Ever since I was a wee youngster, down garments have been a staple of my wardrobe.  My down fascination started out with an old school, western style down vest, worn around the age six or seven, in the back yard bagging leaves.  At some point, while hunting waterfowl at Cow’s Head Slough with my Dad and Uncles, a down jacket hung on a sixteen penny nail in our duck blind.  It was tan, probably made back in 1970’s and warm as pie.  On really cold days, this jacket was my blanket, as I would wrap up in it and fall dead asleep on a cot in the back of blind.  I acquired another vintage down jacket (that my folks bought on a trip to San Fransisco in 1969) in my college days.  Molly has tried to take this to Second Wind on several occasions, but I narrowly averted disaster and rescued it.  And then, there is that zero degree 1970’s Sierra Designs down mummy bag, belonging to my Dad, which still has two fee of loft.  If there is one common theme here, besides down feathers, and it’s the fact that down will last a lifetime, if properly taken care of.

The full zip down hoody from Patagonia is one of finest pieces of gear I own.  Why?  Well, read on……

Wearable – yea, this seems like a no-brainer, but some down jackets give the impression of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  The down sweater or down hoody, wear quite well underneath waders and one doesn’t feel restricted at all when rowing or casting.   This jacket was designed for the mountain climber, but the versatility of Patagonia clothing allows it to double or triple for use.  I often wonder if college kids in Bozeman are given this jacket by MSU once they enroll in the four year plan to becoming a better outdoorsman/woman.

The hood – this is my favorite part of jacket.  Hoods, especially down hoods, keep your neck warm and the wind out.  When fishing, spring or fall, I wear the hood up or tight around my neck.  Cold, windy days are even colder when your neckline is exposed.  The draw cord can be cinched up for better visibility when the hood is up –  a great feature for when wearing underneath the SST Jacket.

Packable – when stuffed away, using the interior stretch mesh pocket, this warm layer packs anywhere you want it.  And, weighing in at under a pound (15.2 oz.), you’ll never know it’s even there.   While backpacking into Wyoming’s Alaska Basin, the down hoody was stowed away in my pack all day long, until nightfall.

Suppa, duppa warm – this past fall, while backpacking with Molly throughout the Colorado Plateau, we both carried our Patagonia down jackets.  Morning, evening and from time to time as a pillow, down works like nothing else.  Note: when rowing, this jacket can be too warm, unless of course it’s blowing snow and cold as January in West Yellowstone.   On ski trips in Yellowstone National Park, the down hoody never leaves my pack, it’s my safety net for warmth and I pull it out each time we stop to enjoy an erupting geyser.  On guide trips, this jacket never leaves my drift boat and has been worn by multiple clients on cold days.

The price – okay, this jacket is expensive.  At $250 for the hoody and $200 for the sweater, not everyone can afford it right away…..save your pennies and buy it, as there is no substitute for good gear and good gear is not cheap.  I plan on getting at least ten years out of my hoody (I have two thus far), so that works out to $20-25 per year to stay warm.  The Ironclad Guarantee will help to extend the use of your gear.  My goal is too use a piece of equipment until it falls apart and can’t be fixed, thus reducing my impact on the environment and making the jacket cheaper over time.