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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > Brooks Range Ultimate Brisa Jacket > Test Report by Kurt Papke
Brooks-Range Ultimate Brisa
|Height:||6' 4" (193 cm)|
|Weight:||220 lbs (100 kg)|
|Email address:||kwpapke at gmail dot com|
|City, State, Country:||Tucson, Arizona USA|
The Brooks-Range Ultimate Brisa is designed to be a highly
breathable insulated jacket. It is heavier than a windshirt
or windbreaker, but lighter than the typical soft shell jacket.
|Year of manufacture:||2014|
Also available in Smoke (light blue) and Wheat (dark yellow)
||Nylon shell, Polartec Alpha in the torso, Polartec Power Dry High Efficiency in the arms|
Also available in Small, Medium and Large
|Weight:||Measured: 15.4 oz (437 g)
Listed: 13 oz (369 g)
Typically manufacturers list the weight of a Medium size, so the discrepancy is expected.
I slipped on the jacket and checked for fit. I prefer a
Large-Tall size due to my long torso, but with most makes I have
to get an Extra Large to get the length in the arms and
torso. The Ultimate Brisa fit me very well, I didn't feel
like there was excess girth to the jacket, but neither would I say
it had an "athletic" fit.
The warmth from the insulation was immediately apparent.
Clearly this is not just a windbreaker, but a garment that
supplies substantial protection from the cold.
I used the jacket on a cool day to run some errands. I was
wearing a long sleeve cotton shirt, and I found that the Brisa
sleeves wanted to adhere to the shirt sleeves, which made it hard
to get the jacket on.
|January 6-9, 2015
||Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
|Sunny, 22-60 F
|January 24-25, 2015||Saguaro National Park, near Tucson, Arizona||Italian
Day 1: sunny, day 2: hazy clouds
|February 2-5, 2015||Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona||Tanner and Beamer Trails||30 miles
|35-70 F (2-21 C)
Mostly sunny, occasional hazy clouds
|March 8-9, 2015
||Santa Catalina Mountains, near Tucson,
||Romero Canyon Trail
|40-70 F (4-21 C)
Sunny, light breeze
Since this was my first experience with the Brisa jacket, and I
wasn't sure what kind of temperatures I was going to encounter, I
brought a down vest to layer underneath in the event I got cold
(see my report on the Outdoor Research Transcendent vest).
As it turned out, it was a good thing because it got pretty chilly
at night and the old sleeping bag I took on this trip must be
losing loft so I needed extra layers at night.
When I set out at the South Kaibab
trailhead it was pretty cold, 22 F (-6 C), so I layered the vest
beneath the Brisa as can be seen in the photo at right. This
lasted about 30 minutes when I became overheated and peeled off
About an hour later I broke out into the sun and immediately had
to stow the Brisa jacket and hiked in shirtsleeves. At this
time the air temperature was 45 F (7 C). It should be noted
that I seem to generate massive amounts of body heat, and can hike
at very low temperatures with a minimum of clothing as long as I
keep moving. Also, despite the fact that it was deep winter,
the Arizona sun can be very warming even in January. When
figuring how much clothing layering I need, I have to take into
account wind and sun, not just air temperature.
This pattern was repeated for the next three days: hike with the
vest beneath the Brisa for about 30 minutes, remove the vest and
continue with the Brisa for about another hour, then hike in
On nights one and two I slept with both the vest and the Brisa on
in my sleeping bag. Both nights fell to freezing temperature
or just a little below, and I was quite comfortable with the
layers. The Brisa is quite nice to sleep in - the fabric is
very slippery, so when I tossed and turned in my sleeping bag I
didn't have any issues with the bag adhering to me. On this
third night in Bright Angel campground it was warm enough that I
slept in just my base layers, and used the Brisa as a
pillow. I turned it inside out so the insulation was on the
outside to minimize the rolled up jacket from slipping out from
underneath me. The Brisa makes a great pillow!
Overall, it was a very successful first outing with the Ultimate
Brisa jacket. It was a little warm for me to hike in during
the day, and I needed an extra layer in the evening and early
mornings, but it did what I needed it to do.
The more I wear it the more I find it a very attractive
garment. The cut of the two fabric colors is very nice, and
the outer fabric has a really nice soft sheen to it.
