Patagonia Down Sweater Review

We tested the Patagonia Down Sweater and this is our verdict.

October 28, 2022
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The Patagonia Down Sweater has been one of the most popular lightweight jackets on the market for years. It excels in performance in most areas, has minimal features, and is filled with ethically sourced goose down. The sweater is very packable and layers easily with a base layer and a rain jacket.

Product Overview

Patagonia Down Sweater

Price: $279

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patagonia down sweater

PROS:

✅ Durable

✅ Easy to layer

✅ Very warm in above-freezing conditions

✅ Versatile style (for the backcountry or city)

CONS:

❌ Not a great fill weight to total weight ratio

❌ Stuff sack doesn’t compress the jacket much

❌ Boxy fit

KEY SPECS

  • Weight: 13.1 oz (0.82 lbs)
  • Fill Weight: 2.8 oz in a women’s medium, 3 oz in a men’s medium
  • Fill Power: 800-fill-power goose down
  • Shell Material: 1.4-oz 20x30-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish
  • Lining Material: 1.4-oz 20-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a DWR finish

The Patagonia Down Sweater is one of their classic items that has been around for almost 15 years and it is obvious why, it’s not the best at any one thing but rather a jacket of all trades. It is a great all-arounder that is easy to layer underneath and on top making it versatile and adaptable to a range of temperatures. You’ll be happy to know with its 20 x 30 denier shell this jacket is durable and will be around long enough to become an old friend. If low weight and packability are your number one goals however there are a variety of options better suited for you.

To see the other great down jacket models on the market, see our post on the best down jackets.



Performance Test Results

Weight: 7/10

Technical performance jackets roughly fall into 3 weight classes: lightweight, midweight and heavyweight. The Patagonia Down Sweater is in the lightweight category which is made up of jackets that have 3-4 oz fill weight and weigh under 1 pound. These are jackets that insulate well enough in the shoulder seasons and warmer winter days. The lightweight category ranges between 16 oz and as little as 4.8 oz with the featherlight Montbell Plasma 1000.

The Patagonia Down Sweater comes in at 13.1 oz with a fill weight of about 3 oz which puts it in the mid-high end of the pack, not ultralight but a very doable weight for most thru-hikers.

wearing backpack over patagonia down sweater
The Patagonia Down Sweater falls into the lightweight range for a down jacket.

For the weight-conscious hiker look for an even higher fill-power down jacket to help reduce weight in your pack. The lightest jacket on the market, the Montbell Plasma 1000 has 1000-fill-power and goes as far as removing the pockets and using incredibly thin 7D shell material.

packed patagonia down sweater
Patagonia Down Sweater comes with a built-in stuff sack.

Price: 8/10

The Down Sweater offers excellent performance at a less-than-premium price tag. Jackets in the lightweight category can range from as much as $389 to as little as $80 with most falling between about $220 to $320. The Down Sweater we reviewed has an MSRP of $229 making it a very good deal for the price. It is full-featured like other jackets in this range, with pockets, drawstrings, etc. It is lacking a hood, however, that option is available if that is something you are looking for and are willing to pay a bit more for it.

patagonia down sweater with hood
This down jacket falls into the mid-range for pricing and offers a good deal for the price.

Compared to other jackets of similar warmth-to-weight ratio, this jacket is a very good deal considering it has 800-fill down and performs very well in cool temperatures.

The newest model is now $279, quite a jump for a jacket that didn’t see many upgrades from one model to the next. Originally it was a very competitively priced garment, now the Down Sweater is approaching the middle of the road.

hiker eating meals

When a new model comes out, the old ones often get a deep discount. The model that we reviewed here can be found briefly at retailers for a discounted price making them even more of a steal, if you can find one in your size scoop it up. 

hiker wearing patagonia down sweater

Warmth: 7/10

I found this to be true in my testing of the Patagonia Down Sweater. I cowboy camped using a combination of a summer 40˚F rated sleeping bag and the Down Sweater on nights ranging between 40˚F and 50˚F and slept comfortably. When it was closer to 50˚F I didn’t even have to zip the sleeping bag up past my waist the whole night. On the nights closer to 40˚F it was a bit windy without a tent and the polyester shell did a good job keeping the wind out.

hiker in a tent
This down jacket kept me very warm in above-freezing conditions even when cowboy camping.

