Patagonia Dragonfly Pullover REVIEW (Spring 2004 Style)

A three ounce wind shirt with an important distinguishing feature: durability.

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by the Product Review Staff | 2003-11-25 03:00:00-07

Introduction

Herein we review Patagonia’s newest wind shirt, to be released in Spring 2004, the 3 oz, hoodless, Dragonfly Pullover. Patagonia will also manufacture a 4 oz, hooded, Dragonfly Full Zip Jacket.

Many feel that a wind shirt is the most versatile piece of clothing you can carry in your pack. Worn over a base layer, a wind shirt provides protection from wind chill and light precipitation, and serves to retain body heat lost through evaporative cooling in colder conditions. On its own (depending on the next-to-skin comfort of the fabric), it can serve as comfortable warm-weather insect and sun protection.

A classic wind shirt is a single-layer woven (nylon or polyester) cut to the pattern of a shirt, pullover, or jacket. The key characteristics of a wind shirt are extremely light weight, high breathability, and water resistance (usually provided by a durable water repellent finish, or DWR). Pertex Microlight, Pertex Quantum, and other 15-30 denier uncoated nylons are examples of the types of fabrics that provide these characteristics.

Overview

Patagonia calls the Dragonfly “The absolute lightest shell we've ever made for high-intensity minimalist adventures.” The new Dragonfly offers a new balance point between light weight and durability. Patagonia’s 1.1 oz triple ripstop fabric has a substantial feel and a relaxing, but not clingy, drape. This fabric is softer, more breathable, and less transparent than the Dragonfly fabrics used on 2003 and earlier models.

Some manufacturers have switched to 0.9 oz fabrics to reduce the weight of their wind shirts. Patagonia has taken a slightly different approach. They retained a tougher 1.1 oz shell fabric and compromised weight in other areas. Although the new Dragonfly offers a deep chest zipper, it uses a very light and thin elastic draw cord and miniature one-handed cord lock at the hem.

Specifications

  • Garment Style – Hoodless wind shirt
     
  • Fabric Description – 1.1-oz. 15 x 20 denier triple ripstop nylon; Deluge DWR treated.
     
  • Weight – BPL measured 3.2 oz men’s medium (manufacturer claim is 3.0 oz) Note: this is a pre-production sample.
     
  • MSRP – Men's Dragonfly Pullover: $115.00, Version with full zip and hood: $135.00
     
  • Manufacturer Contact Information

    Patagonia
    8550 White Fir St.
    P.O. Box 32050
    Reno, NV 89523-2050
    PH: 1.800.638.6464
  • Usability

    The Dragonfly Pullover has a half-length (14 in), fully backed #3 chest zipper for good ventilation and temperature regulation. A 3 in high collar provides neck protection. Cuff closures are simple sewn-in elastic, and were neither too light nor too loose for anyone on our testing crew. The pullover has a single handwarmer/storage pocket on the lower right side seam (zippered closure). As mentioned earlier, the Pullover’s hem has an exceptionally light drawcord and miniature cord lock that can be operated with a single hand.

    Sizing

    The Dragonfly Pullover in a Size Men’s Medium had a trim-to-slightly-loose fit on one of our testers (an average build 5’8” 150 lb male). The Pullover fits appropriately over a baselayer and 200 weight fleece garment. The mid-length hem comes down to crotch level providing some butt but not much thigh coverage. The collar easily fits over a 200 wt fleece balaclava on a 16 in neck.

    Fit

    We had no problems with the Dragonfly Pullover restricting any of our movements. Raising our arms did not raise the hem of the pullover and there was no binding in the shoulders when wrapping our arms around our chest (although some restriction might occur in shoulders when layering the garment over some bulkier insulating shirts/jackets). There was enough length in the sleeves that we could withdraw our hands while hanging them down at our sides.

    Wind and Precipitation Resistance

    In the field the pullover was able to shed light precipitation (both rain and snow) when used over a wool baselayer and a mid-weight synthetic fleece vest in temperatures between 25 and 40 degrees. The pullover wetted out over time but did a credible job of keeping seepage to reasonable levels. The Dragonfly/baselayer combo makes a surprisingly effective (and very light) soft shell arrangement.

