- February 5 2012
Lightweight, packs small, extremely warm
If you had told me that there was a jacket like this, I would't have believed you. We've been looking for years for a well made outdoors jacket for my wife that is exceptionally warm. You see, my wife is one of those people who is always cold. She's in a heavy winter jacket when I'm in shorts. Now its true that I tend to be warmer than others, but it is also true that people on the trail are always commenting on how my wife seems to be overdressed. All I can say is that it isn't easy to find a true outdoors jacket for a woman, let alone one that is warm enough for her. When I saw the reviews for this jacket, I thought that maybe I had found what we were looking for. Then it came in the mail. The package was tiny and there was no way it contained a jacket that could be warm enough for her. Or so I thought. As it happened, temps that day were going to be in the upper 30's. So my wife gave it a try and said she was warm the whole time she was on the trail (6 hrs). That was somewhat amazing, but then it gradually got a little colder each day for the next week or so. At some point, when she was again out for 6 hours in the low 20's, and was still warm the whole way, I started to take notice. Then she went out in the low teens and, while it is true that she needed to finally put on a light mid layer, she was warm again all day. It is clear now that this jacket can be configured to keep her warm below zero. She has been hiking in cold weather over 30 years and has never had a jacket that would do that. I was so impressed that, even though I had all the winter gear I needed, I decided to buy myself one of these jackets. Today I was out driving an open vehicle with no heat in 25 degree freezing fog and couldn't have been warmer. In fact, I forgot to put my gloves on because the jacket was so warm, So my hands quickly got to the point where they were hardly functional, but my upper body was nice and warm. The strangest thing about this jacket is that it almost adjusts to the conditions. It is comfortable in in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. So it is essentially a true three season jacket that compresses to the size of a large grapefruit. As good as it is in very cold weather, it also continues to work well as the temperature rises. I had it on the other day as I climbed a very steep trail over a ridge with the temp around 55. Now remember, I'd normally be in an unzipped shell and be too warm for such a hike. But I was able to continually make adjustments to the Toaster so that I was comfortable the whole way. It is unreal. The key with this jacket is using all the adjustments. I have several jackets with pit zips and I rarely use them. For some reason, I find the pit zips, and all the other adjustments, extremely useful on this jacket. When it is very cold and windy, I've got the cuffs tight, the zipper all the way up, the hood on and tightened, the draw cord on the waist cinched, etc. I might even put a light mid layer on if it ever gets cold enough (not needed so far). Then, as the day gets warmer, or my exercise increases, I just keep making adjustments. So, for me, this jacket has a temperature range of between zero and 50 to 60 degrees with nothing but a cotton shirt underneath. That's insane. I can't even figure out how it happens, but it does. Beyond all of that, the jacket is well made and designed extremely well. There are plenty of pockets and about the only feature missing is a two way zipper. They couldn't put that on because they went with waterproof zippers. Even though waterproof zippers are a little difficult to operate, I think they made the right choice with this jacket because one key to the warmth is the fact that there is no draftiness when everything is cinched up. A regular zipper just can't do that in high winds without a lot of assistance. So if your goal is to keep the jacket lightweight and warm, you have to use waterproof zippers. In conclusion, for two very different people, this is the perfect jacket. It has already rendered a lot of gear that we have obsolete. During the summer, it will be compressed in a small stuff sack and in the pack at all times. It will be easily less than half the weight of the extra clothing we normally carry and much more functional in changing weather conditions. Heck, this jacket only weighs a few ounces more than my rain jacket which I no longer need. If Sierra Designs ever gets around to making Toaster Pants, we'll be set for all but the most extreme weather conditions. Btw, there are a lot of comments about these jackets running big. They seem to me to be a bit big, but not anywhere close to a whole size. I normally wear either a medium or a large depending and the large Toaster fits me like as if it were tailored specifically for me. For my wife, the medium was a bit tight in the hips, but the large is a little too big but still okay. She's wearing the large now and will probably switch over to the medium eventually.
- January 13 2011
I love this jacket!! It's lightweight but very warm and toasty!! and I love the color!!