Sierra Designs has a long history of making spanking good down products and, as everyone knows, they kicked that up a notch when they introduced DriDown last year. We tested their Tov puffy jacket which, at the time, was their warmest option with DriDown and was the flagship of a fairly limited selection. Sierra Designs greeted Fall ’13 with a tremendous selection of new down jackets and it’s very clear from the Stratus 800 that they’re still on a roll.
Sierra Designs Stratus DriDown Jacket Features:
- 2 Zippered Hand Pockets
- 1 Interior Zippered Pocket
- 2 Interior Dump Pockets
- Two-Way Center Front Zipper
- Cuff Binding with Thumbhole
- Adjustable Hem and Hood
- Helmet Compatible Hood
- Drop Hood with Integrated Collar
- Includes Stuff Sack
- 800-fill DriDown
- 14oz. Total Weight
- MSRP: $249
Goose Down Gets Down and Dirty
The Stratus is a straightforward polyester puffy with a simple yet effective baffle design. I mostly tested it in Spokane’s cold, watery fall weather but the Stratus and I also ventured up to around 10,200 feet for some alpine testing. It’s a handsome jacket and Sierra Designs has loaded a great feature set into the Stratus.
Sierra Designs chose a polyester ripstop instead of a nylon weave in an effort to cushion the cost of the 800-fill down. Polyester is a more affordable fabric with a smoother handle than nylon; characteristically, polyester doesn’t repel water as well as nylon but it does tend to breathe better. The jacket has a very smooth handle and feels great next-to-skin, even if you’ve worked up a bit of a sweat. The clamminess than sometimes attends a nylon shell during aerobic conditions is gone with the lighter polyester.
To sweet the Stratus’ deal, they packed it up with premium 800-fill DriDown. Sierra Designs’ 800-fill stuff is top-quality; you get all the high-loft, non-smelly, small-packing goodness that you’d expect out of 800-fill. Sierra Designs sparked the hydrophobic down storm with their DriDown last year and it’s good to see the technology has taken root. True to the advertising, the down stays loftier and warmer while drying out faster than untreated down. The jacket weighs in at around 14oz so it’s not into the ultralight category by any stretch, but it’s definitely svelte enough that I have no qualms tossing it in my pack.
The Stratus performs very well in the field both as a midlayer and a shell. The cuffs feature thumbholes so it’s easy to slide underneath a hardshell, but I did notice that my 6′ wingspan felt pretty constricted by the sleeves while I was using the thumbholes. Sierra Designs chose to include a helmet-compatible hood which is fully adjustable, making it great for a variety of mountain conditions. Two zippered hand pockets and a spacious interior chest pocket seal the deal, making this a very practical shell for many pursuits. The baffle design isn’t too fancy but it keeps the down in place very well; irregardless, it looks sleek and sharp.
During my testing, I was comfortable in the Stratus down to the high 40’s without any supplemental layers. It’s not a terribly warm jacket (though Sierra Designs does make the warmer Super Stratus puffy) so, when the mercury dips, layer it with some fleece and merino. When I got high in the mountains I paired the Stratus with the Rab Myriad; both pieces are exceptionally breathable in their classes and they worked brilliantly together.
- Polyester shell is soft, affordable and breathable
- 800-fill DriDown is fantastic as always, baffle design holds down well
- All the features are here – hood, adjustments, thumbholes, etc.
- Polyester shell is less water-resistant
- 14oz. is on the heavy side
- Perhaps slightly overpriced
The Bottom Line
The Stratus is a great midweight puffy coupling the soft handle and breathability of polyester with the cold-turkey performance of 800-fill down. Sierra Designs continues to prove themselves as one of the premier designers of down products and it’s great to see that the Stratus is carrying on this tradition.
Buy Now: Available from Moosejaw.com