by the Product Review Staff | 2004-04-10 03:00:00-06
The Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket is a stylish, athletically cut rain jacket. It is built with Entrant DT - one of the more breathable of the lightweight waterproof PU-coated fabrics on the market. This fabric is textured on the interior face for improved comfort against bare skin. For times when the fabric cannot breathe sufficiently for the workout, the Tempest has a variety of easy-to-use ventilation options to keep air circulating. This jacket has a simple, usable hood and one-handed cordlocks at the neck and waist. The downfall of the DT Tech Jacket, however, is in its waterproof zippers; after a short period of time, the polyurethane coating began to delaminate and peel, allowing water to enter the jacket and making the jacket appear worn out before its time. A poor DWR finish appears to inhibit breathability in wet conditions.
The Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket features unique 14.5” forearm zippers that run from just below the armpit to the wrist. It has Velcro cuffs at the wrists and a one-handed elastic drawcord at the waist. It also features vented front pockets to provide frontal ventilation.
The Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket has several useful features. In addition to the vented front pockets on each side, it also has a small left breast pocket protected by a waterproof zipper, as well as vertical inner pockets for an energy bar or sunglasses. The forearm zips of the Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket, while not allowing for torso ventilation like full pit zips, are extremely easy to use with one hand. Its hood rolls up nicely when not in use and it has a one handed drawcord for sealing the jacket around the neck. The hood cords have neoprene sliders in place of plastic cordlocks and require two hands to use. The hood also has a Velcro adjustement in the rear to control hood volume (there is not enough room for a climbing helmet). It has stylish reflective piping along each arm for safety in the city.
The Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket has an average and athletic cut - it fits more like a running jacket than a backpacking parka. Its shorter hem ends just below the waist. It layered over well enough over a Golite Coal (although the Coal stuck out the bottom a bit) without compressing the Coal's insulation markedly (it won't layer over an Integral Designs Dolomitti without compressing its insulation, however). The arms of the tempest are cut long enough to withdraw your hands in the rain.
This jacket fits like a running jacket and moves like a high-motion shell. It offers a full range of motion in any direction - the fit is excellent for a medium build. The hood offers approximately 80% of the full range of motion, moving with the head better than some jackets we’ve used but not as well as the MEC Aquanator or other hoods with a rear cinch. This jacket seals up nicely at the wrists, waist, and neck and has a comfy bit of soft fabric at the neck. Sierra Designs paid a lot of attention to designing the fit of the DT Tech Jacket.
Storm Resistance (2.5)
The Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket features fully taped seams and keeps the majority of the water out. However, after 2 months of heavy use, the brittle PU coating of the waterproof zippers started to crack, allowing some moisture to enter the jacket in a downpour in the front zipper and at the breast pocket.
With all vents closed, the Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket was perceived to be more breathable than the MEC Aquanator jacket but quite a bit less breathable than other products, including Gore-Tex XCR, Gore-Tex Pac-Lite III, and eVENT. When hiking on flat ground, it breathed reasonably well. Because of the printed inner face fabric, this jacket was more comfortable to wear with bare skin than other garments with unprinted polyurethane face coatings. While wearing a 20 pound pack, the Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket became pretty moist inside on moderate grade trails. Predictably, the inside became wetter when exerting more energy on the uphills with the vents closed.
The Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket also performs below average in the area of water resistance because of a DWR finish that didn't match up with other jackets we tried. The DWR wore off after little use, resulting in its outer face fabric becoming damp instead of beading water off. The resilience of the DWR appears to be a problem, as this was most noticeable after a couple of washes (following manufacturer washing guidelines). The loss of DWR didn't result in leakage of external water through the fabric, but it certainly inhibited its breathability in wet conditions: the Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket often felt clammy and damp on the inside in wet weather.
While somewhat breathable and lightweight, polyurethane-type fabrics like Entrant DT require ventilation options for times when the fabric’s permeability rate is exceeded. When things get warm inside the Sierra Designs Tempest, you have many options. By opening the forearm zips, loosening the wrist cuffs, loosening the drawcords at the neck and waist, and opening the front vented pockets, this jacket allows a lot of moist air to escape. When snowshoeing uphill with a 20 pound pack in slushing rain, this jacket allowed us to stay relatively cool and dry, even with the front zipper closed.
Water resistant zippers that cracked after only a few months (see photo), and a DWR finish that was impressively anti-D have serious implications for the jacket's ability to remain breathable and storm resistant.
$129 is certainly not an outrageous price to pay for a jacket with the features and styling of the Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket, but Sierra Designs must address durability issues with the DWR and waterproof zippers before we can recommend this jacket as a "Good Buy".
We really liked the design of the Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket - it was an instant favorite for its fit and ventilation. However, waterproof zipper cracking and DWR failure indicate some material sourcing deficiencies that need to be addressed. One handed cordlocks at the hood would also be nice for ease of use, although the neoprene sliders work fine and save weight. With a slightly longer cut, the Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket would appeal to more backpackers.
"Sierra Designs DT Tech Jacket REVIEW," by the Product Review Staff. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/Sierra_Designs_DT_Tech_Jacket_Review.html, 2004-04-10 03:00:00-06.