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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets > Patagonia Mens Down Jacket > Coy Starnes > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
Patagonia Men's Down Jacket
Test Report Series
Initial Report: November 18, 2006
Field Report: Feburary 12, 2007
Long Term Report: April 14, 2007
Author wearing Patagonia Men's Down Jacket
I live in North East Alabama. I enjoy hunting, fishing, canoeing, and most other outdoor activities but backpacking is my favorite pastime. I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo. I hike throughout the year and actually hike the least in the hot humid months of summer. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. However I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water. I usually sleep in a hammock and cook with an alcohol stove. My backpacking trips are usually 2, 3 or 4 days in length.
Patagonia lists these features for the jacket
This is a fairly plump down jacket. It is not as Michelin Man like as a jacket suitable for artic conditions but it is certainly not a light jacket for days when it is just a little chilly. It uses sewn through construction instead of box construction. However, each section is generously filled with 700 fill weight down. It features two zippered hand warmer pockets with a nice fleece lining. The jacket also has an inside chest area pocket which should be a good place to store small items I want to keep warm. The shell features a DWR (durable water repellent) finish and is said to be highly water-repellent, downproof and more durable. I guess this means over the previous rendition of this jacket.
The inside material is a lighter polyester than the outer shell. The collar is lined with soft fleece. The main zipper is smooth and the no-snag draft flap seems to do a good job avoiding the dreaded catching I have experienced with some jackets. A small stuff sack is included.
Jacket in its stuffsack (basketball for size reference)
According to Patagonia the jacket is ideal for
The jacket looks identical to the picture on the website if I select the green color. I can find no fault in the construction. The single hang card did not provide very much useful information. In fact it gave no care instructions. The sewn on tag at the neck gives the care instructions using symbols. However, I had to put on reading glasses to make them out and then look elsewhere to find out what the symbols mean. This same tag does say "Do not use fabric softeners - To restore down loft, dry with clean tennis balls." Other than the difficulty in deciphering the care instructions I am impressed with the jacket. On the left is a photo of the care instructions. It also shows a small cord which can be used to hang the jacket.
First, it might be helpful to see a little of my personal sizing information before I tell how the jacket fits me. I normally wear XL tee-shirts, button up dress shirts and coats. In dress shirts I like a neck size of 17.5 and get the tall version. My dress jackets are size 46. My pants are size 38. I am very satisfied with the fit of the XL jacket. I doubt I could have had one tailor made that fit much better. This is often the luck of the draw and the jacket would not fit someone else exactly like it fits me. It also allows me to move around freely, without any restriction when reaching overhead, crossing my arms or bending down. The sleeves are plenty long, even a tad too long and will almost cover my hands if I stretch the sleeves just a little. However, the sleeves do not bunch up when I have them at my wrist. The only thing I don't like about the fit is the length at the waist. As the top photo shows it does not come down far at the waist but as I am long waisted I have this problem with nearly all upper body garments. I have tried the jacket over several of my base layers. It fits well over my winter weight tops but is a little snug over a shirt and my light fleece jacket. Putting it on is very easy as the liner is very slick; easy on as I head out the door and easy off when I come back inside.
I will be testing the jacket as I hike in the southeastern US but mostly in northeast Alabama. So far I have had it on for about 15 minutes at 31 F (17 C) and just over an hour while out walking at 39 F (22 C). It was toasty warm both times, in fact, a little too warm while walking uphill. However, both times my ears were cold by the time I headed back inside. Since it is a very warm jacket but does not have a hood, I will need to wear some type of head protection when the mercury really drops. As the jacket is pretty puffy, I will have to figure out the best way to test it in cold rainy weather. I have already tried it on under my GoLite Xirtam soft shell rain jacket and found it makes the Xirtam very tight fitting. I am concerned that I may be compressing the down. However, when it is warm enough to be raining I can get by with a lighter jacket under the Xirtam so this may not pose much of a problem.
February 12, 2006
Field Testing Locations and Conditions.
I have used the jacket here in northeast Alabama and in eastern Tennessee in temperatures as cold as 12 F (-7 C). I have worn it when it was raining, snowing, or sleeting and twice when it was doing all three. I used it on a trip to the Great Smokey Mountian National Park where the highest elevation encountered was 6,643 ft (2025 m).
Field Test Results
The jacket has seen a lot of use. In fact, I have worn it almost daily since mid December. It has also seen a lot of use on 3 overnight hikes. I wore it more in the early mornings when temperatures were often below freezing. The jacket has also proven to be very warm, in fact, too warm at times as I will explain in detail below.
On my hikes I usually wore the jacket after I arrived at camp as I found the jacket really too warm to wear when hiking with a pack. Of course I needed something on cooler days so I usually wore my Extram (a non-insulated softshell) while hiking. For example, it was 26 F (- 3 C) when I left late in the evening for an overnight hike down in the holler below my house. I switched to the down jacket as soon as I dropped my pack to set up camp because it was getting cold fast as the evening turned to dark. By the time I finished supper and was ready for bed it was down to 22 F (-6 C). I was using a 15 F (-9 C) bag so I kept the jacket and my insulated pants on when I turned in. It was down to 12 F (-7 C) at 4 AM and I felt cold enough that I decide to break camp and head home. I wore the jacket while breaking camp and on the hike back up the mountain with my pack. This was the only time I actually wore the jacket while hiking with my pack. I did sweat just a little and removed my bomber hat for the last bit of climbing.
A few nights later I did the same hike but it only dropped to 22 F (-6 C). I wore the jacket while setting up camp and again while breaking camp but not on the hike back home. I did use the jacket in an unorthodox manner during the night. I put it over the foot end of my hammock and zipped it up. I then pulled it over my sleeping bag (me in sleeping bag, sleeping bag over hammock, jacket over foot end of everything). This made my sleeping bag feel very warm at the foot end. For the hike back up the mountain I used the lighter Extram.
