When choosing your insulating layer, there are essentially three choices: Natural Down, Synthetic Fill or Synthetic Fleece. Some of these do equally well as an insulator and outerwear while others are simply insulation, plain and simple.
Most recently, the curve ball in all this has come in the types of fabrics used in both synthetic and down insulated outerwear. DWR or Durable Water Resistant treatments can greatly improve waterproofness and other laminated fabrics (such as eVent) can also breathe, but offer a completely waterproof package. As a result, puffy insulated jackets are even more versatile than before.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to get an advanced review of the 2009/2010 Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor Jacket–a PrimaLoft Eco synthetic-filled midweight puffy jacket. I really like this jacket… lets see why.
About the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor Jacket
This revised design for Fall 2009 features new PrimaLoft Eco insulation (50% recycled), better outer shell material and a tad lighter (1 oz). This versatile jacket is built to provide warmth both while sedentary and on the move.
More 2009/2010 Hooded Compressor Jacket features:
- PrimaLoft Eco Insulation (new for Fall 2009)
- Ergonomic hood
- Velcro closure at cuffs
- Single-pull hood and hem drawcords
- Fabric: Convert 15D ripstop with 80/20 DWR (new for Fall 2009)
- Weight: 1 lb. 3 oz. (1 oz. lighter than 2008)
- MSRP: $190
Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor Jacket Review
Comfortable… that’s likely the one word I would use if forced to describe the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor in one word. Slip this thing on and experience uninhibited comfort, warmth and function around town and in demanding backcountry conditions.
As far as fill insulation for jackets, I prefer PrimaLoft One and the new PrimaLoft Eco is just as good. The benefits of synthetic are pretty obvious in that it will retain its warmth even when wet (sorry Down) and offers nearly the same compression capability as natural fibers. The feel of Primaloft is great–you’d never guess you were wearing a synthetic jacket because the insulation doesn’t restrict any movement and feels very soft to the touch.
Offering excellent warmth under frigid temperatures, the Hooded Compressor just plain works. I’ve appreciated the little things that make this jacket so nice in the backcountry. Often times I’ve found the collars of many jackets these days either aren’t tall enough or large enough in diameter to cover your face in a pinch. Not so with the Compressor as its collar can be raised high enough to easily cover your face to keep things warm and toasty on a windy ridgeline.
Pulling the hood on and adjusting it is easy with the unique slide tethers. If you’re ever in need of that mummy bag feel with a compressed hood, this jacket delivers. Though I didn’t try the hood with a helmet, I’m confident there’s plenty of room.
The Velcro sleeve cuffs are welcome as many puffies don’t have that feature. Cinching the cuffs down on my gloves, I was able to keep the snow out and maintain comfort.
The fit of the Large is great for me (5’11” and 175 lbs) to use as either a mid or outer layer. If I wanted this to primarily function as a mid-layer, I think I could have sized down–the only unknown would be sleeve length. As it is, the fit isn’t too roomy, but just enough to slip a fleece underneath for ultra warmth.
Fit with a pack on is excellent since the Primaloft Eco insulation is so compressible. It was easy to slip my pack on/off (tested with the new Osprey Kode 30 ski pack) and nothing got in the way or got caught on the sleeves. While the lined handwarmer pockets are super cozy with easy-to-pull zipper pulls, the location of the pockets sits right at the pack’s waistbelt, rendering them inaccessible while wearing a pack.
Just to talk the little things up a bit more… I love that the zipper pulls are all very functional with or without gloves. And, they aren’t just a small section of rope tied in a knot. Any companies still using a rope pull need to take note of the pulls on the Compressor.
- PrimaLoft Eco insulates with 50% recycled materials
- Very compressible… stashes in a backpack with ease
- Collar/hood combo perfect height to cover your whole face
- Works equally well as mid or outer layer
- Wind/water resistance is excellent
- Little things like zipper pulls are easy to use
- Fleece-lined handwarmer pockets are comfy cozy
- Pit zips could aid in ventilation
- Handwarmer pockets sit right at waistbelt
- As a mid-layer, the hood can get in the way
The Bottom Line: Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor Jacket
I’m sold on this jacket. I love how comfortable it wears and how well it insulates. Slip on the Compressor and you’ll feel like you just slipped into a mummy bag. With excellent wind and water protection combined with a tall collar to keep you protected from the wind, this jacket works great as a mid or outer layer.
Buy Now: Mountain Hardwear Jackets at REI
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I use down in the Southwestern United States, where the climate is dry. I bought the MH Hooded Compressor as an emergency jacket for the cold (and often wet) conditions I encounter in Ontario, Canada. Normally I’ll use a softshell when I’m hiking in the winter in Ontario. I keep the Hooded Compressor in my pack in case I have to stop moving for a relatively prolonged period of time. Since the Hooded Compressor fits slim, I bought I size up so I can layer it over my softshell.