Patagonia DAS Parka
- Friday 16th April 2021
Ros Beveridge reviews the women's version of Patagonia’s DAS Parka
Patagonia has created a great jacket with the DAS Parka, making belaying on cold, windy days a pleasure. This synthetic insulated jacket provides great weather resistance and resilience against even the most overgrown of approaches.
One of the most noticeable features of the jacket is how light it is. At 522g it feels almost weightless when worn. With this weight, it also packs down to a small size into the provided stuff sack. Sadly the sample provided didn’t come with the sack but it packs down well even without it, fitting nicely into a gear bag without being too cumbersome. If you decide to take the jacket off on windy days one strong gust will blow it away - a slight problem if you are on steep terrain.
Although this Parka is lightweight, it excels at keeping the wearer warm. The insulation is made up of PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco fused with aerogel technology and packs in 133g insulation all over with an additional 40g making this jacket one of the warmest among its peers. This level of insulation means that even in temperatures below 0°C you can get away with wearing only a t-shirt underneath, although layers are recommended if you are planning on doing more than just taking your dog out for a walk around the park.
As with any insulated jacket, the shell must be able to protect the filling otherwise it loses effectiveness. The DAS Parka does not disappoint using nylon ripstop Pertex Quantum Pro to give a great level of protection to the insulation. This lightweight fabric (0.8-oz 10-denier) allows for protection against the elements with its PU dry coating and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Although not waterproof this provides a high level of water resistance on days with passing showers without affecting the warmth provided by the insulation. It gives great protection against UK weather conditions, although sustained exposure to heavy showers or snow will eventually allow some moisture to soak into the jacket causing a decrease in its effectiveness.
This is a thin fabric and so some might expect it to have low resilience against abrasive surfaces such as rock where you would be wearing this belay parka. However, the tightly woven nature of this ripstop fabric gives it a high level of durability against harsh rock faces. Even gorse and brambles have a hard time damaging it. What is slightly off-putting is the noise this fabric makes when moving around in it. Think of rustling plastic bags and you will come close to the sounds this jacket makes. This noise does ease off after wearing the jacket in but it’s not one for stealth movement and some wildlife might find it a little disruptive if it’s your first time wearing it.
The nylon ripstop Pertex Quantum (also with DWR finish) lining is similar to the outer but is lighter (0.7-oz 10-denier) and softer to the touch. Both the lining and the outer allow the insulation to fully loft giving a great level of warmth to the wearer.
The technology to keep the wearer warm doesn’t just stop at the materials, however. The cuffs are low profile and come with internal elastic cuffs which can be pulled tighter by using the thumb loops. These in turn help pull the sleeves lower down the arms and provides additional warmth. There is also plenty of space for wearing gloves when needed and the sleeves fit snugly over them leaving no room for cold air to get in.
An elasticated drawstring helps pull the jacket in around the hips and aids in preventing warmth from escaping and cold air from infiltrating. This can be adjusted with low profile tabs that can be pulled, the excess can escape into the external pockets. There are no lengths of drawstring at your side where it could interfere with your climbing gear.
The hood is helmet-compatible and is adjustable from a single point. This, combined with the elasticized binding at the opening, gives a great fit around the head and face without the fear of cold air reaching ears or neck. It would have been good to see a softer material around the top of the zipper as it can feel a little rough around the chin after a long duration of wear.
Zippers are often overlooked when making jackets but the addition of the two-way Vislon zipper shows how much Patagonia consider when designing their technical gear. The two-way feature allows climbers to keep their jacket on as they belay their partners without the coat getting bunched up around the waist and getting in the way of gear. The quality of the zip is also evident in how easy it is to do it up and down. It is fluid in motion and you have to try really hard to get it to jam which is great if you have long hair that tends to gravitate towards zips. There is an internal wind flap that helps maintain insulation and warmth.
Pockets are aplenty in this jacket. Two handwarmer pockets and a left-chest pocket can be accessed externally and have some insulation. I discovered that a whole supermarket lunch meal deal could fit into these three pockets with plenty of room to spare. Two large elasticised internal drop pockets are great for pre-warming climbing shoes or for keeping gloves close to your body so that their warmth is not lost.
The nature of belay parkas means that this jacket is designed to wear over multiple layers so it can feel a little roomy if you are just wearing a t-shirt and a light jumper. However, the large size doesn’t give the feeling of drowning in materials. Instead, it still feels like a great fit even without layers. The cut pulls the jacket into the curves of the body but allows space for movement. When moving the cut of the jacket allows it to return to its original resting position without having to pull it down or rearrange. It is even possible to climb in this jacket. Combine this with the durability of the outer and you have yourself a perfect warm-up jacket for those cold days out on Peak gritstone.
Although not recommended for wet days without a shell, this is a great winter jacket for days out climbing and mountaineering. The quality of the jacket makes the price tag worth it as this jacket will keep you going for a lot of seasons. Overall the Patagonia DAS Parka is an incredibly well thought out jacket that combines functionality with top-class insulation.
The jacket is also available in a men’s version in different colourways.