BackpackGearTest
  Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Brooks Range Ultimate Brisa Jacket > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence


Brooks-Range Brisa Ultimate Jacket

Test Series by Theresa Lawrence
Initial Report - January 2, 2015
Field Report - March 6, 2015

Long Term Report - May 12, 2015

TESTER INFORMATION

Name: Theresa Lawrence
Email: theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
Age: 36
Location: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight:  130lb (59 kg)
Torso Length:
19.5 in (50 cm)
Hip Measurement:
37.5 in (95.3 cm)
Waist Measurement:
29 in (74 cm)
 
I have more than 15 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.

Initial Report - January 2, 2015

PRODUCT INFORMATION


Manufacturer:
Manufacturer's URL:
   
Year of Manufacture:
Made in:
MSRP:

Listed Average Weight:
Measured Weight:

Measured Length (front):
Measured Length (back):
Sleeve Length (from collar):

Cut and Style:
Sizes Available:
Size Tested:

Colors Available:
Color Tested:
Brooks-Range Mountaineering Equipment
www.brooks-range.com

2014
China
$179.95 US

369 g (13 oz)
348 g (12.3 oz)

57.5 cm (22.6 in)
64.5 cm (25.4 in)
77 cm (30.3 in)

Men's standard cut
S, M, L, XL
S

Wheat, Black or Smoke
Wheat



Image from manufacturer's website

DESCRIPTION & FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Ultimate Brisa jacket is a fully insulated jacket made with highly breathable materials according to the manufacturer's website. I can see that the sleeve materials differ from that of the torso, but both are insulated and supposedly wick moisture. The torso insulation is called Polartec Alpha and is encapsulated in a nylon shell with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish on the outside and a breathable, wicking nylon lining on the inside. The sleeves on the other hand are made from Polartec Powder Dry insulation, which has a waffle-like fleece appearance and a nylon shell on the outside that is both stretchy and wicking. There is no indication that the arms are wind resistant like the torso, but I will find this out and confirm my observations once in the field. And since the arms do not have a DWR finish like the torso, they are not likely to be water resistant. But again, I will confirm all this in the field. The collar is lined with the same insulating material as the arms, but has the same nylon shell as the torso. The inside lining on the torso feels and looks just like the outside shell of the arms. My guess is that they are the same. The cuffs are made up of 2.5 cm (1 in) elastic gasket, which I imagine should be snug against the wrist to prevent wind and rain from entering. The jacket closes with a zipper up the front, which has a wind flap and zipper garage. There is one chest pocket and two hand warming pockets, both with zippered access. All zippers on the garment have metal sliders on plastic teeth. There is an elastic cord in the hem that can be pulled tight from inside each hand warming pocket. I did not find any hidden electronic device outlet for listening to music. The tag on the inside of the jacket tells me I can machine wash it, so long as I have a front load washing machine and powdered detergent. Unfortunately, I have a top load washing machine and liquid detergent. Hmm.


Image courtesy of website - Polartec Powder Dry Insulation
(sleeve & collar lining)


Elastic gasket cuffs are a tad big for my wrists


TRYING IT OUT

The jacket is a rich orange-yellow color, called wheat, which I love because it's cheerful and more practically speaking makes me highly visible. The construction of the jacket appears to be well made with clean seems and no hanging threads. When I put the jacket on, I found the garment to be quite comfortable with the fleece arms. But, the boxy men's cut was immediately obvious to me since my feminine physique is used to garments being tapered at the waist. Despite that this was the smallest size, the shoulders are wider than mine and the sleeves and chest feel a bit roomy. The hem fits over my hips, but not much room to spare here. I do have long arms and I'm pleased, but not surprised to say the arms are long enough. The elastic gaskets are definitely too big for my small wrists and likely will be a source of weather infiltrating the jacket. Same with the collar. It is a bit larger than I'd prefer. I'm not going to make further comments or dwell too much about the fit as I don't think the intent of the manufacture was for this jacket to be unisex. I like the idea of an insulated torso with insulated arms, but I am a bit worried that the arms are not wind or water resistant like the torso. I will be focusing most of my observations in the field test on the jacket's performance such as it's insulating, wicking and breathing properties and for the longterm test, the focus will be more on continued performance and durability.

SUMMARY

My initial impressions of the Ultimate Brisa insulated jacket are that it is fairly lightweight and comfortable. The men's jacket is a bit mismatched for my feminine physique as expected, but the quality and craftsmanship are impressive. The jacket is intriguing for its performance with varying insulating materials and nylon shells. I am most curious how this set up performs in activities where I will be sweating in the cold, such as snow shoeing, x-country skiing and backcountry ski-touring. Stay tuned for my observations in the field in another 2 months or so.


