The Crux Halo Top is a minimalist anorak weighing just 7.9 oz (225 g) for size Medium.
This separate review provides additional descriptive and performance information on the Crux Halo Top. Read our forthcoming article Ultralight Three-Season Down Jackets State of the Market Report 2010 for a state-of-the-market analysis and comparative specifications and performance ratings for a range of ultralight down jackets.
Crux is a small company in the UK that designs specialty products for climbers, with emphasis on durability, lightweight, and functionality. The Crux Halo Top provides some competition for the MontBell Ex Light Down Jacket, but it’s significantly different in several ways. The Halo Top is a unisex down-insulated minimalist anorak that weighs 7.9 ounces in size Medium, a couple of ounces more than the Ex Light. How does it perform for backpacking?
The Crux Halo Top has very few features, just an 8-inch (20-cm) #3 front zipper, down-filled stand up collar, simple elastic cuffs and hem, and a dropped tail. No pockets. It’s simple and light, just the way we like it for ultralight backpacking.
What is unique about the Halo Top are its long sleeves and body length. On the size Large I tested, the sleeves are 35.25 inches long (90 cm), and the back length is a whopping 30.25 inches (77 cm), which is extra long and covers the backside well (see photos below).
Front and rear views of the Crux Halo Top. Note the jacket’s length.
The Halo Top is designed for use as a midlayer. It’s highly quilted in a 1.9-inch (4.8-cm) square pattern. The current shell fabric is 15 denier 0.77 oz/yd²) (26g/m²) ripstop nylon with DWR, which is among the lightest to be found (MontBell’s 7 denier shell fabric on the Ex Light is 0.74 oz/yd2/25 g/m2).
It’s insulated with 3.9 ounces (110 g) of 800 EU fill-power down, which is equivalent to 832 fill-power by US measurement. The measured single layer loft is 0.6 inches (1.5 cm), which is low and indicates that the down is compacted by the quilting.
There will be a few upgrades to the Halo Top for fall 2010: the fabric will change to 15 denier (244 x 213) 1 oz/yd² (33 g/m²) ripstop nylon with DWR to gain downproofness, the quilting will change to horizontal only (no squares), the zipper will be slightly longer, and an internal chest pocket will be added. The weight of the updated jacket will be 8.25 ounces (235 g) for size Medium, an increase of 0.35 ounce (10 g).
For fall 2010, Crux will be introducing the Halo Jacket which will have a full-height front zipper, two hand pockets, simple elastic cuffs and hem, and an extra 0.35 ounce (10 g) of down insulation. The weight will be 9.5 ounces (270 g) and cost will be £170.
I wore the Halo Top as a midlayer and outerlayer while snowshoeing on some blustery early spring days and on a spring backpacking trip in southern Utah canyon country.
The Halo Top fits me (6 ft/1.83 m tall, 167 lb/76 kg, 39 in/99 cm chest) very well. It’s moderately roomy, with some room left to layer over a sweater or thick baselayer. As mentioned, the sleeves are extra long and the back length is really long, both of which are really appreciated by a tall person. All openings on the jacket (neck, cuffs, and hem) seal well to eliminate drafts.
I found the Halo Top to be quite warm when layered over a thick baselayer and a shell jacket over it. For cool and cold weather outings, the Halo Top is just the right amount of insulation to maintain comfort when active. On high elevation snowshoeing trips on colder days, I found the jacket quite comfortable as long as I was active. For backpacking, its best use is three-season outings where the nighttime temperature is above freezing.
The only issue I have with the Halo Top is its numerous seams tend to leak fine pieces of down. This comes from sewing the vertical seams after the horizontal quilts are filled; the sewing needle pulls some of the down up through the stitching. Crux is aware of the problem and plans to eliminate the vertical stitching and go to a more downproof fabric for fall 2010.
I tested the Halo Top in March showers (left) and found its shell to be very water-resistant. In my one-hour indoor “puddle test” (right), no water penetrated the jacket at all; the tray I put inside the jacket was completely dry.
Our forthcoming article Ultralight Three-Season Down Jackets State of the Market Report 2010 provides complete specifications and ratings for the Crux Halo Top in comparison to a range of other lightweight down jackets. The jackets most similar to the Halo Top are the MontBell Ex Light Down Jacket and the MontBell UL Down Inner Jacket.
Although the Crux Halo Top weighs about 2 ounces (57 g) more than the MontBell Ex Light Down Jacket, and costs about the same, the two jackets have some significant differences. The Halo Top has twice as much down fill in it than the MontBell Ex Light (3.9 ounces versus 1.8 ounces/110 g versus 51 g), but the loft is only half as much. Our comparative warmth tests revealed the Ex Light to be a bit warmer. The dense quilting pattern on the Halo Top compresses the down, but that should not affect warmth. The main difference between the two garments are the style (anorak versus jacket) and the much longer body length of the Halo Top (30 inches versus 26 inches for the Ex Light). So the longer body length distributes the down insulation over a larger area.
Which jacket do I like better? That’s a tough question, it’s like asking me which one of my kids I love the most. Both jackets are excellent and ultralight, and I love them for different reasons. I especially like the sizing of the Halo Top and the facts that it covers my butt well and that all openings seal well. Its long body length makes it a better choice for taller people.
Specifications and Features
|Year/Model||2010 Halo Top|
|Style||Hoodless anorak with short front zipper|
|Fabrics||Shell and lining are15d (234 x 183) 0.77 oz/yd²) (26g/m²) ripstop nylon with DWR|
|Insulation||800 EU fill-power down (832 US), 3.9 oz (110 g)|
|Construction||Sewn through with 1.9-inch (4.8 cm) square quilting, set-in sleeves|
|Loft||Measured two-layer loft is 1.25 in (3 cm), single-layer loft is 0.6 in (1.5 cm)|
|Features||Down-filled stand up collar, 8-inch (20-cm) reversed #3C YKK zipper with one slider and storm flap under zipper, elastic cuffs and hem, 2-inch (5-cm) dropped tail|
|Weight||Size Large tested
Measured Weight: 8.1 oz (230 g)
Manufacturer Specified Average Weight: 7.9 oz (225 g) size Medium
|MSRP||£100 (Approx. US$148) March 2010|
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.