Straight out of the box it was obvious to us that the Patagonia Down Hoody
was the best looking jacket in this year's test, a feature that endeared it to our hearts and inspired us to wear it more often than any other when heading out on the town. While we tend to like to focus our reviewing efforts on technical performance, we have to acknowledge that when it comes to a puffy jacket, far more people are interested in finding a suitable warmth layer for living their lives in during the colder months, than finding the best ice climbing jacket for their annual trip to Ouray. For that reason we decided to give this jacket an award as our Top Pick for Style, and admit that it is a pretty great technical layer as well.
During previous testing, we found ourselves babying this jacket, especially after finding the first snag in the shell. Though testing it was no chore, we did find ourselves modifying our behavior, moving and climbing more cautiously, to avoid damaging it. This is probably a great testament to how much we liked the jacket, but it did become a little tedious. If you accept that you will someday have to let go of the things you love, you can have a great relationship with the Patagonia Down Hoody
. Of course, in the case of Patagonia clothing, letting go is always pretty easy, considering the awesomeness of their ironclad guarantee.
Looking at the overall scores of each product in this review, it's no surprise that this Patagonia model (shown below in blue) was one of our favorites.
Keep reading below to see how this model fared in each individual performance metric.
A double-down: the Hybridge Lite Hoody (red, worn as a mid-layer) and The Patagonia Down Hoody were the primary layers in a very complete layering system for extreme cold.
When it comes to considering warmth, the Down Sweater Hoody
initially comes off as not so special. The Down Hoody
isn't ultra-light or ultra-warm. Yet, it definitely keeps the wind out and the warmth in. Its warmth-to-weight ratio isn't spectacular, but it is more than adequately warm for low to mid-altitude ski touring and alpine climbing as an outer layer. Whether you choose to use this hoody as a mid-layer or an outer layer depends somewhat on the size that you choose to purchase. For our testers' tall and skinny climbers bodies, the Patagonia size chart presents a bit of a problem.
Ultimately, we typically buy size medium, even when we purchase large in all other brands. In the case of this jacket, the fit was comfortably snug, serving us great as a mid-layer, but without enough space inside for much underneath. We find that the opposite is true of a size large, where there is too much room to wear it underneath anything, and it would thus become the de-facto outer belay jacket type of option.
A close up of the fabric of the Down Sweater Hoody. The 800 fill power down really lofts out these thin sewn through baffles, making this one of the puffier jackets in the review. What we really liked about it is Patagonia's commitment to tracing and using only the most responsibly sourced down.
One thing we really liked about the 800 fill-power down found in this jacket is Patagonia
's commitment to Traceable Down. Only three other jackets featured in this review — the Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody
, Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody
, and The North Face Trevail Hoodie
— also advertised this commitment. What this really means is that the animals that provided that fluffy insulation that you so much value were not tortured during the process.
They were not live-plucked or force-fed, and were not killed simply for their down, but were instead products of the food industry. When given the choice between products that come with this guarantee and those that don't, we find it hard not to consider the precious lives of our animal friends and choose anything but the most morally conscious choice available. For warmth we rated this jacket six out of 10 points.
The Down Sweater Hoody
, just like the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody
, is a bit of a hoss. At nearly a pound, both of these jackets lose a few points on their warmth-to-weight ratio. The Patagonia Down Sweater
doesn't have a ton of features to weigh it down, and most of the weight comes from a solid outer shell.
You will forgive the Down Hoody
for being a little porky once you've worn it for a few days, and won't mind the extra ounces in your pack when it's cold out. The 800 fill down is ethically sourced and the shell is 100 percent recycled polyester, so you'll also be kept toasty by your warm heart. Compared to the competition, this jacket received six out of 10 for weight.
The 1.4-oz 20x30-denier 100 percent recycled polyester ripstop shell of the Patagonia Down Hoody
is DWR treated and, despite feeling super soft and pillow-like, does a surprisingly good job of shedding rain. We tested the Down Hoody
on some stormy days in New Zealand and it fared better than the Transcendent Hoody
after similar lengths of exposure to mixed precipitation in the mountains of Arthur's Pass.
In our side-by-side testing in the rain in Colorado, we found that the DWR coating repelled water better than every other jacket in the test save for one, the Western Mountaineering Flash XR
, and so gave it an understandably high score of eight out of 10. One thing this jacket does not have is hydrophobic down, which of course prevented it from having an even higher score.
