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Hands-on Gear Review
Sierra Designs Microlight 2 - Women's Review
Cons: Non ripstop fabric, floppy hood disrupts peripheral vision, bulky zippers, separate stuff sack instead of stowing in pocket.
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.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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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