Field Report - March 6, 2015

FIELD CONDITIONS

I have worn the Brisa Ultimate insulated jacket on a variety of excursions throughout the field test including day hikes, downhill skiing, snowmobile and avalanche training and backcountry hut based ski-touring. This included 3 day hikes ranging from 5.5 km (3.4 mi) to 16km (9.9 mi) with elevation gains between 364 m (1194 ft) to 1025 m (3363 ft). Trail conditions were a mix of ice, snow and exposed rock. Weather was dry and temperatures ranged from -6 C (21 F) to 1 C (33 F). During these trips the jacket was used both as a mid-layer and an outer-layer.  Another 3 days included downhill skiing at a resort with temperatures ranging from -17 C (1 F) to -3 C (27 F), where it was used as a mid-layer under a shell. Another 2 days included Search and Rescue practices with snowmobiles and avalanche rescue training in winter conditions. The jacket was used as a mid-layer here with a shell in temperatures ranging from -5 C (23 F) to -3 C (27 F).  Finally, the jacket went with me on two multi-night backcountry hut based trips. The first was 3 days and 2 nights with a ski-tour distance of 30 km (18.6 mi) with the highest elevation gain being 895 m (2936 ft)  in one day. The other was a 4 day and 3 night ski-tour with a distance of 25 km (15.5 mi) and the highest elevation gain being 714 m (2343 ft). Temperatures on these trips ranged from -2 C (28 F) to 2 C (35 F). Weather was mainly warm and dry, with the exception of one really wet and slushy day. On these trips I used the jacket as both an outer and as a mid-layer. 
364 m (1194 ft)



OBSERVATIONS

FIT AND COMFORT: Despite that the jacket was a man's cut, I found it to be quite comfortable to move around in for any of the activities I endured. The arms were quite loose on me and even so, I found it difficult to get on over my base layer due to the friction between the Brisa Ultimate's insulation in the arms and my long-sleeve base layer. Once I had it on and in place it was comfortable.

PERFORMANCE: The insulation proved to keep me warm and continued to hold warmth when I was stopped following any moderate activity. If the wind was hefty as it often was on exposed mountain ridges, a shell over the jacket was a must. I believe the body was windproof, however, the arms were not and it was considerably drafty where the wrist gaskets and neck were loose on me. This was easily remedied with gloves and a neck gaiter. I found the jacket too warm when exerting moderate to strenuous activity such when hiking or skinning uphill when the temperatures hovered around the freezing mark. The jacket did wick moisture and dried quickly when I had overheated and began to sweat. As an outer layer, the body did resist rain, but the sleeves just soaked up rain and slush right through to my base layer. A shell in wetter conditions was a must. Light mist was fine as was light winds. As a mid-layer in colder below freezing temperatures and when not exerting much energy, I found it was a great addition to my layers to keep me warm. As well, it was a great layer to put on inside the huts.

I loved that all the pockets on this jacket were large including the chest pocket. At one point while skinning uphill on a ski-tour I had a glove in each side pocket along with a GPS in one and a camera in the other and a beanie and sunglasses in my chest pocket.  While that sounds awkward, it was great that I didn't have to miss a beat to stash it all.

While there was no stuff sack that came with the jacket, it was easily squished and stuffed into backpacks of various sizes without trouble taking up very little space and weight for what warmth it provided. There was very little reason not to bring it on a backcountry excursion. 

DURABILITY: The construction of the jacket has not been compromised to date. Seams and zippers are all in tact and performing well. I haven't washed the jacket yet, but I anticipate at least one wash before the long-term report is due in a couple months. At this point the jacket is still clean and new looking.

SUMMARY

In summary, at this point I have found the Brisa Ultimate insulated jacket to be a considerably warm insulating layer for its weight. It works very well as a mid-layer with a shell for adverse weather and as an outer layer when it was not too windy or wet. I found it too warm to wear when exerting moderate to strenuous activity, but it was great for keeping warm on breaks and inside huts. I found it to be a bit drafty through the arms, cuffs and neck, but it did well for warmth for leisurely walking about in temperatures around freezing. It was comfortable to move around in and it wasn't constrictive, but it was difficult putting on over long-sleeve base layers due to the friction of the insulated arms. Overall, I have enjoyed wearing this garment and look forward to bringing it on other adventures. Stay tuned for my update in a couple months for more observations over the long term. 

