Gear Review: Sierra Designs’ California Collection Apparel

Sierra Designs’ California Collection is a nod to the company’s roots. The sporty, stylish apparel side of this collection is all partly manufactured in California and features designs optimized for a range of activity levels. Keeping the manufacturing close to home helps the company reduce its carbon footprint while creating simple, sleek designs that fit well and hold up on the trail. We tested a selection of these items over the past few seasons. The California Collection also features packs, hats, and men’s apparel.

Maggie Slepian

Women’s Dress
MSRP: $74

I am never not looking for more hiking dresses, so when I saw Sierra Designs’ new style last year, I was all about it. What the “Women’s Dress” lacks in an imaginative name, it makes up for in fit and comfort. I’ve worn this dress on hikes and other outdoor endeavors over the past spring and fall, and I’m a huge fan. It hits right above the knee, which is a good length for most trails. The only exception were some most high-stepping sections of a steep climb, where I was minimally worried about flashing my hiking companions. The dress has a built-in shelf bra that has been perfectly adequate for wear without additional support.

The double-X back straps are cute and don’t chafe, and they’re easily adjustable. The skirt of the dress finds a good middle ground in that it isn’t loose enough to get bound up, but it’s not so tight that your stride feels constricted. The material feels like a soft T-shirt. It’s built with moisture-wicking tri-blend that has stood up to hikes around Montana, Wyoming, and the Utah desert. This dress fits true to size, but if you’re between sizes, I recommend sizing up. –Maggie Slepian

Shop the Women’s Dress Here

Women’s Tank with Shelf Bra
MSRP: $64

This tank top is both cute and practical. I got it with the intention of hiking in it, and while it is very good for that, it’s also become one of my regular yoga shirts. It has a double-X back and a low cut front that makes it very breathable; this and its moisture-wicking capabilities make it a perfect shirt for hot days or a heated yoga class. Both this shirt and the short-sleeved tee (below) have a “THINK OUTSIDE” motif down the center of the back that I really love. It is made with a tri-blend of poly/cotton/spandex and was designed with breathability and mobility at the forefront.

The only downside to this shirt is the shelf bra is not really intended for those with large busts. I have to wear a sports bra in addition to the shirt lest I risk unwanted movement and exposure. I would recommend sizing up, especially for those with a large bust, as I found that the internal shelf bra ran small. Overall, it’s a very comfortable workout shirt that breathes incredibly well. –Samantha Olthof

Shop the Women’s Tank Here

Women’s Short Sleeve Tee
MSRP: $49

The Women’s Short Sleeve Tee is an extremely multipurpose shirt. I have worn it for hikes in all weather in Northern Ontario, and it was an excellent addition to my layering system. It wears warmer than the Women’s Tank. I’ve also worn it as a day-to-day T-shirt and to my casual workplace (I am a huge proponent of wearing activewear to work whenever possible). The material is like a soft T-shirt that also happens to breathe well and wicks moisture. The logo is reflective, a bonus safety feature for any outdoor athletic wear. It fits true to size and comes in a variety of colors. –Samantha Olthof

Shop the Women’s Short Sleeve Tee Here

Women’s Trail Shorts
MSRP: $59

For what looks at first sight to be a generic pair of black athletic shorts, the Women’s Shorts are a step up due to a few key features. They have larger pockets than I would have expected from short shorts, including a small zippered pocket for valuables. They also have reflective striping for additional visibility, and they are high-rise. Like the Women’s Tank, they run a little small, and I would recommend sizing up. But once I sized up, I found that they fit well through the waist, hips, and thighs. They are a loose fit at the bottom rather than being skin-tight. Especially important for hiking long distances: they are long enough to discourage thigh chafing while remaining light and breathable. The shorts are a comfortable poly/spandex blend that feels like it will hold up well over time. They’ve weathered a variety of hikes and workouts over the past few seasons and still look brand new. –Samantha Olthof

Shop the Women’s Trail Shorts Here


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