Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Lightweight, well made wrist cuffs.
Cons: Hood is tight with helmet on, Insulation not as good as PrimaLoft ONE.
Best Uses: alpine, ice climbing. Winter backcountry use. all arouns
Manufacturer: Mountain Hardwear
The Hooded Compressor is a good mid-weight synthetic insulated jacket. in this review it is best compared to the Arc'teryx Atom SV and the Rab Generator Alpine. For around town use we preferred the Atom SV, and for ice and alpine climbing we prefer the Generator Alpine. The Hooded Compressor however, is a nicely featured jacket for those looking for something warmer than the standard lightweight synthetic layer.
Check out our complete Men's Insulated Jacket Review to see how this jacket compared to others.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Like the Rab Generator Alpine, Montane Ice Guide and Patagonia DAS Parka, the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor is constructed with two different insulation weights to balance warmth with overall weight and mobility - 100g/m2 Thermic Micro TK in the body, and 80g/m2 in the sleeves. Not all synthetic insulations are equal. We find PrimaLoft insulation to generally be the best with PrimaLoft ONE being the widely accepted best. Mountain Hardwear's Thermic Micro insulation seems to be less warm. The difference is not extreme, but we find both the Rab Generator Alpine and the Arc'teryx Atom SV to be warmer jackets.
The hood of the Compressor is much tighter fitting compared to the Generator Alpine and Atom SV. when used over a helmet it feels restrictive and covers the face only when your chin is tucked to your chest. We found this hood fit to be a big drawback.
We have to admit that we're rather thrown off by the fact that this jacket is called the "Compressor" and it does not stuff into itself. It squishes down relatively small, but you could not bring it along on a long rock climbing route very easily unless you climbed with a pack. Overall hover, the Compressor is a very light - only 17oz.
There are no stand-out features on the Hooded Compressor other than the wrist cuffs, which are similar in design the the Mountain Hardwear Quasar Insulated with soft "jersey" cuffs that act as a sort of internal wrist gaiter, keeping cold and wetness out. There are four pockets: two hand warming pockets are comfortable fleece lined, but small, and there is an external, and an internal zippered chest pocket. The Internal chest pocket is very small, which we like since it keeps our little items closer at hand. The waist has the standard two-point cinch adjustments. The hood, though small as mentioned above, has a good 3-point adjustment system, and small brim.
This is a good jacket to pack along for belaying or skiing because it compresses small and is a bit warmer than the lightweight jackets in this review. It is not the jacket you would bring to clip on your harness however (since it can't). Though some may feel it looks a bit "techie" we think it looks nice and is great for around town as well.
for $250 dollars the Hooded Compressor is a bit expensive considering how we rated it against its closest competition the Generator Alpine and Atom SV. If you want a climbing specific mid-weight synthetic, take a good look at the Rab Generator Alpine. if you want warmth, style, and comfort, we recommend the Arc'teryx Atom SV.
The Mountain Hardwear Chillwave Jacket and Mountain Hardwear Chillwave Jacket - Women's, $415, is a slightly re-vamped version of the popular Sub Zero. If you need a serious jacket for extreme cold, this, like its predecessor, is a great option. The Mountain HardWear Chillwave has many functional features that make this a desirable jacket for mountaineering such as a longer fit, a large insulated hood, windproof material, and clever ways of sealing out wind and keeping in warmth
The Mountain Hardwear Nilas Jacket, $550, is one of our favorite winter down jackets.
— Ian Nicholson and Chris McNamara
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Most recent review: January 28, 2014
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