Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket Review
When it comes to making jackets for the extremes, Patagonia is no stranger. Over the past few months, I’ve been able to test out the Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket which is made for the athlete that takes their activities to the extreme and their gear even farther. The primary purpose of this jacket is for use in activities such as ski mountaineering, alpine climbing, and big mountain skiing. Yes, we understand that the majority of people reading this review aren’t that “hardcore”, so I took the liberty to test this jacket in less intense activities such as skiing at Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and getting out on some winter hikes and dog walks.
Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket incorporating GORE-TEX Pro Shell
As many of you know, GORE-TEX has long been known to provide a waterproof layer that keeps out rain, snow, sleet, and wind. And while most people think of GORE-TEX as just GORE-TEX, it has come to be much more for both athletes and brands such as Patagonia. Recently, I was invited to a GORE event in Boulder, CO where a number of brands including Patagonia came in and showed off the latest and greatest products that incorporate GORE-TEX. The primary purpose of the event was to educate both consumers and people like me on the new GORE-TEX Pro Shell.
The new GORE-TEX Pro Shell has been engineered to provide maximum breathability while remaining incredibly light and waterproof. You may ask yourself, what did they end up doing with the old GORE-TEX Pro Shell and the answer is the old Pro Shell is now the standard GORE-TEX membrane/material. For the average athlete, regular GORE-TEX will meet your needs. This means if you are a resort skier, occasional winter hiker, or needing protection from everyday rain storms, GORE-TEX is a great product. Pro Shell is ideal for athletes such as alpine climbers, backcountry skiers, and ski mountaineers who need to vent excess heat to prevent the body from overheating and sweating too much. So when the designers at Patagonia were determining which waterproof membrane to use for the Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket, it was a no brainer to use GORE-TEX Pro Shell.
The Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket lived up to all my expectations and then some. To start, I think it is best for you to know the activities I used this jacket in. First, I used the Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket while winter hiking and skiing in the high alpine Colorado Rockies. While hiking, I ran into temperatures ranging between 10-30 F with a mix of clouds, sun, and wind. This jacket has plenty of room to allow for insulated layers whether it’s a Merino Wool, Primoloft, or Polartec fleece layer (my preferred insulating layers). The nice thing is that when you add these layers under the Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket, you don’t feel like the Michelin Man where it’s hard to move. Even with extra layers, I had plenty of room in both the arms and body allowing me to move freely. When the winds picked up, I used the hood in the jacket that is easy to fit to your head or helmet with an easy cinch system. To help keep out the cold winds, there’s also a draw cord near the waist. The fit around the waist is pretty generous as well, so I tend to tighten this area a little to keep our snow and wind from creeping in.
There are two pockets on the Patagonia Super Alpine jacket that are compatible with both hip belts used on backpacks and climbing harnesses. These pockets look as though they may be small, but each pocket is large enough to hold a pair of skins with ease for those interested in using this jacket for backcountry skiing. For those who are skiing with this jacket inbounds, I was happy to stash a few PB&J’s that allowed me to save $25 because resort food is NOT cheap! Personally, I would like to see a chest pocket in this jacket, but it’s not a deal breaker for me.
In true fashion, I found the GORE-TEX Pro Shell material to do it’s job while both skiing and winter hiking. It is often hard to tell when your jackets fabric is venting appropriately unless you’re sweaty mess. On all my excursions and activities, I never found myself drenched in sweat because the Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket material was not venting properly. To aid in moisture management, Patagonia also added pit zips to allow you to vent on the high excursion activities.
There are two outer layer fabrics used in the Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket. These fabrics are strategically placed as one fabric is a little thicker and more durable. This means that the sections of the jacket that tend to see the most wear use the the thicker fabric and the layers that tend to see a little less is where you have lighter fabric. The locations of the lighter fabric includes the back, under arms, sides, and around the neck. These locations of the body also tend to sweat the most, so the lighter the fabric in these sections, the more breathable they will be. As with all GORE-TEX Pro Shell products, all seams in the jacket are taped to keep prevent leakage. The amount of tape used in the seem sealing is minimal to reduce weight and allow for greater flexibility.
The cuffs on the Patagonia Super Alpine jacket are unique in that they are comprised of a rubber like material. Generally you will see a continuation of fabric used in the cuff of a winter jacket, but Patagonia decided to use a rubber like material to prevent saturation from snow and rain. Personally, I like regular cuffs better. For those that like to stuff their winter glove and mitten under your jacket cuffs, it is hard to do in the Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket. The jacket cuffs will go over a glove or mitten easily when using a bare hand, but after you put your first glove or mitten on, it’s hard to fit the other mitt or glove under the cuff. Personally, I would like to see the cuffs to be a little wider to make it easier to cover your glove and mitten cuffs.
Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket Fit
The fit of the Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket is generous. The primary reason for this to be able to add layers and still feel comfortable as mentioned above. I am 6’0 tall and 172lbs and I found the jacket to have plenty of room for all my layers and give me freedom to move.
The Patagonia Super Alpine Jacket is an excellent choice for the athlete that’s looking to push the envelope. It’s sure to keep pace with the most extreme athletes, but also is a great choice for the everyday athlete skier who wants premium protection and functionality. For more information, please visit Patagonia.com