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Sierra Designs Microlight 2 - Women's Review

Price:   $49 List
Pros:  Wind resistant, repels drizzle, adjustable cuff tabs, mesh hand pockets, inexpensive.
Cons:  Non ripstop fabric, floppy hood disrupts peripheral vision, bulky zippers, separate stuff sack instead of stowing in pocket.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Sierra Designs

Our Verdict

The Sierra Designs Microlight 2 - Women's is a basic wind breaker jacket. Its only bells and whistles are the mesh pockets and adjustable cuff tabs. While it's a solid jacket for blocking the wind, it doesn't have the ability to repel rain for longer than a few minutes in a decent drizzle. This jacket is fine for activities that involve some abrasion, but because it is not a ripstop fabric, we prefer our Editors' Choice winner, the Patagonia Houdini - Women's, over this model.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Wind Jacket for Women Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jean Tucky

Last Updated:
Tuesday
May 5, 2015

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The Sierra Designs Microlight 2 - Women's is made of a burly 50D 100% polyester woven fabric. It has elastic cuffs, a drawstring hood and hem, two exterior pockets and a stuff sack. It comes in four colors and weighs 7 ounces (198 g).

Performance Comparison


With a storm rolling in on top of Fairview Dome  Yosemite  CA  this jacket did a good job of blocking the wind  but not the ensuing rain.
With a storm rolling in on top of Fairview Dome, Yosemite, CA, this jacket did a good job of blocking the wind, but not the ensuing rain.

Wind Resistance


This jacket does a good job at its intended purpose: blocking the wind. It's made of a 50D woven polyester, which is thicker than the 30D fabric of the Arc'teryx Squamish Hoody - Women's and some other models we tested. The adjustable cuff tabs and elastic drawcord at the hood and hem allow you to seal out mountain gusts even more. The hood is an obvious plus that keeps you warm and sane in a windstorm, but overall we found the Patagonia Houdini provided superior wind protection over this jacket.

Athina Kaviris stays warm with the hood up and cuff tabs shut tight on the Nose route of El Capitan  Yosemite  CA.
Athina Kaviris stays warm with the hood up and cuff tabs shut tight on the Nose route of El Capitan, Yosemite, CA.

Breathability


Unlike some of the wind breakers included in our review, this jacket comes with mesh hand pockets. This helps with ventilation to a degree, but we noticed that when moisture built up inside the jacket, the polyester fabric stuck to our bare skin and felt uncomfortable. The best way to manage ventilation in this jacket is to unzip it, which unfortunately defeats the purpose. We preferred the breathability of the Marmot Stride - Women's and also The North Face Flyweight Hoodie - Women's, as the silky texture of its fabric is more comfortable in the event of internal moisture accumulation.

Water Resistance


The durable water repellent (DWR) coating on this jacket is quickly pushed to its limits in a full rain, remaining dry for only a few minutes. When sprayed with a misting water bottle in our water tests, it held water much longer than the Patagonia Houdini and Arc'teryx Squamish Hoody and was one of the last to dry out completely. If you anticipate being out in wet or intermittent conditions, such as sailing or hiking in a wet climate, then a full women's rain jacket is a better choice over this wind breaker.

This jacket repels a light mist but did not dry as quickly as the Patagonia Houdini or Arc'teryx Squamish wind jackets.
This jacket repels a light mist but did not dry as quickly as the Patagonia Houdini or Arc'teryx Squamish wind jackets.

Weight


The Sierra Designs Microlight 2 - Women's weighs 7 ounces (198 grams), which is twice as much as the Patagonia Houdini. While 7 ounces is not super heavy in the grand scheme of things (less than half a pound), it is one of the heaviest wind breakers we tested and not the best choice for going ultralight. It also doesn't stow in its own pocket, but comes with a stuff sack that adds grams to the overall product weight and is one more item that might get lost or left behind.

Not only does this jacket weigh twice as much as the Patagonia Houdini  but it's twice as bulky too and not as easy to fit in a CamelBak or clip to a climbing harness.
Not only does this jacket weigh twice as much as the Patagonia Houdini, but it's twice as bulky too and not as easy to fit in a CamelBak or clip to a climbing harness.

Versatility


The versatility of this jacket is somewhat limited. Because it doesn't ventilate well, we wouldn't use it for high output cardio activities like running. The hood has no adjustment options and it flaps around in windy conditions. While it technically doesn't stow in a pocket (it comes with a stuff sack) we tried it out anyways and got it to stuff into its left hand pocket, zip it with the zipper inside out and there was even a loop to clip it onto your harness. Although not recommended by the manufacturer it's good to know it's possible. The Sierra Designs Microlight 2 - Women's is a good addition to a layering system and we wore layers both underneath and on top of it with ease. While the mesh pockets are nice for carrying around extras like keys and a phone, they often cause pressure points under a hip belt or climbing harness.

The hood fits right over a climbing helmet when the storms roll in  but it doesn't have an adjustment in the back and it tends to flap around in a strong wind
The hood fits right over a climbing helmet when the storms roll in, but it doesn't have an adjustment in the back and it tends to flap around in a strong wind

Durability


The Sierra Designs Microlight 2 - Women's fabric is made of tough 50D 100% polyester fabric. Although not a ripstop fabric, even after multiple uses on sharp granite climbs we didn't notice any wear and tear. Keep in mind though that because it is not ripstop, even the smallest hole or cut should be addressed quickly so it doesn't grow and ruin your jacket. The only real durability issue we noticed with this model was that the zipper teeth are on the larger side and occasionally catch the draft flap.

We wore this jacket up a classic wide crack in Yosemite (Reed's Direct) without creating any tears in the fabric.
We wore this jacket up a classic wide crack in Yosemite (Reed's Direct) without creating any tears in the fabric.

Best Applications


Overall this jacket is a good wind barrier, but not the best at ventilating. This makes it best for bouldering, climbing, hiking, cycling, running or any other cardio applications in cooler temps due to the heaviness of the durable polyester fabric.

Value


At $49, this jacket is a sweet deal. In a world of $80-150 wind breakers it's nice to know we mortals have something to choose from when play has taken precedence over work one too many times. For $10 more though, we'd go for our Best Buy winner, The North Face Cyclone Hoodie - Women's over this model.

Jean Tucky's all smiles in this jacket  even with some dark clouds approaching. This inexpensive jacket will leave you with enough money left over to help fund your next climbing trip to Yosemite.
Jean Tucky's all smiles in this jacket, even with some dark clouds approaching. This inexpensive jacket will leave you with enough money left over to help fund your next climbing trip to Yosemite.

Conclusion


The Sierra Designs Microlight 2 - Womens' is a reliable and inexpensive wind breaker with some adjustability but lacking in ventilation. If spending your time outdoors takes precedence over slaving away in a cubicle then this is the wind breaker for you.
Jean Tucky

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