Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt Review

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt Review

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    Addie Bedford
    BPL Member


    Locale: Montana

    Companion forum thread to:

    Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt Review

    Hamish McHamish
    BPL Member


    Locale: USA

    "Although the Patagonia Down Shirt is a very useful garment, it comes up short on its specifications, is overpriced compared to the competition, and the poor performance of its Deluge DWR treatment is a surprise."

    Well put. Thanks for the solid review.

    Patagonia's gold plated pricing often reflects topnotch design, materials, and performance. I'm amazed that they dropped the ball so badly on this garment. Apparently it was not put through its paces by some famous alpinist in North Iciclestan. Then again, maybe it was, and the famous alpinst's fee had to be covered somehow.

    Mary D
    BPL Member


    Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge

    Interestingly, I came to a similar decision last winter when I decided to get the Montbell Ex-Light jacket based on your SOTM review of down jackets. I couldn't find anything in the specs for the Patagonia down shirt that could possibly justify the extra price. After reading this article, I'm really glad I made that decision! I'm very happy with the Montbell jacket!

    Warren Greer


    Locale: SoCal

    Mary, much the same feelings here. The EXL is a pretty exceptional jacket and I've been plenty happy with mine. Great ON when I need warmth and wind blocking capability and especially great OFF because it is so light when carried for situations I might need protection in.

    Tjaard Breeuwer
    BPL Member


    Locale: Minnesota, USA

    In general what do you use these for?

    As Will mentions, it was to thin to be a good insulating layer for sedentary activities in cold weather, like sitting around eating breakfast on belaying a climber.

    At the same time, for active pursuits, wouldn't you rather choose a garment that manages moisture better like a fleece or synthetic hi-loft insulated garment?
    I thought whole idea of modern apparel was to limit moisture build-up in the clothing system, to prevent even colder chilling when you stop moving.

    Also at these super thin weights, does down realy provide such a benefit? If for example, synthetic insulation weighs 50% more for the same R value, then in a sleeping bag with 16oz of down, you save 8 oz, plus you don't sweat as much at night as when climbing up a mountain. In this jacket however, you only save 1 oz, and have to deal with the slow drying and poor moisture transfer of down.

    Mary D
    BPL Member


    Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge

    My Montbell ExLight is for keeping me warm around camp and during rest stops in cold weather. It also supplements the sleeping bag when nighttime temps get below the bag's rating, and I wear it over my vapor barrier to keep it dry. Unlike Will's experience of the Patagucci down sweater, I find the Montbell jacket plenty warm (when combined with my other clothing) down into the mid teens F in those conditions. On a recent trip, it was too warm while I was sitting around camp on a breezy 40*F morning.

    For me, while I'm actively hiking in cold weather, a wind shirt (or rain jacket if it's precipitating) and base layer, plus headband and gloves, are sufficient to keep me warm but not actively sweating down to about 25*F. If it gets colder than that I add either a second base layer top or a very lightweight fleece vest, and a full hat instead of the headband. When I stop, the Montbell down jacket goes over what I'm already wearing (but under the rain jacket when it's precipitating).

    No, I don't want to use down when actively moving, either! Sweat and down don't mix very well!

    Stephan Doyle


    Their use is for sedentary activities in warmer weather.

    I have paired my Down Shirt with my 30º quilt to great success over the last four months. Used from everywhere from the California Coast to 14ers in the Sierra to Yellowstone. If I can take a 30º quilt, then my Down Shirt is enough.

    It may also end up as an extra safety layer in the winter. Its lack of loft and close fit makes it easy to layer other down garments over the top.

    terrance guidetti


    Locale: calif

    Full zip, hand pockets, 3.1 oz. 850 down, 7.5 oz. total wt., $226. looks lofty.

    Ryan Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: East TN

    That Daybreak jacket uses a heavier fabric and more down than the Montbell UL Inner, but is claimed to weigh slightly less. I suspect one of them is exaggerating their specs.


    Lawrence Cooper
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid Atlantic

    I've been using the LL Bean Down Sweater for a couple of years now (most recently at Philmont above 9,500ft) and I think it beats all the ones in this article. That's on performance and price.

    Mark Primack
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cape Cod and Northern Newfoundland

    I'd been thinking of getting the MB EX L jacket for a while and this article and a visit to the Pata outlet store on Monday including trying on the Down Shirt($170 at the outlet store) pushed me to hit the Buy button for the MB EX L on sale at Campsaver for $131 with free shipping.

    My primary use will be to supplement my Feathered Friends Hyperion down sweater/jacket. I love my Hyperion but it and all the other down sweaters are not warm enough for sub-zero winter weather. Last winter I used the Hyperion with a great light down vest, the Rab Microlight, but I found that my arms and particularly my elbows were cold when the temp dropped. I plan to use the MB as a layer under my Hyperion. This combo is still 8 or 10 ounces lighter than my old TNF Nuptse and allows much more versatility. I also plan to use the MB EX L as a warm layer on its own or under a shell when the temps are 20-40F.

    Jon Hamilton


    I'm not impressed with anything Patagonia has been doing. Their prices are going up and up but the quality is just not there. I've had two different down jackets this past year bust seams after minimal use.

