Sierra Designs DriDown Hoody Review
Sierra Designs DriDown Hoody is a lightweight, performance 800-fill (120g) down jacket. It has no lack of competition in the Down segment. I’ve used this type of jacket for several years now as my 3-season, almost-all-the-time jacket. I enjoy the versatility of genuine Down. It insulates well in the coldest conditions, but doesn’t feel stifling when either the temps rise or hard effort starts to generate more body heat. My expectations were high for the DriDown Hoody, and Sierra Designs did not disappoint.
First Impressions of The Sierra Designs DriDown Hoody
I’ve never used a down jacket equipped with a hood before and was excited at that prospect. Another unique feature I noticed immediately were the thumb holes at the end of the sleeves and their lycra closure system meant to keep cold out when not in use (see photos below).
The understated design and branding of this jacket was also striking. In an age of colors that look suitable to safe deer-hunting, the Sierra Designs DriDown jacket’s subtle charcoal colorway with medium grey zipper accents and lining are just the thing for those looking to whisper, not scream. Along the same lines, and perhaps the aspect that initially surprised me the most about this jacket was the subtlety of the Sierra Designs branding. The exterior of the jacket is not branded with the Sierra brand name anywhere! The left sleeve is embroidered with their subtle tree mark logo in a tasteful light grey that matches the accents elsewhere on the jacket. Immediately I was struck with how this would appeal to those turned off by the brash logos in bright colors stamped on the front of most similar pieces.
Key Features & Performance
The function and design of the DriDown Hoody hood is streamlined and simple but very effective. The body of the collar comes up a bit higher than most, covers the face, and even nose when zipped all the way up. The top front of the hood is contoured to come down over the forehead, but is cut wide around the sides of the face and extends up from the high collar over the head. The design does a great job of providing warmth but not compromising peripheral vision. Sierra Designs states that the collar/hood design eliminates the need for any kind of cinch cord around the face, and I agree on this point. Sierra Designs talks about the ability to stow the hood by folding it down into the back of the collar when wearing the jacket (it has no dedicated stow compartment for the hood). I found the collar to feel too bulky with the hood stowed in this manner, and opted to just let it ‘hang’.
The soft fleece strip lining the inner edge of the hood around the face provides great comfort, and the overall design and cut of the collar/hood system fits great and performs well.
The base of the jacket does not have a cinch cord as you might see on some other similar models, but is elasticized to provide insulation around the bottom of the jacket. This was one aspect of the jacket I found to be lacking for my body type. When zipped up, the base of the jacket tends to ride up around my waist rather than stay down around my hips. I think this could be fixed by adding either a cinch cord which could be loosened to allow the jacket to free-hang at the bottom, or perhaps some gripper elastic to the base cuff to prevent riding up.
The DriDown Insulation
Sierra touts that the key selling point for this new piece is its specially-treated duck down. It is supposed to stay dry in wet conditions 10 times longer than untreated down. This treated down, along with the light polyurethane coating on the inside of the outer shell material, makes the DriDown Hoodie very water-resistant. In my opinion, this makes it a more legitimate choice as a shell not just an insulating layer when wet conditions might be encountered. I tested the jacket in light rain and heavy driving snowstorms and never felt that the shell material became saturated nor did the insulating down become wet.
The DriDown Hoody technically is supposed to pack into its own pocket. However, I found the pocket to slightly too small that packing the jacket into it was a bit of work, and zipping the resulting package was challenging. One of the pocket zippers is reversible and Sierra included a pull tab at the start of the zipper which does help. This Hoody is made to be worn, not packed in its pocket. Hence, I’m not overly concerned, but wanted to mention it.
I found the fit of the DriDown Hoody to be perfect. The body and sleeves are relaxed enough to allow for a light fleece or sweater to be worn underneath, but is form-fitted enough not to be bulky. Length of the sleeves are also nice and long even when using the built-in thumb holes.
The outer material of the jacket is 100% 20-denier ripstop nylon. The material in my experience, provides the best performance and durability combination. The zippers are substantial, and the construction quality is top notch. After 6 weeks of daily use, the jacket shows no visible signs of wear and I anticipate a long life of problem-free use.
Final Thoughts on The Sierra Designs DriDown Hoody
Overall, the well thought out features of the DriDown Hoody impressed me thoroughly. The design of the hood lends great peripheral visibility and comfort without sacrificing warmth. The lycra closure inserts on the thumb-holes also perform very well. They keep drafts out when not in use and provide comfort when in use. The primary feature which could use some improvement from Sierra Designs is the base opening of the jacket which did ride up when the jacket was zipped. This could easily be improved with the addition of an adjustable bungee opening or gripper elastic. The jacket is a very versatile piece and I found it very well made, durable and plenty warm with only a light base layer underneath down to 0°F. The DriDown feature also makes the Hoodie a great choice when chances of rain are high. Overall, I highly recommend the Sierra Designs DriDown Hoody.
For more info, visit sierradesigns.com