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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Patagonia Mens Down Jacket > Andrew Buskov > Test Report by Andrew Buskov
Patagonia's light weight yet luxuriously warm down jacket.
Tester Biographical Information
I started backpacking and became hooked on the outdoors. I quickly realized that I enjoyed the colder weather and solitude of deep backcountry, and have hiked various environments from the green mountains of the Appalachians to the barren desert of Arizona. My ideal hiking season starts early September and ends early June. I’m usually a moderate weight hiker, but as an Emergency Medical Technician I’ve been trained to be prepared. Because of this my pack usually weighs between 30 to 40 lbs (13 and 18 kg) for solo trips, to 60 lbs (27 kg) when leading. Additional information about the author can be found at http://www.corridor9.net.
Product Description:The Patagonia Men's Down Jacket is a mid weight, full length down jacket that Patagonia is marketing to climbers, backcountry skiers, and base campers. It is comprised of 700-fill-power white down, and a ripstop exterior that has been treated with a DWR finish. Some of the features that give it character are the 2 exterior "hand warmer pockets" that are lined with fleece, the drawcord hem that can be operated single-handedly, the interior chest pocket, and the elastic wrists. However, this jacket does not have hood.
Some details about the jacket:
Initial Impression:This item arrived from Patagonia complete and in excellent condition with the stuffsack zipped inside the left exterior pocket. I removed the jacket and slipped it over a tee shirt I was wearing. Almost immediately I found my skin feeling warmer due to the heat retained by the jacket. The neck area of the jacket has a fleece liner sewn in which felt wonderful. The rest is comprised of either ripstop polyester or denier polyester with the exception of the lower external pockets; the inside pocket is also sewn with denier polyester. I found no loose stitching or strings hanging from any of the seams, nor did I find any down escaping from the interior of the jacket. I am surprised at how small the zipper pull is on the YKK zipper. It would seem to me that a jacket designed for cold weather would have a longer zipper pull to more easily accommodate heavy winter gloves. The zipper pulls on the pockets were longer than the ones on the main zipper. The main zipper has a flap to prevent warmed air from escaping through. One feature that really strikes me as ingenious is the ribbon that is sewn to the zipper flap to prevent the zipper from constantly chafing and wearing holes in the material. The hem of the jacket has a drawcord that can be tightened from either side of the jacket via two single-handed pulls. Another feature that I feel is extremely well designed is the drawcord tensioner. These have tiny ridges on them to prevent gloved fingers from sliding off when trying to loosen the drawstring. One of the things I thought lacking in the documentation of this jacket was washing instructions. Nowhere on the informational card did I see detailed washing instructions. The only wording on the tag was "Do not use fabric softeners. To restore down loft, dry with clean tennis balls." In addition to the wording there were some care label symbols. It took me a few minutes to decipher them due to the fact that there are a number of symbols put together.
I found this jacket to be extremely comfortable, well fitting, and quite warm. Over the past few days I've had the opportunity to wear this jacket over a tee shirt and sweatshirt out in 30 F (-1 C) weather. In both instances, after 5 minutes, I was sweating profusely. The first time I removed the jacket thinking that maybe it wasn't as cold out as I thought. Almost immediately I started shivering simply walking from my car to the grocery store. The second time I lowered the zipper and was better able to regulate my body temperature. The size according to the manufacturer's specs fit me perfect, and at no time did I feel confined. The jacket didn't ride up while lifting my arms over my head and the sleeves didn't dangle past my wrists like some other jackets I have. I also found that the small Patagonia label on the chest was just enough to give the jacket some color without being too big and flashy.
Included with the jacket was a DWR coated stuffsack. Although I wouldn't want to store the jacket in this stuffsack for long, I found that it really helped in compressing the jacket to fit into my pack.
I'd like to thank Backpackgeartest.org and Patagonia for allowing me to participate in testing this jacket.
Field Report - February 10, 2007
Field Locations:This Jacket has seen lots of use throughout the Field Test phase with a lot of it around town. The area I live in has an elevation roughly 460 ft (140 m) above sea level. During these times I would usually wear a long sleeve cotton t-shirt or a cotton Henley under this jacket. Most of the time during my trips around town I wasn't exposed to the cold and wind too much as I was able to shuffle back and forth to my jeep rather quickly. However, the ability to wear this coat as a top layer without having to layer a lot of clothing underneath is wonderful.
