GEAR REVIEW: Sierra Designs Cloud Layering System


$522 CAD for the kit (3 jackets)

Courtesy Patrick Hutchison.

Courtesy Patrick Hutchison.

Reviewer: Patrick Hutchison

My Gear Style:
Hand-Me-Down Hero
Best-Bang-for-Your-Buck Buccaneer
Use It ‘Til It Disintegrates


Smart layers are the core principles behind nearly any outdoor clothing choice. Something breathable, something waterproof, something warm. The problem is, most people concoct their own layering combinations and not always correctly. Outside Seattle, where rain is a constant, yet random foe, I find that I almost always end up too hot or too cold, and always too sweaty. Maybe I’m terrible at layering, maybe I’m just unlucky. Either way, it’s a problem that’s solved in large part with Sierra Designs new Cloud Layering System.

The Cloud system attacks bad layering by creating their own complete system. One jacket that’s highly windproof and very breathable, one jacket that’s waterproof, and one that’s insulated. By isolating their duties, each jacket is also extremely lightweight. The waterproof layer, for instance, only weighs 4 oz. Now, I’ve always used layers, but never a system that was designed to work together. The results were surprisingly drastic. I stayed noticeably more comfortable on hikes with all sorts of conditions, from cold windy alpine areas in the North Cascades to muggy slogs through the Hoh Rainforest on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.


My favorite layer was by far the Airshell, lightweight waterproof perfection. Luckily, Sierra Designs makes a pair of pants out of this same material, now a mainstay on my standard packing list.


While I appreciate the savings in weight, I wish the waterproof Airshell had pockets like the other two layers.

Check out this product on the Sierra Designs website!

Thanks to Patrick, our “foreign” correspondent for planning to attend the Outdoor Retailer on our behalf in Summer 2013! – Highline

Patrick Hutchison

Patrick is from Seattle, but has spent at least 2 of the last 5 years traveling, from living in Patagonia to trekking though China. As a youngster, Patrick fell in love with the wooded outdoors, where he would intentionally get himself lost. Now, he tries not to get lost, but investigates gear that would save him just in case he did. Patrick writes for Seattle Magazine, Seattle Health magazine, and Sea Kayaker.