Patagonia Piolet Jacket

, July 12, 2012

Patagonia Piolet JacketPatagonia markets its Piolet Jacket as a year-round waterproof shell, primarily designed to withstand the range of conditions which only the mountains can throw at you. As someone with experience of trekking and climbing in several different ranges within Europe, I fully understand the importance of a jacket which will not only keep you dry from the latest storm, but will also be breathable and easy to move in. Patagonia’s promise that this was the jacket for ‘high-country’ all-rounders was therefore something which I was eager to put to the test.

The Piolet is built from a 2-layer nylon Gore-Tex Performance Shell fabric. In view of layer, this the first thing that struck me when handling the jacket was the relative thinness and malleability of the material – great for breathability, but I wondered whether it would be able to withstand a serious and prolonged downpour.

During testing in the Brecon Beacons and Lake District National Parks, I had the opportunity to put the Piolet through its paces in a series of extended downpours and was kept bone dry throughout.

I found the jacket’s Touch Point System, which enables the hood and hem of the jacket to be adjusted without removing it, to be a particularly useful feature when the weather closed in, and one which allowed me to keep my neck and face dry even when the rain was whipped up by the wind. It also aided the breathability of the jacket which remained good even when sealed to the elements.

The Piolet is fitted with three exterior pockets and on interior. Although not large, these pockets all remained waterproof and provide useful, quick access for an everyday item such as a map or mobile phone. The low-profile cuff closures were also simple to adjust and a useful way of closing off the jacket when the weather closed in, before being released to provide extra airflow when the sun reappeared.

Patagonia Piolet JacketOne extremely sensible feature of the Piolet is the reinforced fabric which has been woven into the areas of particular stress, notably the shoulders and elbows. As well as giving the jacket greater longevity, these areas of reinforcement do not restrict movement and therefore add to the Piolet’s profile as a technical alpine jacket, something which is further enhanced by its helmet-compatible hood.

Testing the Piolet in the early spring conditions of the mountains of the Spanish East Coast allowed me to fully ascertain the jacket’s breathability qualities. To this end I was pleasantly surprised that the jacket did not leave me feeling clammy as many other waterproof shells are liable to, and this can largely be put down to the inner hanging liner which keeps moisture away from the skin. This was aided by the adjustable vents under the arms, though they often proved difficult to open when wearing the jacket due to the restricted angle and force which it was possible to get on the zips.

Despite this drawback, the quality and style of the Piolet makes it easy to see why it is the most popular of Patagonia’s alpine jackets, and reinforces their position as one of the premier manufacturers of top quality, ethically sourced adventure wear.

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