Gadling gear review: Sierra Designs Jive Jacket

The Sierra Designs Jive Jacket is a perfect companion for inclement weatherThere is an old adage amongst outdoor enthusiasts that says “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.” I had the opportunity to see that adage in action this past weekend while attending the World Rafting Championship in Costa Rica, where afternoon thunderstorms are a common occurrence. We’re not talking a light drizzle either. We’re talking torrential downpours that reminds you exactly why they call it a rainforest. Fortunately, I remembered to pack my trusty Jive Jacket from Sierra Designs, which proved to be an excellent choice for this adventure.

Hikers, backpackers, and adventure travelers will find a lot to like in this jacket. With its high quality, waterproof zippers, adjustable cuffs and hem, and patented water-rappelling fabrics, it is clear that the Jive was designed by someone who has been caught in an unexpected squall while out on the trail a time or two. And little touches like a helmet-compatible hood and zippered pit vents shows that Sierra Designs knows and understands its target market very well. Pockets designed to be accessible while wearing a backpack, and an interior pocket for keeping your most important items dry, underscore this point even further.

While using the Jive in Costa Rica, it seemed that it had been tailor made for that environment. Not only did it keep me dry in one of the hardest rainstorms I’d ever seen, it was also highly breathable, something that is much appreciated when you’re traveling through a steamy rainforest. I was very impressed with how well the jacket managed to keep the rain out, while not becoming unbearably warm to wear, something that has eluded a lot of rain jackets in the past.I was equally impressed with how lightweight and packable the Jive is as well. Weighing in at just 15 ounces, the jacket is a dream for those who like to travel light. Before setting off to the Central American paradise, I stuffed the Jive in my daypack, and practically forgot that it was there. When the afternoon rains started to fall however, I was glad that it was with me, and while other rafting spectators ran for the meager shelters, I stayed in place, enjoying the event, which wasn’t about to let a little tropical shower slow down the festivities.

Potential buyers of the Jive should be aware that it runs a bit on the large size. Presumably this is to make is a more versatile part of a layering system, allowing you to mix and match what you want to wear under it. That allows travelers to use it in a variety of seasons and environments, which is sure to make it an even more popular choice to take on any outing that could potentially see inclement weather set in.

If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a big fan of the Jive Jacket and feel that it’ll make an excellent addition to any outdoor enthusiasts gear closet. It is a well built and versatile rain jacket that will serve you well in the rainforest, on the mountain, or simply strolling the streets. You won’t even need to be caught in a tropical thunderstorm to appreciate how well the Jive performs.

Sierra Designs Vapor 15 sleeping bag giveaway

We recently reviewed the Sierra Designs Vapor 15 sleeping bag. The superior warmth of this bag makes it a perfect choice for locales where temps can dip below freezing. We’re giving one Sierra Designs Vapor 15 away to a lucky Gadling reader!

The Sierra Designs Vapor 15’s construction is focused on weight savings, to keep the bag small and easily stowable. Smart features like a half zipper, jacket-style hood, and ultralight filling make it possible to stuff it down to the size of a football. The Vapor 15 can keep the average sleeper comfortable to temps as cold as 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

HOW TO WIN:

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us where you would use this sleeping bag first.
  • The comment must be left before Thursday October 7, 2010 at 5pm Eastern time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • The winner will receive one free Sierra Designs Vapor 15 sleeping bag.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • The bag is valued at $419.95.
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.

Sierra Designs Vapor 15 sleeping bag

There’s nothing worse than ending a great night of camping by freezing your butt off in your sleep. Sleeping bags have come a long way since the days of those twenty-pound flannel bags with squared-off ends. Now there’s no need to pack an uncomfortable and clunky bag into the wilderness, on that road trip, or across Europe. The modern sleeping bag can keep you warm on cold nights, won’t weigh you down, and packs down incredibly small for efficient traveling.

Sleeping bag designers know that when people overheat in their sleep, they sweat, and when cotton gets wet, it gets cold. The Sierra Designs Vapor 15 utilizes goose down, which doesn’t retain moisture, preventing late night freeze-fests. The Vapor 15 is rated to keep an average sleeper comfortable when the mercury drops to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Warmth isn’t the only thing to look for in a good sleeping bag; intrepid travelers don’t have tons of room to spare in their packs, so space and weight savings are key. The Vapor 15 uses lightweight 850-fill goose down for its filling. The zipper only runs about one third of the way down the bag, which provides just enough room to get in and out but saves the weight of a full length zipper. The regular-sized bag stuffs down as small as a football and weighs-in well under two pounds (1 lb 11 oz). The hood of this mummy-style bag is more akin to a down jacket hood than what is found on a more traditional sleeping bag. The hood feature saves even more weight, and traps heat in, keeping your head toasty all night.In field-testing, the Vapor 15 kept me comfortable, even as temps dipped into the 20s. Condensation built up inside our tent during the night, and moisture gathered on the outside of the sleeping bag’s footbox. That moisture froze into a crystal casing on the exterior of the bag. Despite my popsicle-like state, the inside of the bag stayed incredibly warm. I even had to unzip and slink out of the bag a few times when I got a bit hot.

The price tag on the Sierra Designs Vapor 15 may cause a double-take for those not accustomed to forking over this much for camping gear. Superior construction and design play into this bag’s price, for sure. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my years of sleeping outdoors, it’s that a sound night’s sleep is well worth the price of a good bag.

Retail Price – $419.95

Specs can be found at Sierra Designs.