The Patagonia Primo Down is one of the warmest, and most stormproof jackets we have used in a long time. We’ve put this jacket through the ringer, wearing it on days with 40+ mph winds and wind chills well below zero. The Primo Down hasn’t disappointed. We’ve stayed nice and toasty, even on the nastiest days on the mountain. Best of all, the Primo Down isn’t just warm, but also highly waterproof. This will definitely become my go-to jacket on days when the weather is at its worst.
Patagonia Primo Down On-Mountain Video Review (Video Note: it is only 800 fill, not 850 fill)
Patagonia Primo Down In-Studio Review (Video Note: it is only 800 fill, not 850 fill)
Matt’s Specs: Sizing Info
Waterproofing and Breathability: The Patagonia Primo Down has a two layer Ripstop Gore-Tex fabric to keep you dry in some of the nastiest weather you encounter. Gore-Tex is still often considered one of the best waterproof fabrics for outerwear, but I was really interested to see how well this two-layer would hold up. Knowing that Patagonia combined this two-layer Gore-Tex with a solid DWR, I expected the Primo Down to hold up pretty well. I was definitely not disappointed. Sure this may not have the same rating as the best 3L shells, but I’ve put this jacket through some challenging conditions, and it has performed really well. The DWR works well, and any snow that does start to melt on the jacket beads up nicely and almost all water rolls right off. Sure a bit of pressure can cause some of the water to start soaking into the face fabric, but even with a lot of pressure I’ve never had any water wet out the jacket and soak through the Gore-Tex membrane. The zippers are water resistant, and even in heavy blowing snow, I’ve never had any water seep in. I felt perfectly comfortable putting my phone and camera in both chest pockets and after a full day the only moisture I noticed was from me reaching in my pocket and snow falling in. I would certainly feel comfortable wearing the Patagonia Primo Down in wet and heavy snow, even when wind is blasting the snow into the jacket.
The biggest downside of the Primo Down is the breathability. Gore-Tex is not the most breathable fabric (the PU coating makes it slower), and being a 2L construction only makes this more of an issue (vs. 3L). 800 fill down ensures this jackets is warm and toasty, but it also means you’re going to heat up quickly when working hard or when temperatures start to rise. I’ve sweat in this jacket when hiking in 15-20 degree temps. The Patagonia Primo Down does have some very nice pit zips. They are quite large, and don’t have a mesh liner to restrict how wide I can open it. Still, even with the pit zips wide open, this jacket can still feel quite warm, and when you begin to sweat, you’re probably going to have to open the front zipper to cool off in a hurry and stay dry.
Warmth: The Patagonia Primo Down uses 800 fill power traceable down for insulation, making it one of the warmer jackets we’ve tested. The only other jacket we have tested with a higher fill power is the Columbia Heatzone 1000 Turbo Down jacket. While the Columbia is probably the warmest jacket I have ever warn, the Patagonia Primo Down is a pretty solid option for seriously cold days. I have used this jacket on days when wind chills have reached down well below zero and even with just a light base layer, and light fleece mid-layer I have been plenty warm. As long as I remained active, I could probably use this jacket in temps that dip below -20F, especially with a thicker mid-layer. Now, I do run quite warm, and rarely need a jacket this heavily insulated. If you run cold, this is still one of the best jackets out there, but you may not find it as comfortable in extremely cold temps. This is even more true when just standing around. I’ve used this jacket at camp on a cold winter night in the ID backcountry and when I’m not moving around, this jacket doesn’t do quite as well at those extremely cold temps. It might not be the warmest jacket available, but I think this is one of the best options for those who are looking for an exceptionally warm ski jacket that has a very high performance standard as well.
