Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Patagonia Education, Part Three

Part three in a series: A Patagonia Education (photo from prolitegear.com). Last time I covered lessons number two to four.

Lesson Number Five
The Patagonia Down Sweater just, um..., isn't for me. The next item in my fitting room was the Down Sweater in black, again in size small. At 30% off, this jacket was $140, about as good a price as one is going find for this basic piece that Patagonia always carries. I liked the fit and feel a lot. This is a very light weight piece. When you think of classic down jackets, they are packed with feathers and bulky. This one's pared down and, forgive the play on words, light as a feather. The shell feels very thin and I read a review on Backcountry.com that mentions some tearing that the reviewer experienced.

I really liked this jacket, but I didn't buy it for one reason: I thought it looked feminine on me. Now I know the psychoanalysts out there will start accusing me of repressing thoughts, having crushes on my father, etc. But it just looks like a woman's jacket when you put it on! The bigger beefier down jackets look a bit more rugged. It's not all about how a jacket looks, but that does count for something. I think it's the narrower quilting lines that make it look like it was made for my wife. I don't know--it just wasn't for me.

Lesson Number Six
The Patagonia Storm Jacket has a really baggy fit in the upper body. This was one of the final jackets I tried on. It has a tough-feeling exterior fabric and it seemed like it would hold up well in a rough-and-tumble back country environment. When I put it on though, it seemed like I could fit a little person inside the underarm area. The jacket was really nice except for that fact. It's to accommodate layers, I'm sure, but just what exactly will someone be using as a layer? A living, whole goat? (Photo from paragonsports.com)

Lesson Number Seven
The Patagonia Eco Rain Shell is a nice, civilized basic rain jacket.
This is the much (and rightfully so) bally-hooed first fully recycled and recycleable jacket that Patagonia produced a couple of years ago.
It has very simple styling and could work as a rain coat that one would wear to the office. The hood is comfortable (though no drawstring) and detachable and the jacket is lightweight. The mesh lining makes it easy to get on and off and there you go--very straightforward features.

My issue with it was that it was too straightforward. Where's the two-way zipper that versions of the Eco Rain Shell available as recent as 2007 had (according to my old issues of the Patagonia catalog). That would be a helpful touch as the jacket is rather slim fitting. So the bottom hem could use the extra give that a two-way zipper would afford. I actually liked the slimmer fit, but if someone plans to layer, they'd be in trouble unless it was a very thin layer. I tried a hoodless softshell and it was too much. My down vest was way too much. So if you're going to wear it alone, you're golden. (photo from hanon-shop.com)

One thing I didn't get: why do the pocket zippers rest at the bottom of the zip when the pockets are closed? The picture illustrates this. See the Napoleon chest pocket? The pocket is closed and the zipper pull hangs down, as do the handwarmer pocket zippers. Seems to me that if the pockets closed with the zipper at the top of the pocket, gravity could do its thing and virtually hide the zipper pulls rather than forcing them to look like you have a piece of black licorice hanging out of your pocket.

Lesson Number Eight
The Patagonia Down Jacket is still one of the finest pieces around.
True, they didn't have it in my size in black. But I did try on a navy blue one in my size and that thing was nice. The right weight, the right feel, the right warmth--just really solid. Keeping my eye out for a small in black.

So there it is, my Patagonia Education. The Patagonia Palo Alto store was beautiful and the employees very helpful and kind. Looking forward to furthering my education sometime soon.

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