Some jackets tested this year sacrificed breathability to have maximum weather resistance; the Patagonia Airshed has done the exact opposite. This jacket is comprised of a highly breathable material at the expense of weather and wind protection.
The Airshed was a great choice on chilly mornings when the clouds looked friendly and unlikely to dump!
Breathability and Venting
This metric is the bread and butter of the Airshed. Easily one of the most breathable jackets we have tested in the running jacket category, you could wear this model in a sauna and expect to stay dry. While we're mostly kidding, we put the Airshed through a slew of high output activities and felt protected from cold air. Excess heat and moisture were also efficiently dissipated. The Airshed might be the ideal jacket for chilly mornings when you know there is zero chance of precipitation.
Our series of steep uphill runs exposed some breathability issues with several jackets. The AirShed (pictured) performed quite well.
While the DWR treatment was initially fairly effective on the Airshed, the jacket seemed extremely permeable after a few runs, which is likely a result of the superior breathability of the fabric. Our gear tester put all of the running jackets through a rainy bike ride test and was drenched most rapidly while wearing the Airshed. That being said, it dried out quickly and wasn't the most uncomfortable jacket when wet.
We tried to grow our minds with diligent watering and some old-fashioned magazine reading. Unfortunately, the Airshed allowed heaps of water to permeate through
Comfort and Mobility
Another excellent attribute of the Airshed is the supple material of the body, as well as the stretch material that comprises the waist and wrist cuffs. Even after hours of running or riding in this jacket, it remained comfortable. Only the Outdoor Research Tantrum II proved to be more comfortable, with its movement-mirroring stretch material. The pullover design was one of the only detractors from comfort and mobility. If your shoulders are chronically tight like our gear testers, getting in and out of a pullover can make you feel like Houdini trying to escape from a straight jacket. However, this isn't necessarily the fault of the jacket as much as our non-compliance with our physical therapist's recommendations to stretch our shoulders…
Patagonia has mastered the art of creating portable garments and the Airshed is no exception. In the early days of the Houdini, one needed three thumbs to stuff the jacket into its microscopic stuff pouch; now with the Airshed, the pouch is truly the perfect size.
The Airshed packs down to a handy pocket size. Unlike the older versions of Patagonia's packable jackets, this one fits easily into its stuff pouch.
It packs down to a small size but not so small that it's a chore to cram it into the pocket. The only notable issue is the aforementioned frustration with putting this thing on and taking it off!
105 grams or 3.7 ounces seems like the sweet spot for a highly breathable jacket. Jackets that are made much lighter or heavier tend to have a deficit when it comes to breathability and venting.
Day and Night Visibility
The color choices of the Airshed are all quite dark; this coupled with the minimal reflective badging helped earn a barely passing grade for visibility. The extremely bright reflective material of the front and back Patagonia badges helped salvage some visibility from the gloomy color scheme.
A look at the reflective qualities of the jackets in our test. The TNF Anorak and Ultimate Direction Breeze had the strongest low-light visibility, with the other three having fairly comparable levels of reflectivity. Pictured left to right Ultimate Direction Breeze, the Anorak (2 pictures), Outdoor Research Tantrum II, Marmot Air Lite, and the Airshed from Patagonia.
This jacket is best suited for high output activities when breathability is essential. The weatherproofing isn't anything to write home about, relegating this jacket to specific weather conditions, i.e., cold and dry. Just as the Marmot Air Lite is a weather resistance specialist, the Airshed is a breathability specialist.
The Airshed isn't a bad value. If breathability performance is a top priority in seeking out a running jacket, this is one of the best, making the $119.00 price tag worth it. If you're looking for something a bit more well-rounded, the same $119 can get you a lot of jacket. Check out the Outdoor Research Tantrum II as the all-arounder.
The Patagonia Airshed is highly breathable, comfortable, and portable. It struggles to shed precipitation, and when the wind gets strong, it can howl through. The breathability alone is a reason to get this jacket as many other running jackets struggle to offer a satisfactory level of breathability or venting.