Expert Review: Patagonia Women’s Ascensionist Jacket
This review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2018.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the jacket, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2018.
The Patagonia Women’s Ascensionist Jacket is a great ski shell for touring or layering on resort days. It is waterproof, durable, and has well-thought-out pockets.
About the jacket
- Model: Patagonia Ascensionist Women’s Jacket
- Size: M
- Fit: Runs large
- Height: 5’3”
- Weight: 115 lbs
- Experience: 25+ years of snowboarding/skiing
- When I bought this: November 2018
- Days tested: 300 days
- Where I’ve used it: Utah resorts and backcountry, Colorado resorts
- Conditions I’ve used it in: Powder, resort days, spring skiing, backcountry, sidecountry.
How it performs
What I was looking for
When I bought the Ascensionist, I was looking for a shell jacket to use for backcountry touring. I had an insulated jacket for resort skiing. Yet, it was way too hot for backcountry skiing, so I wanted something that would offer enough ventilation that I wouldn’t die while skiing up but still be waterproof.
Why I chose this gear
I decided to buy this particular product because it has great pockets and excellent ventilation. I like Patagonia’s products, and I live near a Patagonia store. This jacket was the only one that seemed to be non-insulated and with GORE-TEX, as opposed to another form of waterproofing. GORE-TEX is the best type of waterproofing on the market and tends to last the longest.
I considered some other options. I had gone to REI, and there were a few others that I considered. One was the North Face Ceptor Jacket and the Arc’teryx Beta LT Jacket. I decided to roll with the Patagonia jacket because the face fabric seemed a bit more durable than the Beta LT, and it was a bit cheaper than the North Face Ceptor. I haven’t used much North Face gear in recent years, but I have used a lot of Patagonia gear that has really lasted well and that I always love, so it seemed like a safe bet!
What I love about it
- Range of Motion: The range of motion in this jacket is awesome. I don’t feel inhibited in moving at all. The wrists have velcro on them so that I can adjust them over my gloves, and the hood has a cinch on it so that I can fit it to my head when the hood is up and not have it flop around. I usually feel the most inhibited in ski jackets with the hood up and velcroed wrists, but neither of them is a problem with this jacket which is fantastic!
- Design: The jacket is well-designed. There is a check pocket on the right side, which fits a phone, and a hip pocket on either side. The hip pockets are raised a bit more than they typically are on ski jackets, which facilitates getting in and out of them if wearing a harness. They make this jacket a great option for anyone looking to get into ski mountaineering who might need to wear a climbing harness with a ski jacket.
- Style: It is pretty loose-fitting, but I personally like that. I sometimes struggle with finding women’s ski jackets that are loose-fitting and not really tight in the waist, but this one doesn’t have that issue at all. It does run a bit big and loose, but that helps with layering underneath.
- Quality of Materials: The waterproofing on this jacket is a three-layer GORE-TEX, which makes it both breathable and waterproof. The face fabric is tough, has been through some tree scrapes and rock scrapes with me, and doesn't show any damage at all. The inside is a softer material and doesn’t feel crunchy, as some waterproof jackets do.
- Durability: So far, this jacket has been super durable. It has been through many ski days with me, some hikes, and even a trip to Costa Rica serving as my rain jacket. It has handled all of those incredibly well. Patagonia also has an Iron Clad Guarantee on all their products, so if there were any durability issues, they would repair or replace it for free.
- Pockets: Aside from the two pockets on the hip and one on the chest, there are also two inside pockets. One is on the chest, and it's pretty small but secure. The other is larger and can fit some gloves or a hat. I constantly use the internal pocket to store my hat or some glove liners because they are secure and stay close to my body, so they will be warm if I get cold and need them!
- Waterproofing: The waterproofing on this jacket is the best on the market. It is a three-layer GORE-TEX which keeps the moisture out but also prevents me from getting too hot. I have never had any issues with water getting through.
- Breathability: The GORE-TEX does an awesome job at letting some heat out,** **but two large armpit vents on either side allow me to dump heat if I need even more ventilation. They go from about my ribcage to above my elbow, so they are substantial, and I can zip them from either end. They also have long toggles on the zips, making them super easy to maneuver with gloves.
- Weight: Since this jacket is just a shell, it’s pretty lightweight! I have tossed it into my backpacking bag on days it might rain, and the weight is hardly noticeable at all.
- Features: The hood is helmet compatible, which is great and can be hard to find, but the cinch prevents the hood from feeling too floppy when I don't have a helmet on. It also has a RECCO tab in it, which could come in handy in an avalanche recovery situation.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Fit: This jacket fits large! I usually wear an XS/S in Patagonia clothing and an S/M in their jackets. I should have gotten a small in this jacket, but I went with the medium, which is definitely too big. I've made it work because it's a ski jacket mostly, so it's not the end of the world if it's baggy. But when I have also used it as a rain jacket, I felt goofy because it's so baggy and big.
- Warmth: There is no insulation. However, I was looking for a shell, so I didn’t want anything with insulation. If I want to keep warm, this jacket is not it.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with this gear was on a resort day in March 2020 at Solitude in Utah. It was a Thursday. I had randomly taken off work a few weeks before. The resort wasn’t too crowded, and it ended up being my last ski day before the resort shut down for COVID in 2020.
It was dumping snow - the biggest storm of the year - and it was just incredible skiing. It was the first time I had seriously needed the helmet-compatible hood, and it prevented snow from going down my neck! I was also really warm from skiing, so I opened the armpit vents although it was snowing. I also stayed dry the whole time. Overall, it was a great day!
Value for the money vs. other options
I picked this jacket up for around $400, and I think it is well worth the money. It is around the same price as other options that I was looking at (North Face Ceptor and Arc’teryx Beta LT). Of course, there is a price difference when one looks at non-GORE-TEX shell options with other waterproofing, but GORE-TEX is the best and will hold up the best, so I think it’s worth it to pay for the extra life and reliability they’ll get out of it. I can’t speak for the others, but at least for the Ascensionist, it has been so durable, and I really like the pockets and features, so I think the price is totally reasonable to pay for a jacket that works well, is functional, and lasts a long time!
The Patagonia Ascensionist is a great waterproof shell for touring and layering under on colder days! I can ventilate well uphill, store everything I need in my pockets, and stay dry even on wet days. It's an awesome jacket that’s worth the money.