Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket

Rather than try to impress with where I have been and under what conditions I have “survived” wearing my Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket, let it suffice to say that I really like this jacket. I could tell you that this jacket kept me so warm while rime ice was forming on my outer layers that I had to take it off, or that I have gotten a lot of attention from the jacket’s ultra slick, shiny, and sexy exterior. But who cares, really? What you need to know is whether you should spend your hard-earned money on these threads.

Usage Report

Every time I put this jacket on or stuff it into my pack, I feel like the ultimate alpinist: Light, minimal, and hardcore! Even when I was sick for a week and could not venture outside, let alone into the mountains out my “backdoor,” I still wore this jacket while laying in bed thinking about all the adventures I had while wearing it outside. For example, the time I wandered the ultra-remote backcountry of Joshua Tree National Park looking for a classic climb while admiring the frozen pools of water and joshua trees covered in fluffy white stuff. On the same trip I was on top of a 100ft formation waiting for my partner to join me at the top while enduring forty mile per hour winds. It was very cold but I was surprised to see how well the jacket blocked the wind and kept me warm on the tempestuous summit. Or the time I got caught out in a land-based white squall while riding my bike in thirty degree temps. (Hey, I am from Southern California, so cut me some slack! That is really cold here!) On all of these adventures, plus many more, this jacket has far exceeded my expectations.

©Rhondie Tait

Weight and Features

The Ultralight Down Jacket has a full zip and three zippered pockets (two hand and one chest) and is incredibly lightweight, coming in at a svelte 235 grams or just a hair over eight ounces (now that is impressive)! Coupled with the Deluge® Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish, the jacket will shed water (and trust me it does) which is important because this jacket is stuffed with 800 fill genuine European goose down. The jacket breathes and sheds water well. It is not a rain jacket by any means, however it will be able to withstand a light mist or a harder rain for as long as it takes you to dig your actual rain jacket out of your pack. The 100% ripstop nylon is very durable, albeit slick. Even while rock climbing, when squeezing my way up a very coarse monzonite chimney the jacket did not rip.

Right before this review published, I managed to rip a small hole in the jacket rock climbing in the High Sierra foothills. Patagonia has a solid reputation for customer service and this was my chance to see it in action. I took my jacket into my local Patagonia store. The employees there were very helpful. Patagonia has a very strong reduce, reuse, recycle ethos. Without any questions they offered me two options: One, they would send my jacket to a repair facility and repair it at no cost to me. The other option was to get a brand new jacket. With the second option, they would repair and donate the damaged jacket to a local charity.

Photo Courtesy of Patagonia

Care

After several months of nearly constant use, my jacket had a funky odor and was in need of washing. Patagonia recommends warm water on the gentle setting. I did notice that it takes a while to dry (about two hours total) and tennis balls really do work to fluff the jacket up. I tried it for one hour on low-medium heat and the jacket was lumpy but another hour with a tennis ball and my jacket came out like new.

Pros

  • Very light and packable
  • Several color options (Deep Mango, Black, Dill, Channel Blue, and Grecian Blue)
  • The warmth to weight ratio is very impressive

Cons

  • It is a little on the pricey side ($279.00)
©Chad Lauterbach

Final Thoughts

This is a great minimalist backcountry jacket, perfect for a light and fast trip or longer trips when the temperatures aren’t going to be too cold or your activity levels will be high. The jacket is great at stopping the wind, breathes well, and the shell is very durable. I have yet to be cold wearing it, even on my trip to the Grand Canyon where temps dropped into the teens. It is an expensive jacket but I suspect that it will last a long time and after your first adventure together you will wonder how you ever “survived” without Patagonia’s Ultralight Down Jacket.

©Abigail Tait
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