Gadling gear review: Sierra Designs Jive Jacket

There 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.