Gear Review: Sierra Designs Tuolumne Vest and Cold Canyon Fleece

Since autumn is full of unpredictable weather and major differences between day and nighttime temperatures, the ideal gear for shoulder season helps you stay prepared and comfortable no matter how the elements fluctuate. Gear that is warm for the chilly mornings at camp, and breathes with your skin during sunny afternoon climbs, is key. The best fall gear transcends its versatility into winter so that midseason gear can be paired with an extra layer and used in colder months as well.

For their 2019 fall layering system, Sierra Designs paid attention to these features. I spent the past few weeks testing the Cold Canyon Fleece and Tuolumne Vest, using both layers paired together as well as standalone pieces in the mountains of Colorado. The temperatures for testing truly represent autumn, in that they ranged from 20-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold Canyon Fleece

Price: $99
Weight: 12 ounces
Material: Stretch Grid Fleece with Nylon

I had been on the hunt for something that could be used as both a standalone layer and easily transition to a mid layer for colder hikes. The stretch grid fleece was breathable and moved with my body during hiking, climbing, and everything in between. When the sun started going down and I needed an extra layer of insulation, it paired nicely under the Tuolumne Vest for a sleek and comfortable layering system.

Additionally, I used the fleece as a mid layer in my cold-weather insulation system. It was paired with a merino wool base layer and an 800-fill down jacket. The Cold Canyon Fleece was thin enough to easily be layered, and provided more warmth in this situation then I was expecting.

In addition to the warmth, extra features include thumb holes to make layering quick and easy, and large pockets with more than enough room to store a phone, camera batteries, and snacks.

One thing to consider is that this fleece sits pretty tight against your skin. I typically wear a small in similar models, and although I was happy with this size for the product testing, I would consider sizing up in the future for more room.

Tuolumne Vest

Price: $119
Weight: 7.52 ounces
Material: 30D Shadow Rip Polyester paired with Stretch Grid Fleece and Nylon

Stretch Grid Fleece used on the side of the vest.

When I first lifted this vest out of the packaging I was amazed at how light it was, quickly followed by thoughts of, “If it’s this light, it’s probably not very warm.” I was pleasantly surprised to watch this vest break through my initial assumptions and become the piece of gear I used most often during this hiking season.

The sides are constructed with the same stretch grid fleece as the Cold Canyon Fleece, which means that not only is the vest warm and breathable, but wants to move with your body during periods of high output. Primaloft™ Silver synthetic insulation is used throughout the rest of the vest, contributing to the light weight and surprising warmth. The front hand-warmer pockets are spacious, and perfect for keeping your hands and phone warm. They also double as a stuff sack for easily throwing the vest into your backpack. Additional storage is offered through the spacious interior kangaroo pocket.

This vest is extremely versatile. It’s functional enough to be used on trail, but stylish enough that I wore it to work and around town on multiple cold and snowy days.


Breathable, comfortable, and versatile, these two items shine among the rest of the gear in my closet. I am looking forward to finding new ways to incorporate both the Cold Canyon Fleece and Tuolumne Vest into my autumn and winter layering systems, and bringing them on upcoming trips. The Sierra Designs 2019 fall apparel line also features men’s models of these two items, as well as 800-fill DriDown Booties.

These items were donated for purpose of review

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