Expert Review: Patagonia Women's Down SweaterPublished on 02/09/2023 · 10 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the jacket which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.
All photos courtesy of Hunter Reed
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the jacket which I purchased with my own money in December of 2021.
The Patagonia Women's Down Sweater Jacket is a versatile, warm option that is great for wearing under a ski shell or outer layer on cold weather days, on camping trips in the spring and fall, or just around town in the winter months.
About the piece
- Model: Patagonia Down Sweater
- Size: S
- Fit: Runs Small
- Height: 5’3”
- Weight: 110 lbs.
- Experience: 20+ years
- When I bought this: December 2021
- Days tested: 100
- Where I’ve used it: Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Colorado
- Conditions I’ve used it in: Cold windy days, snowy and wet days, Après, around the home, casual days or nights out.
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking for a day-to-day puffy jacket that would last for a long time. I wanted something with the classic down sweater look that would work as a really warm mid-layer while I was skiing, but could also be used for camping, hiking, climbing, and just wearing around town in the winter.
Why I chose this gear
I chose the Patagonia Down Sweater because it’s a very versatile and well-known, quality product. I had already owned one prior to purchasing this one in 2021, and that one lasted for maybe 8-ish years. I still have the other one and, although it has a lot of holes and the down isn’t as puffy in the arms as it once was, it's still a great backup jacket to keep in the car in case I ever get into an emergency situation. I knew that I liked the fit of this jacket and I had looked around for something similar, but nothing quite compared.
I also like that all Patagonia clothing is covered by Patagonia’s repair and warranty program. This means that if there are any warranty issues such as a broken zipper, a hem coming undone, etc., Patagonia will repair the issue for free or issue a replacement for the item if it's not repairable. For quick fixes such as a repair patch over a small rip, a Patagonia employee will even repair the issue on the spot for you in a Patagonia retail store. The warranty gave me the peace of mind that even though the Patagonia Down Sweater was a bit pricey, if anything were to happen to it, I could always get it repaired.
What I love about it
- Range of Motion: The jacket is very versatile and can be worn on a wide array of activities such as skiing, hiking, camping, climbing, fishing, or walking the dog around the neighborhood. Although the sleeves are the perfect length for me, the arms have elastic cuffs around the wrists which are helpful for keeping my hands free and the sleeves out of the way. I have worn this jacket while doing a lot of different activities and I have never felt like my mobility was restricted.
- Design: With two hand pockets on either side and a larger pocket on the inside, it's a really functional jacket. The inside chest pocket converts to a stuffsack, allowing the whole jacket to be stuffed into the pocket. This is a nice feature as it makes it easy to pack along on camping trips. This feature also makes it an awesome choice to bring instead of a pillow for camping since it’s roughly the same size packed up as a camping pillow would be.
- Style: I liked that this women’s down jacket wasn't as tight-fitting and did not flare out at the bottom as much as many other similar designs from other brands do. It annoys me that so many women’s versions of jackets have a contoured fit where they are tight around the waist and flared at the bottom instead of just the classic cut. It makes it hard to layer underneath and just looks awkward on me. I liked the shape of the Patagonia Women’s Patagonia Down Sweater as it was a looser, non-form-fitting cut. There is also a drawcord hem with a cord lock at the bottom of the jacket so you can tighten or loosen the bottom of the jacket if need be.
- Quality of Materials: The down interior and nylon exterior are both of really high quality, and if the jacket is taken care of properly, it will stay puffy and warm for a long time. The exterior shell fabric is a ripstop nylon made entirely from post-consumer recycled fishing nets (a material they call NetPlus). Not only is it super durable, as fishing nets are, but I like that Patagonia found a way to use waste like fishing nets to create a new, useful, and well-made product. It's a great jacket even if it wasn't supporting the restoration of the environment, but I love that there's less trash and ocean plastic pollution because of the materials of this jacket. As for the down, Patagonia has a responsible down standard for all the down in their products, meaning the feather supply chain is entirely traceable, there are better animal welfare practices, and the animals are not force-fed or live-plucked. I have washed my Down Sweater with special down wash detergent (available from NikWax or Grangers) and dried on low heat. The down finally started to loose puffiness after about 8 years, and that was only in the wrists and lower arms which are the highest wear areas. The feathers held up really well for eight years of near everyday use, so I would rate the quality of the down as pretty high.
- Warmth: In terms of warmth, this jacket can handle almost anything. The adjustable hem at the bottom of the jacket, and the interior storm flap and zipper garage combo at chin level help to offer sealed-in warmth when the jacket is zipped all the way up. I have found this to be the perfect warmth for cold days in Utah, even as a generally cold person, and I feel pretty toasty in this jacket and during all outdoor activities. The Down Sweater is so warm that I don’t like to use it skiing on spring days because I know I will overheat!