    Breathability

    The 2004 Dragonfly fabric is more breathable and is an improvement over 2003 and preceding models. Still, the deep chest zipper is a welcome feature for ventilation moisture during periods of high exertion, and lack of a deep zipper on other ultralight wind shirts remains our number one complaint with manufacturers. With the garment zippered up, however, it was apparent from our field tests that the 1.1 oz triple ripstop nylon is still not quite as breathable as some of the newer 0.9 oz fabrics used in other manufacturer’s windshirts (e.g., compared to the Marmot Chinook, Montane Aero, and Rab Quantum Wind Top).

    Recommendations for Improvement

    The best features of the Dragonfly are its overall fit and design, the deep chest zipper, and the durability (especially, abrasion resistance) of the triple ripstop fabric. However, the durability comes at a cost – hindered breathability. While pre-2003 Dragonfly garments offered a fabric has enough water resistance to fit the bill as a shower shell, and other fabrics (e.g., Pertex Quantum) offer exceptional levels of breathability, the 2004 Dragonfly fabric appears to fall in the middle. Some will think that this balance provides the best of both worlds. Others will say that it’s the worst of both worlds because it can perform neither function (breathe or resist showers) optimally. Although we recognize that such distinctions in breathability and water resistance may be akin to hair-splitting, we’d prefer that manufacturers bring two wind shirts into their product lines – one with exceptional breathability in a non-hooded, pullover style for use during high exertion activity, and one with exceptional water resistance in a hooded jacket style for use as a shower shell. This would give consumers a better selection to allow them to use the one they need for a particular situation. We’ve even included both types of wind shirts on many of our own trips, recognizing that six ounces is a small weight penalty for such versatility.

    In addition, the side seam pocket on the Dragonfly, while giving an impression of apparent simplicity, is awkward to use, too small, and obscured by a hip belt or climbing harness. A larger, zippered napoleon-style chest pocket would provide more utility and ease of use.

    In fairness to Patagonia, we could not help but recognize that the new Dragonfly offers excellent durability at this weight, so if your outdoor pursuits involve occasional bushwacking or rock scrambling, the Dragonfly might find a home on your gear list.

    And, if the 3.2 ounce weight bothers you because “there are wind shirts that weigh less than 3 ounces out there,” then get your scissors out and cut out the hem cord and cordlock. The result with be a true “shirt” that is easier to tuck in with its flat hem while still retaining good functionality!


    Citation

    "Patagonia Dragonfly Pullover REVIEW (Spring 2004 Style)," by the Product Review Staff. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
    http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00207.html, 2003-11-25 03:00:00-07.

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    Wind Shirts
    A thread for discussing features, design, fabrics, applications, and analyzing current products in the apparel category loosely defined as "wind shirts". Articles relevant to this discussion include:

    In addition, forum participants may find useful background in the article M Soft Shells: The Real Story, and in the Wind Shirt Chapter of M Clothing and Sleep Systems for Mountain Hiking.
    Display Avatars
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    Colin Thomas
    (fullofadventure) - F
    Montane Aero Smock Sizes on 12/01/2003 19:58:48 MST Print View

    I am thinking about getting this windshirt but have not tried one on yet. I am trying to figure out what size I would need. Usually I am a medium (5 11/170lbs) from most brands. I have herd that Montane sizes their clothing small. So should I go up a size like this site claims? Also is it the same with their pants too. Any help would be appreciated.

    Paul Diez
    (PaulDiez) - F
    Re: Montane Aero Smock Sizes on 12/02/2003 16:06:17 MST Print View

    I'm 5'-8" and 160-165#. I find my size medium Montane Featherlite smock to be a comfortable but snug fit over a base layer (e.g. a light polypro shirt). I'd need to go to a large to wear comfortably over an insulating layer.

    Edited by PaulDiez on 12/02/2003 16:06:57 MST.

    obx hiker
    (obxcola) - MLife

    Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
    Windshirt breathability and quantum on 12/02/2003 19:36:19 MST Print View

    I have a nike "tiger woods" half sleeve wind shirt that I am almost positive is pertex quantum ( not well labeled because I guess the golfing crowd doesn't really care?) I trail run with this admittedly half sleeve, tight V-neck ( can barely get it over my head), and elastic bottom. Anyway at the end of my run the very first thing I do is pull off the wind-shirt and it is never the slightest bit damp. I have run the same route with a Marmot chinook at most half zipped ( or less) and the interior had some condensation. Do you think it's the half sleeves or the material?

