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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Fabric gets dirty easily, truly excels in no category
The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody is like the minivan of down jackets: highly functional, reliable, totally lovable--and it accommodates the whole family. No joke, they have it in baby sizes (it's even reversible, for those on-the-road spit-up emergencies). For women, it is important to note that the fit and sizing has changed from the years-long standard: it has gotten more trim and a little longer in the waist. Otherwise, the Down Sweater Hoody remains a tried-and-true standby of the outdoors-woman's wardrobe. It does not stand out in any one category--rather, it performs above average in all of our rating metrics. Add to this Patagonia's ongoing commitment to ethics and high quality products, and we felt all warm and fuzzy inside.
This jacket was awarded a Top Pick for being a true Jill-of-all-trades everyday jacket.
RELATED: Our complete review of down jackets - women's
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Patagonia struck a fine middle ground with the Down Sweater Hoody. It has been an old standby for generations of outdoors people. And the tradition will likely continue since they now make adorable baby sized down jackets for the groms-to-be.
The Down Sweater is almost like a rite of passage. If you don't own one, stained, faded, and more polka-dot-patch than jacket, can you really call yourself a true outdoorsperson? Several of our reviewers managed to navigate their way through careers in the outdoors without the Down Sweater, so we thought it was time to put the Sweater in a true tete-a-tete with this year's competition.
Overall, the Sweater proved to be exactly what its name suggests: that cozy piece of clothing you run to for comfort, in any and every circumstance. By the end of the review, this was our most heavily used piece, as proven by the motor oil stains on the cuffs and dirt-tinged hems. It was not the most technical jacket in the category, the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer - Women's and the Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket - Women's still lead the category for technical climbing and mountaineering objectives.
Patagonia's Down Sweater Hoody is among the warmer jackets in our lineup. The wide-toothed zipper and minimal storm flap make it a bit drafty along the center line. However, the ease of use and durability of this type of zipper mightily outweighs any drawbacks.
Patagonia put smaller size baffling under the arms which allow for better range of movement at a small cost to warmth--we felt this was a wise decision on their part, as this part of the jacket gets compressed the most by movement and is often protected from wind and cold by the arms.
Overall, the Sweater ranks relatively high in warmth for its weight, largely due to the high quality 800 fill Traceable Down. Patagonia's Traceable Down is third-party certified to be non-live-plucked and non-force-fed. If this doesn't warm your heart, then it is worth noting that Patagonia's conscientious attention to ethics seems also to spill over into quality. Like your favorite old sweater, laced with dog hair and smelling of coffee, the Down Sweater Hoody will keep you warm for years to come--inside and out.
Weight-wise, the Sweater is on par with the Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket. It is on the heavier side of our product lineup. While the Rab jacket earns status in its warmth, water resistance and durability, the Sweater earns our admiration with the apparent attention to detail, features, simplicity, and overall comfort. It is not enough to rocket it to the top of our review, but makes it a solid contender, and one we still feel we can strongly recommend.
Ummm don't forget your rain jacket. And make sure this Sweater will fit underneath. This Sweater is not much more waterproof than that cozy wool sweater grandma made for you when you were fifteen--though the reason for hiding it underneath your rain coat might be different.
Eight-hundred fill down ensures that this jacket is highly compressible for its weight, and sewn-through baffles improve compressibility and movement of the jacket. Overall we were pleased with this jacket's compressibility: it is at least on par with other similar jackets. The soft hand of the fabric made it feel more compressible than the Rab Microlight Alpine.
In the words of one angry online consumer, the latest cut of the Down Sweater Hoody is more fit for the "pre-pubescent female" than previous models, whatever that means. But it is important to note that Patagonia has changed their fit a little bit, and this year's models seem to be fitting more true to size if not a little on the small side. This year's cut feels a little longer in the torso, which our reviewers appreciated for those cold drafts that sneak up on you in camp, and for activities that involve raising your arms above your head. The jacket is a little broader in the shoulders, providing good range of movement even though it has standard (and not raglan) sleeves, and it is a bit more trim through the middle. Those graced with generous womanly curves may have more difficulties finding the right size, and those who have been in the habit of re-ordering the exact same size over the years once the jacket is finally consumed by patches will want to find a store to try one on before purchasing.
