Gear Review: Craghoppers Nat Geo Response CompressLite Jacket

Craghoppers Nat Geo Response CompressLite Jacket

If I were designing the perfect outdoor jacket for adventure travelers, I'd want it to be lightweight, yet still warm and comfortable to wear. It would also be highly packable, making it easy to take with me wherever I go, and of course it would look great too. That same jacket would also be versatile enough to wear hiking on a trail, as well as hitting the town, and it wouldn't cost so much that it would break the bank either. Fortunately, I don't have to design such a jacket, because Craghoppers has already done it for me. And in the process, they've pretty much created exactly what I was looking for. 

For those unfamiliar with Craghoppers, it is a British company that has been making outstanding travel apparel for more than 50 years. Their clothing has a classic look about it that would feel just as at home on an African Safari as it would traveling to the Poles. While not quite as well known in North America as they are in Europe, Craghoppers is looking to change that. To that end, it has partnered with National Geographic to create a co-branded line of garments that appeals to the explorer in all of us.

One article of clothing from that line is the new Nat Geo Response CompressLite Jacket, which is designed to provide protection from the elements without taking up too much room in your pack. Both windproof and water resistant, the CompressLite uses Craghopper's own proprietary ClimaPlus insulation to provide plenty of warmth without the bulk. The result is a very comfortable option for those traveling to cooler climates. 

Weighing in at a mere 10.6 ounces (300 grams), this jacket may be extremely lightweight but it still manages to be very durable too. The fabrics employed in its construction are meant to be used in the outdoors and while traveling, so the CompressLite has been built to survive in rugged environments. And like all of Craghoppers' gear, this jacket is "wash and wear," meaning if gets a bit dirty you can always throw it in the laundry and be ready to go again in no time. Try that with a bulkier down jacket from another manufacturer. 

As someone who tries to travel as light as possible when I hit the road, there is another aspect of this jacket that I truly love – its packability. The entire garment can be compressed down to a surprisingly small size, and zippered shut into one of its pockets which doubles as a stuff-sack. In it's compressed form, the jacket even makes a passable travel pillow for when you ned to catch a quick nap on a flight or in transit to somewhere else. 

I'm also a big fan of the style and cut of the CompressLite jacket, which hugs the body nicely, without hindering motion in any way. That makes it a good option for hiking, mountain biking, or other active pursuits, as well as just exploring around town. This high level of versatility also makes it a good option for travel, as it means you won't have to bring multiple jacket for a variety of needs.

Better yet, the CompressLite makes an excellent midlayer as part of a full layering system. Pair this with baselayers underneath and a waterproof/windproof shell on the outside, and you have the perfect combination for staying warm and dry in a wide variety of weather and temperature ranges. In this case, the jacket serves as the insulation, while the other layers provide moisture and temperature control, and added protection from the elements. 

As you can probably tell, I love this jacket and I'm very happy to have it as part of my travel wardrobe. That said, it is so lightweight that it won't be able to completely replace my warmer (not to mention heavier and bulkier) down jackets for use in more extreme environments. If I'm heading into very cold conditions for extended periods of time, the CompressLite simply isn't up to the job. It will keep me plenty warm in below freezing weather, it just isn't perfectly suited for those destinations where things get chillier than that.

If you don't happen to be going to those kinds of frigid places however, you're likely to find the Response CompressLite is more than adequate for your needs. This is especially true as part of a layering system like the one detailed above. You're also likely to appreciate the jacket's price, as it is far more affordable than those other down jackets too. Craghoppers sells it for just $95, which is an absolute bargain for everything that it can do. 

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