    Jerold Swan
    (jswan) - F - M
    Re: Re: Montane Aero Smock Sizes on 12/05/2003 07:16:03 MST Print View

    I have the Montane Aero in size large. I'm 5'10" and quite thin (150 pounds). It's loose on me over just a base layer and I usually tuck it in to prevent flapping.

    Michael Martin
    (MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

    Locale: North Idaho
    Re: Montane Aero Smock Sizes on 01/01/2004 18:19:08 MST Print View

    My two cents...
    I'm 6'2", 165lb and usually take a size large in most clothing. I have a large featherlite smock, and a large litespeed jacket (both by Montane). Both fit well over a base layer, but are tight over 200 weight fleece. (fwiw, the tag with the lightspeed jacket cites a 42" chest).

    I would order an XL size if I had to do it over again.

    Edited by MikeMartin on 03/20/2004 23:17:12 MST.


    (Anonymous)
    How is Dragonfly full-zip? on 01/13/2004 07:59:13 MST Print View

    Is there anyone who have checked out the NEW Patagonia's Dragonfly full-Zip (or pull over)?
    I' would like to have some infomations about it, because we can't get it in Japan, yet.

    -One Step Beyond! 2004-


    (Anonymous)
    wind shirt on 02/21/2004 21:41:45 MST Print View

    Wondering if anyone makes an all Epic 1.7 oz p sq/yd windshirt. Could that may be the ultimate? Could it be simply a price competition issue in that the end price would be too high?
    Would it be too warm and need a super light mesh in the pits. Any thougts by anyone.

    This could span the gap between windshirts and waterproof breathables...

    Ryan Jordan
    (ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

    Locale: Greater Yellowstone
    Re: wind shirt on 02/22/2004 11:45:57 MST Print View

    Feathered Friends makes the Jackorack in the light ripstop Epic ("Malibu"). It has pit zips, huge vented torso pockets, and a hood. It's roomy enough to layer insulation under it. I've worn mine a ton - it's one of my favorite jackets. I wish the Epic was more breathable but you can't have it all, I guess!

    Ken Helwig
    (kennyhel77) - MLife

    Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
    Re: Montane Aero Smock Sizes on 02/22/2004 16:25:04 MST Print View

    Also the beauty of the Montane Aero Smock windshirt is the price! At roughly $65 (Thru Hiker in the S.F. Bay area sells it) and the weight at 2.5 oz. makes it a great buy.

    Ryan Jordan
    (ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

    Locale: Greater Yellowstone
    Re: Re: Montane Aero Smock Sizes on 02/22/2004 16:54:28 MST Print View

    Good call. It's a great wind shirt for the price. For a 3-oz item, you'd think shipping would be cheaper! Shop around (Google it!) and you should be able to get away with shipping and the shirt for less than $65.

    Michael Martin
    (MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

    Locale: North Idaho
    Re: wind shirt on 03/02/2004 16:10:16 MST Print View

    Wild Things Gear (www.wildthingsgear.com/windshirt.html) also has an Epic windshirt listed on their website. I haven't used one, so I don't know about quality or availability.

    Edited by MikeMartin on 03/02/2004 16:13:03 MST.

    Chet Clocksin
    (chetc) - F
    Montane Lightspeed on 03/16/2004 08:48:00 MST Print View

    Has anyone had experience with this windshirt/jacket? Sounds like it could be the ultimate combination for breathability/durability.
    from Back Country Gear's description:
    " Many of you out there requested a featherlite that zipped up and had a hood. Well, Montane listened. The Lite Speed Jacket features a Pertex Microlite DWT+ shell with Pertex Quantum DWR+ side panels. The cuffs have an internal elasticized cuff, full length zip, integral roll-away adjustable hood, a chest pocket for your valuables, and it's own stuff sack that doubles as a hackysack."

    Thanks,

    Chet

    Ryan Jordan
    (ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

    Locale: Greater Yellowstone
    Re: Montane Lightspeed on 03/16/2004 11:26:36 MST Print View

    Chet - the Lightspeed is a great little shell - unique is its 2-layer hood, which provides tremendous wind resistance. Combined the the Microlight, this wind shirt is one of the most protective on the market.

