Outdoors Magazine

Gear Closet: Bight Swelter Jacket and Hops Hoody Review

Posted on the 15 February 2019 by Kungfujedi @Kungfujedi

There are few brands in the outdoor industry that have as deep and long of a legacy as Bight Gear. I'm sure more than a few of you who after reading that previous sentence are now saying "Wait, who?" You'll be excused if you haven't heard of Bight, but you'll definitely want to have them on your radar. That's because the company was once known as MTNLogic, with its roots traced back to legendary Whittaker mountaineering family. But more than that, it makes some outstanding outdoor gear that you'll want to have in your gear closet for those challenging outdoor adventures.

Throughout the winter I've had the chance to test out two fantastic pieces of apparel from Bight. This served as my introduction to the brand and as a real eye-opener. When I was asked to review these two products I wasn't sure what to expect. But I came away incredibly impressed with the high quietly design, construction, and performance. If that's he kind of thing you require from your equipment, then you're going to need to check out what Bight has to offer.

One of the mainstays in the Bight line-up is the Swelter Jacket, which is an insulating layer that can be used on its own or as part of a larger layering system. The Swelter is made for active days in the mountains when temperatures might be cold but you know you're going to be working hard while climbing, trekking, and moving fast at altitude.

The Swelter uses synthetic PolarTec Power Fill synthetic insulation, which provides a high level of warmth without losing loft or performance when it gets wet. The jacket also features a nice, form fitting design and a longer cut made to keep cold air out while working in conjunction with baselayers or insulators underneath. It's deep side pockets and single chest pocket provide ample room for storing important items, and are nicely placed to allow access even when wearing a pack. Both the hood and the cuffs also include a stretch material that keeps them firmly in place, which is also a small -- but much appreciated -- detail.

Bight says the Swelter is designed to be a midnight layer, but honestly I've found it to be much warmer than that. This jacket has kept me completely comfortable on some very cold days completely on its own, and when paired with a thoughtful layering system, it performs exceptionally well. In extremely hard conditions it might not be up to the task, but I can honestly say it has been outstanding in every environment that I've used it.

This was the first piece of Bight gear that I put to the test and the impression is left was incredibly favorable. Not only does it perform about as well as any jacket I've ever tested, it is also extremely well made and very durable too. I came to appreciate how versatile the jacket is as well, making it the only one you probably need to carry for many alpine outings. The attention to detail on the Swelter's design shines through in so many ways, making it well worth the price for those of us who require gear that won't fail just when we need it most. From the zippers to the cuffs to the cut and design of the jacket itself, this is a piece of apparel that was made with mountaineers in mind, making it a piece of gear that is very easy to recommend.

Gear Closet: Bight Swelter Jacket and Hops Hoody Review
Gear Closet: Bight Swelter Jacket and Hops Hoody Review

The other piece of clothing from Bight that I had the chance to test was the Hops Hoody, a decidedly different layer from the Swelter jacket. That said, the hoody still displayed the same high level of construction, durability, and performance as the jacket, indicating that the Swelter wasn't a one-off fluke, but instead just part of a line of very impressive outdoor gear.

The Hops Hoody uses Polartec Thermal Pro fleece to create a soft, but rugged, fabric that looks great and performs well in cool to moderately-cold temperatures. The hoody was made to work in conjunction with a layering system and when paired with a good baselayer underneath it is quite capable of keeping you warm for extended periods of time, particularly if you're being active. But pull on another layer over top -- like the Swelter jacket for instance -- and suddenly you have a set of layers that can see you through just about anything.

If the Swelter gets good marks for being a versatile piece of gear, than the Hops should earn an even higher grade. This is a garment that will feel right at home while hiking and climbing or hanging out at base camp, but it is equally useful for running errands around town, relaxing at the lodge, or as travel piece too. In fact, the Hops Hoody is so comfortable and easy to wear that you're likely to find yourself reaching for it more often than you might think. Thankfully, it's built to survive day-to-day use quite easily, making it one of my top go-to layers during the winter season.

The $159 price tag that Bight charges for the Hops seems like a bargain considering how well it performs. Compared to most other fleece layers on the market, it comes out on top thanks to its fantastic construction and simple, but welcomed features. Once again, it's zipped hand and chest pockets are nicely sized and spaced out well to avoid backpack straps. The hood is also form fitting and comfortable, making it more useful than a lot of other outdoor hoodies on the market too.

If you couldn't already tell, I've been completely blown away by Bight Gear. As with other small outdoor brands that I've seen over the past year, I've been completely impressed by the overall quality and thoughtfulness of design that is on display here. This is clearly a company that knows it roots and customers very well, and is delivering on the heritage that has built it. Personally, I can't wait to see what Bight has in store for us down the road, because these first couple of garments are simply outstanding.


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