I’m the kind of person who really prefers to travel light. In fact, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways that I can shave ounces off my pack weight, while still being able to carry all the items I need for my journey. The trick is to be able to adopt this minimalist approach without compromising on the performance of your gear. That’s not always an easy thing to do, which is why I truly appreciate a great piece of travel apparel when I find one. I recently came across just such an item in the form of a new jacket from Brooks-Range, that is a perfect cool weather companion for the traveler who needs versatile and lightweight outdoor gear.
Brooks-Range is not a particularly well known brand with the mainstream, as they tend to focus on a few very high quality products for specific, sometimes niche, markets. Their customers tend to be mountaineers, adventure racers, and long distance trekkers, who have come to appreciate the company’s no-nonsense approach to making equipment that offers everything they need, with very few unnecessary frills. The company has earned itself a reputation for having an eye for detail and producing high quality products, which has earned it a loyal following amongst adventure travel junkies.
I was lucky enough to test out the new Cirro Hoody, a very lightweight jacket that is perfect as a stand alone outer layer on spring and fall hikes at altitude, or as an insulating layer under a winter shell in the colder months. When I first pulled on the jacket, I was immediately struck by how warm it was, even though it felt like I really wasn’t wearing much of anything at all. The jacket weighs in at a mere 12.4 ounces and it packs down to an incredibly small size, which means it is a great piece of gear to keep in your pack at all times, even when you don’t think you’ll need it. The Cirro makes for a perfect emergency jacket for those days in the mountains that start with excellent weather, but end with an unexpected storm. It’s on one of those days that you’ll appreciate the jacket that you forgot you had even put in your backpack.
The Cirro fits snugly without impeding your ability to move, which is a much appreciated design element when you’re out on the trail. It also features a well designed hood that helps to keep you warm and dry in bad weather, but can also be detached and stashed into the collar when not needed. A pair of zippered pockets, one on the outside and one on the inside, keep small gear items, such as a multi-tool or iPod, close at hand for when you need them. Form fitting elastic cuffs are a simple addition that you’ll appreciate on colder days as well.
The jacket gets high marks for keeping even heavy winds at bay, and it has an uncanny knack for staying warm, even while wet. But some may be put off by its simplistic, minimalist design that lacks zippered pit-vents or an internal pocked for a water bottle – features found on more expensive jackets from other manufacturers. Also, as mentioned, this is a cool weather jacket, not a cold weather one. While I personally think it’ll keep me warm well below freezing, you’ll want to make sure you have a proper outer shell for any sub-zero adventures.
With those few caveats in mind however, this is a fantastic piece of gear to include in your outdoor excursions. It is warm, lightweight, and very comfortable. All perfect ingredients for the adventure traveler who is looking to travel light, without sacrificing any kind of performance. (MSRP: $189)