My relationship with Sierra Designs goes back to some of my earliest days of doing stuff in the outdoors. As a teenager, I had a tent and sleeping bag from them that I absolutely loved. I still have the tent (a Nitro 2) and, while it’s dirtier and smellier now, it’s still a favorite. So today, when I look at a Sierra Designs product, I have really high expectations for quality because that’s what their customers are looking for, too. With that, this Fall I’ve been rocking the Sierra Designs Whitney Hoodie.
Sierra Designs Whitney Hoodie Features:
- 800 Fill DriDown™
- Two Zippered Hand Pockets
- Inside Kangaroo Pocket
- Insulated Yoke with Zippered Chest Pocket
- Stows into zippered pocket
- Overstuffed hood and high collar increases comfort
- Bungee drawstring adjustable cinch with cord lock
- Elastic Cuffs
- Weight (size L): 14oz
- MSRP: $189
Lightweight and affordable warmth
A major perk of the Whitney hoodie is that it’s reasonably affordable. These days, it seems rare to find a down jacket under $200. Squeaking under that at $189, the Whitney promises good value for the money. Let’s look at some of the ways that it delivers both performance and value.
To start with, the foundation of the jacket is a 30D ripstop polyester on the outside. The inner lining is done in nylon. Polyester is a little less durable than nylon, but on the bright side it has a greater degree of inherent water resistivity. There is no hung liner, and as a result the wind does tend to cut through the baffles of this jacket easily.
Stuffed within all that lightweight polyester and nylon is Sierra Designs’ 800-fill ‘DriDown’ hydrophobic goose down. Oh man, this stuff goes back to the 2012 Outdoor Retailer show when Sierra Designs first demoed it there. One of my earlier reviews of the Sierra Designs Zissou highlighted the technology in 2013. I really like the stuff – it helps down stay dry longer, and you’ll find that your jacket dries out quicker after it gets wet since the down didn’t get as saturated. It’s a great fit for people like me who live in the Northwest. That said, consumers should be aware of the added environmental cost of the extra waterproofing when deciding if they want a hydrophobic down product.
The Whitney has plenty of features to brag about. The two zippered hand pockets are notable, offering plenty of space for either big fat phones or cold hands. There’s also a zippered Napoleon-style pocket on the yoke for anything that you want to keep safe. Additionally, a kangaroo pocket on the inner left side of the jacket is an easy spot to dump gloves or whatever else you might want. Finally, the jacket also packs into its own pocket, so what’s not to love about that?
Moving beyond just the features, there are a number of things that I want to highlight from my experience using the jacket. The first is the fit. I’d say that the fit of this jacket is reasonably true to size, erring somewhat towards being generous throughout the torso in particular. For reference, I’m 5’11” and 195lbs. The hem of the jacket is circled by a shock cord adjustment, making it easy to keep it in place during activity. Another major functional boon is the cool buttery-soft cuffs that Sierra Designs sewed into the sleeves; these things feel like your wrists are being kissed by a thousand fairies who are simultaneously battling to keep cold nasty draft goblins out of your jacket. Seriously, they’re good.
Here, however, are two aspects that did not quite impress me during my testing: the hood and the yoke. The hood is pretty large, so I’d call it ‘helmet compatible’ and indeed I could fit my Black Diamond helmet in there. However, without anything in there to fill it up other than your noggin, it’s big enough to fall off or get blown around by the wind. Not ideal, and would have been easily fixed with a drawcord adjustment.
This second issue, the yolk, is more bothersome to me. To me, it looks like Sierra Designs was working on something like the visual profile of some higher-dollar alpine puffies that have a really built-up yoke to make a comfy-cozy seal around your neck. With the dramatic ‘V’ rising towards the neck of the jacket, they did nicely copy the visual profile. However, in my testing, this is the jacket’s biggest weakness: it does not seal adequately around your neck. The design inclusion of elastic hem around the hood does not adequately address this issue.
It’s hard to comment on the jacket’s warmth-to-weight ratio because Sierra Designs didn’t publish information on the fill weight of the jacket. I’d say it’s in the middle of the pack in terms of warmth-to-weight. The warmth of the jacket is compromised by the lack of a hung liner, meaning that wind had no problem biting through the baffle stitching.
- The cuff design is probably the best I’ve ever tested
- The 800-fill DriDown is the granddaddy of premium hydrophobic goose down
- It’s a great value at $189 for 800-fill goose down
- Sierra Designs didn’t skimp on the features, with plenty of pockets and zips
- No hung liner means that the jacket is not as warm or wind-resistant
- The hood could use some adjustment toggles to control it better
- The design of the yoke allows heat to leak significantly
The Bottom Line: Sierra Designs Whitney Hoodie
The Sierra Designs Whitney Hoodie is affordable and manages to deliver awesome 800-fill DriDown performance at an incredible price point. My testing did reveal flaws, the most troubling of which to me is the poor seal created by the yoke of the jacket. The hood design also does not function well. At its core, though, there are still many aspects of this jacket that function well and contribute to a good user experience, notably the thoughtful pocket placement and the incredibly good internal cuffs. I recommend this to users looking for a great value who can sacrifice a degree of warmth for their intended uses of this puffy.
Buy now: Available from Sierra Designs