With a half dozen ski tours completed I’m finally ready to share my opinion on this new jacket from Patagonia’s extensive line of ski & snowboard clothes. The Patagonia Men’s Reconnaissance Jacket is obviously built for solid days in the back-country. Let me show you why!
Designed for “high output search missions” this is a hybrid style of shell, combining the extreme breath-ability of soft-shell fabric with 100% waterproof breathable 3 layer stretch fabric. So what does this mean? You can keep this shell on over your base layer longer while skinning in those (should I wear my shell or not?) type conditions. Two classic examples would be high output uphill travel with cold wind chills (hello Mount Washington) or high output uphill travel with misty/wet conditions (hello again Mount Washington). The point is this shell jacket has a higher breath-ability than any true back-country shell jacket I have worn. While not waterproof throughout, this design is optimal for crushing uphill mileage when all the precipitation you are dealing with is of the frozen variety.
Freedom of Movement:
While soft-shell fabrics typically have a fair amount of stretch the 3 layer waterproof material used in the construction of this jacket also has a fair amount of stretch. This two-way stretch allows complete freedom of movement. The material feels soft to the touch and this stretch through out is most noticeable when your well fitted ski pack straps are all cinched down in preparation for descent. Shoulder straps, waist belt, and sternum strap all under tension, this jacket conforms with every twist of the torso as you find your line though steep powder or icy bumps and water bars (hello again Mount Washington).
According to Patagonia this has a “Regular Fit: Neither slim nor over-sized. Regular-fitting technical garments may be worn over heavier mid-layers.” With a 40 inch chest I went with the medium and the fit is great on my 5’9″ 175 pound build. Because it is a regular fit I can easily wear my base layers (synthetic T and PowerStretch Hoodie) under it, adding a Primaloft sweater in very frigid conditions.
There is a lot more to talk about here. Let’s start with the fully taped seams inside.
While Patagonia points out this helps to keep moisture out I’d also wager it will also help with the longevity of the garment. Modern taped seams like this give the inside of the jacket a very nice finished look.
Yes, you can put a lot of thought into pockets. We start with 2 generously sized hand warmer pockets. Then add two chest pockets, one with an internal zippered stash pocket perfect for your smartphone (a small port allows you to pass headphones through). Inside there is also a large “drop in” pocket for goggles or gloves. Finally a sleeve pocket is perfect for stashing my compass/clinometer and lip balm. All zippers used are high quality urethane coated zippers.
On the back of the neck the jacket has a Recco Avalanche Rescue Reflector. While this technology doesn’t replace carrying a beacon in the back-country it does add another chance at being found if caught in-bounds or anywhere a trained rescue group employs Recco search units.
Here’s a short manufacturer video highlighting many of the features I have commented on:
This is a very high end shell designed with a fairly specific goal in mind. A wind-proof highly water resistant shell that can handle the exertion of both uphill skinning and challenging downhill back-country skiing. The fact that it is produced by a company well known for its social and environmental responsibility is icing on the cake. If you are in the market for a shell for skiing or riding, especially for back-country trips, I can highly recommend you take a look at this choice option!
Thanks for reading!
See you in the mountains,
Disclaimer: While this item was provided by Patagonia for the review the opinions I’ve formed over the last two months are indeed my own.