I find it endlessly amusing that Patagonia now has to call the Down Sweater the Down Sweater Jacket. The “Sweater” part must have confused people. Let me assure you that this is a down jacket – not a heavy coat, but a light jacket – and calling it a “sweater” is meant to make that distinction. The DS is for layering and for milder weather, though I hike in it in low temps and feel fine. If I have to put numbers on it (and I know you want them), I’d say 20F and up for standing around, 0F and up for moving around, though in the single digits I’ve got to be working a little to stay warm. Now that I think about it, though, I usually do end up unzipping once I build up a head of steam. Zip back up at the top and boom, warm all the way down. Remember that insulation does not create warmth, it just retains it. If you wait until you are legitimately chilled to put on your insulation layer, it won’t warm you up, you have to do that all over again.
I’m a longtime user of the Down Sweater. I take a DS or an Ultralight Down Jacket everywhere with me, almost without exception. If I make an exception and don’t bring it, I usually regret it – either I want it on the plane, or during a cool evening, or in a meat-locker hotel room with runaway air conditioning and a single sheet for warmth. The Patagonia DS packs down so small and is so light, there’s really no justification for leaving it back.
For 2016 this classic has undergone a style redesign so it earns another review space. I suspect this is going to be one of those “love it or hate it” situations. So I’ll borrow Marie’s “what I like/what I don’t like” format for this one, but be aware that if you’re already familiar with the fit and structure of the Down Sweater, you should give this a test fitting before buying online (though Patagonia does have a great return/exchange policy so if you’re in the hinterlands like me, you aren’t stuck with it if you don’t like it).
What I Like:
- Patagonia Down is always quality and very, very warm.
- The DS and DS hoody come in tons of colors. TONS! You will definitely find one you like.
- The DS packs down super light and small and you can take it anywhere.
- The cut of the arms is nice and roomy (note to designers: you will NEVER hear a woman complain “the arms are too big on this shirt/jacket!” It does not happen. We need more room in the arms. We are not pipe cleaner mannequins.
What I Don’t Like:
- I’m in the “dislike” camp of the new cut. The new cut has contours at the bust that I don’t need, and they pooch out from my body and look weird and feel weirder. The longer length is great but while the upper body is too big, the hem isn’t roomy enough. I like the simpler, cleaner old version.
- The new outer fabric is heavier and not as fancy looking as the old fabric.
- The baffles look more horizontal and “retro” which I guess is a thing now, but I’m not the biggest fan.
So, basically it comes down to the fit. If you like it, you’ll like it because the jacket performs as well as ever. You may, though, miss the cut of the old version which is somewhat sad, but as Stephen King is wont to write, the world has moved on. This is by no means a tragedy on the level of the redesign of the Bandha dress, but there might be some disappointed DS fans out there.
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