:
Name: Kathryn Doiron
Age: 32
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 8" (1.7 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)
Email: kdoiron 'at' gmail 'dot' com
Location: Washington DC, USA

Brief Background: I started backpacking and hiking seriously almost four years ago. Most of my miles have been logged in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I have recently finished 1200+ miles (2000+ km) of the Appalachian Trail. My style is to be as light as possible while not spending a fortune. My pack weight tends to hover around 25 lbs (11 kg) with two days of food and 16 oz (0.5 L) of water. I have recently started getting into winter hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: White Sierra
MSRP: $100
Weight: (stated) n/av
Weight: (actual) 1.1 lb (496 g)
Colours/sizes available: Black, Deep Brown and Ocean/Small to Extra Large

Initial Report:
April 6th, 2009

Product description

I received the Ocean (blue) coloured jacket in a women's size large. The jacket is a little bit big for me but is otherwise a good fit. The cuffs are a combination of elastic and a hook and loop tightening band. The pit zips are long and have a flap that covers the zipper. The zipper pull is at the top near the elbow and there is only the one pull. The main zipper does have two pulls and allows for the bottom of the jacket to be unzipped from the bottom up. There are two hand-warmer pockets with zippers that zip down into the open position. Except for the zipper pulls on the pit zips, the pulls are all bungee cord. The right pocket has a hang loop and a belt loop. When the jacket is stuffed into the right pocket, these loops are on the outside for carrying options. The pocket is a combination of mesh and nylon. The mesh is against the top of the hand while the nylon is against the palm of the hand. There is a Napoleon slash pocket on the left hand side of the jacket that is closed with a hook and loop enclosure.

Close up of both sides of the cuffs   Close up of hood tightening system

The bottom of the jacket has a draw cord that can be tightened with one hand, one located on each side seam of the jacket. The bottom third of the inside of the jacket, plus the inside of the sleeves is nylon while the remaining two thirds is mesh, including the inside of the hood. The hood has a two point system that tightens the hood around the face and also pulls the sides away from the side of the face to keep vision clear. The jacket is billed as waterproof and fully seam taped. It is hard to see the seam sealing with all the mesh. The jacket is also billed as having a Dupont Teflon stain and soil repellent coating. The jacket comes with three attachment points, both cuffs and back of the neck, for integrating an inner system. The front zipper has a simple cover flap and uses hook and loop closures to keep the flap flat. The zipper pull is on the left hand side of the jacket.

Detail of the pit zip with no zipper pull   Close up of pocket zipper plus flap

My initial impression of the jacket is that it has a nice fit. The jacket has a small amount of fitting to it but is otherwise roomy and I can see layer potential with this extra room in cooler weather. The arms are nice and long, giving very good wrist and partial hand coverage. With the cuff adjustment, I know I can either leave the sleeves loose, or tighten them up to keep them from getting in the way. The side pockets are nice and deep and easy to unzip for quick access. There is a fold in the fabric to create a small flap that covers the pocket zippers for partial rain protection. The hood doesn't have quite as much coverage as I would like but still covers the face. Only wearing it in a good rain fall will show how good the coverage actually is. The length of the jacket is a bit longer then I expected. The jacket comes to just below the top of my thighs. Not quite long enough for full backside coverage but very good coverage nonetheless.

Detail of the side toggle   Close up of stuff pocket

I have been using the jacket on my walks in to work and over the last couple of days we have had drizzly weather. The jacket has kept the rain out. The rain beads up nicely on the surface of the jacket. I did notice that in humid weather I tend to build up a sweat with the jacket on and my arms stick to the nylon material inside the sleeves. I will be further evaluating this with different layering systems but I have noticed that short sleeves and sweating do cause the sleeves to stick to me. I didn't have any issues with the jacket when I first received it, but I did notice after about the third time that the zipper stuck a little. It was fine again on the next usage. I will continue to evaluate the zipper and report any further issues with it.

Tag plus hang loop and attachment point

My test plan over the next couple of months will be to use the White Sierra jacket on all my outdoor activities. This will include backpacking in the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park, plus dayhikes as well as occasionally car camping. I will be specifically interested in looking into how well the jacket stands up to wear and tear, how well it sheds precipitation, as well as how well it handles sweat.

Field Report:
June 11th, 2009

I have so far used the jacket on two day trips and one long weekend backpacking trip. I have also used the jacket on my walk to and from work to evaluate long term wear, and have used the jacket on more then a few trips both in the rain and just in chilly weather.

The first two trips out with the jacket was a 1 mi (1.6 km) hike in mild rain the first time and a heavier rain the second time. The weather was about 65 F (18 C) on the first trip and 75 F (24 C) on the second trip. The jacket did a great job of keeping the rain out. The rain beaded up on the surface of the jacket nicely. The first trip out I noticed the jacket's front zipper was sticking a little. I had some initial difficulty getting the jacket to zip up. The next time out I payed batter attention to the zipper and while I noticed the same issue, I was able to figure out how to tell when the zipper was fully seated before trying to pull it up. It sticks a little but not nearly as badly. I was only wearing a short sleeved shirt the second trip out and while it was a short hike, I was a little surprised to find my arms sticking to the inside of the jacket. The mesh seems to work fine on the body, but the nylon liner for the sleeves doesn't breathe as well.

The next trip out was a three day, two night trip. Temperatures were in the mid 70's F (about 22 C) on the first two days into evening with the temperature dropping more the second evening. Sunday saw temperatures closer to 60 F (16 C) I did wear the jacket the second evening around camp mostly as it was too warm during the day to wear the jacket. Sunday morning saw some rain and again I wore the jacket in the morning to ward off the rain. It rained for about 1 hour then the rain passed. The jacket did a great job of keeping the rain out as well as keeping the wind out too. There wasn't much wind but with the cooler temperatures and the dampness, it was a cool wind.