    Oliver Nissen
    BPL Member


    Locale: Yorkshire Dales

    Hi Tjaard,
    I have to give a defence for down here and clear up a bit of a misconception. Yep, the weight advantage of down over synthetic fill is less pronounced in garments than sleeping bags, however it's wrong to assume that synthetic insulation 'manages moisture' better than down. Down is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the atmosphere) which allows the moisture to be transported through a mass of down relatively unimpeded. On the other hand the synthetic fibres that make up Primaloft fill are hydrophobic and as they don't wick they're not managing/transferring moisture at all. Fleeces are better as they can wick moisture but if you were to sandwich them between two wind proof layers (of Nylon taffeta) would they 'manage moisture' any better than a down garment? Probably not.

    Jonathan Pratt
    BPL Member


    Any plans for a synthetic jacket shootout? I've just bought the Montane Prism 2.0 jacket and would love to see an updated review on BPL – along with other recommendations.

    The Prism works well in active situations and with a base layer carries moisture away nicely – assuming you're in winter or cool spring/autumn. It doesn't hit the UL weights for these down shirts, but it does have other advantages.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Western US

    Tried the Montbell UL down liner many moons ago but sold it – though light there's just not enough down, especially if a shell jacket is pressing on the down. Not about to give the category another go at these prices unless the garment shells get more windproof and streamlined as a whole.

    Gabe Joyes


    Locale: Lander, WY

    For what its worth to others out there, I compared the Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt and the Montbell Ex Light and I like the Patagonia way more because of the fit. I felt like the only way the Ex Light could fit me was if I had a big old beer belly (no offense anyone). If I wore the Ex Light in any remotely cold weather I would have drafts coming up from the bottom and I would be frigid in no time. Even though the Patagonia Down Shirt doesn't have a drawcord hem either, it is much slimmer fitting and hugged my body just below the hips. I know people like to rave about the specs and price of the Ex Light, but there are lots of other factors to making a nice jacket.

    Warren Greer


    Locale: SoCal

    Gabe, I've always heard most comment that Montbell runs atheletic to small. My medium is snug fitting and I'm 5'9" and 150 lb. I feel it fits great and keeps the heat in. Weird you had such a different experience.

    Nick Truax
    BPL Member


    Locale: SW Montana


    I have similar specs to Warren: 5'10", +/- 150lbs. Medium EXL fits me great. Hands down to the EXL imo. Love you Pgucc, but the MB piece wins here.

    Eugene Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: Nuevo Mexico

    Average rating, well above average price, less than average versatility…. seems like a no brainer to me.

    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pennsylvania

    Oh to be able to wear a medium again (or, quite honestly, just a large or XL)…

    I'm a big guy – 6' and 260 pounds. I have the Montbell Ex Light in XXL and it fits me well. I wear it around camp and have slept in it. The XXL weighs 7.8 ounces and is half the weight of any of my XXL fleeces and much warmer.

    I've switched over to hammocks and have found that the Ex Light jacket, unzipped and opened, makes a great second quilt for over me at night. I'm much more comfortable draping it over me and tucking the arms under me than I am sleeping in it. It also makes it quite convenient to grab it and put it on in the morning.

    Chris W
    BPL Member


    Locale: .

    MontBell does tend to run smaller (Japanese people generally run smaller) but it's not what I would call an athletic fit. The items I've owned from them have been very boxy in nature. Of course, the same is true for pretty much everything Patagonia makes except items in their alpine climbing line. Those seem top be cut more for a climber build.

    Jared Pardi


    i thought @ 250 it was wildly overpriced, but i grabbed one during Pata's most recent closeout sale for 1/2 price. At that point it seemed like a pretty good value. I have not been able to take it for a spin yet.

    Will Rietveld
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southwest Colorado

    Hi Jonathan, sorry no synthetic jacket articles in the pipeline. Its been discussed, but other projects took priority. I agree that we need to do something on synthetic jackets, but it will be hard to actually measure performance differences. There are quite a number of synthetic insulations with different properties, durabilities, warmth, compressability, etc. which makes it challenging to evaluate and compare jackets on these factors. Best, Will

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Eddie Bauer just came out with a VERY light down "shirt", as they call it.

    The Down Shirt has 800 fill down in sewn thru horizontal quilting and weighs 8.3 oz. (men's size med.)
    The shell is 20 denier ripstop and has "Stormpel" DWR finish.

    So, Will, add #5 to your down shirt comparo.

    I'm partial to EB down products because I have their 14 oz. First Ascent Down Sweater which has served me very well as recently as last week in northern Nevada's Ruby Mountains.

    Erick Erick Kwak


    Per EB, the weight of the down shirt is 9.96oz for the M, not 8.3. My size L weighs 10.4oz (I posted this and other impressions in another thread). The EB is more similar to Patagonia's ultralight down jacket than their shirt in terms of design, fill weight and total weight (although the Patagonia has a slightly higher fill weight and and yet slightly lower total weight). The EB does have a trimmer more athletic cut than the Patagonia however (Patagonia says it has a slim fit and I guess it does in comparison to the usual boxy fit of their jackets, it's not nearly as slim as the EB).

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