Hands-on Gear Review

Patagonia Primo Down Jacket - Women's Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:  $699 List | $349.00 at Patagonia
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Stylish, quality materials, lightweight, useful ski features
Cons:  Expensive, afraid the potential lack of breathability could affect the down insulation
Bottom line:  This super warm and comfortable jacket has all the features you need for a cold day at the resort, and looks good too.
Editors' Rating:   
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Weight:  1.89 lbs
# of Pockets:  2 hand, 1 chest (with internal media), 1 sleeve, 1 internal stash, 1 internal drop-in
Main Fabric:  2-layer, 70D 100% recycled nylon GORE-TEX
Manufacturer:   Patagonia

Our Verdict

The Patagonia Primo Down is the jacket that keeps on giving and comes back season after season to win our Editors' Choice Award. It is the warmest and most comfortable jacket in this review. We love it's soft, high-quality shell and liner materials, and superior ski features including tons of stash pockets, a removable powder skirt and media pocket with headphone port. We love the cut and fit of this jacket and reach for it any day we're heading out into the elements at the resort. It is super warm, so if you're in warmer climates or spring skiing you may want a more versatile jacket you can layer up or down with.



RELATED REVIEW: The 10 Best Ski Jackets for Women


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jessica Haist

Last Updated:
Friday
February 23, 2018

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A down insulated jacket with a waterproof exterior and a softer, suppler feeling shell fabric, complete with useful features tailored towards skiing, the Primo Down is a high-performance layer for cold days on the hill.

Performance Comparison


The Primo Down is the highest performing ski jacket we tested.
The Primo Down is the highest performing ski jacket we tested.

Weather Resistance


The Primo Down is one of few jackets in this review, along with the Arc'teryx Tiya, Arc'teryx Sentinel, and the Patagonia Untracked - Women's, to use Gore-Tex fabric for its outer shell. Gore-Tex is the most widely regarded waterproof/breathable membrane on the market. We found that water beaded well and rolled off well on this material in our tests, though that is largely a product of the DWR coatings. We also like the burly Vislon zipper on this jacket. We did not notice any drafts coming through the front zipper when skiing downhill at speeds. The Primo Down is a fortress that will protect you from any weather that Mother Nature can throw at you. We love its hood that stays securely on with an articulated visor that helps with visibility.


Ventilation


The two-layer recycled Gore-Tex material used on this jacket has a permeable membrane that is supposed to let moisture out when you sweat. Sometimes Gore-Tex is not as breathable as we would like, and becomes less so over time when the jacket gets dirty. This makes us a little nervous about how this jacket will perform over time because down insulation becomes less effective when it gets wet - and dirty.


The Primo Down does have pit-zips for extra ventilation and airflow when you're earning your turns, and they open wide. The Patagonia Untracked Jacket - Women's also has vast gaping pit-zips and is a tremendous uninsulated alternative to the Primo Down.

The Primo Down is great for cold days but can also work on warmer sunny days because of its good ventilation.
The Primo Down is great for cold days but can also work on warmer sunny days because of its good ventilation.

Warmth


The Patagonia Primo Down is the warmest jacket we tested. It is insulated with lofty 800-fill-power goose down that is much lighter in weight than the synthetic insulation found in either the The North Face ThermoBall Triclimate or the Columbia Whirlibird - Women's jackets, but it feels just as warm and very wind resistant.


It is the only jacket in this review currently with down insulation. On the coldest days at the hill, we paired this jacket with a base layer and thin mid-layer and felt toasty. Even on the coldest storm days, we were always warm enough. We like that its hood is insulated with down as well, and fits over a ski helmet to keep any heat from escaping from the head or neck. It also has an ingenious neck baffle filled with down that prevents cold air from reaching our back and seals warm air in. The jacket's hemline is long for fewer drafts and more coverage.

We went out in cold stormy conditions in the Primo Down and it kept us warm.
We went out in cold stormy conditions in the Primo Down and it kept us warm.

Ski Features


The Primo Down excels in the ski performance category. It has several clever features meant to keep you comfortable on the ski hill. We especially like the removable powder skirt, and the media pocket that keeps your device tucked away and allows your headphones to poke through to the interior of your jacket. The Flylow Billie Coat is the only other jacket in this review with a removable snow skirt. The Primo has plenty of pockets, including a large interior for goggles, a small zippered interior pocket for your keys, and a ski pass pocket on the sleeve. We love the cozy fleece-lined hand warmer pockets as well. The Primo Down is equipped with RECCO avalanche technology that has become an industry standard feature in high-end ski jackets.


The powder skirt has been changed recently, and we have not been able to test the new version. We still don't think powder skirts are very useful unless they attach to your pants to prevent them from pulling all your layers up, which you can with the Primo Down's.

The Primo Down's ski features include a media pocket with head phone gasket and zipper pocket with key clip.
The Primo Down's ski features include a media pocket with head phone gasket and zipper pocket with key clip.

Other jackets that had good ski features were the Patagonia Snowbelle, the Mountain Hardwear Barnsie, and the Orage Nina.

Style


This jacket has a simple design that is form flattering and looks good. It is not flashy like the Nina, but we still think it looks great. The Primo Down has a complimentary colored lining that you can see on the outside in the hood, and it comes in a few pleasant colors, although we wish there were more colors to choose from.


For a warm, down insulated jacket, the Primo Down looks streamlined and stylish. The most stylish jackets we tested were the Orage Nina and the Flylow Billie Coat.

We like the long cut and contrasting zipper on the Primo Down.
We like the long cut and contrasting zipper on the Primo Down.

Comfort and Fit


Every tester who puts this jacket on says something along the lines of "ooh this is nice!" Being so lightweight is an advantage for the Primo Down, which adds to its comfort. Compared to the heavy Whirlibird and Snowbelle jackets, this jacket feels like you're wearing nothing at all.


This model has a long hemline, so it covers more of your back-side and keeps you even warmer and the shell material is soft and supple feeling. The large hood and soft chin guard add comfort and coziness. Our medium sized testers found this jacket very comfortable and roomy enough to put an extra layer underneath — although we rarely felt like we needed one.

The Primo Down is comfortable and high functioning on the slopes
The Primo Down is comfortable and high functioning on the slopes,

Best Application


With all of its special features, this jacket was made for skiing and snowboarding at the resort. It will keep you warm on the coldest days and has extra ventilation for warmer spring skiing days or when you're working hard in the pow. This jacket would be great for any low output cold weather activity like walking the dog or building snow forts. We love that the powder skirt is removable for the times you're not waist deep in the fluffy stuff.

Testing the Primo Down at Big White Resort in British Columbia Canada.
Testing the Primo Down at Big White Resort in British Columbia Canada.

Value


The Primo Down is one of the most expensive jackets in this review at $699, which may be a barrier to some. It has high-quality materials, and we believe it will last a long time with proper care. It is a better value than the very expensive Arc'teryx Tiya which has similar features but is insulated with synthetic materials and is more expensive. The Primo Down has no equal regarding warmth in the jackets we tested. If you are looking for something that has many ski features and versatility but at a lower price point, we recommend the Orage Nina or the Mountain Hardwear Barnsie.

Conclusion


The waterproof exterior, well-insulated interior, and combination of excellent ski features make this our favorite insulated ski jacket. This year's features such as the 800 fill down, long hemline, and softer shell material allow the latest version of the Primo Down to keep its spot as our Editors' Choice Award winner for the fifth year running. We find it functional and flattering, and it falls into an acceptable price range. The Primo Down is the jacket we want to be wearing on a fun and deep powder day on our favorite hill.

Jessica Haist

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Most recent review: February 23, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
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