Water-Repellant Goose Down 'Not a Gimmick,' company touts

Brooks-Range is a tiny outdoor brand founded by a mountain guide. It touts “gimmick-free designs” as a hallmark of its outerwear and hard-good products, from tents to map tools to puffy down coats.

We tested the company’s Mojave Jacket this winter, a $299 puffy that’s insulated with a new type of water-resistant goose down.

Down traditionally clumps up when wet, so when a few companies last year began selling it in a water-resistant configuration antennas went up around the outdoor world.

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Mojave Down Jacket from Brooks-Range

No gimmick here, the down in the Mojave Jacket held its loft even when wet. We tested it on several mountain outings where the air was cold put the precip from the sky was not quite frozen, soaking our shoulders and backs as we climbed.

Brooks-Range uses down from a brand called DownTek. The company treats fine down plumes with a hydrophobic nano-chemical it touts can “effectively eliminate all of the previous negative attributes associated with down.”

Beyond the new down type, the Mojave Jacket is all around a gimmick-free piece. We liked the simple, streamlined design and relative light weight for its warmth, at around 16 ounces for the size medium jacket.

The thin Pertex Quantum fabric is a great choice. We love this tough and water-resistant outer shell and have trusted it on jackets beyond the Mojave for years.

The parka has a nice fit with room to layer under, hand-warmer pockets, an inner security pocket, Velcro cuffs, and a warm hood.

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DownTek photo: Beakers of wet down treated with water-repellant chemical (on right) and “natural” (left)

My first real test of the jacket came on a mountaintop at over 10,000 feet. I got stuck in a frigid drizzle, but the jacket did not disappoint.

After years of protecting my down garments from the rain, it was hard to force myself to keep the jacket on as the mist began to build. But after an hour, I was still warm and relatively dry inside.

I could tell the shell had wetted through to the down, though the feathers kept most of their loft (and thus their insulating warmth).

This is no raincoat. Waterproof shell jackets are still a must for any serious outdoor trip. Synthetic insulated jackets (including those with PrimaLoft insulation) will remain in my kit as well.

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Mojave jacket in blue

But with DownTek, a jacket like the Mojave is now more usable across a range of weather and different types of trips.

The magic of “dry” down does come with a bit of a price. Not only is it more expensive, but it’s less compressible and a tad heavier than traditional down.

I compared the Mojave to another puffy from Brooks-Range, the Alpini Anorak. Both jackets use 800+ fill down, but the Mojave is a couple ounces heavier and less compressible.

The Mojave is $299, where the Alpini Anorak costs $249. Also, the Mojave is not quite as warm as the Alpini, though to be fair the jackets are constructed differently so it’s hard to say how much the insulation difference matters.

My final take? As the brand promised, we found the Mojave and its water-resistant down to be “gimmick free.” This type of jacket is worth the extra cost if you want to extend the use and range of your down to places where formerly a puffy coat could not go.

—Jason Magness is a contributing editor. GearJunkie covered water-resistant down this fall in the story “Shower Test: Water-Resistant Down Puffy gets soaked in Bathroom ‘Lab’.”

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