Staff Pick: the Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt

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As far as we can tell, our friends at Patagonia hate it when you head out the front door without anything warm to put on, should the weather take an unexpected U-turn. I can hear my mother’s voice now: “you’ll catch a cold if you go out like that!”

First, Patagonia released their Nano Puff series, frequently referring to these as a lightweight insurance policy; “It’s best not to ski out to it without throwing some insurance in your pack,” they said. For Spring 2011, they’ve upped the ante in a big way, with the arrival of the 5.9-ounce Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt, now their lightest-weight down top on the market and Patagonia’s lightest-weight insulation.

Face it, with these specs the Ultralight Down Shirt checks in at less than half the weight of a Nano Puff jacket. We’re all trying to save weight and space in our packs, regardless of which active pursuit is at hand, and a warm layer for those “what if?” situations is often the one that doesn’t make the final cut. Patagonia scoffs at our excuses; frankly, at just under 6 ounces, we don’t have many excuses left. Whether you’re exploring a mountain range, the trails near your favorite climbing spot or the streets of an unfamiliar city, you can tuck one of these in the last corner of your pack and be prepared for anything… while avoiding that guilt trip from Mom!

Made with premium 800-fill down insulation and a superlight 10-denier ripstop nylon shell fabric, this “shirt” is a 1/4-zip pullover and is finished with Deluge DWR water-repellent and includes a stuff sack. We’ve really enjoyed compressing it into its stuff sack and marveling at the result, which is about the size of an orange. The slim fit and tight baffle pattern both enhance thermal efficiency.

Check out the photo at left, which shows a Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt in its own stuff sack, next to a standard wide-mouth 32oz Nalgene bottle. Not only is the Ultralight Down Shirt 2/3 the size, it weighs the same amount as the empty Nalgene! We’re guessing this is why the Ultralight Down Shirt recently won “best travel clothing” honors in Travel & Leisure magazine’s 2011 design awards.

Both the men’s and women’s versions of the Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt are now available at Rock/Creek and rockcreek.com:

      Women’s Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt
      Men’s Patagonia Ultralight Down Shirt

At last year’s Outdoor Retailer show, Patagonia’s Tim Bantle was quoted as saying, “The Ultralight Down Shirt is not just a new product, it’s a new product category.” Whatever you want to call it, we’re smitten.

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