Nothing against expedition-weight down jackets, but I’m just not a fan. Perhaps it’s because I don’t ice fish or hang out in the Himalaya, so maybe you should just ignore my aversion. On the other hand, a lightweight down puffy jacket always catches my eye. The new Sierra Designs Gnar Jacket is a perfect example of a natural down-filled jacket that doesn’t make you look like the Michelin Man.
Sierra Designs Gnar Jacket Features:
- 800 Fill Goose Down
- 100% Polyester Taffeta Lining
- 1 Interior Zip Pocket
- 2 Interior Dump Pockets
- Center Front Storm Flap
- Fitted Elasticized Hood
- Elasticized Hem and Cuffs
- Lining: 100% Polyester Ripstop
- Center Back Length: 28″ (L)
- Weight: 11 oz
- Colors: Syrah, Spinach (tested), Ranger, True Blue, Espresso, Black
- MSRP: $199 ($209 hooded)
Sierra Designs Gnar Down Jacket Review
As mentioned, I’m not a fan of looking like the Michelin Man, but I am a fan of efficient insulation with natural down fibers. Nothing compares to the compressibility and wearability of natural down. This Sierra Designs jacket features lightweight 800-fill feathers that feel like wearing air, but keep in the warmth.
The baffle design keeps the insulation neatly in place and gives the jacket a nice look. The fit of the jacket is very standard (non-athletic), which does make it well-suited as an outer layer in a pinch or an around-town cruiser. Personally, I always like a more fitted jacket for weight reduction and to minimize bulk, but I can go either way with the Gnar Jacket. The sleeves on the Medium sample offer a perfect fit in both length and diameter, but for me the jacket body could be tightened up just a tad. As it is, you just get a little extra wiggle room in the middle and an occasional zipper-induced chest bump, but nothing major.
Lets talk about the sleeves for a moment. Yes, they are the perfect length and they also feature thumb ports. I could go on and on about how much I love jackets with this feature, but I’ll sum it up with this: I like the thumb ports.
The handwarmer pockets are the perfect size and placement for keeping your digits out of the frigid air. My only gripe with the zippers on the pockets and the front is that the zipper pull is teeny tiny. It’s great for weight reduction, but is downright difficult to use with gloves on. Inside, you’ll find nice finishing touches and some large pockets. For all you music lovers… nope… you don’t get an iPod port.
Though this jacket may be lightweight, it packs a serious warmth-to-weight ratio. A single long-sleeve layer under this puppy and you’re good to go nearly everywhere but the Arctic.
Aside from the slightly larger body fit, the only other miss I’ve experienced is the diameter and height of the collar. With a jacket like this, the collar either needs to be tight and low to fit under a shell and prevent heat loss, or it needs to be tall and wide enough to tuck your chin inside for extra comfort. The collar on the Gnar is too low to tuck and too wide to prevent heat loss and cold air penetration down the collar. For this jacket type, I’d suggest going lower and smaller for better layering.
- Ultralight insulation at its best
- Love the thumb ports in the sleeves (LOVE THEM)
- Sleeve fit overall is perfect (length+diameter)
- Good value at $199
- Uber comfortable to wear around town and in the backcountry
- Packs down to nuthin’
- DWR sheds water well, but don’t take it out in a downpour
- Body fit could be streamlined just a tad
- Collar diameter should be reduced or height increased (perhaps opting for the hooded version would eliminate this issue)
Bottom Line: Sierra Designs Gnar Down Jacket
The Gnar jacket really is a nice lightweight puffy. It’s the perfect weight for versatile performance around town and in the backcountry. The diameter of the collar should be reduced for improved performance
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