Published on February 13th, 2012 | by David0
Patagonia Updraft: An Excellent Ultralight Jacket
Patagonia is best known for their technical outerwear- the company’s fleece and down jackets, waterproof shells, and Capilene base layers have been staples of the outdoors community for decades. However, the company has recently begun to expand into more urban products, designed to offer high performance in a stylish, city-friendly aesthetic. I recently got a chance to try one of these products: the new-for-2012 Updraft jacket.
The Updraft is made out of Gore-Tex’s newest Paclite material, a thin 2.5 layer textile that uses an oleophobic carbon layer (rather than raised dots or a hanging liner) to protect the delicate waterpoof/breathable membrane. The result is a very light, packable garment that’s easy to stuff into any bag you happen to be carrying.
Every detail of the Updraft shows off its urban demeanor. From the muted colors to the simple silhouette to the stowaway hood, its plain appearance hides its technical DNA well. I could have done with a slightly more textured, fabric-like hand to the gore-tex (the green colorway looks flimsy in the wrong light), but that probably would have added weight to this ultralight jacket. The pockets warm hands well with waterproof zippers and wind flaps, and the horizontal chest pocket hides a headphone passthrough for a phone or music player.
It’s refreshing to go out in a jacket this light. It really feels more like a windbreaker than a rain jacket, but I wore it through a few torrents, and can attest to the Paclite’s complete immunity to wind and water. Gore-tex breathability will never match a true softshell, but Paclite seems like their best attempt yet- I have yet to feel clammy even during moderate exertion on a bike. The thinner-than-usual fabric does insulate less than typical 2- or 3-layer laminates, but allows more flexibility to layer. I usually wear it with a sweater around town, but worn over an R3 Hi-Loft fleece jacket, it handled a below-zero New Mexico wind chill just fine.
The Updraft does come with compromises, though- in an effort to differentiate their urban and technical lines, Patagonia seems to have skimped on some of their usual features. Want pit zips, a helmet-compatible hood, or gusseted arms for easy movement? Go with the Super Cell instead- made of the same material and a few bucks cheaper, it offers a trimmer silhouette, and all the technical features you would expect from a $250-plus jacket. Either way, it’s hard to go wrong- you get a weatherproof, lightweight jacket backed by Patagonia’s ridiculous lifetime guarantee.