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Patagonia - Ultralight Down Hoody

posted Mar 28, 2014, 3:02 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Apr 7, 2014, 12:50 PM ]

The Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody may apparently look like a “traditional down jacket", so what's so interesting about it? The interesting fact is that it is actually much lighter and much thinner than a traditional down jacket. Less filling means less extreme warmth and this makes the Ultralight Down Hoody a much more versatile garment than its thicker cousins. The Go Out Project team decided to take one for a spin in its favorite lab: the Outdoor! Here are the results...

Technical Description

The Ultralight Down Hoody is made of a lightweight nylon ripstop fabric, filled with 800 fill-power European goose down. The construction is made with many small horizontal channels of different sizes, that keep the feathers in place, and give the garment a special look. We tested the hooded version, but a hood-free
version and a vest are also available. 
The Ultralight Down Hoody is equipped with:
  • Elastic cuffs (no adjustments) 
  • Elastic drawcord on the waist 
  • Two hand warmer pockets and one on the chest 
  • Hood with single cord volume control 
  • DWR treatment 
  • Separated stow bag 

Weight: 263 g (Size M)

Our Test

The Ultralight Down Hoody got on our desks more than a year ago
and it got back “home” only a few days ago. During its long stay in the Outdoor, it has accompanied our testers during bivies, long belaying hours on the walls, hikes and climbs, long tours of backcountry skiing, cold winter days and very long, cold winter nights in the tent. We've worn it in a very wide range of temperatures: approximately from -15 to +15 ºC. We used it both as an outer layer, wearing it directly on top of a baselayer or in combination with a thin fleece, and as an intermediate layer, under a hard or a soft shell.

First Impressions
It may sound trivial, but when you hold it in your hand, the first impression you have is: it's light as a feather! Minimalistic, lighter than what you may expect, soft and super smooth. When you put it on, it feels very comfortable and it provides instant warmth. The zip runs smoothly and the hood comfortably wraps around your head.

Some of the first comments from our testers:
  • "Light!... Incredibly light!" 
  • "I'm wearing it constantly... I even sleep in it!" 
  • "I find it better than a fleece ... and it's even lighter!" 
Lightness and Compressibility
If you find something on this planet with a better warmth-to-weight ratio, call us at the 610.610.610! The greatest advantage of down is that it can be compressed into a very small volume. The Ultralight Down Hoody can be packed in an extremely small volume... less than what you think! It occupies approximately half the volume of a mid-weight fleece. Being so small, it's very practical and it always fits into your backpack. The small stow bag is detached from the jacket and, therefore, it's easy to loose it (be careful!), we would have preferred a stow pocket. 

The smooth outer fabric eases the operations of wearing another protecting layer on top of it. The high collar, the wrapping elastic wrists bands, and the waist drawcord are functional and effectively keep out any draft. The hood is not designed to be worn over a
helmet, but it's very comfortable and warm.

Fit & Cut
Wearing a down jacket that fits so tight, it's unusual and at first it seems kind of weird. The fit is slim on the trunk, sleeves, and hood. The tight fit is designed to maximize the insulating power and you can clearly appreciate this, especially when you need instant warmth. Another advantage of the tight fit is that it reduces bulk, making it easier to wear other protecting outer layers on top of it. On the other side, despite the relatively tight fit, the jacket still leave enough room for some thin base and intermediate layers. Freedom of movement is always good, even during more dynamic activities.

Weather Protection
Protection from wind is fairly good, although, when exposed to very cold and strong winds, colder spots can be actually noticed around the seams. Despite the DWR treatment, protection from rain is only moderate. The DWR finish is, unfortunately, very short-lived and the rain penetrates through the seams quite easily. It's better to avoid the downpours without extra protection. This is a down jacket, not a
Hard Shell!

Being much lighter and thinner than a traditional down jacket, it allows easier air circulation, therefore, it is more breathable than the traditional, much thicker down jackets. However, given its moderate insulating power, it would be perhaps fairer to compare it to a mid-weight fleece and, in comparison to that, it is much less breathable, of course.

Despite its lightweight, the ripstop outer fabric is very strong, but the Ultralight Down Hoody is, however, a very delicate garment. A very large number of seams is present throughout the jacket and they are very vulnerable. Branches, rocks, and sharp objects in general are potential enemies. You should always take good care of this garment. In most cases, it's advisable to wear it under another protective shell.

Being such a thin and light garment, it can only offer a "moderate insulation", but if combined with the right layers, it is surprisingly well
suited to many situations over a wide temperature range. In terms of insulation it can be compared to a thick fleece. Like any other down
garment, it works at its best in dry environments. If you forget the traditional idea of down jacket and try to think of this garment just as a simple insulating layer, you will soon realize that it'll never stay in the closet.

Some Tips
  • Try to sleep in it. It transforms your sleeping bag in a oven!
  • In less physically intense activity, it works much better than a fleece. 
  • If you use it mainly as an intermediate layer, choose the version without the hood. 
Our Verdict

The Ultralight Down Hoody is a valid alternative to a classic fleece in activities where the physical effort is low or moderate. Very light and packable in a very small volume, is the perfect solution for any "light & fast" activity. It's a garment that
provides instant heat, great fit and great versatility: GO OUT PROJECT APPROVED!

+ Lightweight
+ Extremely versatile
+ Perfect cut and fit 

- Poor resistance to abrasion and tearing
- The
 separate stowing bag can be easily lost 
- The DWR treatment lasts only a few days

 Lightness & Compressiblity 10/10
 Comfort   9/10
 Fit & Cut   8/10
 Weather Protection   7/10
 Breathability   7/10
 Versatility   8/10
 Durability   7/10
 Total Score 8.0/10

Testers: Marco C., Marco M.