For winter 2009, Patagonia has released a new lineup of lightweight softshell clothing targeted at climbers and high-output mountain travelers (that's us, folks). The Traverse product line includes a jacket, a pullover, and pants. The jacket and pants are available in both men's and women's styles, while the pullover is only available in men's style. The specified weight of the men's jacket is 9.9 ounces (women's is 9.0 ounces), and its measured weight on our scales is 10.2 ounces. The pullover weighs in at the specified 9.2 ounces, and the pants come in at 8.8 ounces (both for size M). The women's pant is slightly lighter at 8.6 ounces.
The author cooking a meal in his Patagonia Traverse jacket while exploring in Butterfly Canyon, Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona.
The fabric for all the Traverse series products is a 4.7-ounce-per-square-yard, 70 denier, 93% polyester, 7% spandex with four-way mechanical stretch and DWR finish. The jacket has a full zipper, two handwarmer pockets, and a bicep pocket. The pullover has a half zip and a single chest pocket with horizontal zipper. Both the pullover and jacket have elastic cuffs and a slight drop tail. The Pants feature an elastic and drawcord waistband, two zippered handwarmer pockets, gusseted crotch, and straight leg cut. All garments are cut with a slim fit.
We've had the jacket and pants over the past few months for an early look. My jacket has accompanied me on winter trail runs, many training hikes, and a few trips in my local mountains. The fabric is indeed quite stretchy, perfect for use on climbs and strenuous off-trail hikes. I had the jacket out in several nasty windstorms, and it seemed very wind resistant, but I would not say it is windproof (and it is not intended to be). During aerobic activity, it performed quite well as wind protection. Breathability in heavy aerobic use was very good - much better than a wind shell such as a Patagonia Houdini. This shell is perfect for cold weather training, or strenuous fall and winter hikes. I did find myself opening the zipper for extra ventilation on strenuous climbs with temperatures in the low 50s.
In minor rain, the DWR treatment did fine, but I wouldn't expect these garments to hold off rain for long periods of time. Build quality and workmanship is superb, with good stitching, high quality (but heavy) zippers, and nice touches such as a mesh-lined stand-up collar. Durability was good during my testing, but I did not take the jacket through any long, rocky climbs. I did have it on several bushwhacking sections that stressed the fabric, and it came through with no snags or pulls. I found the slim fit and stretch fabric to be functional for the intended use in high output activities. The handwarmer pockets in the jacket were cut too low for use with a hip belt, but were useful during cool rests. Note that the Pullover does not have handwarmer pockets - just a single chest pocket.
Ryan Jordan tested the Traverse pants over the spring and summer, and found them to be a comfortable, fast drying pant. At 8.8 ounces, they are lighter than most other comparable pants and the stretch fabric makes them very useful in technical hiking and climbing. Ryan found that the pocket design limited the usefulness of this garment as a trekking pant, as the two pockets are shallow and difficult to use for typical trekking storage (compass, small camera, etc). Ryan also found the black fabric on the pants to be limiting in warm or hot weather.
While not a product that would be targeted at an ultralight three-season kit, the Traverse garments are a good option for cold weather, or for summer alpine conditions. The pants are lighter than most other summer pant options. The jacket and pullover are better suited to cooler conditions. My jacket is my new favorite for winter training.
The Traverse Series will be available in January 2009.
The stretch fabric of the Traverse series is comfortable and windproof. The handwarmer pockets are available only in the jacket. The pullover has just a single chest pocket.
The bicep pocket in the jacket is useful for small items, but might not be effective in climbing conditions where your shoulder and upper arm are in heavy use or are pressed against rock slabs.
The slim fit and long sleeves are well suited to high output aerobic activity. The short, stand-up collar provides a bit of extra protection in strong winds.
There is a slight drop tail for a bit of extra coverage in the rear.
|4.7-ounce-per-square-yard, 70 denier, 93% polyester, 7% spandex with four-way mechanical stretch and DWR finish|
|Jacket: two handwarmer pockets, vertical bicep pocket, full zipper, elastic cuffs, lined collar.
Pullover: half length front zip, horizontal chest pocket, elastic cuffs, lined collar.
Pants: two zippered pockets, gusseted crotch, straight leg.
|Jacket 10.2 ounces (289 g) as measured. Pullover 9.2 ounces (260 g) as specified. Pants 8.8 ounces (249 g) as specified. All weights for men's M. Jacket and pants available in women's sizes.|
|Jacket $100, Pullover $75, Pants $75|