However, testing this jacket in the field is what Backpackgeartest.org is all about and I have taken this jacket out into the field a number of times for day trips and overnighters ranging from elevations of 400 ft (122 m) to elevations above 6,640 ft (2024 m) where the weather ranged from 75 F (24 C) to 18 F (-8 C). During a recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I was able to keep warm in temperatures that got down to 18 F (-8 C) where winds upwards of (40 kph) made the wind chill around 0 F (-18 C). This mixed with the freezing rain and snow helped create an extremely cold condition. When I was hiking I was able to regulate my body temperature fairly easily without needing such a thick coat. However, at one point, I was forced to wait about an hour at the top of Clingmans Dome in the freezing rain and massive wind while my hiking partner summited. With little or no activity to keep my body warm, having this jacket truly proved to be a life saver.
The warmest I've worn this jacket has been around 50 F (10 C), but at this temperature it wasn't long before I was sweating profusely and quite uncomfortable. I was able to establish that the jacket doesn't stick to me when I'm sweating, but this is certainly not a condition I'd like to be in long while wearing this jacket.
Performance:As you can see by the temperature ranges above, I've worn this coat in a wide variety of weather conditions. I've found that the warmest I am able to stand wearing the jacket with simply a t-shirt on underneath is around 50 F (10 C). Finding the coldest temperature range is a bit more difficult. When I was wearing this on top of Clingmans Dome I wasn't generating much body heat, but I stayed relatively warm even with the blowing wind and snow. When we started down the mountain, I kept on the down jacket. By the time we had walked a bit over 1/2 mile (.81 km) I had already generated enough body heat that wearing the jacket was too much for me. The temperature was near 22 F (-6 C) by this time, and the wind was still blowing but the jacket retained so much warmth that I had started to sweat. As this is definitely not a condition I want to be in while the temperatures are sub-freezing, I had to remove the jacket and stow it for the rest of the hike down.
The wind resistance of this jacket is great. I was able to cinch the drawstring around the waist to keep out blowing snow and cold air while the collar zipped nice and tight around my neck; not too tight that I felt constricted though. The elastic cuffs kept out the freezing rain when I wasn't wearing my gloves, yet were small enough that I was able to slip my gloves over them easily when my hands started getting cold. The zipper sealed nice and tight to complete a warm, draft free environment. While it was a bit of a learning experience, I was able to master the art of tightening the drawstring around the waist with only one hand. Even with gloves on this wasn't too much of a problem. However, I found it much easier to leave the drawcords cinched up when I was using the jacket in the field, and then uncinch them when I was hanging it in the closet. This kept me from freezing my waist off when trying to tighten the drawcord with cold hands or gloves after putting the jacket on.
This jacket packs down nice and tight into the included stuffsack. I was also able to compress this jacket into a space about the size of a 2 l (2 qt) Soda bottle in my pack. I did find that the down shifted a bit and lost some loft when compacted, especially in the sleeves. After removing the jacket from my pack or its stuffsack it was easy to tell that the sleeves needed to be fluffed up a bit prior to wearing. At one point I donned this jacket over a short sleeve shirt after removing it from its stuffsack. While not uncomfortably cold, I was able to feel a bit of heat loss around the forearm area due to the loss of loft in the down. The interior material did feel good on my arms though, and at no point did I itch or feel stitching rubbing me.
While I wasn't able to wear the jacket much with a pack on, the hour or so that I wore it with a pack was pain free. I didn't feel any seams rubbing or chafing me in any way, and I wasn't feeling any hot spots from binding. The jacket compressed evenly in the shoulders, and the material on the outside kept the shoulder straps in place even after jostling around on uneven trails. I didn't find that the jacket rode up while putting on my pack either which was a big surprise to me. Even without the drawcord tightened, the jacket stayed in relatively the same place throughout the trip while wearing my pack.
So far I have not had any trouble out of the zipper. I believe a lot of this can be attributed to the protective ribbon that is sewn on the draft flap. I haven't snagged the zipper in any material yet, and it still slides easy and true. I have concluded that the zipper pull is definitely too short as I had trouble a couple of times when trying to use the zipper with thick gloves on. Adding a longer string style zipper pull rather than just the plastic coated short style would make operating this jacket with gloves on a lot easier. Because this jacket has such warm characteristics, having a longer pull would also make it easier to regulate body temperature.
