The Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket’s stretchy Polartec Power Shield Pro provides high water resistance while maintaining some breathability, creating the potential to eliminate the need for a hard shell in moderate conditions. These attributes, combined with high wind resistance, durability and just the right number of usable features creates a soft-shell jacket that covers an impressively wide range of needs for the outdoor adventurer who can afford the price. We just wish the hand pockets were set a little higher.
Breathability The three layer Polartec Power Shield Pro utilized in the Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket does offer a limited amount of air permeability that is adequate for moderately aerobic activity in conjunction with main zip and pocket zip venting.
Durability The Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket remained damage free throughout the testing period. It was taken on many rock climbing guiding days, encountering harsh abrasion from both rock and vegetation. The jacket was worn while either carrying a backpack or wearing a climbing harness, and neither produced any signs of fabric wear.
Weatherproofing This is a strong point of the Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket. The Polartec Power Shield Pro provided excellent wind and snow protection and it’s claimed 5000mm water column rating, compact seam taping and watertight zippers never allowed water penetration during the entire test. The garment is deemed “waterproof in all but a downpour” and that statement seems totally reasonable from this tester’s experiences. The jacket functions as a shell only, providing little warmth on its own.
Fit/Comfort The Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket’s patterning provides trim yet relaxed fit that provides moderate room for layering underneath while still offering a body contouring fit. The fabric has a soft hand and a jersey knit backing, offering comfort against bare skin or thin base layers, even under pack and harness straps. Elastic cord adjustment at the lower hem and Velcro tabbed wrist cuffs manage those openings, while the “Optimal Visibility Hood” cut and single elastic cord accommodates helmets well but lacks the fine-tuned adjustability of dual corded systems.
Compressibility This Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket was one of the smallest packing pieces in this test and was absolutely the smallest of the ones that offered water resistance more involved that a DWR coating.
Features The Patagonia KnifeRidge Jacket’s feature list reflects a minimalist approach that still allows for usable features, especially in an alpine environment. A pair of stretch mesh lined handwarmer pockets with watertight zippers also act as vents, although the positioning interfered with backpack hip belts. A single, vertically aligned left chest pocket also employing a watertight zipper is lined with the shell fabric, protecting contents from sweat vapor and is sized to easily accommodate a cell phone. The lower hemline elastic cord is adjustable from both the bottom of the jacket and from within both handwarmer pockets. The pair of adjustments at the hemline and the single adjuster at the back of the hood utilize a “Cohaesive” embedded cord lock system: a disc can be squeezed or pushed like a button to release the cord,and is easily found and operated even with gloves on. An elastic strap at the back of the jacket mates with most Patagonia snow pants. Finally, a Recco reflector is embedded in the upper back of the jacket.
Seiji Ishii works as a trainer to professional supercross/motocross riders, adventure riding test editor at Dirt Rider Magazine and an AMGA certified rock climbing guide/instructor for White Star Mountain Guides/Austin Rock Gym. He lives in Wimberley, TX with wife Shay, 3 year old daughter Sequoia, 3 dogs and a cat. His personal time is spent rock climbing, any form of dirt biking, cycling, and training for the next mountaineering adventure.