Likes
- Comfortable for performing outdoor activities
- Insulation retains body heat
- Large side and chest pockets
- Partially wind and rain resistant (no panic if it's a bit misty; shell needed for constant ill weather)
- Color, look and feel are pleasing

Dislikes
- Not fully wind and rain resistant
- Men's fit (recommend making a women's version)
- Cuffs and neckline are roomy and drafty


Long Term Report - May 12, 2015

LONG TERM FIELD CONDITIONS AND OBSERVATIONS  

Since the Field Report I have been wearing this jacket steadily as my outer layer throughout the mild winter here in the Rocky Mountains of South East British Columbia, South West Alberta and North West Montana. Temperatures have been ideal for the Brisa Ultimate jacket ranging from 0 C (32 F) to 18 C (64 F). This test phase began with a 3 day Search and Rescue avalanche training course involving a whole lot of shoveling, probing and transmitter searching. We played amongst old hard packed snow under brilliant blue skies in temperatures between 3 C (37 F) and 12 C (54 F). This jacket was the perfect layer for warmth on top of my base layer and I noticed it gave me all the unrestricted range of motion that I desired for my probing and shoveling actions. I really enjoyed wearing this jacket for such activity.

I then started out on a 7 day ski trip, but due to ski temperatures, it turned into 3 days of downhill skiing and a day of Cat skiing. Indeed I wore this jacket and indeed it kept me warm under my shell. I would have skied with just the Brisa, but as I had already observed that it wasn't water proof, I opted to wear my water proof shell. This worked quite well as the mild weather that was dealt turned any precipitation we had into wet sloppy snow. Again, I noticed how my arms were not constricted in anyway by the jacket and offered free movement for my arms while skiing.

I spent 3 days and 2 nights hiking in Waterton National Park, Alberta. On the agenda was a summit and 3 alpine lakes. Weather was exceptionally windy, a window of sun, followed by wet, heavy and sloppy snow. Temperatures ranged from 0 C (32 F) to 8 C (46 F). Trail conditions were a mix of rock and compact snow, for which I used my MicroSpikes and sloppy to powdery snow at higher elevations, for which I used snowshoes. Steep elevation gain made for moderate to strenuous exertion, which meant I over heated when wearing the Brisa Ultimate. However, it was nice to put on when stopping for snacks or water as the temperature outside was still cool. It made for a nice warm insulating layer at the higher elevations and somewhat dealt with the wind (at least on the torso). At one point during this outing I wore this jacket as an outer layer, enduring 2 hours of persistent wet slush. My torso stayed dry, but as expected my arms soaked through where the slush accumulated and melted with my body heat. On a positive note, I was pleased at how quickly the arms dried as they did this while I continued to wear it as the weather improved.

A further 2 nights and 3 days of camping, hiking and rock climbing in quite warm and mild weather, 8 C (46 F) -18 C ( 64 F), proved its usefulness in these temperatures at night around a campfire as an outer layer. More freedom of movement in the arms was proven when rock climbing. The slim lines of the jacket worked well with my climbing harness, meaning there wasn't a whole lot of extra bulk to stuff into the harness, which made it quite comfortable to climb in.

DURABILITY

I felt the jacket has held up well throughout the test period. I have no concerns that it will do anything but continue in that regard for some time. Seems, zippers, pockets and lining are all intact. There is some pilling of fabric on the sleeve materials making it appear a bit worse for wear, but it certainly doesn't take away from its function. I was able to get this jacket quite dirty. Perhaps it was the light color. I washed it once, just last week in my top-loading washing machine despite that the manufacturer recommended using it only in a front-loading machine. I apologize to the manufacturer for being so delinquent. With all due respect, the jacket did come out clean and the insulation was more robust. 

 
FINAL SUMMARY

All said and done the Brisa Ultimate Jacket proved to be a versatile insulating layer. It was a successful mid-layer under a shell in harsh environments
and stood up to become a durable outer layer in milder conditions. It was less than ideal for shedding rain and wind, but always provided warmth when needed. The fit in the shoulders, the length of the arms and the stretchiness of the sleeve materials all allowed for great function with activities requiring a lot of arm movement. I haven't decided how much I will use this jacket in the future, mainly because it is a men's jacket and I'm just not a man. The fit could definitely be feminized for my liking. I really would encourage Brooks-Range to make a women's version if it hasn't already been done. I do enjoy the warmth and versatility as both a mid and outer layer.

Likes
- Comfortable for performing outdoor activities
- Great range of unrestricted motion in the shoulders 
- Insulation retains body heat
- Large side and chest pockets
- Partially wind and rain resistant (no panic if it's a bit misty; shell needed for constant ill weather)
- Quick drying
- Color, look and feel are pleasing
- Durable

Dislikes
- Not fully wind and rain resistant
- Men's fit (recommend making a women's version)
- Cuffs and neckline are roomy and drafty
- Pilling of sleeve fabric 

Thank you to Brooks-Range Mountaineering Equipment and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to take part in this test series. I really enjoyed my adventures with this bright and unique jacket.
  


Read more reviews of Brooks Range Mountaineering Equipment Co gear
Read more gear reviews by Theresa Lawrence

Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Brooks Range Ultimate Brisa Jacket > Test Report by Theresa Lawrence



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson