In every review we conduct, there ends up being relevant sub-comparisons between similar products. In this case, we tested two products designed as "three-in-one." The Patagonia Snowshot and the Columbia Whirlibird Interchange are similar in intention, and in actual execution, they add up remarkably similar. The Columbia model is more insulating, and less expensive, while the Patagonia contender is a little more durable, better made, with offers a subtle, yet nicer style. For general purpose skiing, we recommend a fully insulating all-in-one jacket like the Arc'teryx Macai. However, value hunters will like the appeal of the three-in-one style jackets. Those should closely examine this review for the Snowshot and compare it to the Whirlibird. Different users will make different choices; none of them are wrong.
Patagonia 3-in-1 Snowshot ReviewPrice: $399 List | $375.00 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Versatile three in one construction with high end quality
Cons: Inherently confining nature of the three in one construction; not as warm as the Columbia jacket
Bottom line: A well made, versatile jacket for the average ski resort user.
Insulation: 60g Thermogreen synthetic
Waterproofing: Gore Tex
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Ski Jackets for Men
Our Analysis and Test Results
There is an inherent appeal and value in the three-in-one construction and design of the Snowshot from Patagonia. This jacket, and others like it, is constructed as two separate jackets that can be snapped and zipped together to make a third, warmer jacket. The inner layer, in the case of the Snowshot, is a synthetic insulated, full-zip front, hoodless sweater. This liner is also reversible, with a light blue face on one side and a quilted darker blue on the other.
That was in the model we tested; other color schemes are also reversible, with different colors. This reversible status further diversifies the Snowshot 3-in-1. Appearance-wise it is also "3-in-1"; shell only and fully integrated jacket provide one look while the liner can be worn two different ways, for a total of three looks. The shell jacket is waterproof, with a separate hanging lining to manage moisture and protect the H2No membrane on the polyester face fabric. The two jackets together are fairly warm by virtue of the insulation and multiple layers of fabric. These same multiple layers of fabric also confine the wearer's movement more than an all-in-one insulated jacket. These attributes are shared by all three-in-one jackets, including our Best Buy winning Columbia Whirlibird Interchange 3-in-1.
Overall, the Patagonia 3-in-1 Snowshot comes in just above halfway through the scores. This is great, considering that our selection includes the best of the best on the market.
The warmth of the Patagonia Snowshot comes from 60 grams of synthetic insulation in the liner, the multiple layers of fabric in the entire package (we counted at least five layers of fabric and one layer of insulation throughout the entire combined product), and the air spaces between all these layers. As compared to other 60-gram insulated pieces we have used, the extra fabric layers surely add warmth. The entire Patagonia Snowshot is decidedly warmer than such all-in-one jackets. However, as compared to the close competitor, the Columbia Whirlibird, the Snowshot isn't as warm.
The Columbia Whirlibird has more insulation, thicker fabrics, and their proprietary reflective "Omni-Heat" technology. For absolute warmth, the Columbia contender can't be beat. The Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell, Outdoor Research White Room, and FlyLow Gear Genius are far less insulating than the combined Snowshot, ensuring that your decision to purchase a 3-in-1 for warmth is a wonderful idea.
Even when comparing the shell of the Snowshot to the other shell-only contenders in our testing, the Snowshot provided a higher level of warmth, only being outperformed by the Columbia Whirlibird. This additional but minimal warmth is provided by the separate hanging liner of the jacket. The other shell jackets we tested are "three-layer" style, in which the outer fabric, the waterproof membrane, and the lining fabric are laminated into a single piece. The Snowshot has a membrane and outer fabric laminated together, with a separate inner layer.
Patagonia's climbing background prompts excellent weather resistance. For their price-point pieces like this competitor, they use their own proprietary "H2No" waterproof breathable membrane instead of the more expensive Gore-Tex of the higher end products like the Patagonia Primo Down. Patagonia is the first to admit that Gore-Tex is better, but our experience with H2No indicates that is more than adequate for all but the most gnarly conditions. Patagonia seam-seals the Snowshot, as well as applying a generous water repellant coating to the exterior. The Patagonia Primo Down is burlier, while the shell-only Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell is the ultimate in weather protection.
At one glance, the short mesh-backed pit-zips of the Snowshot, installed only into the shell layer, hardly offer any real ventilation. However, we choose to look at it in a more sophisticated fashion. The purpose of ventilation is for adjusting to different conditions and exertion levels. With the opportunity to choose three different configurations to match the conditions and effort, these three-in-one jackets are arguably the best venters in the test. Of the insulated jackets in our review, none offer the possibilities for shedding heat that the Snowshot and Whirlibird do. Only the full shells with long pit-zips, like the Outdoor Research White Room, come close. The shells, though, can't be battened down for cold weather without an additional purchase.
Of all the things we look for in terms of ski specificity, this jacket has precious few. In testing, we compiled a list of subtle additions that augment and support a skier's usage. From that list, the Snowshot only has interior headphone routing and fleece-lined hand warming pockets. Further, the snow skirt (which we normally review as part of the weather protection) is less usable than on other jackets due to the interference of the lining jacket.
The Columbia Whirlibird suffers from this same issue. We wish the Snowshot had even half the features of the fully kitted Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0 or the Spyder Leader. Interestingly, our Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Macai is limited in terms of features (though none of our testers thought that the lack of ski features in a jacket was a deal breaker). When the rest of the package is suitable, the features are merely nice additions. If the three-in-one aspect of the Snowshot appeals to you, you won't miss the goggle wipe or ski pass pocket.
Fit and Comfort
We have mixed feelings about the comfort of these three-in-one jackets. In their maximum configuration, for the amount of warmth they provide, the construction has inherently confining attributes. A carefully tailored all-in-one jacket like the Arc'teryx Macai or Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0 can be as warm as the Snowshot, but with a far less constricting fit. The extra layers of fabric in the three-in-one construction bind more; however, the user has the option to choose the level of protection (and therefore level of confining fit) for the conditions. Any of the two individual parts of the Snowshot are lighter and freer moving than even the most tailored full-service all-in-one jacket. Our scores reflect this tension. There are pros and cons of the three-in-one construction of this contender. In the end, it comes out just about average.
We gave average to high style marks to this ski jacket. It is entirely unobtrusive in any configuration - and there are a total of four configurations. The shell alone hangs loosely and is the least visually appealing. The two parts together looks like any other insulated ski jacket. The lining can be worn regular or inside out, showing different colors on either side. As compared to the Columbia Whirlibird, this Patagonia model is more carefully tailored and has the additional option of reversing the liner. The Patagonia model scores higher than the Columbia model and was similarly rated to the Outdoor Research White Room in terms of style.
This is an excellent jacket for the average ski resort user. The versatility appeals to someone who likes to own few, general-purpose products. The Snowshot will function for all seasons of skiing, as well as around town.
In getting three jackets in one, the value of this style of jacket jumps up right away. Patagonia's construction will last a long time, while their warranty will back up any issues you may have. The Columbia Whirlibird is about half the price, so we gave it our Best Buy Award. However, if higher quality is a must have, backed by Patagonia's legendary warranty, the Snowshot should be on the radar of value hunters.
The three-in-one style of jacket is not for everyone. For those for whom this style of jacket is worthwhile, the Columbia Whirlibird, our other 3-in-1 contender, is cheaper and warmer, while the Patagonia is higher quality with better weather protection.
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Most recent review: February 14, 2018
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