Straight out of the box it was obvious to us that the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody was still the best looking jacket, a feature that endeared it to our hearts and inspired us to wear it more often than any other when heading out on the town. While we like to focus our reviewing efforts on technical performance, we have to acknowledge that when it comes to a puffy jacket, far more people are interested in finding a suitable warmth layer for living their lives in during the colder months, than finding the best ice climbing jacket for their annual trip to Ouray. That said, we did test it in Ouray and will admit that it is a pretty great technical layer as well.
Very little has changed since we reviewed this jacket a year ago, although there is a completely different set of color patterns to choose from, and the face and liner fabrics are now made entirely from 100% recycled polyester. It may be our imagination, but we also feel that this year's size medium seems to fit a little more spaciously than our men's medium we tested a year ago.
No need for a hood?
Sometimes we get overzealous with our hoods and end up in a layered, tangled mess. To avoid this, you may want to check out the Down Sweater Jacket
. This hoodless version is perfect for those looking to layer with other hooded jackets, like insulating layers or hardshells.
This was one of the higher scoring jackets in this year's comparative review, as the chart above shows.
The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody was one of our favorite down jackets because it is comfortable and warm, and looks good too.
When it comes to considering warmth, the Down Sweater Hoody initially comes off as not so special. The Down Hoody isn't ultra-light or ultra-warm. Yet, it manages to keep the wind out and the warmth in. Its warmth-to-weight ratio isn't off the charts, but it is more than adequately warm for low to mid-altitude ski touring and alpine climbing as an outer layer. Whether you choose to use this hoody as a mid-layer or an outer layer depends somewhat on the size that you choose to purchase. For our testers' tall and skinny climbers bodies, the Patagonia size chart always presents a bit of a problem. However, we felt that Patagonia fixed the issue this year with what was obviously an adjustment to their sizing charts.
While it wasn't the absolute warmest down jacket in this review, the 800-fill power down does a nice job lofting up and trapping heat. Trying to stay warm around the fire on a chilly and windy night in Oregon.
This jacket uses high quality 800 fill-power down trapped in roughly average sized horizontal baffles using sewn-through construction. In our side-by-side testing we found it to be plenty warm, although on very cold days without any underlayers, we could feel the cold slightly more than we could when wearing either the Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody or the Rab Microlight Alpine, our two top picks for warmth. We gave it 8 out of 10 points.
Our size men's Medium weighed in at 14.6 ounces, which is certainly pretty light, but nowhere near as light as the lightest in this review, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded. It weighed virtually the same as the Rab Microlight Alpine, and thus we gave it the same score of 6 out of 10.
The 1.4-oz 20x30-denier 100 percent recycled polyester ripstop shell of the Patagonia Down Hoody is DWR treated and, despite feeling super soft and pillow-like, does a surprisingly good job of shedding rain. In years past, we tested the Down Hoody on some stormy days in New Zealand and it fared better than the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody after similar lengths of exposure to mixed precipitation in the mountains of Arthur's Pass.
A sudden rainstorm during an October climbing trip to Smith Rock proved to be a great chance to test the Down Sweater Hoody against the elements. The down stayed dry and we stayed plenty warm while waiting out the rain.
While very little has changed over the years in this jacket's construction, other companies have been upping their game by incorporating hydrophobic down. We found that in our side-by-side testing, the DWR coating performed well, about the same as those found on The North Face Morph Hoodie or the Marmot Tullus Hoody, with only tiny patches of areas around the front zipper where the DWR coating had worn off. With solid DWR, but no other water resistant features, we gave it 7 out of 10.
You can see the DWR doing its job, causing the rain droplets to bead up and preventing them from soaking into the recycled polyester face fabric. This jacket doesn't use hydrophobic down, but did a good job of keeping the down dry from the outside.
