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Sierra Designs Kenosha Jacket : Blow Off Fall Chill

It took a little while, but fall blew in to Colorado last week. In the blink of an eye the aspens changed colors and the constant wind that plagues Estes Park all winter arrived. Good thing I had just received the Sierra Designs Kenosha jacket to test.

The Kenosha is a slightly insulated wind jacket designed for high-octane outdoor pursuits, and so far it's been pretty impressive.

For a relatively simple top, there are a lot of things to like about the Sierra Designs Kenosha jacket. The first thing I noticed when I put it on is the soft, warm, and comfy lining. In some of my wind jackets, the linings have a waffle-print, which wicks moisture but can be kind of scratchy. The Kenosha jacket's lining wicks sweat well, but it's far nicer against my skin when I'm wearing just a t-shirt underneath.

I took it out for a couple of hikes and runs in the fall wind here in the Rocky Mountains and loved how well it blocked even the biggest gusts. The shell really is completely windproof, but it still breathes exceptionally well.

The Sierra Designs Kenosha jacket has mesh panels under the arms instead of the nylon shell fabric, which serves two purposes. First, it vents excess body heat and sweat like I've got a fan under the jacket. I never got uncomfortably hot or clammy. Second, the mesh stretches so that when I raise my arms, the Sierra Designs Kenosha doesn't raise up above my waist. This means a lot to me - when I'm scrambling or peak bagging and need to reach above my head to a good handhold, I don't have to readjust the bottom of my jacket in order to keep the wind out. The bottom just stays put, as it should.

I noticed that the Kenosha jacket doesn't have the most athletic fit compared to many other running tops I've tested, which means it doubles well as an all-purpose shell for kicking around town or even lounging inside. That soft liner serves another purpose of just being cozy.

Other little thoughtful features I also totally dig are: the cinch cord around the waist, to keep it tight and to keep gusts out; a nice big chest pocket for my MP3 player; and a nice, wide stand-up collar with a soft fleece chin guard.

The Sierra Designs Kenosha jacket is available in both men's and women's models. Men's sizes SM-2X, colors Black, Gator, Hot Sauce, Ink. Women's sizes XS-XL, colors Agate, Black, Cranberry, Gator. The women's model has an integrated hood and is priced about $10 more. (See shopping links below. This jacket can be found at online retailers from $98.95 for the men's jacket to $110 for the women's model.)

Bottom Line: Well ventilated wind jacket perfect for cold weather trail runs, bike rides, or any other activity in blustery conditions. --N.W. (Oct '10)

BUY ONLINE: $100 ($110 for hooded women's jacket). Click to shop at Altrec. (Somes sizes at low as $69.99 at Amazon.)

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.