Patagonia Frozen Range Review
Cons: Expensive, controversial hood
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Patagonia Frozen Range Parka packs high-quality down insulation into a burly Gore-Tex shell, and does it with style to boot. It is a fully-featured winter jacket that performs well in most cold and wintery environments, from slushy days on the streets to the bitter, dry, and cold winds of the Rocky Mountains.
This jacket stood out from the competition and nearly took home the Editors' Choice Award. If the style of this jacket is appealing, look no further.
This jacket scored highly for warmth compared to most other jackets in our review. The Frozen Range Parka features lots of high quality, 700-fill power packed into interior baffles, which means there are no thin spots in the insulation.
Down baffling continues through the hood, which also includes an interior rib of down insulation around the neck, taking up any empty space inside the jacket and preventing cold air from entering through the top of the jacket. The long hem provides warmth for the lower torso. This jacket is certainly warm enough for most winter conditions, but for the most extreme winters on earth, check out the Top Pick for Extreme Cold, the Canada Goose Expedition Parka.
This jacket features a coarse, burly Gore-Tex shell with fully taped seams and a highly protective hood to seal out any rain, snow, or wind. We had no issues with water making its way through the jacket.
The long hem and stretch-knit storm cuffs add weather resistance, and the unique "snorkel" design of the hood provides significant distance between wind or precipitation and the sensitive skin of the nose and face, a feature many testers love.
One downside is the lack of any synthetic insulation in this jacket. When water makes its way into down insulation, the feathers can quickly lose their loft, bunch together, and lose their insulating properties. The shell of the Frozen Range will keep most water out of the jacket, but perspiration or light precipitation entering through the neck and pockets is inevitable. We wish Patagonia had included some moisture-resistant synthetic insulation around the neck and shoulders of this jacket.
Overall, this is a well-fitting jacket that is easy to wear, but some features get in the way of a perfect fit. The jacket is neither too slim or too baggy, making it very comfortable when putting it on for the first time. The shell fabric is stiff but doesn't feel nearly as plasticky or crinkly as the Camosun. The stiffness of the shell can be felt when bending over or sitting down, but the 2-way main zipper allows for opening the bottom of the jacket to increase mobility. The down baffled neck rib and stretch-knit cuffs are cozy.
Each handwarmer pocket has a small mesh cell-phone pocket sewn into the lining, which gets in the way of a comfortable hand-warming experience. When the front zipper is zipped all the way up, the brim of the hood is pulled into the back of the head, due to the elongated snorkel design of the hood. These two features are slightly distracting but overall aren't that big of a deal.
This jacket provides an adequate amount of features to make life easier in winter. Two large handwarmer pockets with soft woven linings provide refuge for cold fingers, but the mesh cell-phone slots are overkill, and there is no insulation between the outer shell and the pockets. The insulated and spacious chest pocket is cleverly hidden behind the large front zipper flap, and provides plenty of room for modern smartphones. On the inside, the large elastic stash pocket has plenty of room for a pair of gloves, hat, scarf, or other winter essentials.
The hood was the most controversial feature of this jacket amongst our testers, and can make or break the jacket is the eyes of most potential users. The snorkel design provides a large distance between the outside world and the face of the wearer, providing excellent protection from blowing snow and biting winds. It is clear that Patagonia designed this hood for the stormy winters of Chicago, Boston, and New York City.
For slightly more warmth and six more pockets, check out the features on the Canada Goose Expedition Parka.
The Frozen Range Parka is designed with fashion in mind. It stands out from other products in this review as a sharp-looking jacket that is equally at home on Fifth Avenue as it is on the streets of Aspen. Style is personal, and this jacket is proof of that, as some will be enticed by its design and others will immediately know to look elsewhere.
The cut of the jacket, optional front button closure, and long hem suggest a trench coat look, and the snorkel hood is unique and polarizing. Our testers were dubious at first about the style of the hood, but over time, they warmed up to it and even appreciated the way this jacket stands out in a crowd. For this reason, this jacket scored highly in the Style metric, but not as highly as the more universally-styled Arc'teryx Camosum Parka.
This jacket is bomber. The strong shell fabric feels tough and is resistant to catching, tearing, and staining. The interior polyester fabric is thin, but doesn't come into contact with any zippers, and none of the zippers in this jacket ever caught on nearby fabric during our test. The hood adjustment cord is hidden underneath a durable fabric panel and won't get snagged on anything.
The apparent weakness to the durability of this jacket are the large buttons, which are attached with a small sewn fabric strand. These buttons have the potential to get hung up when picking up the jacket or walking through crowds. However, there is a stylistic component to them as well, and the front flap does a good job of protecting the buttons when not in use. Thin mesh cell phone slots in the handwarmer pockets are also a weak point, and sometimes got caught on metal keyrings or car keys. These features prevented this jacket from being rated as durable as the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka or the Canada Goose Expedition Parka.
This well-constructed jacket is more expensive than any other jacket in our review except for the Canada Goose jackets, and it is more expensive than even the pricey Editors' Choice Camosun Parka. Patagonia is known for their quality, consistency, and warranty, meaning that this jacket can be considered a long-term investment that will protect you for many winters to come. Plus, the urban style of this jacket can compare to much more expensive tailored jackets from mainstream fashion brands.
Keeping the cold at bay while keeping you looking sharp, the Patagonia Frozen Range Parka is an excellent winter jacket that barely missed the Editors' Choice Award. If the style of this jacket appeals to you, put it at the top of your list.
— Jeff Dobronyi