Patagonia Down Sweater Review

This popular jacket has been around and evolved over the years. We love the sizing and fit, but how does it stack up for backpacking?

Overall Rating: Average

The standard Patagonia Down Sweater is constructed of heavier components and does not contain very much down insulation. This is not a jacket we would carry for backpacking - its warmth to weight ratio is too low - so we would rate it Below Average for backpacking. However its sizing and fit are very good and it’s a good jacket for day trips. The lofty, warm, and very lightweight special edition of this jacket coming out in fall 2010 is a head slapper. If it replaced the standard Patagonia Down Sweater, it would get our recommended rating.

About This Rating

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by Janet Reichl and Will Rietveld |

Introduction

This separate review provides additional descriptive and performance information on the Patagonia Down Sweater. Read our article Ultralight Three-Season Down Jackets State of the Market Report 2010 for a state-of-the-market analysis and comparative specifications and performance for a range of ultralight down jackets.

Patagonia Down Sweater Review - 1
Patagonia Down Sweater women’s version (left) and men’s version (right).

The popular Patagonia Down Sweater has been around for awhile and has evolved somewhat over the years. When Backpacking Light reviewed the Patagonia Down Sweater in 2005 it was insulated with 700 fill power down, giving it 0.9 inch (2.3 cm) of single-layer loft, the shell was 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) 20 denier triple ripstop polyester shell with DWR, and the only features were a full-height front zipper, a single zippered chest pocket, drawcord hem, and elastic cuffs. It weighed 11.1 oz/315 g for men’s size Large and the MSRP was $165.

Since the Patagonia Down Sweater is one of the early ones on the market, it is interesting to compare the present version with the old one, and also look at it in comparison with the numerous lightweight three-season down jackets on the market today.

Description

Patagonia has put a lot of emphasis on recycled content in their garments, so the current Down Sweater’s shell and lining are 22d 1.4 oz/yd2 (47.5 g/m2) ripstop 100% recycled polyester with DWR, which is slightly heavier than older versions. The fabrics have a very soft hand and are wind and water resistant.

The jacket is insulated with 3 ounces (85 g) of 800 fill power down, giving it a measured single-layer loft of 0.7 inch (1.9 cm), which is low.

Patagonia Down Sweater Review - 2
Front and rear views of the Patagonia Down Sweater, women’s version.

Patagonia Down Sweater Review - 3
There are three pockets on the Patagonia Down Sweater, two zippered hand pockets (left) and an inside zippered stretch mesh pocket (right) that also serves as a stuff bag for the jacket.

Patagonia Down Sweater Review - 4
In fall 2010 Patagonia will be releasing a limited edition of the Patagonia Down Sweater that features 900 fill power down (3 ounces/85 g) and a 0.8 oz/yd2 (27 g/m2) mini-ripstop nylon shell with DWR (half the weight of the shell in the standard jacket). Otherwise the design and features of the jacket are the same as the standard Down Sweater. The special edition will be available for a short time until they are sold out.

Performance

I found the Down Sweater’s fit very much to my liking, as shown in the photos. Many outdoor jackets are designed for more slender people and are too tight in the hips for other women like me. The Patagonia Down Sweater is sized to fit a “wider” range of people (pun intended).

Patagonia Down Sweater Review - 5
I wore the Patagonia Down Sweater on numerous snowshoeing and backcountry skiing day trips and one hut trip where we skied nine miles (14.5 km) to a mountain cabin and then skied around the area (in snowy weather) for several days.

The features on the Down Sweater are fairly standard (see the list below in the specifications table). I never use a hem drawcord - the jacket fits snugly around my hips without it - so I can do without that feature. The jacket has a large zippered stretch mesh pocket on the inside, which the jacket will stuff into. It’s handy, but the opening is small, which makes it more difficult to put things in and take them out. I would prefer to have a pair of drop pockets on the inside.

In my field testing, I found the jacket to be only moderately warm. That agrees with results from our jacket warmth testing we did for the state-of-the-market article cited at the beginning of this article. The Patagonia Down Sweater contains only 3 ounces (85 g) of down, which is low.

Patagonia Down Sweater Review - 6
I wore the jacket while backcountry skiing on snowy days and found it to be very water and wind-resistant. I followed up my field observations with a one-hour indoor “puddle test” on both the standard and special edition Down Sweater. The standard jacket did not leak through, but the shell fabric did absorb some moisture. However, about one-third of the water penetrated the seams of the special edition jacket and collected on a tray I put inside the jacket.

Comparisons

Our article Ultralight Three-Season Down Jackets State of the Market Report 2010 provides complete specifications and ratings for the Patagonia Down Sweater in comparison to a range of other lightweight down jackets. The jackets most similar to this one are the Eddie Bauer First Ascent Downlight Sweater, Marmot Venus Jacket, Isis Slipstream Jacket, and GoLite Demaree Canyon Jacket and Anorak.

