Sierra Designs is known largely for its outdoor gear. For example, I reviewed (and really liked) their Frontcountry Bed sleeping bag. I haven’t often associated the company with clothing, but a look at the new Sierra Designs insulated jackets for winter 2017-18 may change that.
On men’s side alone, there are five new Sierra Designs insulated jackets this year, plus a couple of waterproof tops. The story is similar on the women’s side, where the selection is identical with a few changes to color options and cut/tailoring.
Two of the new Sierra Designs insulated jackets are down insulated: the Whitney and Sierra. Both jackets use 800-fill of DriDown, which is Sierra Designs’ patented water-resistant down. I have two 800-fill down jackets in my closet at the moment (neither of them from Sierra Designs), and I can vouch for the insulating power of 800 fill. While the Whitney has an insulated hood, the Sierra has no hood at all. That, and the $10 price difference, appears to be the only difference between the two jackets.
The Tioga and Tuolumne jackets, meanwhile, both use synthetic insulation. Again, the difference between the two styles seems to be the hood on the Tioga and hoodless nature of the Tuolumne. Rather than DriDown, the jackets use “Fireball” insulation. Unfortunately there’s no fill-level equivalent, so it’s unclear whether these have the same insulation potential as the 800-fill Whitney and Sierra.
Rounding out the five new Sierra Designs insulated jackets is the Neah Bay. Of the five, it looks like the least warm. Rather than hardcore insulation, its focus appears to be on keeping you dry in above-freezing winter conditions. It does look to have a bit of heat-retaining heft, but the fully taped seams and “Hurricane Extend” shell show where Sierra Designs chose to put that jacket’s attention.
Features aside, the most compelling aspect of these new Sierra Designs insulated jackets is the sub-$100 price of the Tuolumne and Neah Bay. I can’t vouch for their performance, but it’s remarkable to find a new winter jacket for less than $100. The hooded Whitney would probably be my choice, though it’s also the most expensive of the five at $169.