Patagonia Primo Puff Review
Cons: Boxy fit, unremarkable style, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Primo Puff is the warmest jacket we tested that uses synthetic insulation. This, combined with a Gore-Tex shell, produces a jacket that will keep you warm and dry, period. Other jackets feature a more contoured fit and more sophisticated style, while the Primo Puff blends in with the crowd.
The Primo Puff packs the heat… with more synthetic insulation than most ski jackets on the market. As such, this jacket is warm, and is probably too warm for many fair-weather ski destinations like Lake Tahoe, Mammoth, or New Mexico. Of course, those places get cold too, but this jacket is most at home in the frigid, stormy ski seasons of the Northern Rockies or New England. An insulated hood, hem drawstring, and insulated neck rib all add to the warming capabilities of this jacket.
We noticed exceptional weather resistance in this jacket. Featuring a Gore-Tex membrane, fully taped seams, and waterproof zippers, the Primo Puff means business in stormy weather. Even in the shower test, we were unable to find a weak spot in this jacket. The hood has great coverage and cinches down tight around the face. The powder skirt works well and also integrates into Patagonia pants using a button loop system. Our only reason to complain was that a couple of testers felt like strong winds could penetrate the jacket, but only in extreme situations.
Comfort and Fit
The quilted insulation pattern and soft interior fabric make this jacket very comfortable to wear. While providing the jacket's warmth, the massive amount of synthetic insulation can make the Primo Puff seem bulky at times. The jacket also has a relatively "boxy" cut, which means it remains wide in the torso, which can be great for larger people, but generally feels untailored for slim users. This was the biggest complaint about this jacket from our testers. There is plenty of room to layer underneath, and if you are on the fence about which size to get, size down.
This jacket is relatively breathable, despite the heavy synthetic insulation and Gore-Tex membrane that will trap body heat. Two large pit vents without mesh liners allow airflow when you need to dump some heat. Because of the insulated neck rib, there is less air motion near your neck, where your body tries to get blood to the surface in order to cool down. This jacket is not made for warm weather or high exertion, but we appreciated the pit vents when we headed for long bump runs or a short bootpack for fresh turns.
The Primo Puff features an unremarkable style. Many jackets in the competition aim for a "core," dirtbag look; others aim for an alpine racing or "Euro" style. This jacket has a boxy hem cut and muted color options, so while this jacket might not win any awards for style, it won't offend anybody either. It is classy and fits in with the crowd. The classic Patagonia logo on the chest is the biggest fashion statement that this jacket makes.
The Primo Puff is a very well-featured and convenient ski jacket. It is loaded with pockets: two fleece-lined and spacious handwarmer pockets, two external chest pockets (one with a phone sleeve and headphone port), two internal stash pockets, including one with a zipper, and a lower sleeve ski pass pocket. The powder skirt functions very well, and when it's not snowing, the powder skirt is removable for added comfort. The features of this jacket show that the design team knew what skiers need.
The Primo Puff is expensive, and is priced similarly to the top offerings from high-end brands. As an investment, you get a jacket that is constructed to last, although synthetic insulation begins to lose its loft (and thus its insulating abilities) after a couple seasons. Patagonia has a great warranty program, and they stand behind their gear, which is well constructed anyways. However, we doubt that they would replace the jacket just because the synthetic insulation has ended its useful life.
Patagonia also has brand recognition, which commands a premium, and excels as a brand that supports environmental and social responsibility. Many customers are willing to support these efforts by paying a higher price. Those considerations aside, we think there are better values elsewhere in the ski jacket market.
The Patagonia Primo Puff is a well constructed, warm, and weatherproof parka for cold ski conditions. It will keep you warm on the coldest days, and is overkill for warmer ski destinations and sunny, spring weather. The boxy fit may deter some, but the unassuming and neutral style will lure other users. There are many ski jackets on the market, and the Primo Puff is one of the best.
— Jeff Dobronyi