The Patagonia Down Sweater is in the lightweight category so we will compare it to other jackets in that group. If you’re needing a deep winter jacket or will be facing more extreme weather and precipitation you might want to consider a mid or heavy-weight jacket. Shoulder season temperatures between 32˚F to 60˚F are where lightweight jackets perform best.

hiker cooking on camp

The Down Sweater shell is polyester which is naturally hydrophobic and it is treated with a DWR (durable water-repellent) finish. This provides some protection from a light rain but is not anywhere close to being a rain jacket. The down itself is not treated with any water repellent like some other jackets on the market. If the jacket gets wet the down fibers will clump and bunch together and it will lose most of its insulating ability. Make sure to bring a waterproof rain jacket to layer together with this jacket. Another option for handling the rain is to opt for a synthetic “down” jacket which will retain its insulating properties when wet but at the cost of being heavier and less compressible.

unpacking patagonia down sweater

It can be difficult to measure the warmth of a jacket since they don’t usually come rated to a specific temperature like a sleeping bag. You have to consider a few things, the most important of which are the fill weight and the fill power of the jacket. Also, you can consider the shell material, stitching, and water-resistant treatment.

wearing patagonia down sweater

The terms fill power and fill weight are often confused with each other, but are very different measurements. Fill weight refers to how much down is added to a particular garment, measured in ounces or grams. Fill power refers to the quality of the down added, these numbers range from 300 to 1000. The fill power number is calculated by the volume a 1oz sample of that quality down will fill.

hiker setting tent

So for example with the low-quality 300-fill-power down, 1 oz will expand to 300 cubic centimeters of space, but 1 oz of 800-fill-power down will fill 800 cubic centimeters. Lightweight jackets will often use a fill power of 650 or higher, with most premium jackets using 800 or higher.

hiker wearing patagonia down sweater

To understand how warm a jacket is going to be you have to look at the combination of these two numbers. The Patagonia Down Sweater (men’s medium) contains 3 oz of 800-fill-power down. So it’s reasonable to guess that this jacket will be warmer than say the Mammut Broad Peak Light which has 2.46 oz of 800-fill-power down. It can be harder to compare with jackets that have different fill powers, like the Western Mountaineering QuickFlash jacket that has 2.5 oz of 850-fill-power down.

using patagonia down sweater

Another interesting ratio to consider is the fill weight to the overall weight of a jacket. The down inside a jacket should ideally make up 30% or more of the total weight of your jacket, otherwise, you’re carrying a lot of frills around without much insulating power. The Down Sweater has a ratio of 23% which is not great compared to some of the other models on the market, most of which are above 30% the most premium being around 37% down.

patagonia down sweater pocket

Packability: 7/10

The Patagonia Down Sweater incorporates a stuff sack in its own inner chest pocket featuring a double-sided zipper and clip-in loop. It compresses into the pocket to a size of approximately 9.5 x 7.25 x 4.5 inches but in a real compression bag, could get even smaller. The 20x30D ripstop polyester shell makes it a bit more durable yet less compressible and its 800-fill-power down adds to its compressibility.

patagonia down sweater inner pocket
Built-in Stuff Sack in the chest pocket doesn't compress the jacket much.

I like that the stuff sack is in the inner chest pocket rather than one of the hand pockets. I’ve had other jackets where the hand pocket doubled as a stuff sack and I would constantly accidentally invert my pocket when removing my hand, dumping the contents on the ground. Some folks like to use a stuff sack, but I find them to be just one more thing to carry, preferring to just stuff the jacket into my backpack and let it fill in the gaps.

compressing patagonia down sweater
The jacket is highly compressible , but there are more compressible options on the market.

On a recent multi-pitch climbing trip where my partner and I were going to cram all of our water, meals, and two puffy jackets into a 22L bag this is the jacket I reached for. My other option was a bigger heavier 700-fill-power jacket, and the difference in compressibility is obvious. In an overnight pack, there will be plenty of room for this jacket.

packing patagonia down sweater

Not surprisingly the most compressible down jackets are going to be the lightest ones with the highest fill-power number without a hood, like the Western Mountaineering QuickFlash Jacket or the Montbell Plasma 1000.

patagonia down sweater packed in backpack

Material & Durability: 9/10

The Patagonia Down Sweater’s shell is made from a 20x30-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Compared to similar lightweight jackets on the market this is on the thicker more durable end but still falls into a lightweight category. Many other jackets use 15, 12, 10, or even 7-denier thickness polyesters or nylons to make them more lightweight at the price of longevity. I have a previous iteration of this jacket from 2012 and it is just now starting to form holes at wear points where the down is escaping, 10 years is pretty durable for a lightweight down jacket in my book.

full length zipper patagonia down sweater
This jacket is more durable than most in its market. My personal Patagonia Down Sweater lasted me 10 years before forming small holes.

