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Sierra Designs Flex Hoody Vest

The Flex Hoody Vest by Sierra Designs is a versatile piece that's both functional and fun to wear.

I like the low-profile style of this down-filled vest; it's not that puffy, adding only an inch of "layer" to my body so I don't look or feel like a linebacker. I wear the Flex Hoody Vest most often as an outer layer, but on the coldest days I wear it under a windproof shell.

The Flex Hoody Vest is designed for warmth and movement, both achieved via the diagonal baffles (filled with 650 goose down). I like the vest's stretchy armholes, too, because they give me freedom of movement. Still, the Flex Hoody Vest is also quite cozy for just daily wear. I can cinch the hood down, and it does a great job of sealing in heat. I also appreciate the soft, microfleece-lined zippered pockets.

All of the Flex Hoody Vest's features came in handy on a recent fall mountain bike ride outside of Steamboat Springs, CO. It was a cool 40 degrees that morning, and even though I knew I would warm up on the long uphill climb, I knew I'd need an extra layer. I threw on my Flex Hoody Vest over my biking clothes, zipped it up, and started pedaling. The vest kept my temperature well-regulated until almost halfway through my climb, at which point the sun came out and I was finally warm enough. I wore the Flex Hoody Vest again at the end of the day for the long, shady descent.

The vest also shines as a stylish outer layer over workout clothes and around town. I wear it all the time on my way to the gym or while doing errands because it’s quite comfortable and super cute. Although it isn’t necessarily the most packable or lightweight down vest out there, the outer shell material doesn’t need to be babied from a feathery blowout, and it does a great job of blocking the elements.

The Flex Hoody Vest is available for women in Fern, Magenta, Sky, Eggplant, Agate, Black, sizes XS-XL. I have it in Fern, an appealing light green shade that adds a bit of color to my mostly black workout wardrobe. It fits snugly and true to size, and will give to accommodate extra layers (and different body types). At 5’4”, the size small vest hem hit right at my hips, so taller ladies may need to size up. (Also available in a jacket.)

Bottom Line: Comfortable and cozy, this vest is great for outdoor activities and daily wear.-- L.B. (November ‘11)

BUY ONLINE: $199 Only $119 at Sierra Trading Post icon
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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.