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Review: The Patagonia Encapsil Down Belay Parka is a 1000-fill power, waterproof down jacket that's about as good as they get - but at a price

Best for
Demanding users wanting to stay warm and dry in any conditions
Price
£600
Quality
10
Value
8
Overall Score
10

For anyone who loves wearing down gear but hates the fact you can’t generally use it in the rain the Patagonia Encapsil Down Belay Parka is the answer – it’s filled with Encapsil™ down, a proprietary, plasma-treated, water-repellent down with an unprecedented fill-power of 1000.

It’s also 100% independently baffled and differentially cut for even more warmth.

That’s the good news; the bad news is that it’s only available in special edition quantities with numbered labels inside.

Even so, this is an extraordinary piece of design and engineering for an outdoor garment, and a first of its kind.
 
To be fair, water repellent down garments are now available from several manufacturers, but Patagonia is the only manufacturer at present to produce a 1000-fill-power parka.

The down is sent through a proprietary machine and agitated with low-level radio frequency waves until the surface of the down’s molecular structure begins to shift.

A tiny amount of siloxane is then deposited onto each plumule of down, adhering to its changed molecular structure in a virtually permanent way. The result is down that is hydrophobic, stronger and loftier by 25%.

In addition the Encapsil Down Belay Parka’s shell fabric is an ultralight 10-denier Pertex Endurance nylon ripstop with a polyurethane dry coat, providing excellent water repellency.

The hood is baffled and helmet-compatible, with a single drawcord that provides a small draft collar of down around the face, creating a microclimate to help prevent frostbite on exposed skin.

Variegated baffles across the parka are smaller in high compression areas to help keep down from shifting, and a double-baffle wind flap behind the zipper completely seals out cold and wind.

No moisture-holding materials are used anywhere in the parka. Exterior hand pockets are independently insulated to retain warmth even when open, and the high positioning keeps them away from harness lines.

A unique pull-system at the hem allows for adjustment of the drawcord from inside or out, eliminating harness entanglement, and a mini snowskirt keeps out wind and snow from below without compressing the down in the lowest chamber.

All very, very nice really, and you can see more on this lovely bit of kit at http://vimeo.com/60090385

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