Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Stylish looks, quality materials, lightweight, useful ski features
Cons: Expensive, afraid the potential lack of breathability could affect the down insulation.
Best Uses: Resort skiing or snowboarding
The Patagonia Primo Down is a warm, stylish, and high quality ski jacket that took the award for Editors' Choice. This jacket has a lot of special features to keep you warm, looking good, and functioning well on the ski hill. We really appreciate the ethically harvested down insulation, special pockets for iPods, keys, and ski passes, as well as its removable snow skirt. It is also constructed from quality materials such as waterproof Gore-Tex. This jacket is lightweight, comfortable, and moves well with the wearer when shredding pow or crusing groomers. Because of its top-of-the line materials and quality construction, it is also one of the most expensive jackets in this review.
We have noticed a few changes on the 2014/15 Primo Down, all of which are improvements over last year's version - except for the lower fill power of 650 versus 700. Read on for more info on all this year's upgrades. To see how the Primo Down compares to the rest of the jackets we tested, check out the Best Ski Jacket for Women Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A down insulated jacket with a waterproof exterior and a new softer, suppler feeling shell fabric, complete with useful features tailored towards skiing, the Primo Down is a high performance layer for cold days on the hill.
The Patagonia Primo Down is super warm. It is insulated with 650-fill-power goose down that is much lighter in weight than the synthetic insulation found in either the Orage LouLou or the Columbia Whirlibird - Women's jackets, but it feels just as warm and very wind resistant. On the coldest days at the hill we paired this jacket with a base layer and thin mid-layer and felt toasty. Even on the coldest storm days we were always warm enough. We really like that its hood is insulated with down as well, and fits over a ski helmet to keep any heat from escaping from the head or neck. It also has a clever neck baffle filled with down that prevents cold air from reaching the back and seals warm air in. We noticed that Patagonia changed the style of their sewn baffles this year from traditional horizontal baffles to diamond sewn baffles. This may prevent the down from moving around in its compartments, but there seems to be more stitching, which may make the jacket draftier. The jacket's hemline is longer for less drafts and more coverage when compared to last year's model.
The Primo Down is one of few jackets in this review, along with the Arc'teryx Meta and Arc'teryx Andessa, to use Gore-Tex fabric for its outer shell. Gore-Tex is the most widely regarded waterproof/breathable membrane on the market. We found that water beaded well and rolled off well on this material in our own tests. Patagonia has changed the front zipper from the stiff, hard to use watertight coated zipper to a burly Vislon zipper. Our testers think this is a huge improvement and thought the old zipper was extremely difficult to use, although we're not sure if it looks as sleek as the old zipper, and is a strange contrasting color. The North Face Point It Down is also insulated with down, but is the least water resistant jacket we tested.
The two layer recycled Gore-Tex material used on this jacket has a permeable membrane that is supposed to let moisture out when you sweat. Our testers have found that sometimes Gore-Tex is not as breathable as we would like, and becomes less so over time when the jacket gets dirty. This makes us a little nervous about how this jacket will perform over time, because down insulation becomes less effective when it gets wet - and dirty. The Primo Down does have mesh lined pit-zips for for extra ventilation and airflow when you're really earning your turns, and the mesh keeps the snow out in case you take a tumble.
The Primo Down excels in the ski performance category. It has several clever features meant to keep you comfortable on the ski hill. We especially like the removable powder skirt and the clever media pocket that keeps your iPod tucked away and allows your headphones to poke through to the interior of your jacket. It has plenty of pockets, including a large interior for goggles, a small zippered interior pocket for your keys, and a ski pass pocket on the sleeve. We were surprised to discover that the Primo down does not have the RECCO avalanche technology as most jackets at this price point do. This and seems to be becoming the industry standard and it is strangely lacking here.
The powder skirt has changed in the latest version, it has a lighter stretchier material and a rubber gasket that is meant to grab and hold on to your clothes better to prevent it from riding up. We still don't think powderskirts are very effective unless they attach to your pants to prevent them from pulling all your layers up. To read more about this, check out our Buying Advice Article.
Other jackets that had good ski features were the North Face Point it Down - Women's, the Arc'teryx Meta, and the Orage LouLou.
This jacket has a simple design that is form flattering and looks good. It is not flashy like the Flylow Jane or the Bugaboo, but we still think our testers look great in it. The Primo Down has a complimentary colored lining that you can see on the outside in the hood, and it comes in a few pleasant colors, although we wish there were more colors to choose from. For a warm, down insulated jacket, the Primo Down looks streamlined and stylish. We also think The North Face Point it Down is very form flattering for a down jacket.
Comfort and Fit
Being so lightweight is an advantage for the Primo Down, which adds to its comfort. Compared to the heavy LouLou and Bugaboo, this jacket feels like you're wearing nothing at all. This year's version has a softer, suppler feeling shell fabric. It is less crinkly-feeling and is stretchy enough to move with you well when we're working hard on the slopes. The new model also has a longer cut so it covers more of your back-side and keeps you even warmer. The large hood and soft chin guard add comfort and coziness. Our medium sized testers found this jacket very comfortable and roomy enough to put an extra layer underneath – although we rarely felt like we needed one.
With all of its special features, this jacket was made for skiing and snowboarding at the resort. It will keep you warm on the coldest days and has extra ventilation for warmer spring skiing days. This jacket would be great for any low output cold weather activity like walking the dog or building snow forts. We love that the powder skirt is removable for the times you're not waist deep in fluffy stuff.
The Primo Down is one of the most expensive jackets in this review, which may be a barrier to some. It has high quality materials and we believe it will last a long time with proper care. It is better value than the very expensive Arc'teryx Andessa which features almost the same materials. If you are looking for something that has many of ski features and versatility but at a lower price point, we recommend the Flylow Jane or the Orage LouLou.
The waterproof exterior, well-insulated interior, and combination of excellent ski features makes this our favorite insulted ski jacket. The new features on the 2015 model, such as the longer hemline, easier to use zipper, and softer shell material, allow the latest version of the Primo Down to keep its spot as our Editors Choice Award winner for the third year running. We find it functional and flattering, and it falls into an acceptable price range. The Primo Down is the jacket we want to be wearing on a fun and deep powder day on our favorite hill.
The Patagonia Primo Down Jacket is the men's version and also was highly regarded by our testers.
The Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's, $300, is a synthetic insulated technical winter jacket and is the ultimate belay jacket for ice climbing or a warm layer for overnight ski tours. You can also find this jacket in the men's version, the Patagonia DAS Parka, which wins our Top Pick Award and retails for $300.
— Jessica Haist
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Most recent review: March 10, 2015
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