We love watching companies grow. From the initial spark of an idea to the eventual development of a finished product, the creation of something new is an incredibly exciting, challenging, and fulfilling process.
When GGG ambassador Pierce Fitzpatrick started High Route Gear we were incredibly stoked to support and follow his progress. They started off with UL food bags, and recently released their first piece of apparel: The Wind River Ultralight Jacket. Let's check it out!
General Impressions of the Wind River UL Jacket:
The Wind River Jacket is minimalist, warm, and made right here in the USA. Weighing in at just 8oz, the Wind River Jacket has a distinctive look to accompany a handful of unique features.
- Hooded and non-hooded versions
- Quarter-length Velcro chest closure
- Diamond-cut armpits (for range of motion)
- Elastic cuffs
- Waistband drawcord
The insulation for the jacket is Climashield Apex Synthetic Insulation, while the inside and outside fabrics are MEMBRANE 10 taffeta nylon and ROBIC 7D ripstop nylon (respectively).
Pros of the Wind River UL Jacket:
While we often times get caught up in the pomp and circumstance that accompanies new gear, with the Wind River UL Jacket, what you see if what you get. Simple, light, and functional.
Light and warm: The Wind River Jacket's sole purpose is to keep you warm when its cold, and to disappear in your pack when it's not in use. At 8oz, the jacket seemingly weighs nothing, and it does a good job of accomplishing the aforementioned very simple, but very important, task: warmth! While designed for 3 season use, it seems more than capable of handling mild to moderate winter conditions as well. While it doesn't compress down as much as its down counterparts, it still gets relatively small. Since its stuffed with Climashield, it also means that you don't have to be terrified of it getting wet.
The collar of the jacket is also very high, providing a great deal of added warmth to your neck and face. You can velcro up the jacket right below your nose and ears, creating its own neck warmer in the process.
Simplicity: This jacket has no pockets, no zipper, and no additional features that would add extra weight. While you can get the hooded version, there isn't much to this jacket other than ripstop nylon, insulation, and a small strip of velcro.
Things to note:
The Fit: While the diamond cut armpits allow your arms a good range of motion, I do experience some tightness in both the chest and shoulders. I'm not a particularly muscular human, but there are certain motions (crossing my arms, tucking my elbows back, paddling, and a short list of others) that create unwanted tension when active. While I don't encounter this tightness all the time, the concern of potential tightness has made me more cautious about particular movements. Some of this tightness in the chest is visibly perceivable as well, and while I don't care too much about what my backcountry gear looks like, this does inhibit it from transitioning to my front country kit. The cuffs around the wrists are fairly tight as well, and while this inhibits air from coming up the sleeve, it leaves small indents in my wrists.
The Velcro takes a while to get used to. Like most people, I have grown very accustomed to zippers. While the Velcro does functionally fulfill its job of keeping the air out, it can be a clumsy closing mechanism. You need to be intentional about making sure that the 2 velcro strips line up, and if the velcro strip isn't all the way up or all the way down, the small velcro hooks can be uncomfortable on your chin. That being said, it sheds a little bit of weight and will never jam!
I've gotten some good use out of the Wind River UL Jacket so far, and if you are looking for a jacket that is warm, functional, and light, its worth checking out! Take a look at the video below to learn a bit more about Pierce and High Route Gear.