Patagonia Primo Puff - Women's Review
Cons: Expensive, not very breathable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Primo Puff is comfy, warm, and good looking, and comes equipped with every feature a good ski jacket should. Bomber durability and weather resistance, as well as a protective hood and just enough zippered pockets, make it an Editors' Choice Award winner this year. It's too warm to be of much use in the backcountry, but it breathes well enough for high exertion in-bounds skiing. For the price, you get a lot of jacket, but it's still pretty expensive.
The Primo Puff uses GORE-TEX with stretch and a DWR finish for its outer shell. GORE-TEX is the gold standard in waterproof/breathable membranes. We watched water bead on the fabric and roll off during our tests. In fact, most of the time, moisture actually evaporated off the surface.
We also love how much Patagonia takes pride in the zippers it uses. The main zip on the Primo Puff is a burly Vislon model. We didn't notice any drafts coming through the front zipper when skiing downhill at speed; the main zipper also has a protective fabric flap over it. The Primo Puff kept us warm and dry in variable weather conditions. It is incredibly resistant to wet, foul weather.
Comfort and Fit
This jacket is a definite crowd-pleaser in the comfort and fit departments. It's warm and toasty and soft and spacious. In spite of all that, it still has a streamlined and flattering shape that falls nicely across the front. Unlike other insulated models we tested, this jacket doesn't feel bulky, and it weighs notably less. Order your regular size in this jacket, knowing that it has plenty of room.
The large hood and soft chin guard contribute to the comfy, cozy feel of the jacket. Our size Small tester really liked the relaxed yet true-to-size fit. The neck and wrist cuffs are both ample, which are design details we really appreciate. This means we can slide the jacket on over mittens and neck gaiters without struggling!
The Primo Puff excels in this department. It's insulated with high-loft PlumaFill synthetic insulation, which has the warmth and packability of down. It also has the ability to insulate when wet, a characteristic of synthetic insulation. The body of the jacket is lined with 135 grams of 100% Polyester PlumaFill insulation, while the panels and sleeves have 90g in panels and sleeves. We thought this was plenty! The hand pockets are lined with soft microfleece.
We loved wearing this jacket on cold and blustery days. The outer shell blocks wind and weather while the insulation is soft and toasty - it really is the best of both worlds. We definitely overheated while skiing hard on warmer days and knew that it would be way too warm for any hiking or ski touring. Nevertheless, for lap after lap on cold days and apres afterward, this jacket is a definite crowd-pleaser.
The two-layer recycled GORE-TEX fabric is highly waterproof and windproof. Patagonia has mastered the permeable membrane, even in its insulated jackets. This means that it lets moisture out instead of trapping it inside. Because of the insulation, it's not possible to breathe and ventilate like a hard shell would, but this jacket tries. We found that, with the pit zips zipped up, the jacket trapped heat during periods of high exertion, and things got pretty steamy.
With the pit zips open, however, air flowed nicely and restored the jacket to a dry and breathable state. The opening is pretty generous, and the vents don't have any mesh to inhibit air exchange, which we appreciate. That said, this is definitely a cold weather jacket with its level of insulation. The pit zips can only do so much.
This jacket's style is in its simplicity. It fits well, so it looks good. It's not flashy but rather understated. It has a complimentary colored lining (the "light balsamic" color we tested had a stylish silver-grey lining) that you can see when the hood is down.
We were disappointed that the jacket only comes in two dark colors in 2019-'20 (one of which is black). This isn't a loud or flashy jacket, but it has the timeless Patagonia-esque look we generally really like.
The Primo Puff excels in the ski performance category. All of its features are useful; we never found ourselves saying, "Oh, I wish it had this feature." We loved the removable powder skirt and the large, insulated hood. It fit perfectly over our helmets; when we cinched it tight, it never fell down. The neck cuff comes up high almost to the nose and can also be cinched. The powder skirt attaches to Patagonia ski pants.
Patagonia's pockets are totally pro. The media pocket has a gasket for headphones. There is a large interior pocket for goggles, a small zippered pocket for cash and credit cards within the zippered chest pocket, and we love the cozy fleece-lined handwarmer pockets as well. The Primo Puff is equipped with RECCO avalanche technology, which in no way takes the place of an avalanche transceiver in the backcountry.
The Primo Puff is expensive, which is a barrier. It's made of high-quality materials, has thoughtful functionality, and the durability to last a long time with proper care. The Primo Puff leads the way in terms of comfort and warmth; we never wanted to take it off! Nevertheless, it doesn't have any backcountry application, which may detract from its value for some.
There are myriad reasons why the women's Patagonia Primo Puff took home the Editors' Choice again this year among the insulated models. Its bomber exterior that wicks moisture, its comfy insulation, and excellent ski features are only a few. The change from down to synthetic insulation in this model helps it function better in high exertion situations, better dealing with moisture from our sweat. We felt so lucky to have this jacket on super cold and windy days on the hill - its warmth is unparalleled. Nevertheless, we feel that the price makes this jacket cost-prohibitive for some skiers. If you can afford the investment, though, we believe this model will outshine the vast majority of others, becoming a single purchase instead of two…or three…
— Betsy Welch