Down – long regarded as God’s gift to cold people, the insulating power of goose feathers is hard to match. Contradictory to its origin on the backs of our waterfowl friends, though, down jackets fall flat in wet conditions. Sierra Designs’ new DriDown technology could potentially eliminate down’s only major performance drawback, and they’ve packed it into their Tov puffy jacket. After a month of testing in the Pacific Northwest’s rain it’s time to decide, does DriDown live up to its hype?
Sierra Designs Tov DriDown Jacket Features:
- 2 Zipper Hand Pockets
- 1 Interior Dump Pocket
- 1 Interior Zip Pocket
- Fitted, Adjustable Elasticized Hood
- Elasticized Cuff with Thumbhole
- Hung Lining for Warmth
- Includes Stuff Sack
- 600 Fill DriDown
- 1 lb. 5oz. total weight
- 5.8oz. fill
- MSRP: $259
Sierra Design’s Tov is a midweight puffy jacket that elegantly blends style and performance. The Tov’s cut is strictly in the middle – it’s not an annoyingly oversized puffy jacket, but it’s also not cut too tight. The jacket features a drop trail that is wonderful when sitting around the campfire to keep one’s lower back warm. Cushy thumbholes in the sleeves are a valuable feature at any time and I was glad Sierra Designs included them. The Tov is a very comfortable piece to wear and it manages to feel streamlined, an accomplishment that few puffy jackets can match.
Sierra Designs chose a diamond baffle pattern coupled with a hung liner for warmth, and this combination does a surprisingly good job holdiing in heat for the jacket’s weight and class. The jacket is definitely a midweight jacket – not strictly a layering piece, but not a monstrous one-piece-warmth solution. Indeed, the Tov’s performance in the rain makes it a solid choice for an outer layer in conditions that few down jackets could survive in. The Tov is special because, as trim as it is, it manages to be startlingly warm. Coupled with a fleece baselayer I easily took this jacket down to the high teens in relative comfort. The wind blows right through the sewn-through baffles which is quite a shame because it’s the only thing that takes away from the Tov’s warmth and comfort.
The Tov also touts a lot of great features that virtually everyone will enjoy. The adjustable hem’s drawstrings run through grommets into the pockets so the hem can be adjusted without you ever having to take your hands out of the downy warmth. Moreover, the collar and hood are remarkably comfortable – the zipper garage makes the collar completely smooth, and on me it was just loose enough to be comfortable without losing heat. The hood features an elasticized opening and adjustable drawstring, making it very comfortable to wear.
I have mixed feelings about a few of Sierra Design’s choices, though. The diamond baffle design is nice because it keeps the Tov’s wiley 600 fill down strictly in place, but the overabundance of seams exacerbates down leakage. Moreover, it’s a lot harder to pull plumes back into down jackets when they’re very close to a seam, and the Tov’s design has so many tight corners that plumes are frequently in a tough spot. On the other hand, the generous patch of down right over the pockets eliminates any cold spots for the hands, and this big cushion of down is a much-appreciated feature when you need to stuff your hands somewhere warm.
Sierra Designs’ Tov is an awesome puffy jacket by any standards, but there’s an elephant in the room that has yet to be addressed – DriDown! I was fortunate to spend the fall testing this technology around the rainy Pacific Northwest. In my experiences, DriDown does an awesome job at what it’s designed for, which is thwarting down’s reputation as a poor choice for rainy weather. The Tov simply stays lofty in the rain longer than traditional down jackets; DriDown, coupled with the DWR on the ripstop nylon, can handle mild to moderate rain for a couple of hours without many complaints. Mind you, the Tov definitely lets some moisture through in its plethora of seams, but the bulk of the down will remain lofty and dry far longer than traditional down insulation.
My favorite performance benefit is how quickly DriDown dries out; to me, this was the most startling benefit because I could hang up a moderately damp jacket to dry and then pull it on, completely dry, in two hours. DriDown’s benefits are completely tangible and it definitely lives up to the hype. Put simply, DriDown stays warmer, longer, in wet weather.
- DriDown is the coolest thing since sliced bread
- DWR and DriDown work together for a very resilient jacket in wet weather
- Comfortable, moderate cut for a puffy jacket
- Surprisingly warm for a midweight down jacket
- Diamond baffle design holds down in place well
- Smooth zipper action, both up and down
- Packed with quality features
- 600 fill down tends to leak due to pokier stems
- Diamond baffles have extra seams, leads to more feather leakage
- Sewn-through seams let the wind in
- At 1 lb. 6 oz. it’s a tad heavy for backpackers
The Bottom Line
Wrapping things up, all the details of a good jacket are here: smooth zipper, goggle pocket, thumbholes and beautifully crafted zipper pulls put the finishing touches on a very fine product. If I could have but one wish granted to me, it would be for an iteration of the Tov in 8oo fill down: feather leakage would be mitigated and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love 800 fill down? As it is, the 600 fill down performs well while keeping price in check. The Tov is a great contribution to the puffy jacket field but the addition of DriDown really puts the Tov ahead of the pack; Sierra Designs has a champ on their hands.
Buy Now: Available at Altrec.com