Guide Gear Review – Patagonia Down Shirt


As a full-time mountain guide, I put my technical layers through the ringer and while I need my kit to be durable, every ounce counts when it comes to carrying things on your back 200 days a year. The Patagonia Down Shirt has proven to be one of my favorite layers for year-round insulation in SW Colorado and beyond.

In the summer, it’s a great piece for those early morning peak ascents that start long before the sun peaks over the horizon. In the fall, it can be found around the campfire at the Black Canyon or for keeping the frost at bay while heading into early season ice routes in the San Juans. In the winter, this piece is an invaluable layering piece for January ice climbing. Being super compressible, it fits well in the corner of any of my packs with little weight penalty or bulk.

The Down Shirt weighs under nine and a half ounces, and compresses to about the size of a grapefruit, stuffing into its own pocket (although I tend to not use this feature – preferring to just cram it into the nooks and crannies of my pack).  That is less than the weight of a mid-weight fleece shirt, and has a much broader comfort range.  On expeditions, I can use my Down Shirt in conjunction with another light layer, such as my Black Diamond Hot Forge Hoody, to give me the warmth I need for moving at altitude, and the ability to fine tune my insulation.

For year round use, this is my favorite piece of insulation and has become part of my climbing kit year around. The fit seems true to size and the small tubes of baffling do a great job keeping that insulation dispersed evenly through out the jacket. All and all, this is a great layer for any time of year.

Dave Ahrens

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