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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Patagonia Mens Down Shirt > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

PATAGONIA MEN'S DOWN SHIRT
OWNER REVIEW by Richard Lyon
December 21, 2016
down shirt

PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

Male, 70 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 205 lb (91 kg)
Chest: 45 in ( cm)
Waist: 38 in ( cm)
Sleeve length: 36.5 in ( cm)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Bozeman, Montana USA

I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies.  I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences.  I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Summer adventures are often centered on fly fishing opportunities; winter on ski or ski touring.

THE PRODUCT

My Patagonia Down Shirt, a garment whose light weight belies its excellent insulating ability. is a no-frills pullover filled with 600-fill power down. Read on to see why I find this simple piece a remarkably versatile three-season mid-layer and occasional outer layer.

Manufacturer: Patagonia, www.patagonia.com
Size: XL. Available in XS-XXL. The Women's version is offered in XXS-XL.
Color:  Currently available in seven colors, but no longer the purple that I own.
Sleeve length, measured: 37 in (94 cm)
Length, collar to hem, measured: 28 in (71 cm)
Weight, listed [no size specified]: 257 g (9.1 oz); measured [XL] - 164 g (5.8 oz) [See note below.]
MSRP: $199 US
The Patagonia Iron Clad Guarantee: "We guarantee everything we make. If you are not satisfied with one of our products at the time you receive it, or if one of our products does not perform to your satisfaction, return it to the store you bought it from or to Patagonia for a repair, replacement or refund. Damage due to wear and tear will be repaired at a reasonable charge."

At this writing the Down Shirt is available from Patagonia only in a full-zip version that (unlike mine, which is a couple of years old) has pockets. Mine is a pullover shirt not a jacket.  My Down Shirt has only three items I might call features:

  • a mid-length (13.8 in/ 35 cm) zipper, enclosed in a storm flap and chin guard.
  • a stand-up collar, 2.75 in/ 7 cm high
  • elastic bands, not adjustable, at the cuffs

Though insulated with down this Shirt is intended for use as a midlayer. I can testify that for me it's simply not warm enough as an outer layer when the temperature dips below about 40 F (4 C).

To those who care about such things, Patagonia proudly notes on its website that all down is traced "from farm to factory" to ensure humane treatment of the geese from which the down is taken.

FIELD CONDITIONS

I wear this garment year-round, though I consider its best seasons to be summer and fall. When day hiking or backpacking in the traditional three seasons, spring, summer, and fall, it's an insulating piece, usually my outer layer when active but occasionally worn under a jacket. When temperatures top 55-60 F (13-16 C) I think it's the ideal piece to pull over my tee shirt at a rest stop, in camp, or when the wind picks up. (In spring here in the Northern Rockies it's rarely that warm and it's usually windy, so I'll carry a heavier piece for this duty.) I often wear it when doing camp chores after the sun goes down or first thing in the morning.

At any temperature above freezing the Shirt complements my down quilt nicely. I sleep very cold and appreciate a down layer over my merino tee shirt, even in a down quilt. A heavier down jacket can make me too warm but rarely does the Down Shirt.

Down shirtIn winter the Down Shirt is an extra insulating layer that I use for two general purposes. When ski touring in temperatures too cold for only a base layer (say below freezing) I'll wear it as an outer layer when touring or climbing and add a windshirt or parka at rest stops or whenever on an exposed ridge or hillside. In the photo at right I am wearing the Down Shirt under a wool-lined parka, on a sunny morning splitting firewood at -13 F (-25 C).  At these times it's not toasty enough for sleep system use but it comes in very handy after dark under an insulated jacket or occasionally another down layer to boost insulation.

Since acquiring the Down Shirt I have worn it on at least fifty days (probably more) in the field. Three-season use includes fishing days as well as backpack outings and day hikes. Temperatures ranged from -10 to 90 F (-14 to 32 C), in conditions from bright and cloudless skies to blustery and rainy days. If it's truly raining I top the Down Shirt with a jacket or shell, but its outer layer staves off mist, fog, or light rain without any help. On warmer winter days, 32-50 F (0-10 C), when on skis the Down Shirt is an outer layer, under a shell at rest stops or in moderate to high wind. Venues have been mostly in the Northern Rockies - Montana, Idaho, Wyoming.

The Down Shirt gets ample use at home too. My house is heated primarily by a wood stove, so I'm splitting wood every other day at least. The flying bunny in the picture requires training, daily walks, and outdoor exercise time. Because the Shirt's home is on a peg in the mud room it's an easy thing to slip it on before heading outside. It may go on inside the bunnyhouse on a cold morning before the radiant heat from the wood stove begins to permeate the house.

PERFORMANCE

Fit: I've always found Patagonia garments true to size and this Shirt is no exception. Size XL is nearly a perfect fit for me when I wear the Shirt over a tee, merino base layer, or base layer and a wool shirt. It can get a bit cramped when I try to add it over a heavy sweater, as I occasionally do for outdoor chores. Particularly noteworthy is how far the sleeves extend down my extra-long arms - almost to the palms of my hands. Sleeves that ride up well above my wrists is a constant problem and one of my acid tests for outdoor gear. This Shirt passes with flying colors. The stand-up collar fits fairly closely (though not uncomfortably so), which is a big help when worn as a midlayer - I can zip the Down Shirt up to the top to block the cold and still regulate temperature with the outer layer, as illustrated above.

Insulating ability. For its intended use as a midlayer, very good. I must consider its niche though. It's not, and not intended to be, an all-purpose everyday jacket. The temperature ranges noted in the preceding section limit my use. Every other midlayer down sweater or jacket I've worn (several reviewed or tested on this site) has used a denser down than this Shirt's 600-fill power stuff, and just about all are warmer. As I've said, it's a helper not a solo insulator when winter sets in.

Wind and water. I've mentioned the Shirt's ability to repel light precipitation. Given its sewn-through construction it's not much of a wind blocker. I find that not to be a showstopper in a midlayer, and actually helpful in that the Shirt "breathes" quite well. I'm not sure that wicking is the proper term - down doesn't wick - but sweat doesn't build up when splitting wood or during a vigorous uphill on skis.

Storage. When I'm not wearing it, on the trail my Down Shirt is usually crammed into a shovit pocket or under compression straps on my pack. I want it ready to hand for when it's needed. I think it came with a stuff sack, though that's now nowhere to be found, a direct consequence of no pocket in which to stash it. Fully compressed the Shirt is about the size of a softball.  After freeing it from my pack the Shirt fluffs back up almost instantaneously.

Care. I wash the Shirt by hand in down-specific soap - soaking, gentle squeezing out the water, kneading, and air drying on a towel. In the dry climate around here it's usually ready for use in a day or two. The sewn-through construction makes the kneading considerably less tedious than working on a sleeping bag or box-baffled jacket. The outer fabric doesn't pick up much in the way of grit or sticky substances, greatly reducing the need for spot cleaning.

Durability. As with every Patagonia product I've owned, the Down Shirt has proven very durable. There's no fraying at the hem, collar, or cuff, and I can't recall losing a feather. Certainly utility hasn't been compromised after a couple of years' frequent use.

LIKES

No frills. There's very little that can go wrong.

Very versatile garment.

High quality all-around.

DISLIKES

No pockets. This is more personal preference than criticism of the Shirt. I'd like a kangaroo pocket.




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Reviews > Clothing > Shirts > Patagonia Mens Down Shirt > Owner Review by Richard Lyon



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