Gear Review: Sierra Designs Elite DriDown Hoody
As an avid peak-bagger, I don’t like to limit myself to only hiking during the warmer months. When you’re trying to complete a list such as the Adirondack 46, or the White Mountain 4000 footers, a three month long window of fair weather is not enough to satisfy the urge to be in the mountains. This led me to scour the internet in search of cold weather gear that would be durable, water-resistant, and lightweight. Soon after this search began, I was able to get my hands on the Sierra Designs Elite DriDown Hoody, and I wasted no time in heading to the mountains to test it out.
Overall Weight: 12.5 ounces
Fill Weight: 3.7 ounces
Insulation Type: 850 Fill Power DriDuck Down
Materials: 88% Nylon, 12% polyester rip-stop shell
Suggested Retail Price: $249.00
Circumstances of Review
I’ve carried the Elite DriDown Hoody in my pack every single time I’ve hit the trail since receiving it in January 2016. I’ve taken it on the rugged trails of the Adirondacks, up many of the 4000+ foot peaks of the White Mountains, and even on a few miles of the Long Trail in Vermont. Conditions ranged from below freezing, where I used the jacket as an integral piece of my layering system, to the 50’s with relatively strong wind, where I used it as my main form of insulation.
Weight and Warm
At only 12.5 ounces, the Elite DriDown Hoody is exceptionally warm for its weight (my scale even registered the jacket at an ounce lighter, as I have the medium size). Coupled with a base-layer, and an outer shell layer, I’ve been able to push the jacket to its limits in the cold temperatures. Additionally, I’ve found that the jacket makes a great primary insulation layer for backpacking in the warmer seasons. Because it’s so lightweight, yet still yields plenty of warmth, it has become a no-brainer for me to toss the Elite DriDown Hoody into my pack on multi-day trips. Packing it gives me peace of mind, because I know that it will suffice in keeping me warm, even if the temperatures dip down below expected values.
Another one of my favorite things about the Elite DriDown Hoody, is the feature from which it bears its name. This hoody is truly “elite,” in that it is one of the warmest and most comfortable hoody’s I’ve ever worn! It fits very snug against the neck, and zips up all the way to the chin, keeping the cold air from penetrating the inside of the jacket. The hoody is so warm, that I don’t even bother to bring a beanie hat when I’m hiking in the warmer months, which helps shave a few ounces from my pack weight (yes, I obsess over my pack weight so much that saving three ounces is exciting). Overall, the hoody is the feature that stands out the most on this jacket, as its fit and function works well in both cold and warmer environments.
The Snug Bottom Fit
One last feature that really stood out to me about the Elite DriDown Hoody, is that it fits very snuggly against the body at the bottom of the jacket. This is incredibly important, as it cuts off airflow from underneath the jacket, thus increasing the warmth. The elastic material at the bottom opening of the jacket is tight enough that it does not slide up and down the body, but stretchy enough that it is easy to adjust on the move.
Jacket is Slightly Too Long on the Torso
Though I admit that I feel uncertain about noting this (since it is a fairly minor issue), the only real downside to the Elite DriDown Hoody is that it is slightly too long on my torso. The sleeves are the perfect length, which rules out the possibility of me wearing an ill-fitting size. I notice that when I wear the jacket, I have to fold the bottom under to get a clean, straight up-and-down look from the zipper. However, I’m sure that nobody besides me would even notice, and I’ve never been one for making fashion statements in the backcountry anyways. Who knows, maybe my torso is just shaped funny!
After my experience using the Elite DriDown Hoody, I can confidently recommend it to anyone in search of a lightweight down jacket. Don’t let the price-tag deter you; down jackets are expensive by nature, and you will be hard-pressed to find a jacket that is stuffed with hydro-phobic down for a similar price to the Elite DriDown Hoody. As I’ve mentioned a few times in this review, its versatility allows it to be an effective jacket in a range of different temperatures, and for this reason, I will be keeping it in my pack on every day hike, overnight trip, and long distance journey I embark on in the future.
(Disclosure: Sierra Designs donated this product for the purpose of this review)
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