This year Patagonia has released a lighter version of their iconic DAS “Dead Air Space” synthetic parka and after a month of testing the Patagonia DAS Light Hoody I can honestly say it’s a amazing piece! Without a doubt you won’t find a warmer and more bomb-proof synthetic belay jacket under 12 ounces.
For insulation Patagonia used 65 grams of down-like “PlumaFill”. This 100% recycled insulation truly feels as warm as high quality down yet has the advantage of still retaining heat should it get wet. You’ll have to go out of your way to get it wet though thanks to the almost seamless Pertex® Quantum Pro fabric with both a PU dry coating and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. That’s about as close to waterproof as you can get while still having functional breath-ability and makes this jacket stand above the Micro and Nano Puff jackets with their sewn through quilted patterns.
A two way zipper for easy access to your belay loop, size-able chest pocket, helmet friendly hood, and two handwarmer pockets round out the features. The cut of the jacket is roomy, closer to a true belay jacket than a typical “light puffy”. I went with a size large for my 5′ 9″ 180lb frame and there was plenty of room to layer under it but it didn’t feel to baggy. My only suggestion is the left hand pocket that can be turned inside out to stuff the jacket needs to be a little bigger, it’s a bit of a challenge trying to get the jacket to stuff into that pocket.
Here’s a quick video review I did on the jacket:
Summary/Who is this for?
The Patagonia DAS Light Hoody is a pretty versatile piece. It’s an excellent choice for a fast & light ice climber/alpinist belay jacket if conditions are typical. It’s a great insurance piece for the back-country skier or rider who doesn’t plan to stop moving but wants to be prepared for any contingency and winter hikers will find it an excellent addition to their gear closet. If you’re looking for some cold weather protection this is a jacket you should be looking at!
I’ve had three full winter seasons testing the lofty Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka and it has been a consistent performer in the category of down belay jackets. Let’s take an in-depth look at the good and the bad and determine if this is the right choice for you!
It is important when comparing down jackets that you consider both the fill power of the down (generally 700+ is used in higher end pieces), and the actual amount of down used (generally varies from 2-8 ounces). The Patagonia Fitz Roy Parka is stuffed with 6.4 ounces of ethically sourced 800 fill goose down. This is a very generous amount of the heat-retaining-super-lightweight-and-compressible natural insulator! Similar priced models from other manufacturers often have 4-5 ounces of down (if you can even find out from them).
What this means is this “puffy” really is “puffy”. It feels like a big down sleeping bag that fits over all of my other layers (including soft-shell or hard-shell jackets). Baffled construction on the core and quilted construction on the arms keep this quality down where it is needed and eliminates “cold spots”.
But is it warm?
I’ve worn this now in ambient air temps down to -16°F (-26°C) with wind-chills between -30°F to -40°F below zero (-34°C to -40°C)! When worn over my typical winter mountaineering layers I’ve stayed toasty teaching avalanche courses, camping at 11,000 feet in the Cascades, and belaying partners on long pitches of technical ice climbing. It is without a doubt a toasty pound and a half part of my clothing system!
At only one pound six ounces (about 620 grams) this is the lightest full winter belay jacket I’ve tested! It also packs down into a very small stuff sack to maximize the available space in your smaller ice & alpine climbing packs. I lost the original stuff sack that came with the jacket but upgraded (and downsized from the original) to this amazing Hyperlight Mountain Gear waterproof stuff sack!
Patagonia uses a really silky and thin Pertex Quantum® fabric with DWR (durable water repellent) finish to fend off moisture. This is a positive for making this puffy extremely light-weight, pack-able, and breath-able. However it also makes this piece most suitable for extreme cold conditions when liquid precipitation is pretty much out of the question. If the forecast calls for “mixed” or freezing rain I’d suggest reaching for a heavier less pack-able synthetic belay jacket (like the recently reviewed Outdoor Research Perch).
Basically don’t expect this shell material to resist much liquid water. I managed to soak mine in a dripping ice cave while ice climbing on an unseasonably warm day and it was clear this piece is better designed for arctic cold dry days and not warm/damp days. It did however regain full loft when dried that evening!
I went with a size large for my 180 pounds, 5′ 9″, 42 inch chest, 34 inch waist build and it fits great over my typical winter ice climbing/mountaineering/back-country ski clothing kits. The hood is the perfect size for fitting over my climbing/mountaineering helmet and a drawcord on the back pulls the sides back so you don’t feel like you are wearing horse blinders.
The elastic wrists have the right amount of tension, hand-warming pockets are properly sized and positioned a little higher to be harness friendly. A bottom hem draw-cord helps keep heat from escaping out below and the front zipper runs high enough into the collar/hood area that I can go into “full turtle mode” when it is really too cold to be outside.
Rounding out the features a small chest pocket keeps my phone & lip balm handy and a large stretchy internal pocket on the right side will keep your gloves or mittens warm and dry (and prevent them from blowing away) while you attend to what ever fine dexterity task crops up.
This is one of the best down belay jackets out there at a fair price, especially when considering the amount and quality of the down Patagonia used. While there are some durability concerns with a piece made with such silky then fabrics (especially considering all the sharp stuff ice climbers carry) my parka only has two pea sized holes in it after 2 seasons which were easily patched with my favorite field repair stuff, Tenacious Tape. If you are in the market for a lofty warm down belay jacket this one should be on your radar!
You can also save some money buying one of these now as most retailers have them on sale as we quickly approach Spring however inventory is really low! Check out the lowest prices at the links below! I will re-post this next Fall when the new colors & inventory hits the market!
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! You can find the best price on Amazon right here!
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. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.