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Patagonia Refugitive Review


Hardshell Jacket

Patagonia Refugitive Black
Price:   Varies from $374 - $499 online  —  Compare at 4 sellers
Pros:  Supple, flexible fabric, tons of great features
Cons:  Poor hood design, strange Patagonia sizing
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Patagonia

Overview

The Patagonia Refugitive is a new jacket for the 2015-16 winter season that uses a GORE-TEX Pro membrane with the new GORE C-Knit backer technology. Designed as an all-around winter jacket that is equally capable as either a ski jacket or climbing jacket, the Refugitive delivers on its promise. It has the best and most functional set of features in any jacket in this review, and the stretchy 30 and 40 denier face fabrics combined with the GORE membrane make it one of the more flexible and supple we tried. However, it has a few flaws that held it back from being rated quite as highly as the Arc'teryx Alpha FL or Arc'teryx Theta AR. Nevertheless, the Refugitive is a high quality offering from Patagonia and one that we would recommend.

New Colors Options - 2016
Patagonia added new color options to the Refugitive line up. Keep reading to find out more!

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Andy Wellman
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
November 3, 2016

Updated 2016 color options for the Patagonia Refugitive


Patagonia has added new colors to the Refugitive line up. In addition to the previously reviewed black version, the current color options are: Forge Grey, Grecian Blue, Peppergrass, and Yosemite Yellow.

New Color 2016: Forge Grey
New Color 2016: Grecian Blue
 

New Color 2016: Peppergrass Green
New Color 2016: Yosemite Yellow
 

Hands-On Review


If we had to choose one jacket in the review that Patagonia Refugitive is most similar to, it would be the Westcomb Shift LT. Both jackets use lightweight materials that are stretchy and very supple. The Refugitive goes a step further and adds in some fantastic features like the Cohaesive embedded cord-lock system - the single best draw cord buckle we tested and basically put all others to shame. However, at the end of the day, we felt that the Shift LT provided better weather protection thanks to a much better hood design and a high collar that (unlike the Refugitive) simply didn't allow snow or water to leak in.

Performance Comparison


Testing the Refugitive's ability to stand up to the harsh cold and rigors of multi-pitch ice climbing on the second gully above Eureka in the San Juan Mountains.
Testing the Refugitive's ability to stand up to the harsh cold and rigors of multi-pitch ice climbing on the second gully above Eureka in the San Juan Mountains.

Weather Protection


The combination of GORE-TEX Pro and C-Knit backer technology, a new interior laminate layer that supposedly allows a jacket to be lighter and more breathable, did a great job of protecting us from the elements. What didn't do a great job of protecting us from the elements was the storm hood. Like the Patagonia M10, the bill of the Refugitive is too small to adequately shield the face from water coming down from above. Additionally, Patagonia only used a single draw cord in the rear of the hood for tightening the hood and face enclosure. This feature didn't work well for the M10, and also didn't work well for the Refugitive. We found this especially frustrating considering Patagonia's obvious attention to detail to all other aspects of this jacket. In our shower test, we we couldn't tighten the hood nearly as much as other jackets in our test, and the result was that water poured in off the sides of the hood brim and literally ran straight down the neck.

While the jacket was certainly waterproof  we thought the bill of the hood was inadequate for protecting our face  and some water was able to run down our neck while standing under the shower.
While the jacket was certainly waterproof, we thought the bill of the hood was inadequate for protecting our face, and some water was able to run down our neck while standing under the shower.

Weight


Our size men's medium Refugitive weighed in at 14.7 ounces, the same as the Top Pick winning Outdoor Research Axiom. It should be noted that we find the sizing of Patagonia garments to be different than all other brands, and had to order a medium instead of a large, so a comparable men's large would be a little heavier. In reality this is a light jacket that adds a little weight with extra features like lots of pockets and pit zips.

Mobility & Fit


In a size medium this jacket was trim and athletically cut. You can see here how the brim of the hood is a bit too small and doesn't offer quite enough coverage  although overall we felt this was a great jacket.
In a size medium this jacket was trim and athletically cut. You can see here how the brim of the hood is a bit too small and doesn't offer quite enough coverage, although overall we felt this was a great jacket.
Like we mentioned above, we felt inclined to order a size men's medium rather than large for our head tester. He has a large sized frame but is skinny, and in our past experience Patagonia size large is simply far too baggy and loose fitting on him. If you tend to fall in between sizes, we recommend trying Patagonia garments on before ordering your normal size. For our size medium, we found the hem to be barely long enough for our liking, and likewise the sleeves were barely long enough. They were not too short, however, and the issue was probably due to us sizing down. As a result of sizing down, however, we were rewarded with a fit that was sleek and trim, without extra room and bagginess to get in our way when looking down at our feet. Finally, the membrane/face fabric material was stretchy, supple, and very mobile, a fact that we really enjoyed.

