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Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor Review

Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor
Photo: Mountain Hardwear
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Price:  $250 List
Pros:  Lightweight, well-made wrist cuffs.
Cons:  Hood is tight with helmet on, insulation not as good as PrimaLoft ONE.
Manufacturer:   Mountain Hardwear
By Ian Nicholson and Chris McNamara  ⋅  May 4, 2011
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  • Warmth - 30% 6
  • Weight - 25% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Water Resistance - 10% 7
  • Wind Resistance - 10% 6
  • Style - 5% 6

Our Verdict

This jacket has been discontinued.

The Hooded Compressor is a good mid-weight synthetic insulated jacket. In this review, it is best compared to the Arc'teryx Atom AR Hoody. For around town use we preferred the Atom AR. The Hooded Compressor, however, is a nicely featured jacket for those looking for something warmer than the standard lightweight synthetic layer.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Mountain Hardwear Super Compressor vs. The Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor

Mountain Hardwear has replaced the Hooded Compressor with the Super Compressor, which retails for $295 - almost $50 more than the Hooded Compressor. The Super Compressor weights the same as the Hooded Compressor (17 oz) and has Thermal.Q Elite, which according to Mountain Hardwear, mimics the structure of down to create the highest warmth to weight ratio available in synthetic insulation.

Check out a side-by-side comparison below, with the Super Compression pictured on the left and the Hooded Compressor shown on the right.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Hands-On Review


Like the Montane Ice Guide and Patagonia Hyper Puff Hoody, 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 the Arc'teryx Atom AR to be warmer jackets.

The hood of the Compressor is much tighter fitting compared Atom AR. 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, however, 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 Mountain Hardwear Quasar 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.
Molly staying warm on a cold Yellowstone evening.  she has the...
Molly staying warm on a cold Yellowstone evening. she has the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor layered over a Patagonia Fitz Roy down parka.
Photo: Chris Simrell

Best Application

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, the Hooded Compressor is a bit expensive considering how we rated it against its closest competition, the Atom AR.

Ian Nicholson and Chris McNamara