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Hands-on Gear Review
Patagonia Triolet Jacket Review
Cons: Hood allows water to run down collar, heavy, poor fit
Bottom line: A versatile hardshell equipped for any mountain sport, but unfortunately not refined enough to offer top-of-the-line performance.
The Triolet Jacket is Patagonia's "do everything" alpine and backcountry skiing jacket that uses standard GORE-TEX 3-layer paired with a heavy and durable 75-denier polyester face fabric. While it lives up to its billing as a versatile hardshell able to handle the worst weather, we found it to be lower performing than the similar Patagonia Refugitive jacket, and in our comparative testing, it ranked near the lower end of the spectrum for most metrics. It was one of the heaviest jackets we tested, fit our head tester's body poorly, and the hood didn't offer top-notch protection from the rain.
While we thought it had a decent and versatile set of features, and also did an adequate job of venting, compared to the competition these attributes were also not as unique, innovative, or as highly functional as we routinely found in other jackets. In short, this is not a jacket we would recommend over the other choices presented in this review, but if you are a die-hard lover of all things Patagonia, we encourage you to take a long look at the higher performing Patagonia Refugitive Jacket instead.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Patagonia Triolet was the lowest scoring jackets in this year's review, getting narrowly edged out by The North Face Free Thinker and The North Face Fuseform Brigandine 3L for the basement spot in our cumulative ratings. In the case of the Triolet, there was not one egregious error that made this jacket un-wearable, but rather it suffered from multiple symptoms of slight dysfunction. The issues for us began with the fit. Following Patagonia's sizing advice (as well as our own recent experience), we ordered a size medium to avoid the excessively wide and baggy fit in the torso and chest regions we have found prevalent in Patagonia size large outer layers of late.
The problem for us was that in sizing down to a medium we ended up with sleeves that were too short, and constrictions in our shoulders, chest, and underarms that inhibited our freedom of movement, and impacted our enjoyment of climbing and skiing in a negative way. As a 6'0" tall male weighing 165 pounds with an athletic build and slightly broad shoulders, nearly average for an in-shape mountain-type most likely to use this jacket for its intended purpose, we find it frustrating that we fell between sizes, a problem we don't seem to have with Patagonia under-layers or less technical garments.
Regardless, the fit was not our only problem with this jacket, but simply the beginning. We will go into more detail below about these issues, but simply want to point out that we found the Patagonia Refugitive to be a far more refined, better fitting jacket that successfully eliminated most of the issues we had with the Triolet and is much lighter and more packable. Despite retailing for $100 more, we encourage readers to consider the Refugitive first. For those who want a true featherweight option for the same price, check out the Patagonia M10, a light and fast piece that weighs around nine ounces.
A problem common to all of the four jackets that received the lowest scores for weather protection was the hood did not do an adequate job of funneling water off the sides of the head and face so that it did not run down the collar. We know that this desirable trait is achievable by checking out the awesome cave-like hoods found on the Arc'teryx Alpha FL or the Marmot Cerro Torre, whose arcing brims gave more than adequate shelter from incessant downpours. While the hood on the Triolet is designed quite a bit differently than that on the Refugitive — it has three drawcords instead of the single one found on the back of the Refugitive — it still suffers the same fate.
The brim was too small and not wide enough to keep water from running down the edges and into the collar, thereby soaking the user. While we greatly appreciated the added adjustability from the dual side of the face drawcords, we found them a bit difficult to release afterward, as the elastic cords bunched and stuck inside the hood fabric. We also suffered a bit from the small fit, wishing that we had a lower hem and longer sleeves to help keep the powder out. That said, we found the zippers to be watertight, and the 3-layer GORE-TEX membrane did a more than adequate job of repelling the weather. 6 out of 10 points.
Weight and Packability
At 20.4 ounces for a men's size medium, this was easily one of the heaviest jackets in the review, outdone only by the far bulkier North Face offerings. Remarkably, it was nearly six ounces heavier than the similar Refugitive. Despite the weight, we didn't find it to be too bulky, easily wrapping it up for storage in our pack. Regardless, this jacket was not worth more than 5 points when considering weight.
Mobility and Fit
We have already discussed above our difficulties with Patagonia's sizing chart and how it affects the fit of their jackets, not to mention how the overly large or overly tight fits also affects the mobility. Compared to the best fitting jacket we have tested, the Arc'teryx Alpha FL or the most mobile jacket, the Outdoor Research Axiom, wearing the Triolet for ice climbing or skinning uphill really does feel like you are wearing your shoes on the wrong feet. We only say things like that because we have so many other jackets to directly compare this one to, and in a direct comparison, the results are very obvious. As the lowest scorer for this metric, we gave it 5 out of 10 points.
The Subjectivity of Fit and Sizing
To some degree, how a jacket fits is subjective. A jacket is obviously going to fit differently for every different person who puts it on. Our assessment of the fit of the Patagonia Triolet is based on the experience of our head reviewer, as well as the opinions of his similar-sized friends who wore it during the testing period. It is entirely possible that other people will not have any issue with the way this jacket fits, so take these ratings with a little grain of salt.
Venting and Breathability
The Patagonia Triolet is the only jacket in this review that uses standard 3-layer GORE-TEX without the new C-knit backer. W.L. Gore claims that the C-knit backer improves breathability by up to 15 percent, so we wonder why it wasn't used for this jacket. Regardless, pairing it with 75 denier polyester face fabric is what makes this jacket heavy and also warm. It has the standard venting options, which are pit zips and a normal zipper. While the pit zips work just fine, they are certainly not as innovative as the full arm zips found on the Rab Latok Alpine Jacket or the full side zips found on the Outdoor Research Furio. As a warm, heavy jacket without added venting features beyond the standard, we could again only award 6 of 10 points.
The Triolet jacket has a fairly standard set of features that are designed to increase its versatility for either climbing or skiing. A mesh internal stash pocket for storing extra gloves or a hat, double high handwarmer pockets, and an internal button flap for attaching the jacket to the waist belt of pants so it doesn't ride up, all make it a perfectly viable option for skiing. It also has double Napoleon style chest pockets for even more storage.
However, it doesn't have any media ports for headphones to slip through the pocket material, handy while skiing and found on jackets like The North Face Fuseform Brigandine 3L, our Top Pick for Resort Skiing, as well as on the OR jackets. While it does include two hem drawcords and buckles, as well as three drawcords for tightening the hood that worked all right, we didn't think they worked quite as well as the Cohaesive cord lock buckles found on the Patagonia Refugitive or Black Diamond Helio Alpine Shell. 6 out of 10 points for features.
Patagonia claims this jacket is a "jack-of-all-trades," and we would have to agree. It will work equally well as a climbing, mountaineering, or skiing jacket. Due to its heaviness and bulk, it is not a hardshell that we would press into backpacking duty.
This jacket retails for $399, ranking it along with the more affordable jackets in this review. However, for $400 or less you could also buy four of our Top Picks, all jackets that we thought performed significantly better than the Triolet. While this jacket does not present a bad value per se, there are better options available for the price.
The Patagonia Triolet Jacket is a versatile 3-layer GORE-TEX Shell that is equally at home while skiing or alpine climbing. While it is not a poorly performing jacket, it was one of the lowest scoring products out of our high-quality fleet. For those who love Patagonia products, we would recommend the Refugitive jacket before this one.
— Andy Wellman
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