Patagonia Insulated Powder Bowl Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Insulated Powder Bowl uses synthetic insulation to provide warmth underneath the outer hardshell. It feels like the insulation around the torso is thicker than the insulation in the sleeves, helping to warm the core. The hood also has a thin layer of insulation. This jacket kept us relatively warm on most ski days, but not as warm as the highest-performing (and most expensive) insulated jackets.
A Gore-Tex membrane, sealed seams, waterproof front zippers, and a full-coverage hood provide the weather resistance of this bomb-proof jacket. The Insulated Powder Bowl is one of the most storm-proof jackets in our test period. We couldn't get water to penetrate the jacket's interior, and Patagonia's DWR treatment kept water beading on the shell fabric even after plenty of rubbing. The synthetic insulation keeps its loft when wet, making this an excellent ski jacket for the wettest winter climates.
Comfort and Fit
The Insulated Powder Bowl is a comfortable jacket. The shell fabric isn't too stiff, and the interior lining is soft against the skin. There is a fleece pad on the back of the neck, but we wished it also had a fleece chin pad. The handwarmer pockets are fleece-lined. The synthetic insulation adds weight and bulk to the jacket, and the cut is straight and wide through the hem. This design creates a generic fit, which our slim lead tester finds a bit baggy. In general, we prefer jackets that contour gently to the body's curves, and this jacket doesn't meet the fine tailoring of other jackets on the market. But overall, it's a comfortable jacket to wear.
The Insulated Powder Bowl doesn't breathe or vent as well as many other jackets we reviewed. The synthetic insulation feels stuffy and not breathable when the user works hard, like hiking to inbounds terrain or skiing on warm days. The armpit vents are relatively short, and the zippers are hard to grasp, but they aren't lined with mesh, allowing maximum airflow. Overall, this isn't a great jacket if you do a lot of skiing that gets you warm, like skiing bumps or hiking to reach your ski runs. However, for the majority of people who ski (largely green and blue runs), this jacket balances warmth and ventilation adequately.
Our main gripe with this jacket is its style. The boxy, straight cut doesn't match the body's contours, making this jacket look generic and utilitarian. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but our testers prefer the sleek, refined look of more contoured jackets. This jacket blends in with a crowd instead of standing out. If that's ok with you, then the Insulated Powder Bowl doesn't have any major flaws.
The Insulated Powder Bowl is a fully-featured jacket with plenty of pockets and other useful inclusions. The exterior features two handwarmer pockets with fleece linings and one chest pocket on the left side. The external chest pocket also has a zippered media pocket inside of it, with a headphone port that crosses into the inside of the jacket. The left sleeve has a ski pass pocket to prevent embarrassing delays at lift turnstiles. The hood is removable, but the powder skirt isn't. On the inside of the jacket, there is one zippered stash pocket and one open mesh stash pocket. A RECCO reflector rounds out the Insulated Powder Bowl's excellent set of features.
Should You Buy the Insulated Powder Bowl?
The Patagonia Insulated Powder Bowl provides warmth, weather resistance, features, and comfort nearly comparable to more expensive, best-in-class jackets. This jacket performs well across the board, delivering all the performance that most skiers will ever need. It doesn't have the style to match these heavy hitters, but if that's not important to you, this jacket is a great and less-expensive choice. It still won't be approachable for users on a budget, but if you consider a top-of-the-line jacket, this is a great choice that could save you some cash.
What Other Ski Jackets Should You Consider?
The Insulated Powder Bowl is a solid option for skiers and riders who spend most of their time inbounds, particularly those in cold, humid climates. If you live in more arctic climes, the extra down insulation of the Arc'teryx Macai offers a boost of warmth. And if you live where it often rains, the Norrona Lofoten Gore-Tex Pro Shell or Arc'teryx Sabre AR Jacket offer unsurpassed water resistance. The award-winning Helly Hansen Alpha LifaLoft offers the comfort and style that this jacket lacks but is also significantly more expensive if your decision is all about looks.
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