Gadling Gear Review: Brooks Range Mojave Waterproof Down Jacket

Anyone who enjoys cold weather adventures probably already knows that down is the best insulator for keeping us warm when the mercury begins to drop. Lightweight and comfortable, down can be used in a variety of products that help us enjoy the great outdoors, even in extreme conditions. But the material has a major flaw that has, at times, limited its usefulness in the past. When down gets wet, it tends to clump up and lose its loft. Worse yet, in cold conditions wet down will freeze solid and become practically useless. That has all changed with the introduction of a revolutionary new water repellant down called DownTek, which is just now making its way into a number or new products.

One of the first products to hit the market that uses DownTek is the new Mojave Jacket from Brooks Range Mountaineering, a company that specializes in creating gear for extreme environments and activities. The jacket features 800+ fill wrapped in durable, weather resistant fabrics and includes an attached hood and high-quality zippers designed for use in cold, wet conditions. In short, it is the perfect jacket for mountaineering, snowshoeing, cross country skiing or nearly any other cold weather activity.

The Mojave was built with active outdoor enthusiasts and travelers in mind and its design reflects this. Some down jackets can be overly bulky and hamper movement, which makes them less than ideal choices for some of our more active pursuits. But Brooks Range knows that its customers are looking for products that will allow them to hike, backpack and climb without restrictions so their products are built to support those activities. The result is a jacket that performs amazingly well while still providing nearly unrestricted motion while on the trail.Of course, all of this doesn’t mean very much if the jacket, and more importantly DownTek, doesn’t perform as advertised. Fortunately, that isn’t an issue here, as the Mojave provides everything you would expect out of a down jacket and so much more. The water resistant fill is simply a revolution in terms of cold weather gear, making this garment far more versatile and reliable than similar products that don’t use this new type of down. Better yet, the same process that makes the down fill water resistant also adds anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, ensuring that even after it gets wet, the jacket remains clean and odor-free, something that any traveler can appreciate.

Those aren’t the only qualities that will make this jacket popular with travelers heading to cold weather destinations. In addition to the Mojave being very warm and comfortable, it is also highly packable. Unlike similar products from competitors, Brooks Range has created a jacket that can be compressed down to a relatively small size so at to not take up much room in your luggage or backpack. That is much appreciated by those of us who like to travel as light as possible without compromising on the performance of our gear.

It isn’t often while testing a product that I realize it is a significant leap forward in terms of performance, but that is exactly what the Mojave represents. DownTek gives this jacket, and the other products that it is being used in, properties that standard down simply can’t compete with. It does add a bit to the price tag of course, but as far as I’m concerned, it is worth every penny. The Mojave costs $299, which isn’t dramatically more expensive compared to similar products without the water-resistant down, but it is more expensive nonetheless.

If you’re the kind of person who wants a down jacket for keeping you warm while you run errands around town or shovel the sidewalks in front of your home, then a standard down jacket may completely fulfill your needs and expectations. But if you happen to be an active outdoors enthusiast or traveler, you shouldn’t settle for a product that doesn’t perform as well as it could. With the Mojave you won’t have to make those compromises and you’ll have a jacket that will keep you plenty warm and dry no matter how bad the weather gets.

Gadling Gear Review: Brooks-Range Cirro Hoody

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)