One of the most innovative and groundbreaking products that I saw at the Summer Outdoor Retailer show this past August was not a backpack, pair of boots or any other kind of gear in the traditional sense. It was instead the amazing new water resistant down from DownTek, a product that goes into other outdoor gear to make it better.
We all know that down is the lightest and warmest insulator around, making it a logical choice for jackets and sleeping bags. But it also has one fatal flaw. When it gets wet it loses all of its best properties, becoming a big clumpy mess that takes forever to dry, rendering your warm gear useless.
But DownTek’s offering actually resists water, allowing the down to maintain its loft, and more importantly, its qualities as a good insulator. The same high-tech polymer that provides this water resistant quality also gives the down an anti-microbial and anti-bactieral quality. This helps to keep our gear cleaner and fresher, even while on longer expeditions.
One of the first products to actually make it to market that uses DownTek’s fabulous insulation is the new Mojave Jacket from Brooks Range. This lightweight and extremely comfortable garment features 800+ fill down wrapped in Pertex Quantum fabrics. The result is a jacket that sets the new standard for alpine gear and I suspect that this will be a big hit amongst outdoor enthusiasts who spend plenty of time in cold places.
Slipping into the Mojave is a bit like pulling on a cozy sleeping bag that you can wear anywhere. Like most down jackets it is warm and comfortable even in the coldest environments. But its performance goes well above and beyond traditional down clothing when the weather takes a turn for the worse. In the past, I’ve dreaded getting caught in rain or heavy snow when wearing my old down jacket, but with the Mojave it isn’t even a consideration at all. The water-resistant down performs even better than expected and anyone who has suffered a wet down jacket in the past will immediately appreciate the difference.
Even if the Mojave weren’t stuffed with this new down, there would still be a lot to love about this jacket. It has a fit that is so good that you’ll wish for more cold weather days just so you can wear it more often. The collar and hood are amongst the most comfortable that I’ve ever found on a jacket like this one and the zippers, cuffs and drawstrings all exude a high level of quality. The Mojave is also highly packable and weighs just 16 ounces (453 grams), which means it doesn’t take up much room in your pack when you’re carrying off to the Himalaya or some other mountain setting.
A lot of new products, particularly in the outdoor industry, purport to be “revolutionary” but few actually live up to the billing. The Mojave really does mark a major shift in terms of gear performance however, bringing down into the 21st century. Once you put this jacket to the test in the field, you’ll see how much of a leap forward it is over the traditional down jacket from the past. Considering the amount of technology and design that went into creating this garment, you would expect it to come with a hefty price tag. But Brooks Range has managed to deliver all of this performance for just $299 – a surprisingly great price for a jacket of this quality.
Considering the holidays are just around the corner, I’d also recommend the Mojave as an excellent gift for the outdoor adventurer or mountaineer on your list. This is the kind of present that they’ll be able to enjoy for many years to come and will keep them warm and dry in the worst of winter conditions.
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