Initial Thoughts – Brooks-Range Mountaineering Cirro Jacket

Last Sunday afternoon was a prime example of why I have chosen to live in Southwest Montana. The snow has continued to fall every few days in the beautiful mountainsides of our fair ecosystem as is considered normal for March in these parts. The sun rose as usual during the 0700 hour on Sunday morning and my roomate, myself, and visiting friend from the Pacific Northwest prepared our backcountry ski and splitboard gear for an afternoon trip up the local bc ski zone on Mount Ellis.

I was trying out a fair bit of gear that was new to me on this journey and as such was traveling with one of the lightest kits I’ve ever had the fortune to carry while splitboarding.  The items I took along that are new to me:

I’ve agreed to wear, test, and review the Cirro Jacket from Brooks-Range.  I have been a fan of their line of avalanche-safety gear for a number of  years and when asked to review their apparel I jumped at the chance given their track-record with the rest of their product line.

Brooks-Range Cirro Jacket

The Cirro Jacket is a typical mid-weight puffy coat that appears a good solution for a couple different activities.  It’s stylish enough to be seen in for an après ski beverage on the streets of Park City but more importantly, functional enough to weather-out a squall atop a cloudy peak while preparing to “drop in heavy like a powder gangster”.

The jacket is constructed to the standards of today’s lightweight, synthetic puffy jacket but differs itself with some durability aspects.  It is constructed of the proven combination of Primaloft insulation with a Pertex outer.  Primaloft is in my opinion the synthetic insulation that reigns supreme over this competitive market.  In other synthetic puffies I’ve owned Primaloft has proven itself and retained it’s “loft” for the longest-time over other synthetic materials.  Pertex has also made a name for itself with a number of shell-offerings that fair well in shedding light precip necessary to protect the insulative qualities of the Primaloft.  It is also a superior fabric choice for blocking heat-sapping wind while still allowing acceptable levels of breathability.

The use of Primaloft and Pertex is becoming commonplace for this type of garment (and for good reason) so a company building new gear needs to set itself apart from its competition through a few techniques; design-innovation, durability, and aesthetics (to name but a few).  Brooks-Range has met the fabric requirements to compete in this market and has also met the design and aesthetic requirements.  My initial thoughts having now worn the garment during two days of use under circumstances that I would consider to be average for the type of athlete considering the purchase of this garment (i.e. nothing extreme nor epic).  The areas a garment like this can be beefed up to extend it’s life are the zippers, seams, and stretchy elastic bits.

I was immediately taken by the choice of zipper Brooks-Range chose to apply to the Cirrus Jacket.  It is a multi-directional zip that strikes a good balance between durability and weight.  Too light a zipper and it will fail (as has so frustratingly happened to other garments I own), too heavy and it’s simply overkill.  The elastic at the cuffs and the tightening system at the waist both proved functional at keeping snow out while digging a snow study pit and also kept warmth in while lunching atop the summit.  The sewing of the seams at a glance appears quality but only a lengthy review over the first few months of wearing this piece will this be proven or disproven.

The Cirrus is very lightweight and I sense it will be a perfect choice for springtime splitboarding pursuits.  During the dead of winter it would probably not provide enough warming capabilities to act as my emergency insulation but during spring it, combined with my softshell and hardshell are more than enough for maintaining thermal regulation during rest stops or during an especially cold or windy descent.

I look forward to continue testing (and just plaing enjoying) this and the other items I mentioned above.  I will go into more detail regarding the Brooks-Range Cirrus Jacket in time but for now take this initial review for what it’s worth if you are in the market for such a garment.