One item I usually carry is a big synthetic puffy, mainly for emergencies, super cold summits, and hanging out on breaks. I rarely pull it out and recently I’ve been reconsidering its necessity. I’ll still carry a heavy warm jacket on many tours, but when trying to cut weight, it’s nice to have a thinner insulating layer. Also, a thinner puffy is perfect for summer hikes and climbs.
The Compressor is designed to be light above all else, and has very few extraneous features. The puffy weighs 13 ounces and utilizes 60 gram Primaloft One insulation, with 40 grams in the sleeves. One is Primaloft’s lightest insulation, sacrificing a bit of durability in exchange for reduced weight. The jacket comes in hooded and non-hooded versions. I’ve been using the hoodie. Through the use of thin ultralight shell fabric, and lightweight insulation, the jacket is incredibly light for it’s warmth. It does have three pockets and drawstring on the hood.
I’ve been using the Compressor since last winter. I used it off and on during the winter, sometimes bringing a heavier synthetic puffy instead (OR Chaos). During the spring, the Compressor was perfect for ski mountaineering, and this summer I’ve been carrying it as a warm layer while hiking and rock climbing.
Build quality is important with lightweight outdoor gear, especially clothing. With lightweight fabrics, low build quality can severely effect durability. Mountain Equipment clothing has impeccable attention to detail. Even after many days of use, and super-lightweight fabrics, the jacket is holding up very well. I’ve even been doing a fair a mount of rock climbing in it, using it as a belay jacket, and on some cold pitches. It has one tiny tear resulting from sharp rock, but otherwise is unscathed. Although the Helium fabric is lightweight, it still has impressive wind resistance. The jacket stays quite warm in windy chilly weather. I like pockets, and the Compressor has just the right amount, two hand pockets, and a breast “napoleon” pocket. More would add unnecessary weight. I’ve been in cold weather with the Compressor and can confirm it’s toastiness. It’s surprisingly warm for such a small package.
One major gripe I have is the hood draw string cord. The cord-locks are sewn into the collar, designed to be operated through the fabric. Although it results in a clean look (no doubt the intention), they are difficult to use. The hood can be tightened quickly and easily, but loosening it requires a few minutes of fiddling, and can’t be done with gloves. Also, the arms have elastic cuffs, which are ultra-tight. They keep the warmth in, but can’t really be pushed up on the arm, unless you’re a fan of tourniquets. I wish I could say it was the fault of my massive forearms. Alas, they’re undeniably skinny.
My main goal with the Compressor was reducing pack weight, and it’s been a success. Of course the jacket is super light, and packs down to nothing in the bottom of the pack. At the same time, it has proved warm enough to use during many ski trips. I usually bring a hard-shell, soft-shell, t-shirt, and warm puffy on ski trips. I basically don’t carry any insulation besides the puffy, so having a warm one is a necessity. The Compressor is supremely warm, and takes up minimal space in the pack.
Louie Dawson earned his Bachelor Degree in Industrial Design from Western Washington University in 2014. When he’s not skiing Mount Baker or somewhere equally as snowy, he’s thinking about new products to make ski mountaineering more fun and safe.