BEST FOR: Winter camping; cold and wet outings.
THE TEST: Each goose feather inside the water-resistant Gnar Lite is coated with a hydro-phobic treatment marketed to keep the down dry “10 times longer” and, should you still manage to wet it through, dry out “33 percent faster” than old-fashioned feathers. To test those claims, we wore this basic sweaterlike coat—it weighs a scant 10 ounces and packs to the size of a grapefruit—as a layer and on its own. During a cold and seriously drizzly March hike, it took about 30 minutes to wet through. Though it did get a big clumpy, the jacket retained some loft (and thus warmth) despite being almost moist enough to wring out a sleeve.
THE VERDICT: The technology (mostly) works. 10 oz
The trend in insulatation this year is water-resistant down, like the stuff inside Sierra Designs' Gnar Lite. By treating each feather with a special coating, Sierra figured out how to keep down dry up to 10 times longer.