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Sierra Designs Gnar Jacket

rated 5 of 5 stars

The Gnar Jacket has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best down insulated jackets for 2024.

photo: Sierra Designs Gnar Jacket down insulated jacket

New for the 2010 fall line is the Sierra Designs Gnar, a weightless 800-fill down jacket in its finest form. I got a sneak preview of this jacket at Outdoor Retailer in January and could hardly wait for the chance to test it because, frankly, it’s an incredibly attractive jacket (sweater).

The Gnar has an adjustable hem to keep out cold air, elastic cuffs, and, best of all, thumb loops! Thumb loops keep the jacket sleeves down over your hands to keep them warm when you don’t have gloves.

Because the Gnar has such a trim and fitted design (even though my sample size was a little bigger than I normally wear), I wore it as an insulating base layer under a soft shell jacket.

It comes with its own stuff sack and packed down to the size of a bag of Starbuck's. This summer, I won't hesitate to add this to my backpack on mountaineering trips. If the weather turns suddenly or the winds pick up—as weather and winds are want to do in the mountains—it will be easy to remove put it on under my softshell. The 100 percent nylon ripstop shell is treated with a DWR finish to shed light rain and melting snow just in case.

Its packable size also makes it easy to bring along on airplanes. I took this jacket to Banff National Park in February and stashed it easily in my suitcase along with my ski jacket. When I took it from the stuff sack after the flight, it lofted instantaneously and didn't look like it had been smashed under ski boots for 4-hour flight.

For cargo, the Gnar has two zippered hand pockets and one zippered chest pocket on the outside and two dump pockets on the inside stash money, keys, phone, etc.

Will the Gnar keep you toasty when it's -10 outside or atop a fourteen thousand foot peak in January? Probably not on its own. If you're doing winter mountaineering, you'll want a jacket that's designed for that purpose.

A word on sizing. My sample was a medium and I normally wear a small. If you normally wear a small (or medium or large), get a small (or medium or large). The better it fits your body, the warmer you'll be, and the nicer it will fit under a softshell jacket.

Fabric: 100% nylon ripstop shell on the outside,
Fill: 800-fill down
Price Paid: Free sample provided by Sierra Designs for testing

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