Both the Sierra Designs Elite Cagoule and Rain Chaps have been designed to not only keep the rain off but also to keep your sweating to a minimum. Using a waterproof fabric to keep rain from soaking people isn’t too difficult. The trick is to make rain gear that won’t cause the wearer to soak themselves in sweat while wearing the gear. The Sierra Designs Elite Cagoule and Rain Chaps have been designed to go together, but each of the pieces can be used with rain gear you already have. Sierra Designs sent a setup for testing and review, and I’ve been playing in the rain like a kid to see how the gear performs.
The Sierra Designs Elite Cagoule and Rain Chaps both use the same waterproof, breathable fabric. This fabric is made of 3-layers. A 30D nylon face and a soft knit backer sandwich a waterproof breathable membrane in the middle. The outside of the fabric has a DWR finish. Fabric and ventilation work together to get rid of your sweat. Sierra Designs has also kept the weight down by replacing zippers with velcro tabs and guttering built into the rain gear.
The Cagoule has been made long so that rain drips off below the crotch. A large flap across the front at the bottom is made to work well with the hip belt of a backpack. The flap drapes over a hip belt much like an apron and keeps the bottom of the Cagoule open for airflow. In the center of the chest is a pass through opening that you might think is a pocket. Sierra Designs says this isn’t supposed to be a pocket but is there to promote airflow in the center of the chest. You can put your hands inside to get warm though. Under the arms of the jacket are always open vents. You guessed it – they are for airflow as well. The hood of the Cagoule does a great job. Several snaps in the front and a draw string to cinch up the face really seal up the face if needed. A small brim on the hood keeps rain out as well.
Instead of pants, Sierra Designs uses the Elite Rain Chaps to protect the legs. Leaving the crotch area open not only leaves this naturally hot and sweaty area open but also cuts down on weight by leaving out those pieces of fabric. Again, the long Cagoule keeps the rain away from this area. Lightweight webbing with clips allows the chaps to be attached to pants and held in place.
I am about 6 feet 1 inches tall and weigh in at about 225 pounds. Following the Sierra Designs sizing recommendations, I got the Elite Cagoule in XL and the size Large Elite Rain Chaps. Both pieces fit me well. The Cagoule is generously sized in the chest area and the sleeves are just the right length for me. The length of the Chaps is good also. My thighs measure about 25 inches around and the chaps do fit but could not be any smaller. On my scale, the XL Elite Cagoule weighs 9.6 ounces and the large Elite Chaps weigh 5 ounces.
The Sierra Designs Elite Cagoule and Rain Chaps perform great in the rain. During a couple heavy rain showers, I climbed hills and purposely tried to work up a sweat. The cool air could be felt drafting through the Cagoule. Sweating started but the gear did allow airflow and the perspiration was kept as low as could be expected. Overall, the Cagoule and Rain Chaps performed extremely well.
MSRP on the Elite Cagoule is $175 and the Rain Chaps are priced at $80. Both come in a variety of colors. Sierra Designs is making some really innovative gear these days. Click here to head over to their website.