Fit: If there was any negative about the Patagonia Primo Down for me it would be the fit. Patagonia calls it a relaxed fit with articulation and I would say that the description is pretty spot on. The problem for me is that it definitely fits big. I often fit between a small and medium, usually going small for relaxed fit and medium for athletic fits. I would probably be much happier in the small with the Primo Down. However, I do find quite a few positives with the medium as well. First off I have a lot of extra room for layering underneath if I want to. However, with 800 fill down, I don’t think I would ever really need a lot of layers underneath. The other positive is that I have a very wide range of movement; something that I feel would still be there in the small thanks to the articulation. The final positive is the length. While I find the medium extra-long, I have no doubt that the length in the small would still be great. It sits far below my butt, helping to keep it dry and warm. Best of all, I have never had an issue with the jacket riding up, something that sometimes happens with the monger length. I really don’t like when the jacket does this because it leaves areas of my legs/butt exposed, and just feels annoying. So I am extremely happy knowing that this jacket doesn’t do that. So bottom line is that if you like a relaxed fit with lots of extra room, you’ll probably like this fit. I would definitely recommend sizing down if you are between sizes, especially if you like the fit to be a bit more flattering.
Features: The Patagonia Primo down comes with all the features you’d expect in a high end jacket, including a removable powder skirt, contoured hood, and tons of pockets. What really sets this jacket apart for me is how well these features function. First is the removable powder skirt. When I first saw it, I thought it’s quite small and only has a one button closure, how well is it going to work? The answer is it works pretty well. The length is fantastic and since it sits below my waist it stays in place much better than those that sit higher. It also has a silicon band that helps make it stick to your pants. The back side has a loop that connects to your pants, helping it stay in place even better. I also really like the fit of the powder skirt. It’s slightly tighter than others that I have used, stretching around my waist. This helps keep it in place, and better keep snow and wind out. It is removable is you don’t want it, and if you’d rather keep it in but not use it, you can snap it back out of the way. The hood is another feature that I really love. First off it is insulated and extremely comfortable. The shape of the hood fits well over my helmet, and gives me a great seal with my goggles in place. This helps keep weather out and my face warm when I’m out on the nasty days. The adjustments work well, and it’s easy to customize the fit around you and your gear. The pockets on this jacket are also pretty well thought out. The two hand warming pockets are large, fleece lined, and warm and comfortable. The zipper openings are large enough to fit my gloved hands in, and the zippers easy enough to use. Not sure if these zippers are waterproof, but they do have a flap over the top, helping to keep snow and rain out. The chest pockets are position well, and quite large. They have waterproof zippers that work pretty well. I have no problem fitting my phone inside the chest pockets, and I have no concern with it getting wet on snowy days. The pocket on the left has an internal media pocket as well, but one of my complaints is that it’s not big enough for my phone. The other issue I have with the pockets is that the openings are a bit small, making it hard to get my hands and gear in and out. The pass pocket works really well, and the zipper is smooth and easy to use. The hem is adjustable and I found it easy to use and effective keeping wind and snow out. Best of all, it doesn’t rise up on me like other jackets. The sleeve cuffs are moderately wide, allowing me to put my gloves underneath if I want. They aren’t the greatest I’ve used, but functional. The inside of the jacket is very comfortable. It feels like I’m wearing a sleeping bag. The down panels are exposed, so be sure to keep them dry. There are two internal pockets including one for goggles and one that you can zip shut. Finally you see the large, unmeshed pit zips that do a good job of venting the jacket. The problem is that even with large vents, this jacket is so warm; they don’t seem to help a ton. Still, better to have them than to not have them.
Bottom Line: The Patagonia Primo Down is easily one of our favorite cold weather storm jackets, but we couldn’t see using it anytime the temperatures got above 30 degrees. I would say if there was any negative; it would be that the jacket is too warm. However, that’s not a bad problem to have. And if you’re in search of a warm, “storm-proof” jacket, there are hardly any better. This is the jacket that I am grabbing anytime the forecast is calling for cold, wind, and snow. It’s like a shelter for me on the mountain, and when everyone else is running inside to warm up, you’ll be on your way back up the lift for another run. Sure, we feel it could be improved with a slightly better fit, more breathability, and a few small details, but this is just about as perfect as a storm jacket can get for us.