Gear Review: Patagonia Encapsil Down Belay Parka Hardshell

What do you get when you make a down jacket water resistant and increase its loft? The Patagonia Encapsil Down Belay Parka Hardshell.

[ultimate lightweight warmth]

Water-repellent down changed the game for insulation last year. This spring, Patagonia introduces a groundbreaking process that goes one better, adding water resistance to down and boosting its loft—from 800-fill power to an astounding 1,000-fill. Here’s a simplified version of how the process works: Down is agitated with a low-level radio frequency until its molecular structure changes, allowing the feathers’ surfaces to accept a silicone DWR treatment without the use of binders (or fluorocarbons). The agitation fluffs up the down and the coating augments and strengthens the loft of each individual fiber, increasing fill-power.

Aside from the down, the jacket itself has enough technical details to fill this page. Of note: It’s differentially cut (meaning the outer shell fabric is larger than the inner lining, which allows the down to mold around your body with no compression) and entirely baffled (no sewn-through seams, even at tricky spots like sleeve and hood attachments). One tester took it on a ski tour in Colorado and says, “The temperature was about 0°F. My hands were freezing on the way up, even though I was working hard for four miles. I put the Encapsil on at the top, and despite the decrease in exertion, my hands got warmer on the way down. The only explanation: My core was so toasty that all that warm blood went where it needed to go—my hands.” The Encapsil is a limited edition (1,000 jackets), but Patagonia plans to expand the line in the fall. $699; 1 lb. 2 oz. (M); m’s XS-XL;