Impressions and Comments:
So far, I have been wearing and carrying the jacket on all backpacking and hiking trips as well as to work to evaluate long term wear. I have found a few issues with the jacket so far. I still have issues with the zipper as it tends to stick when I try to zip the jacket up. It only sticks at the zipper pull as if the zipper is not sitting correctly in the slot. Even when I feel that the two pieces are seated correctly, it can still be a problem to get the zipper to initiate or release. Another issue is more minor and relates to the pit zips. As the zipper is very small and does not have any zipper pulls hanging off the zipper, they can be a little difficult to find, especially with a pack on.

The jacket has been good to wear with the cooler spring temperatures. It has enough weight to confer a little warmth and keeps the wind and rain away nicely. The hood isn't as deep as I would personally like but it does mostly keep the rain off my face, and my glasses if I look down. While the jacket works well in cooler temperatures, I have noticed that it is harder to wear with the warmer weather. The nylon inner shell tends to stick to my arms if I do not wear a long sleeve shirt. I know that my arms would stick with other rain wear, but the extra layer does make it awkward to remove the jacket. The outer layer slides off fine, but the inner layer sticks to my arms and makes removal a little more difficult. The mesh used on the inner part of the jacket seems to work well at keeping moisture from building up, but not the nylon lining the arms.

Pros so far: comfortable, good fit and rain resistance. Cons so far: sticky zipper, nylon sleeve lining sticks to arms when moist, and lack of pit zipper pulls.

Long Term Report:
August 16th 2009

I have taken this jacket out on another three overnight trips as outlined below. This makes for four overnight trips total, with several day hikes and occasional wear around town to look into any long term wear issues.

The first trip out was a two night trip in West Virginia in the Roaring Plains. The temperatures were down to about 55 F (13 C) at night, both nights. The elevation was relatively constant at about 4000 ft (1220 m). The second day saw some scattered rain with some strong winds in the evening and overnight. I wore the jacket off and on as the rain came and went. I did tend to start overheating, even with the vents open as the day was still quite humid. Both evenings I wore the jacket to stay warm and combined it with a long sleeve base layer. I didn't stuff the jacket it the stuff-pocket as I find it easier to shove it in my bag and fill up the small spaces. The jacket did a good job of keeping out the rain. I do still have trouble zipping up the front and have noticed that the zipper has started to fray near the pull. I will continue to monitor this area for further signs of wear.

The next trip out was a one night trip out to the Brighton Lakes area in Utah. It was 5 mi (8 km) both days with an elevation gain of about 4500 ft (1370 m). At the higher elevations, the wind was cooling as was the snow. The jacket came in handy to keep the wind from cooling me too much. I did find at the lower elevations, the jacket kept me too warm to wear in spite of the small amount of rain experienced.

Jacket keeping me protected from wind at 10,700 ft (3260 m).
At 10,700 ft (3260 m) having a jacket to protect from the wind is an excellent idea.

The last trip was a three day, two night trip down at Bryce Canyon, Utah. Daytime temperatures was recoded at 80 F (26 C) but with little shade it felt much hotter. I mostly wore the jacket around camp at night when the temperatures dropped. The jacket wasn't much use during the afternoon rain showers as it was simply too hot to wear without building up a sweat. The afternoon rain also caused a jump in humidity. I did wear the jacket but only for about 10 minutes before peeling it back off. The pit zips simply did not provide enough ventilation to keep me cool nor did the jacket breathe well enough to move moisture away from my body.

Impressions and Comments:
The jacket has been a great spring jacket being heavy enough to give me some warmth as well as rain and wind protection. I haven't had as many chances to use it over the summer as the temperatures are simply too warm and/or humid to wear a heavier jacket. The nylon lining of the arms has been a nuisance and doesn't seem to serve any purpose. I tend to stick pretty badly to the lining if I build up any sweat while wearing the jacket with short sleeves on. The mesh lining the body is nice and helps keep some ventilation going. I did notice that the hook and loop enclosure on the zipper flap tends to grab onto the mesh and create picks in the material. It doesn't affect performance, but it is noticeable. The hood peak is not very generous but does give enough coverage to mostly protect my face, my glasses are always an issue and did occasionally get rain spotted. The material of the jacket has held up to bush whacking abuse. One trip had about an hour of off trail hiking and the jacket held up nicely while brushing up against branches.

Wear on the side of teh zipper from sticking in the pull.

For the long term wear of the jacket, so far the jacket is in great condition except for the zipper pull. Due to the zipper being sticky, I have had an ongoing struggle with getting the jacket to zip up or open. The bottom edge of the zipper is fraying and not in very good condition. Otherwise, I haven't had any problems with other zippers. I did spill a little juice on the jacket near the beginning of the test and wiped it off quickly but it did leave a little stain on the jacket. The Teflon stain coating didn't entirely prevent the stain but it is barely noticeable. Water still beads up on the jacket surface and I haven't experienced any wetting out of the jacket in heavier or prolonged rain. The lack of pit zip pulls is still an issue but I don't think this is a major problem and is relatively easy to fix if I find it really annoying. Finding the small zipper pull just requires a little digging around.

Wear on the side of the zipper from sticking in the pull.


    - comfortable
    - great wind/rain resistance


    - doesn't breathe well in hot and/or humid weather
    - zipper pull still sticky

This concludes my long term report on the White Sierra Rain Jacket. I hope you have enjoyed following this test series. I wish to thank White Sierra and for giving me the opportunity to test this Rain Jacket.

Read more reviews of White Sierra gear
Read more gear reviews by Kathryn Doiron

Reviews > Rain Gear > Jackets and Pants > White Sierra Sierra Rain Jacket > Test Report by Kathryn Doiron

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