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Sierra Designs Capiz DriDown Jacket

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Sierra Designs DriDown Capiz Jacket

Designed for active cold weather sports, the Capiz Jacket is part of a new line of DriDown apparel that will be available from Sierra Designs in Fall 2013. Having worn the Capiz almost every day since mid-February, I’m excited that Sierra Designs is starting to use DriDown for more technical cold weather apparel, particularly in mid-layer garments, where waterproof DriDown provides many advantages over technical fleece mid-layers, including:

  • Better compressibility
  • Warmer
  • Lighter weight
  • Dries more quickly
  • Effectively waterproof

Take the Capiz Jacket, which is an excellent example of a lightweight hydrid jacket insulated with 600 fill DriDown in the body and tops of the sleeves, combined with a stretch knit gusset on the sides of the torso and under the arms to increase mobility and vent perspiration. Unaffected by moisture, the hydrophobic down in the Capiz is great for people like me who like a little bit more insulation when they’re hiking in winter, but chill off quickly when they take a short rest break or stop exercizing.

A great active layer for chilly Spring mornings
A great active layer for chilly Spring hikes

I’ve been wearing a pre-production prototype of the Capiz under a technical shell in snowy New Hampshire and more recently as an outer layer on cool spring hikes in Massachusetts. When combined with a wicking base layer, the Capiz provides a much warmer alternative to the technical fleece sweater I’ve worn in previous seasons as a mid-layer, so much so that I’m convinced that I’ve been hiking too cold these past few years!

The Capiz is cut quite simply with two zippered side pockets and two large open pockets on the inside of the jacket that are good for keeping snacks warm and drying off hats after they wet out from exertion. An extended rear hem adds extra length under a backpack and provides plenty of coverage in cooler weather. Weighing 12.7 ounces in a size large, the Capiz weighs about an ounce more than my normal winter hiking fleece but compresses much better and provides far more warmth.

The model I’ve been testing fits snugly, almost like a sweater, but without a reduction in loft under a shell.  With an outer 30 denier polyester ripstop shell and a good DWR, the outer fabric of the Capiz can also withstand being worn as an outer layer in cool spring weather, something that I am experimenting wth now during shoulder season.

With preliminary pricing set at $199, the Sierra Designs Capiz Jacket is competitively priced with other lightweight down jackets and down sweaters that are not made with hydophobic DriDown. I really like this jacket and I am intrigued by the potential for using DriDown in mid-layer garmets. Waterproofing down changes everything.

Disclosure: Sierra Designs provided Philip Werner with a sample Capiz Jacket for review. 

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  1. I’m pretty intrigued by the dry-down technology. Definitely seems like one of the breakthroughs of the past decade as far as backpacking technology, since it sounds like it’s cheap to apply the waterproofing and doesn’t affect the weight.

    I wonder how much over-hyping there is, though. I read a review of a dry-down sleeping bag on Trailspace a few months ago where the reviewer cowboy camped in the rain to see how well the sleeping bag would work. The down retained its loft and insulating properties, but the reviewer was soaked and freezing anyway– insulation protects from convective and radiant heat loss, but not by conduction and evaporation. It was a good read, at least :)

    • I’m kind of creeped out by how some gear reviewers test DriDown products. I read about some other guy who jumped into a pond in freezing weather. Idiotic.

      I’m not sure whether DriDown is over-hyped by the manufacturers or whether it’s simply dumbed down by the media. My take is that it makes the down more resistant loft loss due to sweating making it a good application for winter sleeping bags and mid-layers, while retaining its insulating and compressibility properties.

  2. Have you had an opportunity to check out Sierra Design’s DriDown sleeping bag? I’ve had one since December, and I’ve used it on a few chilli nights in Vermont and Upstate New York. I was quiet warm down to 10 degrees in the 15 degree version, although I didn’t wet it or anything before use. The 600 fill in the bag isn’t very compressible, and is a good pound more than I’d like it to be. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this fill being used in bags?

  3. Hey, I was wondering how low of a temperature this will keep you warm at? Thanks, great review though!

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