Assessment

Although the Patagonia Down Sweater has been around a long time and is very popular, its shell, warmth, features, and value are only average or less compared to similar jackets. Its best attributes are its sizing and fit. This is not a jacket I would take backpacking because it doesn’t have a lot of warmth for its weight. It is a nice jacket for day outings and trips to town in cool weather.

The limited edition Down Sweater is a different story. It’s a puffier jacket with more loft, has a very thin shell fabric, and weighs just 9.3 ounces (264 g) in size Medium. It’s lofty, warm, and very light, and definitely well suited for backpacking. It’s the Down Sweater we would really like to see from Patagonia.

Specifications and Features - Patagonia Down Sweater

Manufacturer Patagonia (http://www.patagonia.com/)
Year/Model 2010 Down Sweater
Style Hoodless insulated jacket with full height front zipper
Fabrics Shell and lining are 22d 1.4 oz/yd2 (47.5 g/m2) ripstop 100% recycled polyester with DWR
Insulation 800 fill power down, 3 oz (85 g)
Construction Sewn through with 1.9-in (4.8-cm) horizontal quilting, set-in sleeves
Loft Measured two-layer loft is 1.4 in (3.6 cm), single-layer loft is 0.7 in (1.8 cm)
Features Down-filled stand up collar, full height #45C YKK zipper with one slider and storm flap under zipper, two zippered side pockets (not fleece lined), elastic cuffs, inside zippered stretch mesh pocket (doubles as jacket stuff sack), chin guard, drawcord hem with one adjustor
Weight Size women’s Medium tested
Measured Weight: 10.8 oz (306 g)
Manufacturer Specified Average Weight: 11.3 oz (320 g)
MSRP US$200

Specifications and Features - Patagonia Special Edition Down Sweater

Manufacturer Patagonia (http://www.patagonia.com/)
Year/Model Fall 2010 Special Edition Down Sweater
Style Hoodless insulated jacket with full height front zipper
Fabrics Shell and lining are 0.8 oz/yd2 (27 g/m2) mini-ripstop nylon with DWR
Insulation 900 fill power down, 3 oz (85 g)
Construction Sewn through with 1.9-in (4.8-cm) horizontal quilting, set-in sleeves
Loft Measured two-layer loft is 1.8 in (4.6 cm), single-layer loft is 0.9 in (2.3 cm)
Features Down-filled stand up collar, full height #45C YKK zipper with one slider and storm flap under zipper, two zippered side pockets (not fleece lined), elastic cuffs, inside zippered stretch mesh pocket (doubles as jacket stuff sack), chin guard on men’s version, drawcord hem with one adjustor
Weight Size men’s Medium tested
Measured Weight: 9.3 oz (264 g)
Manufacturer Specified Average Weight: 9.5 oz (269 g)
MSRP US$275
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.


Citation

"Patagonia Down Sweater Review," by Janet Reichl and Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/patagonia_down_sweater_review.html, 2010-09-28 00:00:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Patagonia Down Sweater Review


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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Patagonia Down Sweater Review on 09/28/2010 13:45:58 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Patagonia Down Sweater Review

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
gimme EB anyday on 09/28/2010 14:16:51 MDT Print View

gimme an EB downlight anyday

cheaper even at full price, warmer, more fill, more loft

and we arent even talking about coupons and sale yet ... lol

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
down sweater on 09/29/2010 13:00:28 MDT Print View

my wife and I both have Pat down sweaters- very well constructed, full featured, DWR is very good, but still pretty light

I've since gotten a MB ex light that I use for summer trips (right at 1/2 the weight) and will probably get one for my wife as well- but for shoulder seasons and winter trips the Patagonia sweater will be the one that gets packed

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Patagonia down Sweater Review on 09/29/2010 13:10:26 MDT Print View

Janet - This is a really nice-looking jacket and for day hikes I think it will work really well. And I thank you SO much for bringing up the sizing issue. That's been my gripe of all these manufacturers who produce women's versions of outdoor clothing, because they seem to think outdoorswomen shouldn't be any larger than a size 12 or 14. Well, excuse me for the genes I carry! Why is it that MEN'S outdoors clothing comes in sizes to accommodate men, no longer how large they are, but we women are relegated to just a few sizes? I'm tired of trying to beat my body into a size that will satisfy these stupid manufacturers! However, I do commend Patagonia, because they seem to realize that women do come larger and they have a line of plus-sizes - not as large a line as I'd like - but at least it's something.

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Re: Patagonia Down Sweater Review on 09/29/2010 13:12:10 MDT Print View

Oops! A sentence in my posting should have read, "...no matter how large...", not "...no longer...". As you can see, this subject gets me riled! LOL