Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Windproof, slightly insulated, stylish, affordable, handwarmer pockets are good for use without gloves.
Cons: No hood, pockets are obscured by a backpack and harness, heavy for its warmth.
Best Uses: Around town, spring and fall hiking, cross-country skiing, general use.
The Patagonia Adze is a remarkably successful softshell that looks good, performs admirably, and costs less than $150. It's great for commuting, use around town, day hikes, and occasional aerobic activities. Unfortunately, this jacket ranks at the back of the pack in breathability and its handwarmer pockets are obscured by a backpack's hipbelt. If trips around town are more your style and cross-country skiing and ice climbing, the Adze might be just what you're looking for.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
A Polartec Windbloc membrane lies between the outer face fabric and the inside fleece lining. This membrane is completely windproof and stops wind gusts with confidence. As a result, you stay warmer when those around you shiver. A DWR coating on the exterior face fabric helps water to bead up and roll of when the coating is new. Like all shells, DWR needs to be reapplied regularly in order to maintain water resistance and breathability. The Adze's windproof membrane is a key feature that sets it apart from many other budget softshells. Our testers like this feature because it makes the jacket significantly warmer in windy environments or for windy activities like biking, boating, etc.
The Adze has a lightweight microgrid fleece backer that adds a small amount of warmth. This is relatively insignificant when compared to the jacket's windproof properties, which contribute more to warmth.
Compared to the top-of-the-line softshells we've tested the Adze scores poorly for breathability. Considering the entire outdoor apparel market this jacket could be considered more like a windproof fleece than a softshell jacket. For many people this is a good thing because the jacket is comfortable and stylish and performs well for a variety of non-extreme tasks. Other softshells perform considerably better for winter climbing and skiing, where higher physical output requires increased breathability, but the Adze works well and costs less than many other softshells. Just open the zipper if you get hot.
The jacket rides up considerably when your arms are above your head and the cut is shorter than cold weather climbing softshells. Therefore, we do not recommend this jacket for ice and alpine climbing. It's not as stretchy or as ergonomic as $450 softshells like the Patagonia Northwall and Arc'teryx Venta MX. However, the jacket is very comfortable considering its price. We much prefer the Adze to the windproof fleeces that were popular in the late 1990's and early 2000's. This performs better and is more comfortable in all regards.
The two handwarmer pockets are great for use around town but are less ideal for use in the bacountry because they're obscured by a harness and a backpack's hipbelt. A small interior zippered pocket stashes keys or a phone. These features are exactly what we want in this type of jacket. The pockets keep your hands warm when you don't have gloves and the absence of a check pocket makes the jacket look better in urban environments.
For serious winter use our testers believe that a hood is a mandatory feature for any type of jacket. We rarely chose the Adze for skiing and climbing because it misses this warmth-enhancing feature. But, alas, the Adze is best for day trips and general urban use.
Huge style points. It's rare to find any type of technical apparel that packs as much performance into a jacket that looks as good as the Adze. In black, the jacket can be an attractive layer in many business environments. With access to a closet full of softshells, each with their specific application, this author chooses the Adze for around town use when aesthetics and wind blocking properties are important. Many other pea coats and better-looking trench coats are not windproof, which can be a significant drawback on blustery days. Choose from five other colors if you want.
Weight and Packed Size
22.5 oz. makes the jacket reasonably heavy relative to top-of-the-line technical jackets. Using top-tier materials would save some weight but would also increase cost considerably. Compared to mass-market budget jackets the Adze is very light and compact. Even so, we do not recommend this jacket (or any softshell) for multi-day overnight trips.
Around town in the spring and fall, winter hiking and snowshoeing, cross-country skiing.
Exceptional value. This beats the pants of its closest competitor, the North Face Apex Bionic.
The Adze is also available in a Women's version and a hooded version.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 16, 2014
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