- Weight: Since it is down instead of synthetic insulation, it is really lightweight at about 13 ounces (this varies slightly depending on which size you go with) and easy to toss in a backpack as an extra layer.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Waterproofing: It has a durable water repellent on the jacket, but it is not waterproof. In light rain or snow, the moisture will bead up, but anything heavier and it will soak through. It’s also worth noting that because this jacket is down rather than synthetic insulation if it does get wet, it will not keep wearers very warm. For those who usually hike/ski/camp in really wet conditions, a synthetic option would be better since the synthetic material will retain some of its warmth capabilities even when it’s wet. That being said, for those planning on keeping it dry and using a shell over it in downpour/heavy wet snow situations, it will do well.
- Durability: Though it has a 20 denier nylon ripstop on the exterior, which is a somewhat durable shell fabric, it is a bit softer and does rip more easily than some other jacket faces might. I try not to wear it if I am going to be bushwhacking at all because I am worried it will rip.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with this gear was on a backpacking trip in Colorado. Before setting out, the forecast looked a little gloomy, with some light rain and light wind, but nothing terrible. But by the end of the first day, my morale was low. It had been really rainy and terrible weather all day and my boots and pants were soaked. It was a lot more hiking than we had anticipated and had kind of been a rough day terrain-wise.
I had brought this puffy just in case I needed an extra layer, not anticipating everything would be soaked and that it would be so cold. I pulled the Down Sweater out just as the rain stopped and unzipped it from its stuff sack pocket. It was totally dry since it had been in my pack and was able to warm me back up even though I had been freezing from being wet all day and thought I would never feel warm again. I wore it through setting my gear up and making dinner, and the next morning the weather got better. I think if I had not had this with me, I might have had a bit of a meltdown just from being cold and uncomfortable, so I am so glad I had ended up tossing it in my pack!
Value for the money vs. other options
It’s a classic jacket that Patagonia has really dialed in. The warmth and fit are top-notch, especially for a women’s jacket as I mentioned above in the style section. When thinking about other options, I was mostly checking out men’s options in other brands because I hate the tight-waisted, bottom-flared cut that so many women’s down jackets similar to this one have. But, overall, men’s jackets are wider in the shoulders, and longer on the torso so not a good fit for me either. The Patagonia Women’s Down Sweater is really the perfect mixture of classic women’s jackets but without being too form-fitting. It is also really high quality and I like the peace of mind that comes with knowing Patagonia has an awesome warranty and repair program. It’s really versatile so I get a ton of use out of it and. with how long my first Patagonia Down Jacket lasted me, I am happy to purchase another one as I know it’s an investment that will last me a very long time.
Other comparable options would be the Arc'teryx Cerium Jacket ($400) or the Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket ($300). The Arc'teryx Cerium is just as warm, a few ounces lighter, and about $100 more expensive. Since I don't really care about going ultralight, that was not a good option for me. The Rab option is around the same price, but more lightweight and slightly less warm. Since I am generally a pretty cold person, I wanted the extra warmth of the Patagonia Down Jacket.
I also like that for a cheaper/similar price compared to alternatives, the purchase of a Patagonia Down Sweater is a purchase of responsible down standard, and helps recycles fishing nets that would otherwise be ocean trash. I also like that the DWR (Durable Water Repellant) finish that keeps the jacket water-resistant is PFC-free, as most of the time DWR finishes use chemicals that are known to cause harm both to the environment and human health.
Lastly, Patagonia has a social responsibility program that ensures good working conditions in their factories. Basically, for a better price I can support animal welfare, environmental initiatives (Patagonia's manufacturing process uses less water, less natural resources, less energy, and is a more low-impact process environmentally compared to other sellers), sustainability, well-being for the workers who made the jacket and my own health all while getting a really great garment with a long life.
The Patagonia Women’s Down Jacket is pretty hyped up, but with good reason. It is one of the most versatile pieces as it can be worn through skiing, hiking, climbing, and camping adventures. It’s really easy to throw in a backpack as an extra layer due to its packability and low weight, but it can also double as a camping pillow. Comfort-wise, it is top-notch, and overall, it’s one of the warmest jackets I own. I would be happy to purchase one over and over again, though I know I won't need to for many years to come since they last for so long. And lastly, I appreciate that purchasing this, and any other Patagonia product supports activism awareness, the preservation of natural resources, and the hope of a thriving planet.