Water beading up on the surface of the Down Sweater Hoody due to the DWR coating applied to the face fabric. This is after a light rain, and unfortunately we found that for most jackets in the test, water was still absorbed into the nylon face fabrics.
This jacket doesn't stash away small when stuffed into its pocket. It more closely resembles a pillow (awesome for plane sleeping; we tested) and is cumbersome when clipped to a harness.
It was similarly large as the Marmot Guide Down Hoody
and the Arc'teryx Thorium SV
, both jackets that had much greater loft and bulk when unpacked. That said, the down withstood a lot of mangling, and bounced right back when the jacket was shaken out. Pack this jacket around other objects in your pack to carry it instead of creating another solid lump in your pack. Six out of 10.
The 10 jackets in this year's review stuffed into their own stuff sacks or pockets, with a nalgene bottle for comparison. Left, bottom to top, smallest to largest: Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody, Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer, REI Co-op Down Hoody, Outdoor Research Transcendent Jacket. Right, bottom to top: The North Face Trevail Hoodie, some blue jacket we cut from the review (stuff sack), Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody, Marmot Guides Down Jacket, Arc'teryx Thorium SV (stuff sack), Western Mountaineering Flash XR (no sack, stuffed into its own hood).
We wouldn't have awarded this jacket the Top Pick for Style if we didn't think it was the best-looking one of the bunch. It has a retro look that screams classic Patagonia, and offsets the colors of the inside and the outside. Its thin, horizontally placed baffles give it that standard "puffy jacket" look, something we really don't mind.
In a product class that featured jackets that tended to look either frumpy — REI Co-op Down Hoodie
— or technical — Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded
— it was nice to have a big warm jacket that looked rather normal, and wouldn't label us as some gram counting high altitude climbing freak simply by wearing it out to the brewpub. We understandably granted it a perfect score for this metric.
This jacket wins our Top Pick for Style because it functions both as an incredible warmth layer, and as a jacket that you can wear while out on the town.
There doesn't appear to be anything super special about the Down Sweater Hoody
unless you take it as a complete package. The standard features of a waist drawcord recessed into the hand pockets, and one back of the hood pull-cord, are present. What makes the jacket so functional is some extra length in the torso and the fact that the front of the hood zips up over your nose when it's fully closed, giving you the extra touch of some soft micro-fleece to snuggle your nose against (or wipe your boogers on). It stuffs into its only internal zip pocket, and we couldn't help but wish it had some stash pockets buried inside of it as well, but alas, it doesn't. The wrist cuffs are made of elastic that fits pretty much perfectly.
While we could imagine having a few extra bonus features added on, we have to admit that what is there works pretty much perfectly, and so gave eight out of 10 points. While the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody
certainly had a few features we wouldn't mind also having on this jacket, we have to admit that what is there works pretty much perfectly, and so gave eight out of 10 points.
An easy to pull cinch cord on the back of the hood allows one to tighten the hood around the head and cinch down the opening by the face.
The micro fleece lining on the inside of the collar provides a nice smooth surface for the face to rub against when the jacket it zipped all the way to the top, far more preferable to rubbing against nylon and zipper.
We think this jacket is a great option for wearing around town, on the streets at the resort, or simply while performing any sort of outdoor chores or tasks in the winter. It also works great as that extra warmth layer for a day on the slopes, to throw on for the down hill while out backcountry skiing, or as a belay jacket while climbing in chilly temps. While it can serve as a valuable layering option for truly cold weather climates, it is not thick enough to be used as a true outer layer in the harshest of environments.
In our opinion the Down Sweater Hoody was the most fashionable jacket in this test, with a retro vibe common to many of Patagonia's recent clothing items. Here wearing it out on a chilly evening on the way to the brewery in Ouray, Colorado.
This jacket retails for $279, placing it slightly toward the more affordable end of the down jacket spectrum. Since we think it is such a great jacket, and it ranks so highly in this review, we think this presents a great value. It is also backed up by Patagonia
's ironclad guarantee, long known for being one of the most generous warrantees in the outdoor industry, so it is hard to imagine not ending up happy with this purchase.
The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody
is one of the top scoring products in this review and a jacket that we were happy to award a Top Pick for Style to. We think you will love this jacket, and wholeheartedly recommend it. It is truly a jacket that you can do anything in, and comes with the added bonus of Traceable Down certification.
The down hoody kept our testers warm in Antarctica, even in not so perfect weather.