Winter is finally here and as temperatures drop, adding another layer to your clothing system is a must in order to stay warm outside. Adding another piece of clothing to your outfit is an easy way of fighting the elements but can also become quite bulky if you don’t pay attention to size and weight. Meet the Clawgear CIL jacket.
For me personally, there’s nothing more inconvenient than being restricted in my movement while wearing a jacket on top of my BDU or casual outfit. I’m a big fan of lightweight equipment and the Clawgear CIL jacket represents almost everything I’d expect from a thermal insulation jacket.
Clawgear actually offers two different kind of thermal insulation jackets: the CIL (Combat Insulation Light) and the CIM (Combat Insulation Medium) jackets. The CIL is meant to be worn as a middle layers and the CIM as an outer layer. Both are different jackets in terms of functionality and useability.
In this review, we are going to take a closer look at the CIL jacket.
The CIL is meant to be a versatile and lightweight insulation jacket that offers excellent performance without adding the usual bulk of a typical thermal layer.
When unpacking the jacket, the minimal weight is the first thing that surprised me. It is way lighter than I was expecting it to be. The CIL’s outer layer is made out of a nylon ripstop material. The insulation material is nothing less then Climashield Apex, an innovative insulation material used in many civil and military applications (sleeping bags for example).
I’ve been wearing the CIL jacket over the last year and I’ve used it on as many different occasions as I was able to, ranging from Airsoft and Milsim games, hiking, biking, sitting around a campfire, snow shoveling and all those other outdoor activities you do when you live in the middle of the Alps.
When I first got the CIL, I was mainly using it as an outer layer due to the warmer temperatures. The first thing I noticed was that the outer shell is not really meant to actually be an outer layer. The ripstop shell is very thin and doesn’t really stand up well to all the “abuse” I was introducing to it. On some occasions, the Apex filling was coming out of the shell and I had to pull it out on order to not look like I had just skinned a goose. Ok, Climashield Apex doesn’t look like down, but I think you know what I mean.
I took the CIL to IWA in March and wore it as a jacket when running around the outside of the exhibition center. Insulation wise, the CIL did a great job. Its compact size and light weight made it perfect for throwing it into my camera backpack without getting in the way of my photography and video equipment.
In summer time, I was using the CIL mostly in the evening / at night when hiking or camping.
As temperatures were slowly dropping and Autumn was around the corner, the CIL jacket became an invaluable asset in my outdoor clothing system. Wearing it underneath my softshell or fleece jacket, the CIL kept me warm and cozy in most of my activities.
Now let’s look at some details of the Clawgear CIL jacket.
The sleeves feature an elastic seam to prevent the warm air from leaking out and cold wind getting in. The seam is not too tight an d elastic enough to fit over a thicker BDU sleeve.
The collar is also filled with Apex and can be closed all the way up with the zipper. It’s not too tight so you can fit the collar of your combat shirt underneath.
I had one problem with the collar though. After a short period of usage, the seams on the neck portion of the collar came loose and the Apex filling was popping out. I had to stitch it back together by hand, which was a bit of a pain due to the polyamide shell being so thin. I’m not sure what caused the stitching to come loose but I suspect it was caused by the drag of the backpack I was wearing at IWA. Another indication for not wearing the CIL as an outer layer.
The YKK zipper is backed with a flap to prevent any loss of temperature. The zipper puller and the flap feature the Clawgear logo, which is quite uniform across their entire range of clothes.
The CIL’s side pockets are huge. I’m not sure why they need to be so huge or what the exact purpose of these pockets is, but you could stuff a fair amount of items into them. If it gets too cold, just slap a hottie in.
The Clawgear logo is placed in a low-key position so it doesn’t interfere with any layers worn on top of the jacket.
Compression straps for the waist can be found inside the side pockets. Again, a clean and low-key position without any chance of interfering with additional clothing layers.
In case you can’t reach the pulls in the side pockets, there are additional ones on the bottom seam.
A close-up shot of the Climashield logo and the compression strap layout.
The quite big Clawgear label can be found on the upper back portion on the inside of the jacket along with the mandatory loop for the coathook. Be sure to write down your name, address and/or phone number into the jacket, this can be useful in emergency situations.
The CIL jacket can be stored in many ways like rolling it up or can even be compressed to an amount where it fits into a typical general purpose pouch. Clawgear also states that it can be folded in some sort of an envelope but I have no clue on how to do that. If you figure it out, let me know in the comments or send me a how-to via email.
The CIL jacket performs just as advertised and truly lives up to the claim “extremely light and versatile”. With a price tag of 130€, the Clawgear CIL jacket is an affordable piece of outdoor equipment and when compared to some of the big names in the outdoor industry, a bargain.
The only downside for me is the fact that it’s not really meant to be worn as an outer layer and the fact that a backpack or shoulder bag feels so slippery when worn over the jacket. The problem with the stitching isn’t really pleasing but, again, might happend due to the extra amount of stress introduced by the heavy camera backpack.
I’d like to thank Clawgear for letting us test the CIL jacket. Be sure to check out their other products and if you’re interested in buying one, head over to their shop.