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Hands-on Gear Review
Patagonia DAS Parka Review
Cons: Bulky and heavy
Bottom line: This heavy parka is a great alternative to down when you're faced with wet conditions.
Want the most bombproof jacket we reviewed? Check out the Patagonia DASParka (DAS stands for Dead Air Space). It easily won our Top Pick for Warmth. It's the best insulator for the nastiest conditions. When it's not quite snowing, not quite raining, and the wind is trying to knock you over, the DAS Parka is your best option to throw on top of every layer and slog through the mess. Ice climbing and mountaineering in just-above-freezing, when a down coat could get soaked through, is the time for this specialized piece to shine. All this protection does come with a price though; the DAS Parka packs down to the size of a small sleeping bag in its included stuff sack, and it is the heaviest jacket we reviewed.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Check out the following chart to see where the DAS Parka landed in our Overall Performance metric.
Our Top Pick for Warmth, this award winner feels warm like a down coat, only much heavier and less compressible. It features 120 g/m2 of Primaloft Silver Insulation Hi-Loft, beefed up with extra 60g/m2 Primaloft Gold in the torso, and you can see and feel the lofty barrier between you and the elements. It features a thick neck collar and an insulated hood that feels quite cozy when zipped up all the way. Let it be clear that no other jacket in this review comes close to matching the warmth of this contender.
Its niche is cold and damp conditions, when you'll face melting water or even rain; this is where it outshines down jackets. Though much lighter, a down jacket will turn into a wet rag when it's truly soaked, and then take forever to dry. This can be a deadly combination in the mountains. On its own, this contender is significantly warmer than Rab Xenon X, its closest competitor in this review, but it's over twice as heavy.
The Rab Xenon has a continuous Pertex shell like the DAS Parka, and also functions well as a terminal layer to cut out the wind and keep you dry in light rain. The Xenon X can be beefed up by wearing another insulator like a heavy fleece or a Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody underneath. The North Face Thermoball Hoody also features a tough DWR treated shell fabric, but its quilted construction design make it much less wind resistant. While it is only 3oz lighter than the DAS Parka, it is nowhere near as warm.
Weight & Compressibility
No surprise, our top scoring jacket for warmth and weather resistance got the lowest scores in weight and compressibility. This storm fighting tank of a jacket weighs in at a heavy hitting 21.2 oz, which is 3 oz heavier than the Thermoball Hoody, and 12 oz heavier than the Arc'teryx Atom SL, the lightest model in our review. Comparing the DAS Parka to these jackets is like comparing a Hummer to a Ferrari.
The DAS Parka is designed as a synthetic alternative to a 700-800 fill down parka, not to compete with a fast and light piece like our Editors' Choice award winning Rab Xenon X. The DAS Parka is going to take a lot of room up in your pack, but using the included stuff sack will squeeze it down to around the size of a small sleeping bag. We experimented with the stuff sack clipped to our climbing harness, but quickly decided that it was too heavy and bulky to climb with. The Rab Xenon X and the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody both stuff into their own pockets and have a much lower profile when clipped on a climbing harness.
We gave the DAS Parka a middle of the road score for comfort. To keep the weight down, it forgoes features like fleece-lined pockets and micro fleece chin liners, and the lightweight Pertex shell has a slippery feel. All the warmth and loft comes with a boxy look and a bulky feel, but the underarm construction provides for a generous amount of mobility. The hood is large, roomy, and easily accommodates a helmet. Without a helmet, the hood cinch located on the rear of the hood does an excellent job of keeping the hood in place.
We liked the two internal drop in pockets for holding gloves or a water bottle. We also used them to warm up our climbing shoes. The hand warmer pockets are spacious and have insulation on both sides, and there is plenty of room for bars and goos in the easily accessible chest pocket. The elastic cuffs are snug but not uncomfortable, and when combined with the hem cinch located under the hand warmer pockets, you can hunker down and block out the wind and spindrift. Climbers especially will appreciate the beefy double zipper that opens from the bottom or the top.
The DAS Parka easily received a 10 in the weather resistance metric, as the Rab Xenon X was the only jacket that came close to matching the wind and rain stopping prowess of the DAS Parka. We found the Pertex polyurethane coated shell to be the toughest shell fabric of any jacket in the review. Combined with 120g/m2 Primaloft Silver Hi-Loft, the wind cannot get through this jacket, including around the neck and hood. The insulation can handle getting wet, but with the DWR treatment and the PU coating, we're not sure if the insulation actually had the chance to soak up any water at all in our shower test. After five minutes under a heavy stream of running water, we shook all the water off the jacket, and it was completely dry and ready for action.
The DAS Parka scored the lowest in breathability of any of the insulated jackets, but it is designed for bundling up in times when you are being relatively inactive, such as belaying or making camp. If you try and do any aerobic activity in such a heavily insulated jacket with such a thick, PU coated shell, you're going to sweat a lot. The exception is when conditions are truly extreme, like when you are on a wind blasted ridge, or skiing downhill on the coldest days. If you're on the hunt for a jacket that offers top-notch breathability, consider the Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody.
Big, boxy, and shiny, the DAS Parka isn't the most stylish jacket for wearing around town. The hem comes down low for coverage and warmth. While excellent for cold mountain bivys, the hood is huge, clunky, and overkill for casual wear. When sizing, keep in mind that this jacket is meant to fit over all your other layers. The jacket we tested is a nice blue color, and it is also available in black.
Just above freezing temperatures in the fall, spring, and winter when you might encounter running water are the prime environment for the DAS Parka. This jacket was designed with the wet, snowy conditions of summertime climbing in Patagonia and Alaska in mind, when it could be too wet to rely on a down jacket to stay warm and dry.
Our Top Pick for Warmth is a specialist piece that we really only recommend for a relatively small percentage of consumers. It could be the right insulated jacket for you if:
At $300, this award winner is on the expensive side, but you get an effective, highly weather-resistant belay parka, backed up by Patagonia's excellent warranty. A down parka of similar warmth will likely cost at least another $100, but will retain its loft and compressibility longer.
Our Top Pick for Warmth, the DAS Parka is the warmest, most weather resistant, and heaviest jacket in our review. These superlatives make it a specialized and formidable weapon against nasty alpine conditions and a burly, water resistant alternative to down. Pick one up if you are hanging out at wet and drippy belays.
— Matt Bento
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