Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Box-baffles, well balanced, very comfortable, lots of pockets.
Cons: Hood design not protective of face, waist adjustment.
Best Uses: All-around, everyday use, climbing belay parka, winter camping.
The Patagonia Fitz Roy is a balanced parka. It’s not particularly light, nor is it particularly warm, but it is very comfortable and quite versatile. We found that the Fitz Roy was an excellent every day parka, warm, comfortable, and well fitting, but also performed in the mountains. It is among the least insulated parkas we tested with 6.5 oz. of 800 fill down, but it features warmth-inducing box-baffle construction and a comfortably long cut. With its total weight of 22.8 oz. this means there are lighter parkas with slightly more down, but they tend to lack the day-to-day versatility of the Fitz Roy.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
With 6.5 oz. of down the Fitz Roy utilizes less down than the other parkas we tested. The down, however, is high lofting 800 fill power, and the box-baffle construction greatly increases the warmth and loft of this parka. In addition, the Fitz Roy has a long cut, falling over the butt and across the lower waist in the front. This longer style of cut makes the Fitz Roy more comfortable and adds to the overall warmth.
Weight and Compactness
The Fitz Roy is a mid-weight parka. It is indeed a bit heavier than the light parkas in this review like the Rab infinity, the Feathered Friends Hooded Helios and the Brooks Range Mojave, but it provides features that those lighter parkas do not – namely a longer, more comfortable cut, and box-baffle construction to maximize the warmth it provides. On the other hand, the Fitz Roy is not as bad-weather-ready as some other mid-weight parkas like the Rab Neutrino Endurance which, like the Fitz Roy, is about 23 oz. Overall the Fitz Roy is a relatively average parka. It is indeed light and compact enough to take on light trips to the backcountry, yet comfortable enough to be your everyday use parka in winter.
The Fitz Roy has a box-baffle construction. This is perhaps the most important feature of the parka since this allows the Fitz Roy to use a relatively small amount of down (6.5 oz.), yet remain fairly warm. Also included for the preservation of warmth is a large down-filled draft tube behind the front zipper.
There are many pocket options on the Fitz Roy. First off, there are two zippered hand pockets, which are fleece lined on one side only. On the left, there is a zippered chest pocket on both the outside and on the interior. The outer chest pocket is small, room enough for small items, while the interior chest pocket is quite large. On the interior right, down low, is a mesh stash pocket. This is a feature most of the parkas we reviewed did not have, but we appreciate it for the ease with which it allows us to store wet gloves, hats, etc.
Along the waist are two cinch cords. We found these to be a bit messy to use. They do not route excess cord into the hand pockets, and ultimately when you cinch the waist you are left with annoying loops of elastic dangling at your hem. The wrist cuffs are fully elastic.
The hood of the Fitz Roy has an adjustment system different than most (but relatively common for Patagonia). In lieu of dual front-adjustment cinches, like most parka hoods, the Fitz Roy hood is adjustable with a single cinch cord in the back of the head. This cinch tightens the hood front-to-back at about the height of your eyes. The ring of the hood that surrounds your face, which is commonly what is tightened in other designs, is left alone. There are pros and cons to this system. The advantages: This hood system can be tightened easily with one hand, and when left un-tightened the hood feels more casual and less obtrusive when up, like a sweatshirt hood, relative to other, larger parka hoods. The disadvantages: The cut of the Fitz Roy around the neck is such that it does not cover the face, except for (awkwardly) the chin, unless the hood is cinched fully When the hood is fully tightened, the hood covers the mouth but not the nose. For comfort, there are large fleece patches on the inside of the upper zipper.
The Fitz Roy offers fairly standard weather protection for a down parka. The DWR on the outer fabric will do the trick in light precipitation. The Fitz Roy is not, however, as weather resistant as other similar parkas in this review like the Rab Neutrino Endurance, for example, which offers a more water resistant outer fabric and better face protection from wind.
Like most everything else on the Fitz Roy, the durability is average. There are no fabric reinforcements on high-wear areas as there are on other parkas like the heavier Feathered Friends Icefall or Mountian Hardwear Chillwave, but the outer fabric Patagonia has used here is suitable for the Fitz Roy in that it balances weight and durability. Like all down garments, you can expect the occasional hole with heavy use, which will be fully patchable.
The Fitz Roy is less suited for a particular use than it is applicable to a variety of applications. With a long cut, box-baffles, and a versatile hood, it is truly a parka geared for all pursuits, be they mundane or more technical. We recommend the Patagonia Fitz Roy as a go-to mid-weight parka for both everyday use and for moderate winter backcountry use. There are indeed lighter, more climbing specific parkas in this review, and heavier more winter-ready parkas in this review, but the Fitz Roy is one of the best all-around parkas we tested.
When the Fitz Roy first came on the market it retailed for about $375. At this price we don’t find the Fitz Roy to be a good value. However, Patagonia is making room for newer parkas and the Fitz Roy is on the way out (or at least to the side). A quick search will find you a Fitz Roy at a cheaper price and if priced under $300 it is a great value given the versatility it will provide.
In Fall 2013, Patagonia is releasing their Encapsil down parka, which will feature Patagonia’s proprietary hydrophobic down technology among other highly anticipated features. Stay tuned for our review!
— Chris Simrell
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Most recent review: August 28, 2013
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