The Sweater is made of a soft and supple recycled polyester ripstop which did not at first inspire confidence in its long-term durability. Add to this all of our collected mental images of tattered and patched old Patagonia down jackets from campgrounds across the nation, and our initial bias was not exactly favorable. However, that soft and supple characteristic seems to be not only what makes this your go-to cozy "sweater," but also a sly, snag-free jacket that stays with you around every sharp corner and through every grabby bush. A few down plumes escaped from the stitching, but nothing more than average. More than most down jackets, Patagonia's Down Sweater seems to be the one people keep around for many years, and many repairs. In our testing, it proved quite resilient. And compared to other jackets in our test with 20 and 30 denier fabrics, it was significantly more soft and supple. After testing, we felt much less silly wearing a so-called "sweater" made of plastic and feathers: it is as cozy as implied.
First, the zipper is a very smooth, wide-toothed plastic zipper. It has a distinct look to it which makes it harder to dress up: in the brighter colors with contrasting zippers, you might find you resemble a Skittle. But the benefits far outweigh this single drawback (if you consider it such). When the wind was howling, the teeth would grab as if guided by a magnet--in a split second we were sealed--and stoked. The polar opposite was the Columbia Platinum 860 TurboDown which would take several tries to zip up while still warm and safe indoors and with bright lighting, and then would catch at the bottom every time we went to unzip it. It is in this category, thus, that Patagonia really shines.
In our view, every good down jacket should have a hood, so we like the hooded version of the Down Sweater. Once the jacket is zipped up, the hood sits nicely around the face with stitching that mimics a visor and helps the hood maintain its structure. There is a single, simple drawcord at the back of the head which is placed with precision and makes the hood fit just right on anyone from Mama Bear to Little Red Riding Hood. The fit is a little tight to fit over a helmet, but unzipping the jacket to just below the chin allows adequate range of movement and comfort while still sealing out the elements.
There is a soft patch of fleece that minimizes cold-weather chaffing on your chin, lips, or nose, depending on how much you are nestling in to your effective turtle shell from the harsh elements outside.
The drawcord in the bottom hem tightens from inside the pocket and loosens with a toggle on the inside of the jacket.
The cuffs are a flexible and soft elastic which takes a low profile, and will seal around lightweight gloves or tuck nicely into bigger gauntlets.
The jacket stuffs relatively easily into an inside chest pocket, and then has a sturdy carabiner clip loop to clip it to the back of your harness or wherever you can imagine. It is not the smallest package when stuffed, but it is not the bulkiest either. Again, a middle-of-the-road solution which nicely blends functional priorities: ease of stuffing, and the resulting stuffed size (not too big to be annoying on the back of your harness on a fast and light climb).
Perhaps the only cozy detail we could imagine adding is a little fleece lining in the hand pockets.
The Down Sweater Hoody is a great down layer for moderate cold conditions. It is at home under a soft or hard shell jacket at the ski resort, or alone in the summer mountains or on brisk desert evenings in the spring and fall. It layers well with lightweight insulating layers, but will still slide nicely below a burly hard shell.
Is that Patagucci you're wearing? It's a clever play on words, but it highlights the fact that Patagonia is not recognized for being the most affordable outdoor clothing brand on the market. Given this reputation, their down sweaters are surprisingly affordable. Patagonia's Down Sweater Hoody is tried and true and streamlined: This jacket has no frills, and just enough of all the things we love in a down jacket.
#TheFamilyUniform. If this year's family Christmas card is a photo of you, mom, grandma, your brother, your brother's baby mama and the baby all wearing the down sweater, you probably don't need to be reading this review. For everyone else, we can say that we were quite pleased with Patagonia's time-tested Down Sweater Hoody. We can't speak for grandma or the baby, but for anyone else in between, we think you will be quite pleased with Patagonia's Down Sweater Hoody.
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Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody
Patagonia DAS Parka and Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's
— Lyra Pierotti
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Most recent review: November 26, 2015
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