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Brooks-Range offers water-resistant DownTek

by Seth Levy
January 26, 2012

Down, long regarded as the best weight-to-warmth insulator around, is getting some techy attention for fall 2012. To deal with its major drawback — susceptibility to moisture — Brooks-Range is one of two companies offering water-resistant down insulation for fall 2012 (see also Sierra Designs' DriDown).

Mojave Jacket

Brooks Range Mojave Jacket
  The 800-fill Mojave Jacket with DownTek from Brooks-Range

Unlike the down in most insulated jackets, each individual down cluster in the 800-fill Mojave Jacket is treated to make it water-resistant. Brooks-Range calls the proprietary nano-polymer treatment DownTek.

Brooks-Range says DownTek down is highly water-resistant, lofty, and anti-bacterial.

Water-resistant is a notoriously relative term, especially applied to something so small as a down cluster. However, Brooks-Range's Katy Gaenicke backs up the claim with some hard figures:

"Its loft after water immersion is 300 percent better than regular down," says Gaenicke. "It dries five times faster than regular down, and absorbs at least three times less water."

While DownTek down isn't totally waterproof, if the claims hold up, it may approach the lofting ability of synthetics when wet, at a fraction of the weight.

The Mojave is a high-performance jacket suitable for mountaineering, ski mountaineering, and other applications where extreme warmth and low weight are paramount. Rounding out the piece is a Pertex Quantum shell that adds further water-resistance and keeps the down fully lofted.

Wondering how Brooks-Range's DownTek stands up to Sierra Designs' DriDown? So are we.

Brooks-Range uses a company called Down Decor to supply DownTek. Sierra Designs wouldn't reveal its supplier, as the company is in contract negotiations.

For comparison of the two water-resistant downs:

Brooks-Range claims its DownTek compared to regular down:

  • absorbs at least three times less water,
  • has 300 percent better loft after water immersion, and
  • dries five times faster.

Sierra Designs claims its DriDown insulation compared to regular down:

  • stays dry seven times longer in the presence of rain, melting snow, or spills;
  • retains 98 percent loft, which can equate to a 15-degree temperature advantage, and
  • dries 33 percent faster when it does get wet.

Brooks-Range plans to expand into DownTek sleeping bags in the next year, says Jeff Blakely, the company's general manager.

Mojave Jacket

  • Weight: about 1.4 lbs (prototype)
  • Insulation: 800 fill DownTec down
  • Available: Fall 2012
  • MSRP: $299


Regular down (left) is soaked in water, while DownTec down (right) rises above.

DownTec down floats on water.













Cirro Synthetics

If you're not quite ready for techy, treated down, Brooks-Range will still have you covered with its regular down insulation and an expanding Cirro synthetic series.

Brooks Range Cirro Extreme
Cirro Extreme Jacket

The new Cirro Extreme Jacket has multiple layers of PrimaLoft One insulation wrapped in a Pertex Quantum shell. With an oversized, helmet-compatible hood and elastic wrists, this jacket is designed for the worst, most variable conditions.

New for fall 2012, there's also a Cirro Vest, which can be worn as an outer shell or as a mid-layer piece, and Cirro Pants, with half-length side zips, which can be worn alone or over regular pants.

Cirro Extreme Jacket

  • Insulation: 80 g PrimaLoft One
  • Available: Fall 2012
  • MSRP: $235.95

Cirro Vest

  • Insulation: PrimaLoft One
  • Available: Fall 2012
  • MSRP: $134.95

Cirro Pants

  • Insulation: PrimaLoft One
  • Available: Fall 2012
  • MSRP: $189.95