2016 Sierra Designs Elite Cagoule & Chaps overview
Mar 15, 2016 at 1:26 pm #3389315
I’ve been looking at rain gear upgrade options and decided to give the Sierra Designs ventilation-over-permeability approach a try. Unfortunately, SD doesn’t make it easy to tell the differences between the earlier versions of the Elite Cagoule & Chaps, even on their site. I ordered directly from SD to avoid receiving old stock, and thought I’d share some photos detailing the changes from the original versions, as best I can tell. If someone wants a better photo or more information, please ask. Colour variations are due to uneven basement lighting.
Both the jacket & chaps show a manufactured date of 07/2015. I ordered size Large in both. The jacket weighs 261.5 g. SD lists the jacket (unknown size) at 255 g.
The original jacket used a 2-layer fabric, while the new model uses 3-layer fabric. Detailed fabric specifications aren’t listed on the garments, but the jacket shows 5,500g (ASTM) / 25,000g (JIS).
The hood secures with several plastic snaps, and the surround uses a thin, static cord with small plastic pulls on the ends. There isn’t a hang loop on the jacket.
The large front flap has seen some changes, but unlike the description listed on SD’s site, there are no zippers anywhere on the jacket. The original flap was only secured with hook & loop patches, which caused some concern that strong winds could pull it free. SD has added plastic snaps to the lower corners. I believe the second snap is designed to allow a larger gap for better ventilation. The loop patches on the main jacket body have been changed from circles to ovals.
The full width chest vent pocket is mesh lined, and doesn’t allow access under the jacket. As it’s designed primarily as a vent, there’s no closure method. The mesh could be cut or removed for access to pockets under the jacket. This is a view of the jacket front turned inside out.
The chaps show a manufactured date of 07/2015. I ordered size Large. The left chap weighs 73.8 g and the right is 76.3 g (150.1 g, combined). SD lists the combined weight (size unknown) at 142 g.
The knees are cut for articulation, and the side flaps & straps need to be orientated properly, so SD helpfully marks the right chap with a red loop. I believe the original version had a second layer of fabric over the knee, but the new version is single layer throughout. I don’t know if SD changed the fabric, or if there were any other changes made. The apparent difference in length in the photo is due to the articulated cut; they are the same length.
I haven’t worn the items much, so I can’t give them a review. I can say that they appear to be well made garments, and that they were comfortable to wear around the house. The snaps secure very well, but I may add a small amount of dry lubricant to them so they release easier. From what I’ve seen, Sierra Designs made some useful upgrades to the Elite Cagoule, so finding the current version may be worth the trouble.Mar 15, 2016 at 3:23 pm #3389339JeremyBPL Member
Smart move on adding the snaps to the jacket. My old one definitely blew apart in high winds.Mar 15, 2016 at 3:24 pm #3389340
Thank you very much for taking the time to post up the photos and detailed writing about the changes on these.
I have had my eye on them for a long time, but have been dismayed by the lack of detailed reviews of them.
I hope that BPL does an article on this unique set of rain gear.
If you get a chance to use them in the field, would love to get your impressions of how they work.
In particular, how the chaps attached to your pants.
In the prior model, it looks like it hooks to either your belt (I rarely wear a belt) or to the pant pockets, which seems like they would not be very secure and would unhook/fall off.
TonyMar 15, 2016 at 3:39 pm #3389343JeremyBPL Member
Tony, you can attach them to the waist of the pants. You don’t need a belt.Mar 15, 2016 at 7:31 pm #3389396
Thanks for the info….I checked out the link to the website and it looks like the strap used for connecting the rain chap to your pants can go through the belt loop.
Problem solved for those of us who don’t use belts. :)
Having used a MLD poncho tarp and rain chaps, I loved the ventilation of the rain chaps, but ultimately did not like using a poncho in windy weather and once my poncho was setup as a shelter, I did not have any rain protection for when I wanted to venture away for a bathroom break.
TonyMar 15, 2016 at 9:48 pm #3389415
Tony, I’m glad you found the photos useful. I’d like to see more reviews of SD’s Airflow designs, especially one from the BPL staff. Unless a revolutionary fabric appears, ventilation seems like the right approach.
The only rain gear I’ve ever found to be comfortable is a poncho, but they aren’t the best for wind or brush. The cagoule is long enough that I won’t bother with the chaps unless it’s raining & blowing hard, or cold enough that I need wind protection. I definitely prefer the chaps to the usual wad of crotch fabric offered by rain pants.
I have a Grand Canyon trip coming up, and it usually rains on me on the first day in. This combo will save a lot of weight over my MH jacket and pants, and are even a little lighter than the more fragile DriDucks I usually throw in my pack. I have some short Zpacks gaiters on the way, and I’m looking forward to a good thunderstorm to give my new rain system a try.Mar 15, 2016 at 9:51 pm #3389417
Jeremy, you might try adding some snaps or sewing some stronger Velcro at the hem of the jacket. Heck, I wonder if SD would be interested in upgrading your jacket for a small fee.Mar 15, 2016 at 10:26 pm #3389420
Shawn – I have been using the 2015 version of the SD jacket. It’s about 4oz lighter than 2016. SD Cagoule has become my rain gear in the summer. The airflow works. The only big problem is that the SD wets outs pretty quickly, rendering it almost unusable for long hikes. I hope SD fixed the fabric for 2016.
For chaps, I decided not to go with Sierra Designs and got the MLD sil chaps. Very compact and half the weight of SD. You can also go MLD cuben chaps. It’s be a quarter of the weight, but I don’t think it handles the serious motion that pants innately have.
the whole is is around 7oz with chaps which is awesome.Mar 15, 2016 at 11:21 pm #3389431
Gary, I noticed the weight (and price) change. Thanks for the comments on ventilation. I’m hoping the new fabric holds up better to longer exposure. The MLD chaps look like a good choice at a great price. I doubt whatever breathability is offered by the SD chaps gives them much of an edge over silnylon.
After high stepping around in chaps, I can already tell that I won’t be wearing full rain pants again while hiking. I’m hoping the cagoule/chaps combo works for canoeing, too. I saw a comment somewhere about using the gear for cycling, but the long front of the jacket doesn’t seem like a good fit.Mar 15, 2016 at 11:59 pm #3389437matthew kModerator
Short people who have big chests at have fit problems. I did at 5-6 tall with a 43 chest. The front flap doesn’t go up high enough for my hipbelt which creates a weird shelf that catches rain. SD customer service told me last week that the dimension did not change in the new version.Mar 16, 2016 at 1:28 pm #3389548
Your experience with the rain poncho sounds similar to mine, hence why I don’t use the poncho anymore.
After using the MLD rain chaps, I find it hard to go back to rain pants.
I am using the O2 Rain Gear, which is similar to the driducks.
Really have high hopes for the SD Rain Gear.
Enjoy your trip, be safe and “hope it rains on you” so you can give us a field review. :)
TonyMar 16, 2016 at 1:53 pm #3389557
Matthew, I can see how that would create a problem, since wearing a hip belt over the jacket would cripple the ventilation. Extending the front panel cuts would help, but a rain flap would have to be added to the extension, too. I’m at the shoulder limit with the Large, as any tighter fit would be too restrictive while reaching overhead, but an XL would be overly long & baggy. Thems the breaks.
Tony, the best use I found for a poncho was sitting on a log for hours of heavy rain, and radioing in reports about phantom bad guys to people far more concerned than me. I enjoyed the break, they felt important, and all was quiet on the western front. Ex-PFC Wintergreen is my hero. :)Apr 18, 2016 at 9:35 am #3396611
By chance have you had the chance to test this out a bit more yet? Or anyone else, for that matter?
I’ve been trying to carry less gear in my kit, and the length of the cagoule, as well as it’s lack of zippers (also straying from zippers for simplicity’s sake), seems to be an all-in-one jacket/kilt solution.Jun 27, 2016 at 12:10 pm #3411036
I asked a while back, but has anyone gotten in some field experience with the 2016 revision? I’d be genuinely interested.Jun 28, 2016 at 11:20 am #3411183David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
I’ve had a 2016 Cagoule for a bit over a month. The only heavy rain I’ve had it in has been in a packraft, so I don’t have a ton of actual field data to go on.
For me (5’11”, 38″ chest, 21″ torso) the medium fits great. The front flap interfaces with a pack belt perfectly. Surprisingly the underarm vents actually work quite well, in strong winds I’ve actually felt an almost undesirable level of cooling through them. I like the front ‘roo pocket, for the venting, storage, and ability to warm ones hands. The fabric seems very nice, and thus far the DWR is fine. My only complaints are the little velcro dots on the front flap, which don’t stay stuck and should be replaced with snaps, and the hood. Normally I avoid hoods without a rear cinch cord, but Sierra Designs managed to shape the hood well enough that it moves with my head without a rear cinch cord. Unfortunately the hood is a bit too small, but I have a big head and most folks probably won’t find this a problem. More seriously the visor is just too small for serious rain protection, in big storms I need a cap with a brim to keep spray out.
Overall it’s a well designed and very well constructed piece for a good price. Tweak the hood and it’d deserve an A.Jun 28, 2016 at 11:29 am #3411189
I want make the Cagoule my main rain jacket, but until one thing is fixed no that’s possible. Fit, venting, protection and the whole idea is fantastic. A+. The problem – the whole thing starts wetting out in less than 20-30 min of actual, heavy rain. No way that will will work. Some wind shirts don’t wet out that fast…Jun 28, 2016 at 11:38 am #3411190
Thanks for the update, David!
Gary, did you have the 2015 version? The 2016 version moved to a 3L fabric. I wonder if it helped at all.Jun 28, 2016 at 12:01 pm #3411193
2015 since it’s much lighter.Dec 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm #3441199
Just reviving this thread….50% off on these at Sierra Designs website.
I just picked up a set for myself….move quickly, I missed out on the blue and decided to get the black chaps and yellow jacket.
The blue Cagoule in Medium, Large, and 2XL are sold out….plenty in yellow and black.
Best that I can tell, the difference between the 2015 and 2016 models is that velcro tabs have been replaced with light weight snaps.
The chaps used to have a mix of 2 and 3 ply material….3 ply for the knees. 2016 model seems to have 3 ply all the way around, probably for ease of manufacturing. Also, 2016 chaps might have an inner fabric liner that is soft for comfort for those who wear shorts and have the fabric next to skin.
Interestingly, they have a limited number of 2015 stock for sale too, for those interested.
TonyDec 21, 2016 at 12:17 pm #3441337Alexander SBPL Member
I wore my 2015 two layer model in Oregon’s Wallowa range and received some steady drizzle (though not a sustained downpour) for several hours without any wetting out problems. I only had one light rain day on the JMT this year so can’t really say much about it.
This February however, I plan to trek the WA coast which generally means heavy precipitation so I will post something then if I get enough rain to make a good report.Dec 21, 2016 at 5:03 pm #3441387
Figured I’d throw my hat in for some feedback, in case anyone stumbles across this thread.
I bought the 2016 version on Gear Swap a few months back. Took it out for a city walk twice during a pretty heavy downpour, about 2 hours each time.
Never got clammy, and I never wetted out. I’m pretty happy with it. It’ll probably replace a poncho if I’m expecting more sustained rain.Dec 30, 2016 at 12:40 pm #3442409Andy StowBPL Member
@andysLocale: Midwest USA
Thanks to Tony, I was happy to pick one of these up for just under $100 on sale. I was a bit hesitant to order a small based on their size chart, but it fits just right.
I’m also happy with the packed size, and weight (8 oz.)Jan 8, 2017 at 6:24 pm #3443902
Too much free time is a bad thing, right?
Well, I just gotten back from my daugther’s gymnastics competition and had driven 1.25 hours in the heavy rain to get home.
First thing that I thought of when I got home was, “Geez, this would be a great time to test out my new rain gear!”
So wearing Prana pants, cotton tshirt, and a calvin klein merino wool sweater, I put on my black, size small rain chaps, banana yellow medium size Elite Cagoule, MLD rain mitts, and my 25 year old Vasque Goretex leather boots for an hour of walking in the rain with stops to clear a few storm drains along the way.
Temps according to Google 58-57F….rain was heavy to moderate most of the time with sprinkles at the end with light winds that might have gotten up to 15-16 mph.
I walked at a moderate to fast pace…perhaps I walked 2.5 to 2.0 miles in that time…again, with a few stops to clear some storm drains to fulfill my need to be anal and organized.
My walk was around my neighborhood to a local park and then to a bike trail where I did the majority of my walking. I was traveling north and then south, then to return north bound.
I only mention this because it meant that the rain was both at my back and at my face at different times.
My rain gear is now laying on my family room floor next to me.
Here is what I can tell you:
- I love the rain chaps…I had a pair of MLD ones previously when I used a MLD poncho tarp
- The attachment system worked great with my belt and never became lose. The elastic material at the tops of the legs did a good job of holding them in place. I never needed to re-tighten my straps. The range of motion of my legs was fantastic.
- The chaps did great with only light wetting out at the bottoms around the cuffs that bunched up with my boots, but to be fair, I was using my boots to brush leaves and sticks from the storm drains and did walk on parts of the trail that submerged my boots to my ankle
- My crouch area never got hot/humid and felt comfortable the whole time….best part of the whole setup
- Surprisingly, the hood, fully buttoned up and cinched up did a great job at keeping my glasses pretty dry even after changing directions and walking into the rain and wind. Eventually, my glasses got wet, but had I walked with my head tilted downward toward the ground, I am sure that they would have stayed dry.
- I walked in the rain looking straight a head to see how the Cagoule would protect my face. It did a pretty good job. I was breathing through my nose most of the time as my mouth was covered having snapped all the buttons tight
- Water did drip down my chin and then rain down my chest on the inside of the jacket, but I can hardly blame the jacket for that…driving rain in your face is not ever going to be a waterproof seal. That said, I was not soaked and only lightly damp ask I am typing, if that.
- Now for the disappointing part, the jacket did wet out after my hour of walking around the neighborhood. Shoulders, chest, and the flap that covers the crouch area. Water collected at the “bottom edge of the front ventilation pocket and wetted out the material
- The jacket did a good job at keeping me from sweating out…by the end of my walk, my glasses were steaming up. The rain was slowing to a sprinkled vs. the heavy/fat rain drops that pelted me before…so I unsnapped all the buttons on the hood and found that after 5-10 minutes of walking with this opened up, my glasses were back to normal
- Given what I was wearing, a sweater and t shirt, I think that the jacket did a decent job of keeping me cool
I am disappointed that the jacket wetted out, but I am reminded that there is no such thing as water proof gear….given enough time, you will get wet…smile though your tears or just learn to be okay with the discomfort..
Tough part is that this really is a set…the rain chaps demand that you have a long jacket that covers your crouch area or it just does not work.
I was excited about the prospect of having rain chaps without the flappy wind sail that is the poncho.
Not sure what to do….this is much more durable than the 10 oz of O2 Rain Gear that I have…this more durable setup is 13-14 oz.
So what to do??
TonyFeb 1, 2018 at 2:06 pm #3515996John from BrooklynBPL Member
I’m reviving this old helpful thread in the hopes people can talk about long term durability with the elite cagoule (the new version)?
I’m particularly interested in it for bike commuting as well as walking. There are plenty of jackets that will protect you in a short-medium commute, but rain pants are the devil’s invention. Sweaty, disgusting, hot. Ponchos and rain capes blow everywhere in even the mildest wind (as do rain kilts/skirts presumably, though I have never tried them). So, would the cagoule be the ticket? to just covering the thighs up to the knees?Feb 16, 2018 at 7:14 pm #3518750HaikuBPL Member
Bumping this. Totally want a cagoule, it’s the perfect length for biking and hiking (I hike in a dress so it would be ideal). Why are there so few companies that make longer rain jackets? I don’t get it.
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