Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: One of the warmest insulated jackets.
Cons: Hood not very protective, bulky.
Best Uses: Alpine climbing, ice climbing, ski touring.
The DAS is a classic cold weather jacket - and it will certainly keep you warm. Most people will be better served by a lighter insulated jacket that can be better layered with other pieces. However if you are looking for the warmest synthetic jacket, this is probably you best bet. The DAS parka or "Dead Air Space" Parka has been a cornerstone of climbing parkas for over 20 years with no extra frills and a boxy cut designed to fit over your other layers.
If you prefer something less expensive, the Montbell UL Thermawrap Jacket - Men's and the REI Revelcloud Jacket - Men's are both excellent jackets. They are much thinner, and much less warm, but also layer better and are more versatile. Our favorite lightweight synthetic jacket is the Rab Xenon X.
Check out our complete Men's Insulated Jacket Review to see how this jacket compared to others.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The DAS is the go-to standard in the world of super warm synthetic jackets and has a good reputation. The newest generation features a combo of PrimaLoft insulations - 120g/m2 PrimaLoft Synergy with an additional 60g/m2 of PrimaLoft ONE in the torso. The DAS is primarily intended as a cold (or damp) weather belay parka and that is indeed its best place. The warmth of the DAS will be too much for most applications unless you're simply standing around all day in cold weather. In that case you might be better served by one of the hydrophobic down jackets with highly water resistant fabrics that are coming on to the market now like the Patagonia Encapsil or Mountain Hardwear Nilas which will offer more warmth for their weight. Generally speaking we feel that heavy-weight synthetically insulated jackets shine best in extended expeditions to places like Alaska or Patagonia where dampness over time through use, and inclement mountain weather conditions are a big concern. For climbing in more moderate temps, like summer alpine rock in the Sierra of the Cascades, the DAS will be overkill.
The hood of the new DAS is adjustable only in the back with a single drawcord. Some of our testers disliked this, and felt that on a jacket already weighing about 24oz, a secondary drawcord would be welcome, and perhaps necessary for fully storm-proofing the hood. The hood fits best over a climbing helmet, bringing the front of the jacket up over your chin and mouth for weather protection. Without a helmet on the hood is rather awkward. The hand warming pockets are insulated on both sides giving you a warm place to rewarm hands at the belay. The cut of the DAS is bigger and longer than on lighter weight jackets, coming down over the butt to provide more warmth and to accommodate the other layers you'll be wearing underneath.
Weight / Compressability
at 23.6oz the DAS is among the heaviest jackets in this review, but it is actually relatively light considering how warm it is. Patagonia keeps the weight down by designing the DAS in a no-frills style and by using relatively light, but weather resistant fabrics. If you're mainly using your insulated jacket in the more benign weather of spring, summer, and fall, you'll happier with the versatility and lighter weight of a less warm jacket like the Rab Xenon X, Haglofs Barrier Pro Hood, or the slightly warmer Arc'teryx Atom SV. If you're looking for a very warm jacket however, the DAS can provide you loads of warmth in a reasonably light package.
Patagonia uses a Pertex Endurance outer fabric on the new DAS. We've seen this fabric on several insulated jackets, both down and synthetic, and we find it to provide great weather resistance. The hood design, which we discussed above, is simple, but doesn't have cinch cords on the front, making it a bit more difficult to really cinch the hood fully around your face.
The DAS is smartly featured for cold weather. There are two large hand pockets (insulated on both sides), and a smaller external chest pocket perfect for a camera. On the inside are two mesh drop-in pockets. These are great for keeping a water bottle warm, re-warming gloves, etc. and are a feature we appreciate. The waist has two cinch adjusts, which conveniently can be used single-handed. The hood only has one adjustment (in the back). One thing to note is that the DAS doesn't offer great face protection from the cold unless used over a helmet. In other words, if you're not climbing, you may feel like the jacket doesn't come up high enough over your face when it's cold out. The wrist cuffs are elastic, which we feel is simpler, and cleaner, than finicky Velcro wrist cuffs.
To keep the weight down, the new DAS does not have fabric reinforcements on high wear places, but in general the durability is adequate for its intended use. Because the DAS is so warm, you'll generally be using it when stationary, unlike a lighter weight insulated jacket that you may well physically climb or hike in. For what it's worth, one tester put a large hole in the back of our DAS after a day involving sliding around on snow covered sand dunes.
The DAS is ideal for standing around in the cold, or hunched at a cold weather belay. It is very warm and thus lacks the mobility you might feel with a lighter jacket. It's also meant to fit over other layers and so will feel a big large and baggy if worn alone.
The DAS is one of the most expensive insulated jackets. It will likely last you along time however, and has a great warranty. If you climb or recreate regularly in winter you'll appreciate having a DAS among your outerwear options. If on the other hand you mainly venture into the backcountry in the summer, or simply need a year-round jacket for all uses, the DAS is not the best choice, and you'll be happier and get more use out of a lightweight insulated jacket.
— Chris Simrell
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Most recent review: February 12, 2014
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