When it comes to fit, we feel that this jacket is one of the better ones. We experienced perfect freedom of movement throughout the shoulders and arms, something that we could not say last year when wearing this jacket, and which was certainly far better than what we experienced when wearing the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded or even the North Face Morph Hoodie. We could make the complaint that the sleeves remain ever so slightly short, but in practice, this isn't much a factor. The fact is, this is one of the best fitting jackets in this review, leaving just enough room for a thin underlayer while staying snug enough to the body to not impede movement at all. 8 out of 10 points.
The Down Sweater Hoody fits nearly perfectly. It is not too baggy, but also has enough room underneath to layer if need be. You can see how high the collar comes up to cover half the face, and also how the sleeves are perhaps just an inch or so short.
This jacket doesn't stash away super small when stuffed into its pocket. It more closely resembles a pillow (awesome for plane sleeping; we tested) and is cumbersome when clipped to a harness. That said, considering a number of the jackets we tested this year didn't have any means of compressing them at all and didn't even include a clip-in loop for attaching to a harness, I guess we should be happy. Despite feeling like it could have been compressed further with a more diligent design of the interior chest pocket, it was very comparable in size and functionality to the OR Transcendent Hoody. 7 out of 10.
The three middle sized jackets when stuffed. On the left is the Rab Microlight Alpine, stuffed into its included stuff sack. In the middle is The North Face Morph Hoodie, stuffed into its hand pocket. On the right is the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody, stuffed into its internal chest pocket. While these jackets compressed easily, they were not among the very smallest compressed jackets.
There doesn't appear to be anything super special about the features present on the Down Sweater Hoody unless you take it as a complete package. The standard features of a waist drawcord recessed into the hand pockets, and one back of the hood pull-cord, are present. What makes the jacket so functional is some extra length in the torso and the fact that the front of the hood zips up over your nose when it's fully closed, giving you the extra touch of some soft micro-fleece to snuggle your nose against (or wipe your boogers on). It stuffs into its only internal zip pocket, and we couldn't help but wish it had some stash pockets buried inside of it as well, but alas, it doesn't.
We liked how the hem draw cords for this jacket lived inside the handwarmer pockets, so no loop of cord ends up dangling below our waist. The buckles live on the inside of the jacket next to the front zipper.
The wrist cuffs are made of elastic that fits pretty much perfectly. While the Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody certainly had a few features we wouldn't mind also having on this jacket, we have to admit that what is there works pretty much perfectly, so we gave it 9 out of 10 points.
This jacket has a pretty light set of features, here showing the internal zippered chest pocket that is nice for storing a phone or snacks inside the warmth envelope, where they won't freeze.
We think this jacket is a great option for wearing around town, on the streets at the resort, or simply while performing any sort of outdoor chores or tasks in the winter. It also works great as that extra warmth layer for a day on the slopes, to throw on for the downhill while out backcountry skiing, or as a belay jacket while climbing in chilly temps. While it can serve as a valuable layering option for truly cold weather climates, it is not thick enough to be used as a true outer layer in the harshest of environments.
Even in the sun, hanging out at a local crag at 11,000 ft. in the San Juans can be a chilly prospect. This jacket worked great as a belay coat for us during the prime climbing season of autumn.
This jacket retails for $279, making it just about average for a lightweight down jacket. Since we think it is such a great jacket, and it ranks so highly in this review, we think this presents a great value. It is also backed up by Patagonia's ironclad guarantee, long known for being one of the most generous warranties in the outdoor industry, so it is hard to imagine not ending up happy with this purchase.
Red Mountain Creek flows through the northern San Juan Mountains, and has not yet become frozen over after this early season snow storm. Despite not having enough snow for skiing, we were happy to have the Down Sweater Hoody to keep us warm on an evening hike.
The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody is not flashy, overflowing with gimmicky features, or coated in brand logos, which is exactly why we like it. This jacket is simple, highly functional, and backed by the very best of warrantees. We also love that it uses recycled polyester and traceable down. Its performance leaves us little to complain about, and as such, it was one of the higher rated jackets in this review, and one that we wholeheartedly recommend.
The Down Sweater Hoody is the perfect down jacket for cold fall days, like this one in the Utah desert, where it can be worn by itself. It is also good for layering up in colder weather.