On the hike in the Smoky Mountains I used the down jacket mostly for camp time. The first night was cold and rainy with a low of around 35 F (2 C). I wore it several hours before bedtime and again the next morning as I prepared breakfast and then packed up for the day. The next several miles were mostly climbing so I wore the Extram instead of the down jacket. I actually had to remove the softshell for some of the climbing. But stopping was tough as the cold wind made me quickly start hiking again. It got colder instead of warmer as the day progresssed and by lunch break at Clingman's Dome it was around 25 F (-4 C) and the winds were strong. Standing around in the Extram was not cutting it so I put the down jacket on. It felt wonderfully warm for this short 30 minute lunch break. The temperatures continued to drop for the 7 mile (11 km) hike back to the car but I hiked in the Extram the rest of the day. When we got back to the car it was 18 F (-8 C) with winds that were very strong. I was actually a little cooler than I would have preferred while hiking and on the few breaks we took I did not stop long to avoid the hassle of digging extra clothes out of my pack.
I did wear the jacket numerous times when just out dayhiking. In fact, the month of January was so cold I found it difficult to get out on my bike for exercise so I switched over to walking down to the holler. I usually kept the jacket on until I hit the big climb coming back home. I usually just tied the jacket around my waist while climbing until I stopped for a break or the wind picked up enough to make me feel chilled. In other words, just as when hiking with a pack, the down jacket proved to be a little too warm when my exertion level went up to more than a casual pace.
I just recently wore the down jacket a few times while out bike riding. This is a duty I had previously reserved for my Extram jacket. However, I saw that when it got below about 40 F (4 C) I needed a little more warmth. I was warm going down the mountain at 35 MPH (56 kmPH) but took the jacket off when I turned around for the climb back up the mountain. I tied the jacket around my waist for the slow climb and put it back on once I topped the mountian. It is amazing how different a cold day feels when the bike is going 3 MPH (5 KPH) as opposed to 35 MPH (56 KPH). The main thing I learned from the bike rides is the jacket is very wind resistant.
My biggest problem here lately has been keeping other paws off the jacket. My wife and kids are constantly, asking, "hey honey" or "hey dad, where is your green jacket?" as they head outside. My son keeps pointing out that it fits him better than me. As I mentioned in the Initial Report section, the jacket is a little small for me to wear over more than a few thin base layers.
The jacket is still looking good and I have not needed to wash it. There is a blue looking stain on the left shoulder that will not wash off with a damp sponge but otherwise the shell has proven to be very durable. The zippers are still functioning well and I have not had any snagging problems while zipping or unzipping it. The hand pocket zippers have stayed open most of the time and the pockets work great at keeping my hands warm. I did use the inner chest area pocket several times to keep my camera and or cell phone warm. Both fit inside this pocket together as both are fairly small. I kept them here to help maintain battery life. So far there has been no down leakage from the jacket.
Long Term Report
April 14, 2007
Long Term Test Conditions and Locations
I have not been on any major hikes since the Field Report. The weather has been both warmer and colder than normal for spring depending on which week it was. As a result, I have recently worn the jacket in temperatures as low as 24 F (-4 C) but it was the furthest thing from my mind when it went as high as 83 F (28 C). Both temperatures came within a week's time span. It has been a drier than normal spring but I did wear the jacket on a few cold blustery days that even produced some sleet and snow.
Long Term Test Results
Since I fielded my last report, the weather has been gradually getting warmer and has limited the chances I had to use the jacket. I did use it on one overnighter, for several dayhikes, and at several track and tennis meets. I also wore it as an everyday jacket, often wearing it early and late in the day as temperatures were generally cooler then.
At one of the tennis matches I ended up loaning the jacket to my daughter as she had failed to bring along enough warm clothes for what turned out to be a chilly and cold night. I went to the car and stayed warm. I could see the courts from my car and soon saw her and a friend both wrapped up in the jacket. Then the friend wore it while she played her match. After my daughters match ended, we prepared to leave and I hated to take the jacket back. The friend would have to spend another hour until the bus left but she said she would get on the bus if she couldn't take it.
A record setting cold snap in April gave me a chance use the jacket on one more hike. I wore it on the short hike of about 1/2 mile (0.8 km) down to my campsite at around 36 F (2 C). As I was hiking mostly downhill I did not over heat. I continued to wear the jacket as I went about setting up my tent and getting my air mattress inflated. I then quickly placed the jacket inside the pillow pocket on my Big Agnes Lost Ranger and turned in for the night. When I woke up in the middle of the night with cold feet I used the jacket to wrap them. This allowed me to sleep again as I find it very hard to sleep when my feet are cold. I wore it for the return hike home when it had dropped down to 24 F (-4.4 C) and did sweat just a little as the hike home is all slightly uphill. However I did not have any extra layering clothes along so I kept the jacket on.
Care and Durability
The jacket has held up very well to being worn a lot and under varying conditions. I even wore it while putting out hay a few times, a chore I usually reserve for my Carhartt work jacket. The jacket is still lofting nicely and I have not observed any feathers coming out. The zippers are all still functioning properly and there are no tears in the jacket. It is not the lightest down jacket around but it is certainly lighter than my other winter coats. I would be leery of treating some of the super duper lightweight jackets I have seen in the manner I have treated this jacket.
I really like this jacket. I most like the fact that when I put it on, I am prepared for just about any winter weather I am likely to encounter here in the southeastern US. What more could I ask from a jacket that is so lightweight, packable and stylish!
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