Patagonia brings some stretch into the Hardshell category with the Galvanized jacket, a waterproof model with the mobility of a softshell. The Polyester/spandex shell fabric of this jacket feels a bit different than the usual nylon, triggering raised eyebrows of skepticism amongst our testers concerning its waterproofness. Testing revealed that the combination of Patagonia's H2no waterproof breathable membrane and DWR treatment will keep you bone dry inside the jacket, though the shell fabric wetted out faster than traditional nylon shells, reducing its breathability when wet.
Patagonia Galvanized Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Packable, stretchy, excellent mobility
Cons: "Wets out" more easily than other models, slower to dry than other models, especially when the DWR treatment begins to wear off
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Unique in its stretchiness, the Galvanized shares a similar weight and features set with The North Face Summit L5 and the Black Diamond Sharp End. While its competitors proved to be slightly more weatherproof, none could match the Galvanized in terms of mobility. While jackets like the Arcteryx Beta AR and the Summit L5 can crossover for sking, we feel the Galvanized performs best for alpine climbing.
Thanks to a long torso length and a generous cut through the shoulders supplemented by stretch, the Galvanized provides plenty of coverage. In our shower testing, testers remained completely dry, despite some wetting out around the seems and housings for the drawcords. The wetting out concerns us in terms of breathability (more on that later) but in terms of weather protection, this jacket is a solid choice for ice climbing (its intended purpose) but works for ski touring and even some resort skiing as well. The hood keeps snow out of your face with or without a helmet on but doesn't offer the same ninja mask-like storm protection as the hood on The North Face Summit L5 GTX Pro.
Weight and Packability
At 16.1 ounces for a men's small, this jacket has nearly the same weight as similarly featured hard shells like the Black Diamond Sharp End and The North Face Summit L5 GTX Pro. While not as attractive to ounce-counters as the 11 ounce Arc'teryx Alpha FL, it's respectably lightweight considering its full supplement of features, and speaking of, the Galvanized stuffs easily into its left-hand pocket, a feature found on few hardshells, scoring it an extra point for packability. Unfortunately, Patagonia didn't include a clip-in loop, which seems like a no-brainer to pair with the stuff pocket feature. Hopefully, they'll include one in future versions.
Mobility and Fit
A little stretch gives this model a huge advantage in terms of mobility. Even with an insulated jacket layered underneath, we had complete range of motion to reach high above our heads, even with a pack on with the waistbelt cinched down. This is awesome for any type of climbing since the stretch lets you move around without causing the sleeves or the hem to ride up, exposing your vulnerable flesh to the stinging cold. Patagonia says this jacket has a "slim fit", but we had no trouble layering it over a fleece and an insulated jacket. There is more space in the Galvanized than the same-sized Arc'teryx Alpha FL, but it doesn't feel baggy like the REI Stormbolt.
Venting and Breathability
Two 15" pit zips ensure that the Galvanized is up to the venting standard for hardshells. The three-layer H2no membrane seems comparable to Gore-Tex, and during our breathability testing, we didn't feel like we were wearing a trash bag. However, we do have some concerns about how easily this jacket wets out in areas where the DWR is wearing off. If moisture from sweat is on the inside of the jacket, it won't diffuse to the outside if the face fabric is entirely soaked.
This jacket features two big ol' handwarmer pockets, strategically placed high on the torso to limit interference from a waistbelt or a climbing harness. It also has an external chest pocket that seems nearly waterproof from the inside and out, making a safe space for phones, batteries, and lighters. For keeping out the cold, the Galvanized has Patagonia's creme de la creme of assorted drawstrings and cord locks, three for the hood, and one for the hem. The hood has a rear drawstring for securing the hood, and two more in front underneath the chin for positioning the hood around the face.
These cords are located on the outside of the jacket, so you don't have to risk exposure with internal drawstrings like the internal design on the REI Stormbolt GTX. Them hem cinch is located inside the lefthand pocket, ensuring that any slack from the cinched drawstring stays out of the way doesn't get caught on branches or carabiners on your harness.
Ice climbing demands mobility and protection from melting ice and falling snow, and the Galvanized certainly delivers. It's not the strongest performer in terms of breathability due to its a tendency to wet out; we'd go with The North Face Summit Summit L5 if we are going for a shell for ice climbing and ski touring and the Arc'teryx Alpha FL for tagging summits in the sunny Sierra.
Four hundred bones actually isn't that bad considering that there are $600 shells from Arc'teryx and The North Face. Patagonia keeps the price down by using their own proprietary waterproof breathable membrane instead of a Gore-Tex membrane, circumventing a more expensive R&D process, and going with a membrane that's less breathable but equally waterproof. The stretchy material allows the shell fabric to give a little when it gets caught on a branch or a brushed against sharp rocks, making this jacket less likely to rip, and adding some value in terms of longevity.
Our testers love the stretch factor of the Galvanized. Though it's not our favorite piece for ski touring or alpine climbing, you could still use it for those purposes, and you won't have to spend an arm and a leg.
— Matt Bento