GEAR REVIEW: Mountain Hardwear Compressor Jacket

Matè on the summit

Matè on the summit

Technical Specs

Decent Wind Protection. Torres Negras, Patagonia

Decent Wind Protection. Torres Negras, Patagonia

Weight: 21.15oz

Size Tested: XXL

Construction: ThemalQ Elite insulation.
20D ripstop nylon

Store: Mountain Hardwear

Mileage before Review: 450+ miles

Longest Test: 300 miles

Pros

  • Incredible performance in wet/damp conditions. Tested within the coastal archipelago, and the Cordon Cochrane in Patagonia. The second wettest place on Earth.

    Rock. On.

    Rock. On.

  • Warm enough to be a ‘stand alone’ insulation layer for temperatures down to high teens/low twenties.
  • Very Durable construction. This jacket survived 3 months of off trail bushwhacking, salt water, and glissading.
  • Warm hand pockets lined with fleece.
  • Draw cord around the waist cuts out cold breezes and keeps your body heat in.
  • Collar wrapped in fleece, which is great for wiping a cold nose on a steep ascent.

Cons

  • No hood means you need more layers for your head. A hooded version of the Compressor Jacket does exist and is slightly more expensive.
  • Elastic Cuffs can twist within the fabric, which can be annoying but doesn’t compromise the performance of the jacket much.
  • Bulky in the pack. Synthetic insulation is somewhat packable, but much less so than down.
  • Heavier than down jackets of comparable warmth.

Best Used For: Cold/wet mountaineering/sea kayaking/hiking, Stand alone insulation layer in all but the coldest conditions.

Tester’s Comments

When I headed down to the second wettest place on Earth in it’s early spring, I knew I was going to need an insulation layer that could handle the cold and damp, while providing the bulk of my warmth. The mountain Hardwear Compressor Jacket withstood a barrage of rain, snow, and sea spray for three months of climbing, sea kayaking, and hiking in Patagonia.

Cold Day on a nameless summit.

Cold Day on a nameless summit.

This is not an ultralight insulation layer. At XXL, it is a heavy piece of gear. However, I was warm and comfortable in just a t-shirt with this jacket during a few intense snow storms on the Patagonian Steppe. Other climbers with lighter jackets usually complimented them with medium to heavy weight layers, equalling or surpassing the weight of the Compressor Jacket. Coupled with a good wind layer or rain shell, this jacket took me down to the teens, with only a t-shirt on underneath.

White out conditions were no match for the Compressor

White out conditions were no match for the Compressor

As I write this, I am now in the opinion that this jacket would be better with a hood, and would recommend the hooded version for the increased warmth. The fleece lined pockets came in handy when you need to take off your gloves, and the fleece collar is great for wiping your nose without severely chapping it like some other jackets.

Tester’s Jacket Rating

Weight 5/10
Mobility 9/10
Durability 8/10
Wind Protection 7/10
Rain Protection 5/10
Bug Protection 10/10
Comfort 7/10
Style 7/10

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