My favorite hiking shirt and insulated jacket, on sale for $40 and $125

It looks as if Sierra Designs is trying to clear inventory from past seasons and from its spring/summer line, and yesterday began offering 50 percent off its apparel. That’s a damn good deal — about equal to the price paid by a retailer like REI, which then doubles the price and sells it on their floor.

A few products I would highly recommend:

Pack Polo

The Long-Sleeve Pack Polo is my favorite 3-season hiking shirt for the Mountain West. It has off-the-charts airflow; it’s shockingly durable and it dries very quickly; and it protects my arms and neck from the sun without needing to constantly apply sunscreen. Read my long-term review. Normally it’s $80; now it’s $40. It tends to run small, so size up if you’re an “average Medium” or “big Medium,” or similar. In my case, I’m a “small Medium,” and the Medium is tailor-made.

If sun is not a concern where you backpack, there is a short-sleeve version, the Short-Sleeve Pack Polo now for $34, as well as a non-collared version that does not have the same good looks. My S/S was stolen a few years ago in a smash-and-grab, but think I recall it fitting more loosely than the L/S. Check with Customer Service to confirm.

Overlooking the South Fork of the Kings River from Tablelands, wearing Sierra Designs L/S Pack Polos.

Overlooking the South Fork of the Kings River from Tablelands, wearing Sierra Designs L/S Pack Polos.

Insulated Jackets

The Elite DriDown Hoody is my go-to insulated jacket for 3-season conditions in the Mountain West. In the Southeast, it would be suitable for the non-summer months; and in the Northeast, more of a Spring and Fall product.

At 12.5 oz in size Large and 11.2 oz in my size Medium, the DriDown Hoody is a few ounces heavier than a standard-setting piece like the Mountain Hardware Hooded Ghost Whisperer. However, it has 105 grams (3.7 oz) of 850-fill water-resistant DriDown, which puts it more in line with the Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Jacket at 10.25 oz. The DriDown Hoody has more durable fabrics than both of these other jackets, mostly 20 or 30 denier rather than 7, 10, or 15d. Finally, right now it’s only $125, versus $350 for the Whisperer and $375 for the Flash.

When temperatures exceed the limits of the DriDown Hoody, which is generally the case in Colorado from November through April, I reach for the warmer Elite DriDown Parka, which has baffled construction (not sewn-through) and 180 grams (6.8 oz) of 850-fill DriDown.

Aspen, Colorado Rockies

Aspen, Colorado Rockies

Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content

This website is supported by affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors like Amazon or REI, at no cost to the reader. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I work with Sierra Designs on product development and a brand ambassador. It’s in my long-term interests — and theirs — to not let this relationship taint my public views. If I didn’t believe in the products featured in this post, I would simply not have not mentioned them.

Posted in on December 15, 2016


  1. Jimmy on December 15, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Great deals! I was looking at these yesterday, but today it has dawned on me that I will be closer than ever to being like Andy if I get one of the hoodies. I already have the tent, pack, & long-sleeve polo…

  2. Sean on December 15, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Those long sleeve pack polos are great. I have only 1, and I have 2 short sleeves. Both are great.

    I really can’t afford the pack polo right now but want another one. 40 bucks is a fantastic deal.

  3. r. maximillian on December 15, 2016 at 10:58 am

    thanks for the tip. I ordered the short sleeve. I like short sleeves mixed with UL cycling arm warmers rather than long sleeves. i care not about too much sun on my arms but mornings and evenings i love the extra warmth of the arm warmers.

    I also ordered the 7.4 oz sierra designs DriDown Better Vest at half price. Down vest with 1/4 length sleeves! Looks kinda dorky but i’m thinking for not too cold temps i can go with the short sleeve pack polo, the arm warmers, the nerd vest and a rain/wind shell and I’m totally set. Mixed with the ancient Gramicci climbing shorts I’ve worn a thousand times and lightweight thermal long undies I’m totally set. (Throw in a super light mesh bug shirt for early summer mosquitoes)

  4. PS on December 15, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I love my Ghost Whisperer but I won’t deny that for $200 – $250 less the DriDown sure looks like a great option. Maybe a completely better one given it’s got about 20 grams more down and it’s a higher rated down at that!

  5. Joshua Rousselow on December 15, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Thank you Andrew, I ordered the Ultralight Pack Trench at 50%off that I’ve had my eye on for a year! Last year I bought my girlfriend the DriDown Parka and that is an amazing piece of gear.

  6. J.J. on December 16, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Just curious. The DriDown Hoody… it’s good for cold weather down to what temps? (I’m not for sure what Colorado November temps are like… teens? 30s?… probably depends on certain altitudes.)

    And thanks for sharing these bargains!

    • Andrew Skurka on December 16, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      I will use it with nights and mornings above 20, and days 40+. If it is colder than that, and especially if I will be standing around in it a lot, eg hunting, I grab something heavier.

      I am thin and generally run cold. YMMV.

  7. Ben on December 19, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    What size do you wear Andrew?

    • Andrew Skurka on December 19, 2016 at 4:50 pm


      I am 6′ and high-150’s lbs. Wear 40 regular jacket, ultra slim dress shirts.

      Can sometimes fit a Small shirt, but normally not unless I am in tip top shape (mid 150’s).

  8. Gordon on December 25, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    I got the Elite DriDown Hoody for myself, and the Parka for my wife (who gets really cold the moment she stops hiking), based on your recommendations back when you first posted the “Core 13” series. Both pieces have been outstanding choices. At $125, I’m tempted to buy another one. 😉

  9. Amy on January 11, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    What is the difference between the Elite Dridown Hoody ( and the Dridown Hoody ( The only difference i see is in the air permeability (0.13CM vs 0 CM) but I’m not sure if that is practically different.

    I missed the sale on the Elite but the non-elite is still on sale.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 11, 2017 at 10:18 pm

      The differences are immaterial. I own both and think of them as the same.

  10. fuming on June 2, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    bamboo fibre is great material keeps cool when warm and warm when its cold

  11. Jacob Kosker on February 18, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    Now that the Elite DriDown Hoodie is no longer available how does the Whitney DriDown Hoodie compare in your opinion? It seems to be 50% heavier and thicker nylon. What is comparable on the market now to the Elite?

    • Andrew Skurka on February 20, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      They’re very different jackets. The Whitney is a price-driven product. The DriDown Hoodie was a good product, if a bit overpriced.

      I’m not familiar with all of the down jackets out there. All the brands seem to have one. I’ve always really liked Montbell’s lineup — it’s well organized, it has no fluff, and the prices are reasonable. Look at the Superior Down Parka or Alpine Light Parka, or the Plasma or Mirage models if you are willing to spend quite a bit more.

      The My Trail Co 850 HL is also worth look at, very good price for what you’re getting.

  12. Matt V on July 10, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    It looks like the Sierra designs polo is discontinued. It is my favorite hiking shirt because the mesh is the most breathable material I’ve worn, while still somehow being durable and protecting me from the sun. Do you have any suggestions for a replacement? Or can you ask Sierra designs to make another batch?

    • Andrew Skurka on July 14, 2019 at 9:08 pm

      Patagonia LW LS Capilene, OR Echo Hoody

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