This was a quick overnight with some serious altitude involved, a
training hike for my next Grand Canyon trip. I took a
different middle layer than the prior trip, this time I brought my
trusty 200wt Polarfleece pullover.
When I got into camp it was about 40F (4 C), so I added the
pullover beneath the Brisa. I was really nice and toasty in
this combination, but when I tried to take the Brisa off to change
into my sleeping attire I had serious difficulties getting if
off. I had expected this - Polarfleece against Polarfleece
is a sticky combination.
For sleeping that night I ended up wearing the pullover and using
the Brisa as my pillow. It turned it inside out so the
fleece was against my face, not the slippery shell. This
worked quite well.
The next morning when it came time to eat breakfast I thought I'd
try a different permutation and put the pullover on over the
Brisa, thinking that the slippery shell would allow the pullover
to be pulled on and off easily, and I was right! This worked
like a dream and kept me very warm even though the temperatures
hovered around the freezing point.
On my descent I wore the Brisa over my day layers, same as my
Clear Creek trip which was a light Merino wool T-shirt and a nylon
long-sleeved hiking shirt. This combo was perfect for about
3 hours, much longer than previous, as it was very windy and
The weatherman was predicting a week of unseasonably
warm temperatures with virtually no chance of rain, so I decided
at the spur of the moment to head off to the Grand Canyon.
I wore the Brisa at night while sleeping, as it dropped down to
about the rating of my sleeping bag at night.
As the photo at left shows, I also wore the Brisa in the morning
while making breakfast, breaking camp, etc. On this trip I
occasionally wore my down vest beneath the jacket for extra core
The Brisa jacket performed very well in these conditions, though
as usual I got too warm after an hour or so of hiking in the
morning and had to peel it off as I warmed up.
After this trip, which included a lot of camping in the sand, I
threw the jacket into the washing machine to clean it up. It
came out looking like new!
Quick sub-24-hour backpack up into the mountains
just to get some fresh air for a night. I wore the Brisa
in-camp during the evening (photo at left), used it for a pillow
while I slept, wore it again while making breakfast and breaking
camp in the morning, and for the first 30 minutes of the hike out.
I was pleased with the warmth it provided during the morning
hours. I didn't bring any extra insulation layers on this
trip, so the jacket was worn directly over my base layer.
As usual, on the hike out I started to overheat after about 30
minutes of hiking and stashed the jacket in my pack.
The Brooks Range Ultimate Brisa has shown itself to be a
versatile and attractive garment. I've used it for twelve
days on the trail, on mountain tops and canyon bottoms. It
has provided significant warmth for the weight and pack volume,
and works well with layers under or over the jacket.
Please check back in about two months for my Long Term Report.
It was a busy couple of months - only time for one 3-day/2-night
backpacking trip up into the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix,
Arizona on May 5-7. I wore the Brisa both mornings, and used
it rolled-up in a ball both nights as a pillow.
Day 2 morning: temperature was 50 F (10 C) with no wind. I
kept it on while having breakfast and breaking camp, but took it
off before I hit the trail as things were warming up quickly, and
I was comfortable with just my shirt on top.
Day 3 morning: temperature was 42 F (6 C), winds were gusty up to
20 mph (32 kph). Due to the cooler temperatures and wind
chill I kept the Brisa on when I began hiking out, and took it off
after about an hour when the sun came up over the mountains.
The trails during this trip were very brushy, and much of the
brush had thorns. I did get a few snags/thread-pulls in the
jacket, so it is not impervious to sharp objects.
In addition to the backpacking trip I used the Brisa jacket
extensively during a 3-week trip to Florida. Some of the
nights were cool, and it was nice to have the jacket along when
going out in the evening. It is such an attractive jacket
that I enjoyed taking it out on the town with me.
It has been my experience that the optimum temperature for hiking
in the Brisa jacket is in the low 40's F (just above 4 C).
When it gets much warmer than that I start to overheat.
My bottom line: the Ultimate Brisa is a fantastic jacket for cool
evenings and mornings on the trail or in town. It has great
warmth for such a lightweight garment, and it is very
attractive. I intend to continue to use it for trips when I
expect that the temperatures will dip down to just above freezing
at night, as it beats taking an insulation layer plus a wind
Thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and Brooks-Range Mountaineering
for the opportunity to contribute to this test.