The Patagonia Down Jacket hasn't seen much wet weather other than the freezing rain and snow I experienced on one trip. While I never felt wet, or felt that the jacket was soaking up water, I feel that a bit more testing in this area is needed. With the temperatures being so cold though, most of the precipitation is turning into light snow here.
At this point in time, there are still no stitches that are unraveling, or fraying. The exterior material is nice and durable too, as I found out on one of my hikes. I was moving along at a slow pace when I lost my footing and slid into a tree; my left shoulder scraping hard on a tree limb. I heard the limb scraping the outside of the jacket, and then I heard it break away from the tree completely. I was almost sure that the jacket had sustained a tear, but after examining it I was unable to find anything more than a scratch mark.
Long Term Report - April 12, 2007
Field Locations:With average temperatures between roughly 50 to 80 F (10 to 27 C) during the last few months of the testing period, I simply wasn't able to stand wearing the Patagonia Down Jacket for any length of time. I did wear this a few times while running errands around town, but the energy I was producing while hiking simply made wearing this overkill. During those few times I was exposed to a bit of rain; not really large drops, but more of a misting rain. Other than the times around town, I did pack this into my backpack as a security measure when hiking, but it wasn't used at all due to the warm weather.
Long Term Results:Throughout the past few months, the weather has been getting warmer and easier to tolerate with every passing day. Due to this, the use of the Patagonia Down jacket has declined quite rapidly. The few times that it was used were simply while running around town during the day; particularly on cold mornings. However, it is during these times that I appreciated the jacket the most. Unlike outings in the wild where I don't have to worry about my attire or presentation, there are times in life where one must look good. From trips to church or appointments which must be kept, there are times when it simply isn't feasible to layer clothing as I would when on trail. The Patagonia Down jacket did a wonderful job at looking good while keeping me warm.
One particular period of time that I remember was shortly after replacing the thermostat in my jeep. I decided to go with a new style thermostat which failed shortly after installation. Because of this, I was without heat for roughly 3 weeks before I had the opportunity to replace this unit again. Let me tell you, while I may not have felt the wind while riding in the car, the cold air was enough to rattle my bones even on short trips to the store or work. It was during this time that the jacket was worn the most, and I learned a bit more both about the usability and durability of this piece.
The seat belt in my jeep has a piece of plastic that regularly snags on my clothing. While I was testing the GoLite DriMove shirt earlier this year I ended up snagging the material on the seat belt causing a hole to appear in the shirt. Unfortunately the seatbelt struck again while I was putting it on one cold morning. I heard the snag that sounded horribly like a sheet of paper ripping. I was sure that I had ripped a hole into another piece of gear, but was surprised to find only a slight discoloration in the area from the fabric being scraped. None of the threads were ripped and I did not notice any of them tugged from the weave. I had seen how durable this material was in the woods, but was really surprised that it stood up to this incident.
The Jacket packs exceptionally well due to the wonderful compressibility of down. I was able to take the Patagonia Down jacket on trips that I needed that extra bit of security without sacrificing too much space in my pack. Sizing in at just a bit bigger than a standard wide mouth Nalgene bottle I was able to stuff this on the top of my pack with relative ease, and using it as a pillow was also a nice bonus.
Summary:I am exceptionally pleased with the Patagonia Down jacket in all aspects and find that it has become the main piece of intermediate cold weather gear that I grab when heading out the door. Throughout the entire testing period I have been able to test this jacket in sub-zero wind chills, driving icy snow, and misty rain. The durability of the material has greatly surpassed my expectations, and the DWR qualities have been proven over time. It has been invaluable at keeping me warm and dry in some of winters worst conditions.
It's packability makes it an effective yet efficient piece of backpacking gear, saving both weight and space while still compressing into the smallest nooks in my pack. Yet because of the loft and comfort afforded by the down, I was also able to use this jacket to replace my pillow; an additional weight and space savings.
In all, I have not been able to find any faults with the Patagonia Down jacket, but instead give it high marks on all aspects; from its design and construction to its durability and warmth it greatly surpasses any other jacket I own. I foresee this becoming one of my cold weather backpacking jackets for years to come. I would recommend this jacket to anyone looking for a light weight, durable, dry, warm down jacket for use during hiking and backpacking activities.
Again, I'd like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Patagonia for allowing me to participate in this test.
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