Polyester and Nylon are the two main types of fabrics you’ll find in these jackets in addition to newly created proprietary textiles. In general, polyester is more water-repellent, has a rougher feel, and is more abrasion resistant than Nylon. Nylon will absorb more water, is less abrasion resistant, but feels softer against your skin.

patagonia down sweater sleeve cuffs
The Wrist Cuffs are soft and elastic but not adjustable

The Down Sweater’s outer shell doesn’t claim to be windproof or waterproof but is water resistant with its DWR finish. In light rain I found the shell to bead up water and much of it rolls off but in medium to heavy precipitation, it can quickly get overpowered and wet through the down. When it does get wet, because it’s polyester, the shell dries quickly. That being said, I would definitely recommend bringing a rain layer to keep the jacket dry. Getting a down jacket wet could be the difference between staying warm and comfy or shivering all night or worse.

patagonia down sweater material
Outer shell doesn’t claim to be windproof or waterproof but is water resistant with its DWR finish

Comfort and Fit: 7/10

I’m 6’2” and found the Large Patagonia Down Sweater comfortable with a somewhat roomy boxy fit. The arms were a good length, coming right to my wrist without being too short or too long and bunching up. The length was also good for me, coming down to below my waist. The roominess on the inside would allow layering with a pretty thick fleece underneath for added insulation and the smooth polyester outside will make it easy to slip on a waterproof outer layer.

patagonia down sweater layering

The polyester material liner can feel a bit cool against your bare skin when you put it on, but it quickly warms up. The waist includes a nifty drawcord you can easily tighten through the hand pockets. The wrists are not adjustable but rather come with a soft elastic cuff to help keep the warm air in. I would have liked it if the pockets were slightly higher so as to not become covered up by a backpack's hip belt.

patagonia down sweater pocket zipper

There is a little front zipper garage that keeps the zipper from coming in contact with the bottom of your chin.

This jacket is comfortable enough to do an array of outdoor activities in, but ideally something more active like hiking, backpacking, or climbing. Doing some late-season fishing and not moving much might get a bit chilly with a lightweight jacket.

patagonia down sweater pocket
External zippered pockets are roomy enough to get your hands deep and warm inside

Features: 8/10

ZIPPERED POCKETS

External zippered pockets are roomy enough to get your hands deep and warm inside. There is no down between the pocket and the inside of the jacket, so unless it’s zipped up, you’re losing heat out of the pocket.

The internal zippered chest pocket is huge because it doubles as a stuff sack. It's a great feature having this pocket as the stuff sack so you do not accidentally invert your hand pockets.

patagonia down sweater drawstring hem

DRAWSTRING HEM

The drawstring hem (around the waist) is easy to tighten through the external pockets, and easy enough to loosen. It seems like they used a bit too much drawstring bungee cord, as it hangs loose out of the jacket it fully loosened.

SLEEVE/WRIST CUFFS

The Wrist Cuffs are soft and elastic but not adjustable.

FULL-LENGTH ZIPPER

The full-length zipper has a baffle underneath to prevent heat loss and wind from entering the jacket and the zipper garage protects your neck.

patagonia down sweater full length zipper

BUILT-IN STUFF SACK

Built-in Stuff Sack is in the chest pocket which is great and the jackets easily fit into the stuff sack. It is double-zippered and included a clip-in point if you had to clip it to a harness or outside of a backpack, but I wouldn’t trust the thin material.

patagonia down sweater chest pocket

There’s no hood on this model but Patagonia does offer a Down Sweater Hoodie option if that is more your style.

The Patagonia Down Sweater has most of the features offered in any other lightweight jacket, except maybe an outside chest pocket that a few of the competitors offer.

sleeping in a tent

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Dana Felthauser photo

About Dana Felthauser

Dana Felthauser is a climber who has thru-hiked the Annapurna Circuit Trek and Jiri-San mountains in Korea. He has climbed El Capitan over 4.5 days and summitted over 300 peaks.


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After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

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