Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater Review

Coming out in fall 2010, the Gnar is a good balance of sizing and fit, features, and overall light weight, but it could be a little warmer.

Overall Rating: Above Average

Sierra Designs gets it mostly right in designing their new Gnar Down Sweater. It meets our expectations for a lightweight multi-purpose three-season down sweater very well. Thanks to its lightweight components, its overall weight is low, considering the number of features it has. However, the jacket could be a little warmer and would benefit from an extra half ounce of down.

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by Will Rietveld |

Introduction

Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater Review - 1
New for fall 2010, the Sierra Designs Gnar is a full-featured, lightweight three-season down jacket. It’s available in men’s and women’s versions.

This separate review provides additional descriptive and performance information on the Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater. Read our forthcoming article Ultralight Three-Season Down Jackets State of the Market Report 2010 for a state-of-the-market analysis and comparative specifications and performance for a range of ultralight down jackets.

The Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater will be introduced in fall 2010 in men’s and women’s versions. It’s a full-featured jacket, and the features are lightweight, keeping the total weight of the jacket down to 11.8 ounces (335 g) for men’s size Large.

Description

The Gnar is insulated with 4 ounces (113 g) of 800 fill-power down, giving it a single-layer loft of 0.9 inch (2.3 cm), which is average. Based on its 36.4% insulation weight (fill weight divided by jacket weight), the Gnar barely makes it into our “seriously lightweight” down jackets” category (35 % is the lower limit). Realistically, the Gnar is a better fit in our “multi-purpose three-season down jacket” category, which is jackets that balance light weight, warmth, and features (more coming on these categories in the State of the Market Report).

The jacket’s shell is 20 denier 1 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) ripstop nylon with DWR, which is considered average for this type of jacket. All jackets in this category have a high quality shell fabric with excellent wind and water resistance. Weight-wise, the Gnar’s shell falls in the middle of the range, balancing durability with its light weight.

Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater Review - 2
Front and rear views of the Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater.

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The Gnar has two roomy zippered hand pockets (left) and a smaller zippered chest pocket (right).

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There are two drop pockets inside the jacket (left), which add minimal weight and are very handy. The left side of the jacket has an overlaid zippered stretch mesh pocket (right) which doubles as a storage sack for the jacket.

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The cuffs have a handy thumb loop to make it easier to don a layer over the Gnar Down Sweater.

Performance

Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater Review - 6
I tested the Gnar on one four-day trip where we skied nine miles (14.5 km) to a mountain cabin and skied every day in snowy weather, plus several day trips while backcountry skiing and snowshoeing.

The Gnar has a roomy fit, enough to wear over a heavy sweater or another thin jacket. A size Large fits me (6 ft/1.83 m tall, 167 lb/76 kg, 39 in/99 cm chest) with room to spare. The sleeves are plenty long and the 28-inch (71-cm) body length covers the butt. The Gnar seals well with its elastic cuffs and hem drawcord, but the neck is loose.

From my testing, I would judge the Gnar’s warmth as average within the range of jackets we tested. It’s not a furnace, but it’s not a wimp either. In our comparative warmth tests, the Gnar was not as warm as similar jackets (Mountain Hardwear Nitrous Jacket and Rab Microlight Jacket).

Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater Review - 7
I tested the Gnar’s shell on snowy days and in March showers and found it to be very wind and water-resistant (left). In my one-hour indoor “puddle test” (right), no water soaked through the jacket’s shell fabric or seams.

Comparisons

Our forthcoming article Ultralight Three-Season Down Jackets State of the Market Report 2010 provides complete specifications and ratings for the Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater in comparison to a range of other lightweight down jackets. The jackets most similar to the Gnar are the Rab Microlight Jacket, Mountain Hardware Nitrous Jacket, Eastern Mountain Sports Ascent Sector Down Sweater, Patagonia Down Sweater, Eddie Bauer First Ascent Downlight Sweater, and the Westcomb Chilko Down Sweater.

Assessment

What is remarkable about the Gnar is that it has a large number of features and manages to keep the jacket weight down to 11 ounces (312 g). Sierra Designs minimizes the weight in the jacket’s features by using #3 zippers instead of #5 and using thinner elastic cord for the drawcord hem. Overall, the Gnar achieves a good balance of sizing and fit, features, and overall light weight. Is the Gnar the perfect down sweater? Not quite. Based on our testing, the Gnar is a little weak in warmth compared to similar jackets, and could benefit from an extra half ounce of down.

Specifications and Features

Manufacturer Sierra Designs (https://www.sierradesigns.com/)
Year/Model Fall 2010 gnar Down Sweater
Style Hoodless jacket with full front zip
Fabrics Shell is 20d 1 oz/yd2 (34 g/m2) ripstop nylon with DWR, lining is nylon taffeta
Insulation 800 fill-power down, 4 oz (113 g)
Construction Sewn-through with 2 inches (5 cm) horizontal quilting, set-in sleeves
Loft Measured two-layer loft is 0.9 inch (2.3 cm)
Features Down-filled stand up collar, full height reversed #3C YKK zipper with one slider and storm flap under zipper, two zippered side pockets (not fleece lined), zippered chest pocket, one inside zippered stretch mesh pocket (jacket will stuff into this pocket), two inside drop pockets, elastic cuffs with thumb holes, chin guard, drawcord hem with one adjustor, stuff sack included
Weight Size Large tested.
Measured Weight:
11.8 oz (335 g)
Manufacturer Specified Average Weight:
11 oz (312 g)
MSRP US$199
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.


Citation

"Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater Review," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/sierra_designs_gnar_down_sweater_review.html, 2010-06-08 00:00:00-06.

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Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Sierra Designs Gnar Down Sweater Review on 06/08/2010 18:14:38 MDT Print View

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