When Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard started selling climbing gear in the early ‘70s, he couldn’t have imagined the influence his brand would have on the fashion industry decades down the line. Today, the house that Yvon built hawks everything from Baggies to Black Hole bags, and the Monte Fitz Roy logo that adorns them all is one of the most recognizable in menswear. Patagonia might not bill itself as a capital-F Fashion brand, but its wares increasingly appear next to their designer counterparts—on store shelves, in closets, across GQ’s cold-weather shopping coverage.
So when the brand introduced the Stormshadow Parka, the warmest-ever Patagonia jacket and the first made with Gore-Tex protection, it seemed like a big deal. Despite its newfound style-world bona fides, Patagonia still emphasizes performance above all else, and the Stormshadow felt like an ambitious leap forward; at a shade under $1,000, it’s Patagonia’s most expensive jacket to date. All of which begs the question: How warm is it, exactly—and what makes it worth the price?
To find out, I subjected the Stormshadow to the very worst experience any jacket can encounter: a truly miserable New York City winter. Here’s how it held up.
How does it fit?
Patagonia cuts its jackets pretty generously, and the Stormshadow is no exception. I’m 5’9″ on a good day and weigh about 140 pounds, and a size small afforded me plenty of wiggle room. I had a feeling the jacket would fit on the larger size, because it’s designed to be layered over heavy-duty winter clothes—sweaters, overshirts, even other, light-weight jackets. Another detail I appreciated: the Stormshadow is long enough to cover my ass, though I did notice a 6’3″ model on Patagonia’s website looking a little exposed in a size medium. (Average-height kings win out here.) In terms of sheer puffiness, the Stormshadow sits somewhere between the Michelin-Man heft of the The North Face Nuptse and one of Canada Goose’s streamlined Chateau parkas.
Another nifty detail I dug? The two-way zippers, which help prevent unsightly bulges when you’re stationary or sitting. Unfortunately, the bottom zipper on the Stormshadow would occasionally get stuck when I tried taking it off—a small issue, but one that left me fumbling awkwardly to free myself from this mobile sleeping bag.
What’s it made out of?
It’s impossible for me to wear anything made with Gore-Tex and not linger on George Constanza’s big, puffy coat. The fabric is famous for its near-magical combination of weatherproofing and breathability; water can’t go in, but water vapor, i.e. your body’s own sweat, can go out. The Stormshadow’s exterior is made from fully recycled Gore-Tex coated in a PFC- and PFA-free membrane, an eco-conscious flourish in-line with Patagonia’s broader ethos. Factor in the 100% recycled 700-fill power down, and Mother Earth will thank you—while ol’ Jack Frost shivers in his boots.
The Gore-Tex membrane was expectedly aces at blocking rain and snow, but I was particularly grateful for its windproofing, which protected my torso from wind and errant glass-like ice shards, while the hood did the same for my face.
How warm is it, actually?
Enough with the pleasantries: let’s get down to business. How warm, exactly, is Patagonia’s warmest-ever parka? Exceedingly warm, folks. The first time I tried this on in the comfort of my home, as one does, I almost broke out in a sweat. I could tell from the outset this beauty meant business.
The little details add up, too. That includes the fleece-like lining in the sleeves, which I promptly subjected to the 30-degree New York weather with nothing but a T-shirt on beneath. The Stormshadow employs that same material in its side slant pockets, which promise to keep your bare hands toasty if you forget your gloves at home.
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