The Patagonia Departer is a 2-layer shell jacket that represents Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability by using 100% recycled fabrics. It is waterproof and fairly minimalistic, hence, it is a very lightweight layer. The long cut of the jacket helps to keep snow out but also looks stylish while not sacrificing anything in the way of comfort. It’s a versatile winter shell that won’t break the bank this is a great layer for casual use.
The Patagonia Departer is a lightweight-2 layer Gore-Tex shell and can initially be mistaken for a rain layer rather than a snow jacket. The design is inspired from a classic storm coat previously made by Patagonia and is made of 100% recycled polyester fabric which is keeping in line with Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability. This is an extremely lightweight jacket which is in part due to a lack of unnecessary extra features. Testers immediately noticed how the jacket felt less durable compared to the other dedicated ski shells in the test. No durability issues were noted over the testing season but testers still had their doubts about how well it would hold up if used on a regular basis especially if falling down in the snow often or skiing in places where it can be easy to snag trees.
At first glance the Departer could be mistaken for a rain jacket except for a couple distinguishing snow jacket features. It has a snow skirt though unfortunately it is not detachable like most other shells in the test. The Departer has medium sized pit zips but small zipper tabs make them hard to open. There is one large mesh pocket inside the jacket resulting in less storage space than other jackets in the test, some of which come with an internal mesh pocket on either side. The hand pockets are harness compatible pockets since they are higher up than normal which is great for ice climbing or ski mountaineering. However, there are no other pockets on the outside of the jacket. There is one more interior zippered mesh pocket that is great for a phone. Testers liked having this pocket as the phone is less likely to become cold and shut down, versus storing their phone in an exterior phone pocket. The helmet compatible hood is large enough to comfortably fit over helmets and has an elastic tie down to adjust the hood to the correct size. The jacket doesn’t come with wrist gaiters which was common for most of the shells in the test, but it does have wide Velcro wrist straps to tighten the cuff down around the wrist. Since the jacket doesn’t use waterproof zippers, it has overlapping flaps on the inside and outside of the main zipper to help keep snow out. Another feature of this jacket is the built in RECCO reflector system.
As a 2-layer Gore-Tex jacket with a DWR finish, the Departer is fairly weatherproof. The Gore-Tex membrane prevents water from soaking through the jacket while the snow skirt prevents snow from getting into the jacket during a fall. Testers had no issues with snow getting in or soaking through the jacket during their tests, however, they did note that the lack of waterproof zippers meant that water could potentially soak through these zippers if the flaps covering them were open. In combination with the lack of wrist gaiters, this resulted in a decreased weatherproofness rating.
The Departer jacket is decently breathable and has pit zips that allow for quickly cooling off. In most conditions at the resort, testers didn’t have any problems with overheating due to the light nature of the jacket. Even on sunny days when hiking uphill, testers didn’t notice any claminess inside the jacket. One small complaint from testers was that the zipper pulls were small and difficult to open with a gloved hand making testers less likely to open the pit zips.
Testers really loved the fit of this jacket due to its long cut which doesn’t ride up at all. The size small ran a bit larger than other jackets of this size, but allowed for plenty of room to layer underneath on colder days. The material of this jacket feels really light and doesn’t have the typical crinkly sound or feel of thicker ski jackets which added to the comfort factor and made it a favorite for fit and comfort in this test.
Style & Value
Testers loved the throwback style of this jacket with a solid color on the outside and a retro pattern on the inside. The jacket has the feel and look of an everyday winter layer so that testers found themselves using it for casual walks around town as much as a ski jacket. At $349 this is the least expensive ski jacket in this test. For a versatile winter shell, this jacket is a great value that works both around town and for the casual skier. For the everyday skier, it may be worthwhile to invest a bit more money into a dedicated ski shell.