This jacket was only barely long enough in the sleeves and hem. We had to order a size medium this go around because last year size larges from Patagonia were just too big. There is also an elastic attachment loop on the back of this jacket for joining it with snow pants to keep it in place while skiing.
This jacket was only barely long enough in the sleeves and hem. We had to order a size medium this go around because last year size larges from Patagonia were just too big. There is also an elastic attachment loop on the back of this jacket for joining it with snow pants to keep it in place while skiing.

Breathability


The GORE C-Knit backer laminate is supposed to allow the GORE-TEX Pro membrane underneath be as much as 15 percent more breathable than other laminates. Our primary breathability test was our treadmill test, where we found the Refugitive to be quite hot while running, and a slight bit of moisture built up on the inside around the back of our neck. This finding was in no way egregious, but doesn't allow us to substantiate the claims about C-Knit. The jacket does include pit zips for extra venting capability.

The pit zips and very flexible material on this jacket make it good to go for uphill skiing as well. On this day it was needed for wind protection.
The pit zips and very flexible material on this jacket make it good to go for uphill skiing as well. On this day it was needed for wind protection.

Features


While we like chest pockets for alpine climbing better than handwarmer pockets  we like that these ones lived above the harness so were still usable.
While we like chest pockets for alpine climbing better than handwarmer pockets, we like that these ones lived above the harness so were still usable.
We gave the Refugitive 9 out of 10 possible points for features. The only thing holding it back from getting the perfect rating was the lack of a couple extra draw cords around the hood to help keep the weather out. Overall, we thought this jacket had the best and most functional features in the review. The Cohaesive embedded cord lock system was by far the best draw cord buckle we used and was simple and easy to manipulate with gloves. This system was used on all draw cords, on the back of the hood and two on the waist.The Mountain Hardwear Torsun was the only other jacket that employed a similar system. We also loved the Refugitive's large interior non-zip stash pocket. This jacket also comes with an elasticized strap in the back to attach to snow pants to keep the jacket from riding up in deep snow. The pit zips offer added venting, and the handwarmer pockets sit high enough above the waist to be functional with a pack or harness. Finally, this shell comes with an embedded Recco reflector for those who like to ski questionable terrain while in bounds.

The Cohaesive embedded cord lock system on the Refugitive was the single best draw cord buckle that we found on any of the jackets. It releases by simply pushing on the circle and was easily to manipulate with gloves on.
The Cohaesive embedded cord lock system on the Refugitive was the single best draw cord buckle that we found on any of the jackets. It releases by simply pushing on the circle and was easily to manipulate with gloves on.

We felt that the single draw cord of cinching up the hood enclosure was a bit insufficient. This jacket wasn't by any means the very lightest  so it would have been nicer to give side draw cords like all the other jackets did  a system that certainly worked better.
We felt that the single draw cord of cinching up the hood enclosure was a bit insufficient. This jacket wasn't by any means the very lightest, so it would have been nicer to give side draw cords like all the other jackets did, a system that certainly worked better.

Best Applications


The Refugitive is designed to be an all-around jacket that will excel at both backcountry skiing and alpine or ice climbing. We would have to agree, and happily recommend it for all winter purposes. Due to the flaws in the hood, however, we wouldn't say it's a great option for rainy weather or super wet climates.

Black is Peter Dever's favorite color  shown here as he drops into the top of the Granddaddy couloir on Red Mountain Pass. We like bright colors better as they increase the ability to spot a person in debris should they be caught in an avalanche.
Black is Peter Dever's favorite color, shown here as he drops into the top of the Granddaddy couloir on Red Mountain Pass. We like bright colors better as they increase the ability to spot a person in debris should they be caught in an avalanche.

Value


The Refugitive will set you back $499.00. While we think it is an excellent product, it is in many ways very similar to the Outdoor Research Axiom for $389.00 and the Mountain Hardwear Torsun for $350.00. We think that these other jackets will do an equally fine job for less of a hit to the wallet.

Conclusion


The Patagonia Refugitive is a great jacket for backcountry skiing and alpine climbing. While we happily recommend it, we have to warn that the hood is not up to the high standards of the other jackets in this review, and we think that perhaps it costs more than it should compared to others as well. That said, we loved its lightweight feel, the supple flexibility, and the top-notch features. Despite its flaws, we feel the Refugitive is a jacket worth owning.

The Refugitive was designed to be used as either a backcountry ski jacket or for alpine climbing. Here Peter Dever drops a knee near Silverton  testing the snowproofness.
The Refugitive was designed to be used as either a backcountry ski jacket or for alpine climbing. Here Peter Dever drops a knee near Silverton, testing the snowproofness.

Other Versions


Women's Refugitive Jacket - $499
  • Women's version
Andy Wellman

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: November 3, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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4 star: 100%  (1)
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