    Chet Clocksin
    (chetc) - F
    Re: Re: Montane Lightspeed on 03/16/2004 19:55:36 MST Print View

    Ryan, do you think the hood is overkill for a windshirt? Obviously the hood has merit for additional protection, but I'm wondering, based on your experience do you typically carry a seperate, hooded jacket in addition to your windshirt? And if so, do you typically choose a windshirt without a hood? Or is the hood worth it just to extend the range in which you can use the windshirt, even if you have a seperate jacket (like maybe the Precip)? I know, a lot of questions.
    One more: Do the Quantum side panels result in a significant improvement in breathability ?

    Thanks again,
    Chet

    Ryan Jordan
    (ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

    Locale: Greater Yellowstone
    Re: Re: Re: Montane Lightspeed on 03/16/2004 20:23:23 MST Print View

    The hood does indeed extend the windshirt to some pretty foul conditions. The ability to keep your head warm and maintain the breathability of a wind shirt - you can take this concept to some incredibly cold and windy conditions. The Quantum side panels - I don't know that they significantly increase breathability (although Quantum is more breathable that Microlight) so much as they keep the weight down in low-abrasion areas.

    This is the kind of wind shirt I'd want to pair with a poncho, which I'd normally only bring out in a squall. For me, two hooded jackets are usually redundant, so if you carry a hooded rain jacket already, then a non-hooded wind shirt might provide for a more versatile clothing system with less duplication.

    Michael Martin
    (MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

    Locale: North Idaho
    Re: Montane Lightspeed on 03/20/2004 16:48:55 MST Print View

    Chet-

    I've used my litespeed for almost a year now. It is my favorite wind shell for backpacking, trail running, and backcountry skiing. A couple of comments:

    1) I'm afraid that I have to disagree with Ryan about the sidepanels. Montane's website claims the side panels are "PEAQ", not Quantum. Using an informal "blow-thru" test, the fabric seems to have greater air permeability than Quantum, more comparable to Equilibrium. These panels are a great feature of the jacket as they add substantial breathability just where you need it -- sort of like the mesh armpit panels on Marmot's driclime windshirts, but with better weather protection. (Ryan -- I'd welcome your comments about this....)

    2) I love the flexibility of the shell. I'd say the extra warmth of the hood justifies its weight, although I think the dual-layer construction is overkill for most conditions where I've used it. (I suppose you could cut the hood liner out and save a few grams if you wanted to.) Also, if you do carry a hooded storm shell or poncho, the litespeed hood can be rolled up into a gasket around your neck to minimize chimney-effect heat loss there.

    3) One trick that the full zip and light fabric allow is to fully unzip the shell and pull the hem through the shoulder straps of a pack during periods of high exertion like extended hill climbs. This lets your arms breathe because they are not closed off by the pack straps (a poor man's pit-zip!). You can then instantly zip up and/or don the hood when you get to the top.

    4) My size large weighs 5.2oz, which is not the lightest windshirt out there these days. But it remains my favorite due to the hood, side panels, and ventilation options.

    5) What I'd really like to see from Montane is a 4 oz Quantum full-zip windshell with a single-layer hood and the PEAQ sidepanels. Oh well, I need something on my gear wish list for next year! ;)

    Cheers,

    -Mike

    Edited by MikeMartin on 03/20/2004 23:58:50 MST.

    Tom Ekblad
    (tekblad) - M

    Locale: Southern California
    Golite Helios on 04/24/2004 22:43:51 MDT Print View

    Anybody have a comment about this wind shirt?

    Ryan Jordan
    (ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

    Locale: Greater Yellowstone
    Re: Golite Helios on 04/29/2004 22:39:06 MDT Print View

    Tom, I used the Helios in conjunction with a hoodless poncho on a recent trip to CA's Lost Coast under some incredibly foul conditions. It was GREAT! Here's the trip report/photos:

    http://ftp.backpackinglight.com/galleries/LostCoast04.html

    Tom Ekblad
    (tekblad) - M

    Locale: Southern California
    Re: Re: Golite Helios on 05/02/2004 00:32:53 MDT Print View

    Living in Southern California, I haven't had 56 hours of rain in the past 10 years. Your report of drying out while sleeping surprised me. How much of that would you attribute to the bivy sack?

    Ryan Jordan
    (ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

    Locale: Greater Yellowstone
    Re: Re: Re: Golite Helios on 05/02/2004 16:23:06 MDT Print View

    > How much would you attribute drying out to the bivy sack?

    A lot. I can't imagine what it would have been like in a Gore-Tex bivy.