Last week we brought you the Patagonia down vest review, this week we’re taking an in depth look at the newest Patagonia down coat. Patagonia is a legendary outdoors brand, I’m sorry to say however, that their down coat is far from legendary. Lets take a look at why.
First we have the fabric, just like we saw with the vest, Patagonia has abandoned fabrics like Pertex and the DWR treatment left a lot to be desired. I’d like to say I put the miles in on this one, but the truth is, I hardly wore it at all. Why? Because it’s not all that warm or wind proof. Once again Patagonia makes the claim the coat is windproof, it’s not. Their 100% recycled windproof fabric is thin, snags easy and either doesn’t hold the DWR treatment well or it isn’t treated at all. The fabric may save them money, it may even be green, but it’s a poor replacement for far better fabric choices such as Pertex.
“The Patagonia down coat offers very little, if anything, in the way of redeeming qualities.”
It’s a real shame that Patagonia cheapened their down coat, it wasn’t that long ago it was one of the best options on the market. Here, just as with the vest we find the coat is lacking essentials such as a larger wind flap behind the front zipper and seam tape to prevent the zip from catching that fabric. The stitching is clean and mostly tight, although on the back I found a few spots where it was slightly loose, but again there’s no reinforcement in areas where the stitching will see regular stress and no reinforcement in high stress areas such as the arms or shoulders. The cut/fit is also tight, I went up to a XXL just so I could reach my arms above my chest, and there was no way I’d ever be able to swing an ice axe or climb in this. The hood has enough room for a helmet, but no front draw strings. This means because the hood is cut for a climbing helmet, to get it down to size for your head, there’s a foot long cord hanging off the back of the hood.
The arms are cut tight, although I started with a large and ended up with an XXL, there was hardly a change in size. The torso was certainly larger in the XXL, but the sleeves, hood and shoulders fit nearly identical. The cuffs are elastic, with loose fabric overhanging the elastic cuff. This means your cuffs are not adjustable and if they don’t fit too bad. It also means you’re more likely to melt the cuff when working with a campfire or stove, as there’s loose fabric hanging over the wrist. The fit of the cuffs was tight on me, and I have skinny wrists. In a down sweater the cuffs would be acceptable, but on a coat a adjustable cuff would be great. The torso hangs low, which would be great if the XXL body wasn’t huge on me. A 36 waist, 210lbs, 6.2′ man and the XXL was huge in an alpine coat. There’s something I never thought I’d see. There’s zero reinforcement in the shoulders, so don’t plan on a long life backpacking in this. The shoulders will wear out, the stitching pull apart and it’ll be off for repair.
“I had assumed that like the vest this was high quality goose down, I was sadly mistaken. “
The inside pocket doubles as a stuff sack, which is a standard feature for insolation pieces like a down coat. I had a rather hard time getting the whole jacket stuffed into the pocket, much more difficult than it should’ve been. Even after trying a few ways to stuff it down, rolling it, folding it or simply smashing it down into the pocket… It wasn’t with ease and I couldn’t get the zipper to close unless I fought with it some more. A simple extra 2 inches of pocket would’ve fixed this issue. I noticed while packing it in that the fill felt rough and poked me, this led me to look at the fill tag. I had assumed that like the vest this was high quality goose down, I was mistaken.
The premier down coat from Patagonia features, of all things, duck down. Duck down isn’t as warm, wears out much faster, isn’t as packable and breaks up inside of the coat as well as pokes out/escapes through even good fabrics like Pertex. Here in the cheaper, less awesome fabric used by Patagonia in the down coat, we find the pokey duck down escapes with ease. So Patagonia has again cut corners with their build quality, features, fabric, but they’re also cutting corners with their fill as well. Not only did Patagonia choose to go with duck fill over goose, but there’s only 75% down fill, that means up to a 25% feather count. Feathers do nothing for warmth and a 25% fill ratio is far too high for any down coat, let alone a high end one like this.
I actually can’t remember the last time I saw any pro end outdoors brand use duck down. Actually, I haven’t seen duck down in an alpine product since the 80’s. Seeing Patagonia use it is a real shame and hopefully isn’t an indicator of the kind of tendencies we can expect from the brand in the future. The Patagonia down coat offers very little, if anything, in the way of redeeming qualities. A poor fit, no room for moving or climbing in a climbing piece is inexcusable. Cheap features such as elastic cuffs, no front hood pulls, and worst of all duck down fill give this coat a failing grade. For $200 you get a coat that throws away over 30 yrs of design improvements and technology. 2/10 FP