The Stretch Rain Jacket is leaps and bounds above the competition in terms of stretch and soft-handedness, exactly as advertised. When compared to the other rain jackets in our lineup, however, the Stretch did not match up in terms of water resistance and breathability, two very key features of a rain jacket. The concept, however, is perhaps the most exciting thing since freeze dried food, and the reviewers at OGL are especially excited to see how the emergence of such a novel product will evolve and stretch the boundaries of rain jacket technology.
Sierra Designs Stretch Rain Jacket
The Stretch Rain Jacket feels much more like a soft shell than a rain shell. While we thoroughly appreciate the soft feel of the jacket, paramount to the performance of any rain jacket is its ability to keep you dry. In a light rain, or brief sprint from office to coffee shop, this jacket will do just fine. In our tests, however, the jacket became saturated with water relatively quickly, and was the slowest to dry once it was wet. This left us feeling clammy and uncomfortable.
The Sierra Designs Stretch jacket got saturated with water quickly, especially on the arms, compared to the other jackets we tested in our hose test, which simulated moderate rainfall.
The armpit hole vents on the Sierra Designs Stretch rain jacket.
The Stretch jacket is by far the most porous of the rain jackets we tested. We believe it has great potential in the breathability department. However, like the first soft shells to hit the market over a decade ago, the fabric of this rain jacket is too thick to breathe as well as some of the thinner rain shells we tested. That thickness made it feel more like a coat and less like a rain shell, as it added more warmth than the other jackets we tested. Sierra Designs also had a good idea to add zippered vents to create a flap over the waist belt of a backpack, but this vent proved too streamlined to actually provide decent air flow when opened. (Though it does look sleek!) Outdoor Research uses a similar design with its TorsoFlo technology on the Outdoor Research Aspire - Women's
, but the zippers are further back on the side of the jacket, turning the front of the jacket into a very effective poncho design which breathes exceptionally well and still keeps you dry.
The Sierra Designts Stretch women's rain jacket.
The hood on the Stretch Rain Jacket was by far the most comfortable and versatile in the entire lineup of rain jackets. It fit comfortably without a helmet and never felt too big, and it still allowed excellent head mobility when wearing a helmet. The stretchy fabric is unlike any rain jacket we've seen, and the material is very soft to the touch. The jacket's cut is fitted and slender, making it a more stylish option that can be easily dressed up for the office, but still do a decent job in light rain on a mellow day hike. High pockets make for easy access even when wearing a backpack or harness. For our rock climbers, the jacket's forearms felt too tight, and these ladies could only fit a base layer under the jacket; however, the stretchy nature of the jacket meant that it still fit, moved, and flowed with little issue.
Checking out the Sierra Designs Stretch Rain Jacket's hip belt vent.
The Stretch jacket is on the slightly heavier side of average for this class of rain jackets, but given that it is best used around town or on short day hikes, our testers did not feel this was all too important.
This is a rain jacket that will not snag and rip like a traditional rain jacket. Think of it as a rugged soft shell that you would readily scrape your way up a squeeze chimney or attack the blackberry bush forest in your backyard without worrying about putting a hole in it.
This was among the more bulky rain jackets we tested, but when used around town this did not prove to be a problem for our testers.
The rain jackets packed up into their stowable pockets. From left to right, top to bottom: Sierra Designs Stretch (didn't pack into a pocket), Columbia Arcadia II, OR Helium II, Marmot PreCip, The North Face Resolve, OR Aspire, Patagonia Torrentshell.
This is a rain jacket best suited to urban activities and easy day hikes where you won't be working up too much of a sweat--but still want to look classy when you sit down for a drink at the end of the day. It will do very well in a light rain, but is not ideally suited for a very rainy climate or a heavy downpour.
At $199, this jacket is spendy, especially given its limitations when compared to the other jackets we tested in the Price vs Value Chart. However, we expect this technology to rapidly evolve and we will be watching the next iterations of this jacket closely.
While our testers are stoked on the novelty of this product, it did not pass muster in a category full of tried and true waterproof/breathable rain jackets. Keep an eye on this technology however, because we expect to see it evolve and hope that it pushes, or rather, stretches the industry in new and exciting ways.