It’s uncommon that so few specifics are available about so interesting a product, and downright rare that I spend money* on something about which I have both substantial interest and major trepidation. So here they are; details, warts, good things, as well as home I assume it will work once I get it into the field. The following are thoughts and photos of the Sierra Designs Elite Cagoule, one hour out of the box.
This one is a men’s medium, in the asphalt color.
The 30 denier nylon ripstop face fabric is nice and slick. It doesn’t quite have a sheen, but it is close. This strikes me as a good thing; not shiny like the original OR Helium, but likely quite puncture resistant for the weight. The laminate is full three layer, with an inner scrim that gives it a nice texture. Should be less sticky against bare skin.
Ventilation, rather than breathable fabric, is the major selling point here, and the anorak has a few notable features in this vein. Underarm vents are fixed open, with a nifty little hood to keep out downpours. The pass-through kangaroo pocket is big, always open, placed high enough, and backed with mesh. I’m not convinced this will add a ton of venting, but it will be nice for keeping hands warm, and stowing a few things. There’s a layer of mesh in the front, against the WPB outer fabric, and I wouldn’t mind the ~3/4 of an ounce that a zippered pocket here would cost.
The major venting feature is the bottom flap, which is secured by a pair of velcro dots and a bottom snap on each side. This is designed to go over a hipbelt. I see no reason this won’t be handy, and the extra length was a decisive selling point for me, but I’m withholding judgment on the extent to which this reduces the swamp factor.
The hood is the nexus of my misgivings, and almost prevented me from purchasing this in the first place. The hood is explicitly not helmet compatible, which is fine, but is by that standard still on the small side. The brim, nicely stiffened, is also on the small side. In the photo above I’ve only my large head and substantial head of hair on, and there isn’t much room left.
The hood is contoured well, and while it only has a pair of inner drawcords along the side of the face, hugs the face impressively well. I usually insist upon a larger hood, and a rear adjustment drawcord. Again I’m withholding judgment, but at minimum I assume I’ll want a more substantial brim for keeping rain out of my face.
Hood cords inside v. outside will remain a debate forever. I fall on the outside side as this allows adjustment without opening the hood, but having them in does eliminate flapping in the wind, and the adjustments seem both subtle and effective. The hood only closes with snaps, a design decision with which I have no quarrel. The front opening closes snugly, a very good thing, but again I’d prefer a wee bit more room front to back. The more moderately cephalic may not share this concern.
Sleeves are nice and long, and cuffs close via both velcro and elastic. Perfect, though I’ll miss thumb loops (Haglofs Ozo, my jacket of choice since 2011).
The rational for this purchase was the (at long last) failing DWR on my Ozo. I don’t find rain gear exciting, but it is vital, as an utter soaking this past weekend when I only brought a windshirt proved. If the Elite Cagoule works as well as it could the features, weight and price will make it an attractive option.
*Purchased at industry discount.